When I first heard of “Globe Rovers” (I misread “Globerovers” as two words), I thought it was a football team! I was expecting them to draw 1-1 with Chimney Corner away in the Irish Cup preliminary round. Of course, it’s not a football team – it’s the excellent magazine and website run by Peter Steyn. We live on the globe and we can use a rover to get around. Whatever way you want to translate that is up to you. Here is Peter’s story in my latest of world travellers.
Who are you?
I am Peter Steyn, a world traveller, and editor-in-chief of GlobeRovers, an independent magazine for intrepid travellers published online and in glossy print. I also blog at globerovers.com.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in South Africa but moved to Canada at a young age. For the past 25 years I have been living “temporarily” in Asia, mostly Hong Kong and Thailand and hopefully soon Japan, but I plan to one day return to Canada where my heart is.
Where have you been?
To date I have photographed 122 countries on every continent except Antarctica, which is near the top of my bucket list.
Where are you now?
I was travelling in Siberia just before the current Covid pandemic became serious, and immediately after that I travelled along the long coastline of Myanmar. I returned to Thailand just before most borders and airlines closed, and I am still in Thailand, which has given me time to visit almost every inhabited island—undisturbed by the masses of tourists!
What are the top 3 places you’ve visited?
I have so many favourite places, but if I limit my answer to my favourite countries for leisure travel, it would have to be Japan, South Africa and Russia.
Japan: I have been to Japan more than two dozen times and over my years of travelling the world, I have found that the more you explore a country, the more you appreciate it. This is probably why I love Japan so much. Japan has a “wow” factor at every turn and I love them all: the people, culture, history, food, drinks, landscapes, hot springs, winter wonderlands, autumn scenery, spring flowers, mountains, rivers, volcanic activity, beaches, islands, cities, entertainment, shopping, markets, electronics, and the list goes on!
South Africa: South Africa is truly “A World in One Country” because it has it all: tropical jungles, snow-capped mountains, golden beaches, deserts, wildlife, canyons, rivers and much more. The culture, food, wine and people are simply the best!
Russia: I have explored Russia four times and cannot wait to soon photograph the rugged and remote Kamchatka Peninsula that lies northeast of Japan. My most recent visit was to frozen Lake Baikal in southern Siberia which was such an exhilarating experience. It is the deepest lake in the world and the largest freshwater lake by volume. I love Russian culture, people, food, nature and different lifestyles.
What is the best travel experience you’ve had?
A month-long trek through Nepal that included a 10-day hike from Lukla Airport to the summit of Gokyo Ri Peak in the Himalayas at an elevation of 5,357 metres (17,575 ft) where I watched the sun rise over Mount Everest. It was such a magical moment that I will remember it for the rest of my life. I can only imagine what it would be like to stand on top of Mount Everest. From Gokyo Ri, I hiked over the snow-covered Cho La Pass at 5,420 metres (17,782 ft) and then up to Kalar Patthar Peak at 5,600 metres (18,373 ft) and then to Everest Base Camp.
What is the worst travel experience you’ve had?
I have been very fortunate to have never had a really bad travel experience, but the closest was when I was on my way to Iran via Dubai. Checking in at Hong Kong Airport, I was informed that the UAE had changed their visa requirements two weeks earlier, which meant I needed a visa to transit between airports in Dubai. My tickets were non-changeable and non-refundable, so I had to buy new tickets from an airline that did not require an airport change in Dubai. Three weeks later, I arrived in Iran. Embarrassing, costly, time-consuming, but maybe a funny mishap! Moral of the story: always check visa requirements well in advance and again a few days before departure as they may have changed.
What is the funniest travel experience you’ve had?
I was house-sitting in the far north in the middle of winter. There was about a foot of snow around the farmhouse where I was staying. One morning, when I was dressed all in white long underwear and barefoot, I stepped out the front door to get the mail when the door slammed shut behind me. Like a big white bunny, I had to walk about a mile across the snowy field to the neighbour’s house to get the spare key. The neighbour laughed her head off at me, and so did I!
What is the scariest travel experience you’ve had?
I have also been lucky enough to have had few really scary experiences, but I have had many exhilarating-scary ones. These include taking a helicopter ride over the boiling lava craters of the Kīlauea volcano in Hawai’i and flying along the Napali Coast of Hawai’i. Other scary moments included close encounters with active volcanoes in Vanuatu and Guatemala. But I have to admit that these experiences were a lot more exciting than scary!
What is the most random job you have had on your travels?
I never have the time to take a job while travelling because I do not do slow travel and every moment is a Kodak moment for me. I focus entirely on my photography and getting to the best destinations off the beaten path.
How do you fund your travels?
I have worked in the corporate world for many years and invested wisely.
What 3 tips would you give a new traveller before they set off on their adventure?
The more I travel, the more tips I can give on how to have the best travels, so my list is very long.
Most importantly, do not put off your world travels until you retire from your day job. The experience of travelling around the world is so much different and better when you are young than when you are much older. Do not wait. Just do it, even if it means quitting your job in your 20s or 30s or even 40s and just travelling for a year or two and then returning to continue your career.
Plan as much as you can ahead of time so you do not waste time while travelling. I put all my notes on how to get there, what to see, where to stay, what not to miss, tickets, travel insurance, maps, etc. in EverNote, an app that syncs with the internet that I can easily view on my phone and anywhere else I have a browser and internet connection.
Do not let what you read scare you away from too many destinations. I do not advocate visiting war zones or places known for kidnapping foreigners for ransom, but do not be afraid to travel to places like Iran and North Korea just because you do not like their governments. I am not sure “political correctness” is part of the profile of a real traveller! I have found places like Iran, North Korea, Yemen, Syria and others to be very rewarding as I have been able to get a glimpse into the lives of the people in these countries.
What are your future travel plans?
First, I plan to make it through the current Covid pandemic alive and well! As soon as we can travel again without too many virus tests and even more tests, I want to spend a long time in Mongolia! I also want to explore more of Central Asia because it is an absolutely fantastic region!
Here are the links to GlobeRovers social media links:
Thanks to Peter 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!