I haven’t done a World Travellers interview on here for ages. Monkeys or donkey months, or to be precise 6 months. I used to do one a week back in the glory days (before depression, liars and stalkers interfered in my life). So when I do comeback, I want it to be the best yet. Better than Diego. But I forgot the stupid rule (made by nobody) that we are not allowed to compare people, blogs, things. Yes we can, we can compare and we are allowed to. This could be the best interview on here yet, because Thor has a great story, damn right it might be better than yours, at least today. This is Thor. Let’s meet him…
Meet Thor, read about Thor, follow Thor. He could be the best yet on this series, you really need to understand this. He had already visited over 25% of the world before this project. BUT he started again. He started at zero and will visit EVERY country in the world by land or sea. No flights. No helicopters or aeroplanes. Truly wacaday stuff!
“If you want more, shout it out louder” – Usher.
Who Are You?
My name is Torbjørn C. Pedersen, which is a terrible travelers name. But that has never stopped me before – just call me Thor. I had already visited roughly every fourth country in the World before this project saw its first day – but now the time has come to go all in. However starting from zero and finishing with all!
Where are you from?
I come from the kingdom of Denmark in the high north of Europe 😉
“It’s a goal for Denmark, John Jensen” – John Motson, 1992.
Where have you been?
All over the place!! 🙂 so far the Saga has brought me to 143 wonderful countries. I have covered EVERY country on four continents so far: Europe, North and South America and all of Africa. There are 15 countries in Asia which I have been to in my life along with New Zealand and Australia. I’m visiting them again within the Saga.
Where are you now?
Beirut, Lebanon. The Saga’s first Asian country here in the Middle East.
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
That’s impossible for me to answer. Most places I like are because of people and all around the world people are just people. I’ll twist your question and reply by saying that there are four countries I have been to which were unique: Greenland, Iran, Cuba and Ethiopia. Most countries compare a little or a lot to other countries. My own country (Denmark) is a little like the Netherlands or Sweden. Guatemala is a little like Honduras etc. the four countries I mentioned are uniquely distinct and I really can’t compare them to anywhere.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
By now I have so many. I’ll just pick one and we will call it the best 🙂 The Saga’s motto is: A stranger is a friend you’ve never met before. In Suwałki (Poland) I was standing on a street all alone. It was dark and snowing as it was in December. Suddenly a door opened and I rushed over to ask for directions. The lady (Maria) quickly invited me to stay at her place. She offered me a bed and food before she knew my name. We talked until late in the night and I slept like a baby that night. The next morning her daughter and Maria made breakfast for me while I had a warm shower. Afterwards Maria drove me to the bus which would take me to Lithuania. She never expected anything from me. Pure hospitality from a stranger. A Norwegian artist later on made a picture of how he saw that night. Much later I made a video telling about this (The Maria Story) and posted it to YouTube. Somehow it quickly got 8,000 views and I got back in touch with Maria. I sent her the picture. A stranger is a friend you’ve never met before might sound nice. To me it’s true!
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
The day I mentally quit this project! After several months (6-7) of hardship I couldn’t take it anymore. I nearly lost my girlfriend due to the strain of long distance relationship. I lost my financial sponsor. I was recovering from Malaria. I felt like nobody cared about what I was doing. I began to suffer from migraines. After several months of not having sufficient reason to continue I cracked at the land border between Cameroon and Gabon. It was my third attempt to cross that border and they turned me down. A voice in my head shouted: ENOUGH! I was ready to go to the airport and felt severely sorry for myself. I was a failure! GO HOME! A taxi driver I knew arrived on his motorcycle out of the blue 15 minutes later and his good spirit convinced me to continue. I didn’t go home. I continued and it got much worse over the coming months!! I had hit the bottom and couldn’t fall deeper. I was simply on autopilot: keep on keeping on! Eventually the months past, I got in and out of the countries I was struggling with and I was finally free: the sun was shining in my face again and everything got better. However that day and that moment was the worst and it gives me chills to think about it.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
A scam which backfired? I guess I’ve had many but right now I’m thinking about this one:
Actually I don’t look for work throughout this Saga as the project is plenty of work in itself. These days I’m holding out for a visa a probably just put in four hours a day on average. However normally I work about 60-70 hours a week trying to make the Saga work. That said, I was on a cargo ship heading from Scotland to the Faroe Islands when the crew suddenly asked me to clean the staircase including the walls etc. I didn’t complain and just got on with it. An hour later I was done and they never asked me to do anything again. I think the crew was just testing me. I’m usually onboard as a guest and I’m not licensed to work onboard 😉
The project budget of $20/day covers transport, meals, accommodation and visas. It is meant as an average over the entire journey. In some countries I’m above while in other countries I’m below. My current overall average is slightly above but so far I have covered most of the expensive countries. I see it coming down and believe that the budget will stick (more or less). It was sponsored by Ross Offshore until April 2016. Since then it has been self funded. I also took two loans and sold some of my possessions. We finally ran a crowdfunding campaign which ended in 2017 and generated $20,752. There is currently no way of supporting the Saga financially.
The best advise I can give you is to stick to the plan and make it happen. So many people find excuses. Once you are out there you should stay positive, open and smile a lot. I guarantee you that it will change your world! Try local food, learn bits and pieces of the local language and use it every chance you get.
Trust people but trust your intuition too. The world is not an entirely safe place although I stand by that the vast majority of everyone you will ever meet are good hearted well meaning people. People are generally more into family, sports, food, the weather, taking selfies, updating Facebook and stuff like that. Much more than anything else.
If you have a smartphone then I suggest you download:
– xe currency
– google translate
– Onavo Protect (vpn)
My immediate plan is to enter Syria and visit Damascus. That will be followed by the rest of the Middle East, the Caspian region, the “Stans” and the rest of Asia. Finally the Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, a few more countries and the Maldives. Then home to Denmark 🙂
Some day I’d like to visit Alaska, Easter Island, Galapagos and Antarctica.
I was born in Denmark of Scandinavian parents and soon after I was lifted up and carried to North America before returning home to Denmark years later. In Denmark I did my school and then my military service before finding my feet within shipping and logistics in the private sector. In the end of 2009 I became an independent businessman and after years of working on other peoples projects I have been able to create my own: the Saga! With a lot of help from good friends that is!
Thanks to Thor for being the latest in my series of World Travellers! If you travel the world and run a travel blog or are a travel writer, please get in touch, you can be featured, either e-mail jonny (at) dontstopliving (dot) net or head to my contacts page and get connected! You can also subscribe to Don’t Stop Living by filling in the form below! Safe travels!