Manama : You can call him Thor. But don’t confuse yourself. He is not the God of Thunder who uses a tremendously massive hammer to propel into the sky in a moment. Our Thor or Torbjørn C. Pedersen don’t have a hammer, but that never stopped him from crossing continents. Instead, he decided to do it by land, without boarding any flights.
As he puts it: “Flight would be the easy choice to visit many countries. But what is the fun in easy?” Born in Denmark of Scandinavian parents, Pedersen is on a one-man journey to travel around the world and has reached Bahrain. The Kingdom is the 154th country in his quest using ground transportation: train, buses and boats of sorts.
“I will not buy, borrow or rent a vehicle in order get from A to B and I definitely do not have a chauffeur. This way I will ensure a lot of time spent with locals and travellers alike – an amazing way to see the World!” he wrote in his blog. In his journey through Bahrain, Tribune caught up with him to find Bahrain through his eyes and to learn about the countries he had visited in the Middle East during his journey which started in 2013 to “do what no one has ever done before”.
‘Small country with a big heart’
Bahrain, he said, is a ‘small country with a big heart’. “The sights of the juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern that is so common in the country give it ‘a soul’”.
“Bahrain is one of the most impressive countries I have visited in the Middle East.
“I had a wonderful time here, which is annoying as now I want to stay longer but I can’t. However, that is a very positive situation to be in.
I have been received here with much care and enthusiasm.
“It is astonishing to see the depth of Bahrain’s history which stretches back so many thousands of years. And that is somewhat unusual for the Gulf where many countries have been influenced by other civilizations and haven’t had their own.
“I like that the architecture of Manama, which is a mix of traditional design along with modern buildings. It gives Manama a soul,” he said.
Promoting Red cross
Initially, a thirst for adventure was the only reason for Thor to set out on his travel. However, now he is using his fame and travelling to raise awareness about and promote the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Having a background in logistics helped him plan an optimal route around the world without ever boarding an aeroplane.
Next stop Palestine
Bahrain is one of the last countries that he marks off as visited in the Middle East. Palestine remains as the only country he is yet to travel in the region which is where he is headed next.
Dodgy part of Panama
When asked about the dangers he encountered he said, “I once found myself in a very dodgy part of Panama City where the residents looked at me in disbelief that I visited the area as a tourist.
“I stayed very cautious and made my way out again. Later on, I learned that it was the most dangerous part of the city.
With 2 strangers in a boat
“Another instance was when I crossed from Venezuela to Trinidad in a small open boat with two strangers and no safety equipment. In hindsight that might not have been smart. But it
Anxious moments in Congo
“Finally, I was travelling in a taxi on a dirt road in the jungle near the Cameroun/Congo border at 03:00 am. Three men in military uniforms stopped the car to question us. They were very drunk, armed and hostile. I thought that was it. There were no villages nearby and no people. After about 45 minutes they suddenly let both the driver and I go without any reason. We left as fast as possible!”
Fighting storm in a ship
“There was also an instance when I was in this container-ship which I was on board and we hit a bad storm. I thought we were in serious trouble. I couldn’t stay in bed without falling out. It was hard to eat. It was impossible to take a shower. The ship was really moving in the waves. I remember being on the bridge with the officers looking at the waves crashing in over the containers!! I quietly asked: “Is this normal?”
They all laughed at me and someone said: “Son, this is nothing!” After that, I knew they were confident and then I could relax. The storm lasted 4 days.”
Detailing some of the other challenges he encountered, he said, “I am normally challenged by either logistics
“Logistical issues like when I cannot reach an island or cross a conflicted area. Bureaucracy when I cannot get the visas I need and travel permits.
“Also I have been challenged in various ways. The world that we live in is not made for such a project like this. Where there are islands there are not always ferries and many countries which offer visa on arrival at the airport do not do the same at land borders.
“I spent more than four months getting into Equatorial Guinea, I had to become a resident to get inside DR Congo, I waited 80 days for my visa to Syria and I have been working seven months on getting a visa for Saudi Arabia and only received a transit visa.
“Furthermore sometimes I need to board container ships in order to reach far away islands and cross oceans,”