70 year old Norwegian Kristian Bo started by the end of January on an 18,000 kilometer bicycle ride from Bangkok to Norway.
The journey is expected to take him six months.
He undertakes this adventure without any form of outside support. All his clothing, equipment, tools and satellite telephone is kept in two bags that contains less than what most people bring on a weekend getaway.
ScandAsia met the bold Norwegian just before he started his transcontinental journey.
What makes a 70 year old embark on something that makes most tests of manhood and iron-man competitions look like easy warm-ups?
“I can see how many people might wonder. I have been on many bicycle journeys around Southeast Asia, but time has always been a constraint. Now that I am retired, I finally have the time for an extended journey. So I figured I might as well ride my bicycle all the way back to Norway,” the fit Norwegian said.
And fit he must be, even though he looks more like an average senior citizen than one who participate in extreme sports. His biking shorts, however, reveals legs accustomed to far more vigorous exercise than walking to the nearest newsstand to fetch the morning newspaper.
Bo has bicycled trough large parts of Asia. His first extended trip was in 1989 when he biked 6,800 kilometers all over Thailand. He logged 3,500 kilometers in Burma in year 2000. Two years ago he spent 40 days on the 3,600 kilometers long journey to the Yunnan province in southeast China. Just to mention a few of his trips.
When he embarked on this journey his former employer, TelecomAsia, staged a grand departure ceremony for its former vice president. Bo left Norway 18 years ago and has had a career in telecommunications in Thailand.
TelecomAsia had published a press release that made quite a few of the local newspapers and TV-stations show up to cover the start. Several of Bo’s former colleagues also wanted to se him well off.
After more than an hour of farewells, and having to go through his journey with one after another of the executives, he could finally mount his bike and start pedaling.
“I really want to get started now,” he said.
People and places
Bo’s journey goes from Bangkok, through Laos, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, and finally Norway.
That adds up to 18,000 kilometers in six months.
Is it really worth it?
“It’s good for my body, I will experience a lot, and meet many local people,” Bo said.
Meeting locals is never a problem for Bo on his bicycle travels. Every time he stops to drink, about every 20 kilometers, they gather around him.
“There might be some language difficulties in China,” Bo said.
That he has to cross a mountain pass 4,800 meters above sea level in China seems not to classify as a problem in his book. On the other hand, crossing mountains is part of the journey and something he has to do in almost every one of the 15 countries he visits on his way to Norway.
The plan is to cover between 100 and 140 kilometers every day.
The final journey
The biggest challenge will probably be the countries that are not entirely safe. There are areas on the border between Pakistan and Iran where it is advised not to travel by road. He might dismount his bike in those areas and use other modes of transportation.
“I prioritize my health, and my safety is more important than the prestige from completing the entire journey on bicycle,” Bo said, adding that he is not willing to risk his life.
Many might view it as risking your life when a 70 year old man bicycles 18,000 kilometers in six months?
“Well, some people think the same even if the journey was only 1,000 kilometers,” Bo said before he pedaled into the hectic Bangkok traffic.
Next summer, after a few weeks in Norway, Bo will return to Thailand where he has settled permanently. He has no plans to embark on other long bicycle journeys.
“No, this one has to be the last one,” he said.
If you want to follow Kristian Bo’s èjourney, you can log on to the internet site . This site will provide updated information on his progress.