Blind man’s journeys to explore more than 125 countries

Visiting more than 125 countries, setting foot in seven continents of the Earth while not seeing and hearing is something special Tony Giles has done for nearly 20 years.

Tony Giles, a 39-year-old man from the south west of England, visited more than 125 countries around the world while he is barely visible and 80% deaf.

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Dream of discovering the world when blind

Right from birth, Tony had eye disease, at age 6 he lost the ability to hear. By the age of 10, he was completely blind. However, he learned to travel alone and set a goal to visit many countries in the world because it is "the biggest challenge for a blind man”.

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Tony attended two visually impaired schools, the Exhall Grange School in Coventry and the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford, where Tony said he had learned all the skills needed to lead an independent life. So far, Tony has landed on all seven continents on Earth and is the author of two books under the pseudonym "Tony The Traveler”.

Tony's first overseas trip was to New Orleans in March 2000. Most recently, Tony had a seven-week trip across Jordan's Wadi Rum Desert with a camel and then visited Petra, one of seven world’s wonders.

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Sharing his first trip, Tony said getting to New Orleans made him realize he could travel alone. At first, he was worried and did not know what to do, but then everything was fine and here he had almost 10 days of fun and comfort. After his first trip, Tony decided to spend his time traveling.

Between 2001 and 2002, Tony spent five months traveling to Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. Not only was the discovery, in 2009, during a trip to Greece, Tony met his girlfriend Tatiana, a blind woman living in Athens.

Remembering, learning to speak basic indigenous sentences to avoid getting lost

Unlike ordinary travelers who can look around. Tony explores destinations by feeling and touching things. He often walks to feel the change around, even the surface under his feet from gravel, asphalt, pebble to concrete.

Not only exploring the famous historical, cultural places, Tony also try himself with the adventure sports. So far, he has bungee jumping 16 times, parachuting three times, and has sailed across Australia, New Zealand, Costa Rica and Zambia.

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Before each trip, Tony researches destinations, books hotels, and plans for the trip. Later, he sets off with the necessary equipment, maps, e-books and hearing aids. Tony always has a hotel address tag written in the local language, so if caught up anywhere, he can call a taxi and come back to the hotel.

Besides, before visiting any place, Tony often tries to memorize basic phrases in the local language and it is fortunate that he almost always finds someone who knows English when he needs help.

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The cost of the trip was paid by Tony's personal pension that his father left him after his death, along with the income from the two books he had written. With a modest budget, Tony always strives to minimize the cost of travel, and often makes reservations at popular hotels as well as uses public transport wherever as possible.

Describing his journeys, Tony said that meeting and exchanging with local people was like a cultural exchange and that it was the true nature and meaning of the trip. Going to and arriving at the places you want is like reaching a great achievement and that is the major motivation behind Tony's journeys.

By: Oralie Smith

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