Torbjorn Pedersen is a regular guy with a crazy mission.
The Danish adventurer hopes to become the first man in history to travel to every country in the world in one unbroken journey without flying.
He started this ambitious journey in 2013 as part of a project called Once Upon A Saga, and six years later, he visited Fiji in late December 2019, his 192nd country.
To put things in perspective, only 215 people in history have been to every country in the world, 560 people have been to space and more than 6000 have ascended Mt Everest.
“Only 215 have been to every country on earth. That represents a very small club, but nobody has done it without flying,” said Torbjorn, who is nicknamed Thor, the second mightiest of all the Norse Gods who controlled thunder and lightening.
“What I’m doing is a very unique and difficult attempt but it will be historical.”
While travelling, Thor, a Goodwill Ambassador for the Danish Red Cross, promotes the work of the world’s largest humanitarian organisation and visits in-country Red Cross offices.
He also hopes to be a source of inspiration for billions of people around the world.
“I’m also trying to inspire people because what I’m doing is unbelievably complicated. It takes a lot of time, energy and focus, but it is possible.”
“Whenever you give up in life you don’t get what you want, that’s the message that’s coming across with this project. I hope that people might be inspired to never give up just like how I’ve never given up.”
Thor profiles countries he visits and shares positive information about its food, culture, history, art and religion, among other things.
“People are afraid of travelling to certain countries because of negative things. But the reality is all around the world, people are just people, they are human at the very core and not everyone is hostile.”
In the past six years, Thor has done more travelling on land than by sea.
He travels by sea when connecting two continents, and when visiting the scattered countries of the Pacific and the Caribbean.
“I have been on everything that floats — container ships, fishing boats, shrimp trawlers, yachts, private sailboats, banana boats and cruise ships. I don’t really care what I float on. My main aim is to get to every country without flying, even if
I have to travel on the back of a turtle.”
Thor misses his fiancée and family who keep reminding him he has been away for too long.
“I miss home, but I’ve never been homesick. If you are home sick then you stop functioning and the only cure is going back home. I don’t feel like that, but I think of home all the time. I want to speak my language, eat my home food, and see my friends and family.”
“I have a fiancée back home and I want to wake up next to her. I have two younger sisters and both my parents are in their 70s. I communicate with all of them often, but they complain because it has been too long. I was hoping to finish after four years, but my journey has taken over six years.”
Thor says his mission has had its shares of ups and downs. He has experienced natural disasters, bouts of food poisoning and cerebral malaria but none of these challenges has been able to send him out of the game.
He agrees Fiji is a beautiful place, but believes the people are what make it special.
“This is a great place to do things, to be honest. You are very modern, you’ve got everything and the internet is cheap.”
“The human element is very important to me. Countries can be beautiful, but they are just stones, seas, rocks and trees. The thing that makes a country interesting is its people.
“If you have people who are open and friendly then you have a good country. Fiji has friendliness and peace, and because of that you have prosperity, you can get stuff done and focus on what’s important in life.”
Thor, who visited his 193rd country (Marshall Islands) on New Year’s Eve 2019, has 10 more countries to go to, including New Zealand, Australia, Palau, Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu.
He will be back in Fiji in May and is expected to return to Denmark by the middle of the year, after visiting his last country, the Maldives.
When asked for a message to the people of Fiji, Thor chose to talk on friendship.
“The world is a lot of better than the image it has. Most things on this planet are contrary to what people think. Most people are just people and the world is a lot safer than what you think it is.
“I want people to know that a stranger is a friend you’ve never met before. When you meet someone you’ve never met before, there’s no reason to think they will harm or do bad to you, but there’s every reason to believe that someone is a potential friend.”
I have been on everything that floats — container ships, fishing boats, shrimp trawlers, yachts, private sailboats, banana boats and cruise ships. I don’t really care what I float on. My main aim is to get to every country without flying, even if I have to travel on the back of a turtle
Thor during an interview at the Fiji Red Cross headquarters in Suva.