A DANISH man, who is on a quest to visit every country in the world without taking a flight, has gone through seven passports in five years – and he still has 49 countries to travel to.
Torbjørn Pedersen, also known as Thor, started his expedition on October 10, 2013 and visited 153 countries before arriving in Bahrain on Tuesday from Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
The 39-year-old traveller, with a background in logistics, plans to visit 203 nations before returning home, in January 2020.
Mr Pedersen, who left for Dubai yesterday, said he was impressed by Bahrain’s friendly environment and architecture.
“My first impression has been that it is certainly a city but it kind of feels like a village,” he told the GDN.
“It’s very easy to walk around and I don’t feel like I need a car and the pace feels much calmer and more relaxed.
“People are friendly and I don’t feel as an individual here as I do in many other places; here I feel people notice me, they look and say ‘hello’ and are curious.
“From the beginning Bahrain was very welcoming, and although it was difficult to get here once I was here the visa process was easy and the people were friendly.”
Praising the architecture in the kingdom, he hailed the efforts to preserve it and renovate it.
“We just came from the other side of the causeway and we were talking about Dammam and how it has lost some of its ancient history and culture.
“Everything was McDonald’s and coffee shops and very American, and then I came here and saw that you have a mix of the very new and the ancient.
“It’s not old architecture that’s falling apart; it has been renovated so it looks nice.”
The project is funded through sponsorships, personal funding, crowdfunding and is being carried out in co-operation with the Danish Red Cross, for which Mr Pedersen is an ambassador.
His mission is to bring attention to the well-meaning people in the world, to show that humans are all the same, no matter where they may come from.
“A stranger is friend you’ve never met before,” he said.
Mr Pedersen, who has given himself a budget of $20 per day for meals, transportation, accommodation and visas, said he has spent around $50,000 on the costs of new passports, vaccines, fees, repairs and replacements (of equipment such as camera, laptop, etc).
Although the journey has been demanding, the adventurer said he has had some unforgettable experiences, including stumbling upon five dead bodies once.
“Once while walking down a beautiful beach I panicked when I came across a dead body,” he said, refusing to identify the place.
“I think they were boat refugees trying to cross the sea to seek a better life in another country when their boat broke and they couldn’t swim.”
However, Mr Pedersen’s most memorable experience was getting engaged to his Danish fiancée on top of Mount Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa, in 2016.
Although she doesn’t travel with him because she works as a doctor back home she visited him 16 times during his journey.
As an ambassador for the Red Cross in Denmark, Mr Pedersen attended an event on Wednesday at the Bahrain Red Crescent Society where he talked about his journey and motivation.
“We (the Red Cross) are the largest humanitarian organisation in the world and found in 191 countries,” he said.
“We are the ones receiving the boat refugees, picking them up from the ocean but we are also the ones collecting them on the beach when they don’t make it.
“Without the Red Cross or the Red Crescent people who don’t have a chance in life have an even lesser chance.”
Mr Pedersen has picked up languages, culture, traditions and politics, among other things, during his journey.
“I have seen the world is much more different than what we see in the news, movies and on social media.
“It is far more peaceful and friendly than what most people think and a stranger is a friend you’ve never met before.
“Politics and religion are important to people but when you get closer to people you realise those things are not important.
“What matters are family, weather, food and a future, and no matter which country you visit people want the same things for their children.”
Mr Pedersen’s journey can be followed on social media platforms @onceuponasaga.