Danish globetrotter happily stranded in Hong Kong during pandemic

Torbjørn C. ‘Thor’ Pedersen Danish globetrotter who got stuck in Hong Kong during the pandemic

Torbjørn C. ‘Thor’ Pedersen is a Danish traveller whose goal it is to visit every country in the world without the use of air travel, tells of his adventure in Hong Kong.

”In 2013, I set out to visit every single country in the world in an unbroken journey, completely without flying.” Pedersen says he has reached 194 countries so far and is only nine countries away from his goal, probably eight by the time this story goes on ScandAsia because I caught with him when he had reached New Zealand, after ‘escaping’ Hong Kong and its Covid-19 lockdowns and rules.

‘Thor’ Pedersen says in a news article with the Hong Kong Tourism Board, “I have been travelling on-board container ships to reach some of the faraway islands and also go between continents. So, I have travelled with 25 container ships so far.”

However, when the pandemic hit the world in 2020, he got stuck in Hong Kong and couldn’t leave until recently.

Because of his mode of travel, he might easily have been stuck and isolated on-board some or the other ship (which we know from the many news stories, was a nightmare for passengers who could not disembark in any ports to go home to their normal lives at the time). Or he could have even gotten stuck on a small island during the pandemic, so he counts himself very lucky to have had to pause his adventures in Hong Kong for a while.

“And like most people who arrive here, I had no idea about all the nature, he says about the lush vegetation that Hong Kong island sports. He, like so many other people presumed Hong Kong was simply just a huge city, so his surprise was great when he discovered that Hong Kong is actually more nature than it is city. “My jaw dropped when I discovered that Hong Kong is 75 per cent nature because I love nature and mountains and beaches and waterfalls, and all the different animals and hiking trails. There’s so much going on in Hong Kong that I cannot imagine getting stuck anywhere better. It’s a full-on opportunity.”

Hong Kong’s natural beauty

He speaks about the diverse population of the city’s inhabitants, “So, just walking around the city you can find yourself standing next to some guy in a business suit with a smart haircut and smart shoes, and he is texting on his iPhone. Then, right next to him is an elderly woman in more traditional clothing who definitely does not speak English, but who is smiling broadly, showing off the four teeth that she has in her mouth as her eyes dance with the sparkle of life that has not yet left her. And those two people from two different worlds are right there next to each other, and this is what I find is so truly interesting about Hong Kong.”

The traveller ponders on how far he has really come in his travels, feeling a bit concerned that what he is doing might seem boring or ‘too ordinary but under extraordinary circumstances’, because he still needs to go to the supermarket to buy milk, and he is still boiling water for noodle soup, no matter where he is in the world. “I still get on the MTR to get where I’m going and then it’s not all that extraordinary when you break it down to the things you have to do on a day-to-day basis.

“I think most people who head out to travel and explore the world come back home after a year or two after running out of money and also because they have seen enough waterfalls, met enough people, tried enough exotic food. Their phone book is full of new contacts, and they want to go home and digest and sort of look through the photos and remember the good places and maybe start over again. And then after some time, the travel bug bites them once more, and off they go again,” he says.

Thor tells how he joined a container ship from Hong Kong to Palua then another back from Palua to Hong Kong, after which he took yet another container ship to Australia and one from Australia to New Zealand.

He has not been home since October 2013 and has reached 197 countries entirely without flying.

The final six countries he plans to visit are Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Thank you to Torbjørn C. ‘Thor’ Pedersen for his impromptu interview with ScandAsia yesterday.

Source: Hong Kong Tourism Board and ScandAsia writer

About Jaqueline Deeon

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Jaqueline Deeon

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