The Peak (Singapore) - - The Hot Seat - TEXT DANIEL GOH IMAGES MERCEDES-BENZ

Who the hell is Mike Horn? – that would prob­a­bly be the same ques­tion you would be ask­ing, if you got an in­vi­ta­tion to spend a cou­ple of hours on a yacht with this in­trepid ex­plorer. Yet, as I stand aboard the Pan­gaea off the coast of Port Dickson, with the wind whip­ping salt­wa­ter into my face, lis­ten­ing to him speak about his ad­ven­tures, an­other ques­tion re­places the for­mer – how the hell could any­one not know Mike Horn?

If you do a quick Google search on the man, you’ll see why some have pegged him as the world’s great­est mod­ern­day ex­plorer. His list of ac­com­plish­ments looks sim­i­lar to that of Marco Polo, Cap­tain James Cook and Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary, com­bined!

He has swum the en­tire length of the Ama­zon (us­ing a hy­drospeed), hunt­ing for food to sur­vive and rest­ing along dan­ger­ous river­banks at night. He was the first man to cir­cum­nav­i­gate the globe around the equa­tor, alone and with­out mo­torised trans­port. He was the first hu­man be­ing to com­plete a 20,000km jour­ney cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the Arc­tic Cir­cle us­ing only a boat (also un­mo­torised), kayak, ski kite and on foot, which lasted two years; and he reached two peaks higher than 8,000m in the Hi­malayan moun­tains with­out the use of any oxy­gen.

The real rea­son, how­ever, that I am so en­am­oured of his gusto for the next big ad­ven­ture and his pas­sion for push­ing the lim­its, is the fact that, be­fore all this, he was al­ready a self-made mil­lion­aire. As the story goes, Horn got rich sell­ing cab­bages in South Africa in his early 20s. “I thought I would have more free­dom with money, but I re­ally had less,” he says. So, he made the de­ci­sion to give away ev­ery­thing he owned to fam­ily and friends – ex­cept a plane ticket to Zurich and US$50 in his pocket. He says: “It was only af­ter giv­ing ev­ery­thing away that I felt truly free.”

In some ways, Horn says he didn’t be­come an ex­plorer; he was born one. In an anec­dote he shares with The

Busi­ness Times, he says that, when he was younger, he and his two sis­ters were all given bi­cy­cles. “I wanted to ride it 300km to see my cousins but my sis­ter, who was given the same bike, rode it around the house and never left home with it, and she be­came a well-known judge in South Africa. My other sis­ter did not even get on the bike be­cause she was al­ways draw­ing and she’s now a fine artist restor­ing paint­ings in Lon­don.”

Horn, ar­guably, has seen more of our planet than any other hu­man be­ing. And, if through his trav­els, he has de­vel­oped an ur­gent need to pre­serve it, it’s hard to think

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