Captured by armed rebels, wife carrying in Finland, and Tanzania's Got Talent: the traveler who makes a living out of seeing the world
WHILE the nearest most of us get to adventure is a two-week annual break — or at the most a gap year — Iain Bisset has made a career out of travelling the world.
The 28-year-old former law student has visited more than 100 countries, drawing on his experience as a climber to work as a mountain leader and English teacher, as well as writing travel books and novels based on his experiences.
After spending time in several areas of Africa and being impressed by the work of aid agency workers, Iain became determined to serve with the renowned medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres.
And next month, Iain, of Vale Street, Edgworth, will achieve his ambition, taking up a nine -month post in the civil war-torn Central African Republic as a logistics expert, ensuring supplies and other resources reach the people most in need.
Landing the job has proved a demanding task, as the organisation wants its workers to prove their dedication before employing them.
Iain has spent the last few years learning to speak several languages, including becoming fluent in French, gaining a master's degree in humanitarian assistance and proving he can operate in difficult situations by spending several months working in Somalia and then living in Cameroon.
Although he has travelled the world — experiencing thrills such as coming 25th in the World Wife Carrying Championships in Finland, living in Thailand while writing a book and climbing the most challenging peaks the planet has to offer — it is Africa which draws him and he has now visited 25 of the continent’s countries.
“Africa is like a drug. If it doesn’t kill you the first time you are either addicted or you will never go there again,” said Iain.
After spending time in strife-torn Somalia, Iain says it is the only country he never wants to go back to.
Iain was teaching English at a university in the country and even edited a book for a Somali MP, but did not feel safe despite having armed guards to protect him in the lawless country.
“There were five westerners at the start and I don’t think we slept well in the whole nine months.
"Eventually there was just me and then I just knew I had had enough and within three days I was out,” he said.
In contrast his favourite country is Cameroon.
“It is a really good mix. The beaches are beautiful and I like the cities and culture and there is cheap food and beer,” said Iain.
Wherever he goes, Iain likes to keep in touch with the fortunes of his beloved Bolton Wanderers, but says it is more difficult getting to see matches now the team is not in the Premier League.
Worldwide travel has meant Iain has had to be open minded about what he eats, consuming a variety of insects, camel and even the odd guinea pig on a trip through Peru.
And travel has even led to some dangerous situations, including being held captive for several hours by armed rebels in the African country of Burundi whilst trying to visit a national park to see hippos.
The soldiers eventually let him go after deciding not to take him hostage and he did get to see the hippos. “It was quite a long day,” he said. Iain admits his lifestyle has not followed a conventional path. “Some people have a gap year — I have a gap life,” he said.
Back home in Bolton, he is itching to go travelling again and cannot wait until the new job starts, so next month he jets off to Tanzania to meet up with the winner of Tanzania’s Got Talent, whom he has been getting to know online.
And he hopes he still has more adventures still to come.
He added: “At some point I’ll get too old to do it and go back to teaching — but not yet!”
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