About a year ago, I interviewed and wrote a column on a Danish explorer, Thor Pedersen. His mission was to visit every country in the world (all 203) without setting foot on an airplane.
I was introduced to Thor when he first arrived in Hong Kong, with only eight countries left to go. Sadly, the pandemic hit, and he was stranded. The remaining countries were all South Pacific islands, including Australia and New Zealand, neither of which allowed entry by foreign visitors.
Travelling around the world can be challenging at best, but Thor added stress by having a budget of $25 per day. “In some countries, it was easy, as people were friendly, and I did a lot of couch surfing.” He smiled as he spoke. “Other areas, like North America, were very expensive, but somehow it all averaged out.”
Thor was married while he was in Hong Kong to his Danish girlfriend. “The ceremony took place virtually,” he explained, “But my wife was able to visit me for a month, shortly after we were wed.”
I asked him about his beard, which appeared to be different lengths at different times. He laughed, “I shave it off when I see my wife. Then I let it grow until her next visit.” He paused. “She has met me around the world, more than two dozen times.”
The latest update I have from Thor was last week when he finally left Hong Kong to continue his trek, visiting the Island of Palua, in the South Pacific. He is happy to be on the road again and admitted he is missing his Danish homeland.
His four-year trek is taking eight years, but he hopes to be finished by the end of 2022. He is scheduled to be a guest on my talk show when he has returned to Denmark, and I look forward to hearing all about the remainder of his adventure. What a feat to have accomplished.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel,’ on Rogers The Standard Website or YouTube.