Man used Google Maps to trek 5,000 miles across Asia (video)

20 Nov 2012

Former US Marine sergeant and walker Winston Fiore

A former US Marine sergeant called Winston Fiore used an Android phone with Google Maps to walk 5,000 miles (8,046km) across Asia to raise money to provide free facial-reconstructive surgeries for children in developing countries.

Fiore raised US$65,000 for the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF) after being inspired by an article by Dr Geoff Williams who provides free facial reconstructive surgery for children with cleft lips/palates. In many developing countries, the mere US$250 it costs to conduct the surgery is out of reach for many parents.

Fiore set off on his epic trek armed with boots, a 20-pound rucksack and an Android phone with Google Maps to guide him through Brunei, China, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

“Walking directions in Google Maps were critical to my trek,” Fiore said in the official Google blog.

“The directions were accurate and efficient – it’s essential to take the shortest route when you’re walking 20-25 miles (32-40km) each day,” said Fiore.


“But the best part was being routed onto roads and trails through areas I otherwise never would have discovered with, say, driving directions, or even a physical map.”

Fiore also used Google Latitude to inform friends and family of his whereabouts, MyTracks to record his speed and distance, and Google Translate to communicate with locals.

Google Translate came in very handy when he was bitten by a dog outside Bangkok.

He typed “I got bit by a dog, can someone take me to a hospital?” into his app. A taxi driver took him to the hospital, where Fiore received 11 shots.

The US$65,000 Fiore raised will be used to fund more than 200 life-saving surgeries for children in southeast Asia.


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years