Erik Ohlson spent 3 childhood years back in the 1990s in Singapore. He won a green bicycle in a lottery arranged by the Swedish Church there, when he was six years old.
(TNP Photo: Ariffin Jamar)
When Ohlson, now 25, wanted to return to Singapore for a visit earlier this year, he decided to use an unconventional mode of transport. Instead of hopping on a plane, he left Stockholm, Sweden on an icy day in February on a bicycle.
He cycled 19,000km across Europe and Asia in 91/2 months. In that time, he crossed 18 countries, including Germany, Hungary, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China and Laos.
At around 11am on 29 November, Mr Ohlson reached his final destination – the Merlion Park in Singapore. Waving Singapore’s national flag in his hand, he was greeted with loud cheers from his girlfriend and members of the Swedish Church in Singapore.
The cyclist got off his bicycle and gave his girlfriend, Miss Nicole Ahne, 25, a big bear hug. He then wrapped a large Swedish flag around himself and chatted with people from the Swedish Church.
Miss Ahne, who had flown in from Sweden on Monday, told The New Paper that Mr Ohlson was “shaking with excitement” as his journey was finally over.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for so long,” gushed Mr Ohlson, with sweat dripping down his face.
To make the amazing journey from Sweden to Singapore, he quit his job as a men’s magazine sales manager.
He spent between US$15 (S$18) and US$30 each day on his trip on food and accommodation.
“The feeling of reaching a distant city, country or continent by my own power is absolutely fantastic,” said Mr Ohlson, who started long-distance cycling expeditions in New Zealand and North America when he was 20.
For him, the challenge was to keep his spirits up. He was pelted with rocks and stones in eastern Turkey, but was not injured. He was almost deported out of Turkmenistan as he had overstayed.
Despite the mishaps, Mr Ohlson said that “99.9 per cent” of the people he met were amazing, such as the Iranians who offered him food, drinksand lodging.
He also “collected languages” by getting people in different countries to write on his travel pack.
Miss Ahne, who has quit her job as a finance assistant, will join her boyfriendon his next adventure.
The couple will be in Singapore for more than a week, before travelling to Malaysia and Indonesia. Their plan is to cycle in North and South America – this time as a couple.