1. Advent: “Biking made me free again”

Welcome to our first Advent Christmas Calendar! From this Sunday and up until Christmas Eve, ScandAsia has made little portraits of some of the participants from the Norwegian Seamen’s Church’s biking trip – Tour de Gulf of Thailand. Today you will meet Kjell, who explains why biking feels like freedom to him, and also what his plans are for Christmas.

Kjell Jvar Aase

Kjell is a 70 year old Norwegian who joined the Tour de Gulf of Thailand 2023 for his second time. The first one he joined was in 2018. And that trip kickstarted his passion for long-distance biking. 

Today Kjell is retired, but used to work as a farmer and organist for most of life. But in 1976, when he was just 23 years old, an incident happened while he was at work that caused him to injure his knee badly. So badly, that it took 36 years before he was able to get it replaced. Until then, he had to be very careful with the knee and couldn’t necessarily go hiking in the mountains, since it would be too much pressure.

“For 36 years I felt very restricted. I am a very active person and I cannot sit still, so suddenly not being able to do so many things was very frustrating,” he explained, and added, that he also had to get a new hip later on.

But then he discovered that biking was probably the best way for him to stay active.

Biking is freedom

He lives in Norway on a daily basis, but was once settled in Pattaya from 2006-2007 with his wife, working within the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. Years later, when he was back in Norway, he found out about the cycling trip, as he had kept in touch the church since his employment. So in 2018, he joined the Tour de Gulf of Thailand for his first time, despite never having tried biking for several days in a row.

On that trip, he realized how good it made him feel when he biked for a long time. Even if he had biked nearly 100km in a day – he would still leave the bike feeling even more energetic. And that inspired him. In 2020, during the pandemic, he went alone on a biking trip from the North of Norway to the South.

“I will never forget. I had never felt so free, and the scenery was beautiful. And because I was also alone, I could take my time with it, eat wherever I wanted and take as many breaks as I needed,” he told ScandAsia, and stressed how this feeling of such immense freedom came from having felt so limited for decades.

That’s why he also decided to come back for this trip, in 2023.

Christmas plans

For Christmas, Kjell will be home surrounded by his wife, their 4 children and grandchildren in East of Norway.

“Every year we rotate within the family, so everybody get’s to host Christmas. I am really looking forward to just being with my family. The conversations we have are amazing, it’s full of faith and laughter.”

About Sofie Rønnelund

Sofie Roennelund is a journalist working with ScandAsia at the headquarters in Bangkok.

View all posts by Sofie Rønnelund

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