I have thousands of stories from my journey to every country in the world. Here are 50 of the best ones.
2. Hospitality at its best. Having successfully obtained a visa for Azerbaijan in Batumi, Georgia I travelled to the border. Unfortunately, it was only valid on the next day so I had to wait until midnight before I could continue my journey. Right after midnight I get into Azerbaijan, but there was no transport or any people on the other side. I can do nothing but stand and wait in the dark. Finally, a car came, and I put up my thumb. A man and a woman were in the car and didn’t speak a word of English. The man made a quick call, talked for a minute and gave me the phone. “Hello I’m an English teacher, my friends are worried about you, can they take you to their house?”. They then invited some friends, over and I told my story to the English teacher on the phone and she translated it. The man picking me up then arranged one of his friends to drive me to the near 500 kilometres to Baku for just a bit more than a bus ticket would have cost. I arrived at 6 in the morning and was able to continue my travels as planned thanks to the extraordinary Azerbaijani hospitality.
3. First hitchhiking adventure. I hitchhiked from Otahuna Lodge to Grasmere Lodge in New Zealand with six different cars.125 kilometres that made me fall in love with the idea of hitchhiking. Instead of paying a lot of money for a taxi for 125 kilometres I got between the two world-class lodges for free. New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world to hitchhike and one of the only Western countries where I feel the people find it acceptable do it.
4. Scariest experience. Probably the only time I felt in danger for my life. Sikkim is a special region in India that has border control. I tried to hitchhike back to West Bengal, but nobody wanted to take me. I decided to tell my story to an officer, and he then asked a driver to take me. I get in the car with this man that didn’t speak English and ahead were some of the most dangerous roads that in itself made my nervous. What made me a lot more nervous was that he stopped the car after just a few kilometres. He then took out a bottle of vodka and drank it all in one go. If I left the car, I would be standing alone on extremely dangerous roads, so I decided to stay. It was very scary, but I got safely to a town in West Bengal after a couple of hours. I should have paid for a taxi, but I had the mindset of saving wherever possible at the time to increase the chance of completing the project of visiting every country.
5. Eight nights in Kiribati. The Pacific island-nation of Kiribati is one of the least developed in the world and quite an adventure. Due to a sold-out flight, I ended up spending eight nights here. I bought a tent in Nauru, so I could sleep on the beach for the nights I was unable to find accommodation. I met an American traveller on the second day that allowed me to sleep on his couch, so I only spent the first night in Kiribati on the beach. I then went on an adventure with this American traveller from South Tarawa to North Tarawa. Hitchhiking, talking to locals living very primitive and not knowing exactly where we were going made it such a great adventure. I also met Air Kiribati’s CEO that arranged a trip for me to the small island of Abaiang. Although Kiribati was one of the least comfortable experiences, it was a real adventure and deserves a place on this top 50-list.
6. Somaliland immigration gave me a free visa. Somaliland is officially not recognised as an independent country, but run like one with its own flag, currency and government. The Somali-national carrier, Jubba Airways had sponsored me a ticket from Nairobi to Hargeisa with a stop in Mogadishu and I was very excited to experience this territory after having done a lot of research. The visa policy recently changed and according to Somaliland Immigration’s website; a tourist visa would now be possible on arrival for 80 dollars. 80 dollars is a lot of money for a visa, so I decided to ask if it was possible for a cheaper visa for my short visit.
As only a few people were arriving at Hargeisa International Airport, I decided to go last, smile and be as kind as possible, the best advice when you are communicating with any immigration officer. I started to explain if a cheaper visa was possible as I wouldn’t be in Somaliland for long. They then said there was a flight soon to Djibouti and why I didn’t take that one. Then I explained I made the stop in Somaliland on purpose so I could experience it. They thought that was very cool, and as I was travelling alone with hardly any luggage, they asked me what my purpose of travel was. I told them that I was trying to visit all countries and territories in the world on a low budget with help from airlines around the world. The immigration officers then offered me a free transit visa, but not only that, but I also didn’t have to pay the full arrival and departure tax, but only transit tax. A saving of around 100 Dollars. Lucky me. Kindly note, that if I had stayed more than 24 hours, I would have had to pay the normal visa fee and departure tax. Also, the immigration kept my passport at the airport until the next day as part of the agreement.
As Hargeisa is reported to be safe and as taxis are expensive, I hitchhiked from the airport to the Ambassador Hotel. I had waited one hour before the manager returned from a meeting. I explained my project and was offered a staff room in the back of the hotel as the hotel was full. I spend the afternoon exploring Hargeisa, and although I received a lot of attention being one of the only white people in town, I felt very welcome. The only problem was my camera. They don’t like being photographed so make sure nobody is in your picture before taking one.
Somaliland is not a tourist destination as such, but very interesting place to visit. I am very thankful for the immigration and glad to have visited the territory without much trouble. Somaliland has friendly people and it was certainly an experience I will always remember.
7. The best hitchhiking experience was in Iran. I arrived in Tehran for the first time and expected to find a bus to take me into the city, but, unfortunately, taxis were the only option. 20 Euros would be way above my daily budget, so I decided to hitchhike as I’ve done many times before. The first car that stopped expected money, but the second was a friendly English teacher that took me to my hotel after showing me a bit of the city. Due to heavy traffic, we talked for almost two hours.
8. Mauritius was the country where I hitchhiked with the most. I’ve spent almost two months there and hitchhiking was a great way to save money. I remember one time I arrived at the airport in the evening and it was too late to catch public transport. My resort was in the north of the island almost 100 kilometres away so I hitchhiked. It wasn’t easy, but I got to the resort and saved a lot of money.
9. Sometimes you give up too quickly. My LIAT-flight was more than three hours delayed, and I arrived late into St. Maarten Airport in the Caribbean. My hotel for the night was on the French side of the island, but as it was very late and dark, I knew it would probably be difficult to get a ride. I was right. I tried, but nobody wanted to pick me up, so I gave up and decided to sleep at the airport. As I was about to sleep airport personnel came to inform me that the airport close at night and I had to leave. I had no choice but to go out on the street again. Thankfully, a Haitian man picked me up, and I was on my way to a real adventure. After five cars I arrived at my hotel on the French side of the island exhausted and ready for bed.
10. The most dangerous place I’ve hitchhiked. I hitchhiked twice in Johannesburg, which some call one of the most dangerous cities in the world. I was in a remote place of the city with no public transport around. It was in 2012 before Uber, and the taxis was too expensive for my daily budget. I looked after nice cars and put my thumb when I saw one. I had no issues, and I got safely to The Saxon, widely regarded as one of the word’s best hotels.
11. The worst hitchhiking experience. With hitchhiking, you have to be careful where you do it. I’ve hitchhiking many times in America, but for some reason, I am always nervous doing it there. I’ve hitchhiked with more than 1,000 cars but never had any terrible experience. The worst experience was, however, near San Francisco where a young couple picked me up. The girl smoked something strong on the front seat and the way they talked made me feel uncomfortable. They also demanded money for the ride and I, of course, agreed as I was a bit scared, but nothing happened. I arrived safely at the hotel.
12. My taxi driver went to prison in South Sudan. South Sudan is the newest country in the world, but, unfortunately, also one of the most dangerous. I asked my driver to take a photo of me in front of an interesting building in the capital of Juba, but some kind of secret service saw it and asked several times if I was a journalist. I explained I was just a tourist and they demanded to see my camera check my photos. I apologised. They let me go, but the driver had to go to prison. The brother of the driver had arranged the transportation for me in Juba, and he told me about how difficult it was to get him out of prison. South Sudan is not a country I fancy to visit again.
13. The scariest country I’ve been. The Central African Republic. Cancelled a trip earlier as I was too afraid of going. War and political unrest have made this one of the most dangerous places to travel. After getting the right contacts, I finally decided to go. A Swedish expat was of great help and made me feel somewhat okay about going. He allowed me to stay in his house and helped me arrange a guide to meet me as soon as I was off the plane. I considered it necessary after a former expat in the country had warned me about bringing my laptop as they would probably confiscate it at customs. I got out of the airport, to the house of the Swedish expat which was out of the country at the moment. His staff only spoke a little bit of English, but I settled in. I was told not to walk the streets by an expert in the Central African Republic, but I did anyway as I wanted to explore the place. I got into trouble with soldiers. It felt scary. By far the scariest country. Even more than Syria. The worst episode was a threatening soldier that said I couldn’t walk the streets and he demanded money to let me go. After a long discussion, I managed to talk myself out of it. I got to experience some of Bangui’s sights, but it’s not a place I want to visit again. At least not in the near future.
14. Departure tax stress in St. Vincent. In 2011, I did a big trip of the Caribbean and learned about many of the islands departure tax the hard way. I also learned it’s necessary to carry cash around. As I was about to leave St. Vincent, suddenly they wanted me to pay for departure tax. I asked if I could pay by credit card. They said no, but there was an A.T.M. a few meters away. I went there, but as it was out of order, I had to get all the way into town to withdraw money, but the plane was about to board. Total panic. I went to an A.T.M., and there was a queue of maybe 20 people. I asked for their attention and told them my situation. I was allowed in front of the line and got the money. Then I couldn’t find the driver. I thought he had driven off with my bag. I couldn’t find him at all. I was stressed and in panic, so I started to hitchhike so I could at least get back to the airport, but what I probably more wanted was getting the police. Suddenly the driver came walking towards me explaining he was parked further up the road. Then back to the airport, although I was sure it would be too late. It wasn’t. I just made it and could continue my tour of the Caribbean.
15. Denied entry to Ethiopia. In 2012, I arrived at Addis Ababa International Airport and expected to get visa easily on arrival. Unfortunately, I made a mistake. When the immigration officer asked me about my purpose, I told him about my project and that I was having a meeting at Sheraton hotel. Then he refused me entry as I would be needing a business visa. Instead, Ethiopian Airlines flew me out on the next plane to Zanzibar. Next year I came back to Addis Ababa International Airport, told them I was a tourist and I was in. Easy as that. Lesson learned.
16. Jamaican Nightmare. I booked a ticket on an airline called Skylan Jamaica from Montego Bay to Kingston. Three days before departure they cancelled it. I instead booked a ticket on Air Jamaica, but on the day of departure, it was around nine hours delayed so I couldn’t make my flight to Barbados. I was in a panic, but I would have enough time to reach the airport by road if I could find a driver fast. I found a driver, but the trip took much longer than expected as he decided to go somewhere to pick up his girlfriend. I was very frustrated and stressed out.
I arrived at the airport around 20 minutes before departure, and the check-in agent told me there was nothing I could do. I explained my situation and how important this flight was for me, so he made a hand written boarding pass and off I was to the gate. Or so I thought, because I was short on money and had to withdraw money to the driver. Stress upon stress. I thought it was American dollars, but the amount came out in Jamaican currency, so I had to ask for the exchange rate and try again. It worked, and I ran all I could to the gate asking to get in front of the line at both airport security and immigration. I just made it, but then they for some reason wanted to see my ESTA, which I had not printed. They believed I had registered with ESTA and allowed me to fly. Let’s just say that when I came onboard, it took quite some time before my pulse was down to normal again. Such a stressful experience. Oh, by the way, I tried hard to get my money back from the Jamaican airline, Skylan, but never got it despite multiple attempts. The only time an airline has cheated me. Today their website is in Chinese and I wonder if the airline was just a big scam. Lesson learned.
17. Denied entry to Benin. The Benin embassy in Rabat clearly said that I didn’t need a visa to visit Benin. Even after I asked them to double check. It was, therefore a shock to be denied entry to Benin at their border with Togo. It was part of my worst and longest bus journey in my travels which you can read about in number 32 on this page. I was told to get back to Lomé to apply for a visa, but as I had paid for an expensive bus ticket I asked for help, and the bus driver helped me explain my situation to the people at the border. They allowed me a transit visa that would only allow me 48 hours in Benin, but in I was.
18. Robbed in Liverpool. I grew up in a small town where my bike wouldn’t get stolen if I didn’t lock it. I was a very inexperienced traveller when I went alone to Liverpool as a 17-year-old. I went to the train station in the evening waiting for a train to Manchester. While I was sitting there playing on a PSP, someone suddenly grabbed it out of my hands and ran away. I followed after him. He was with another guy, and when I got close to them, I was afraid something worse might happen so I gave up and went back to Denmark and told my parents I wouldn’t travel again. A few days later I went to Mallorca.
19. Assaulted in Brussels. Later in 2006, I went to Brussels and just as I had arrived in Brussels, a guy started following me. I was scared. I couldn’t lose him. Finally, I saw a hotel. I went inside and sat down hoping he would stop chasing me. After approximately 15 minutes, I started to walk the streets again, and I thought I had lost him, but he came running from behind stole one of my bags and ran away. It was a horrible experience for an inexperienced traveller like me. I went to the airport and flew home again.
20. Thieves stole my wallet in China. Almost three years with no issues before thieves stole my wallet in Xi’an, China in 2009. As I was walking the streets, somebody must have opened my bag and found my wallet before running away. I’m sure it might have been professionals. I also lost my Chinese departure card and had to fill a police report so I could leave the country. A Norwegian guy lent me enough money for the remaining part of the trip.
21. My passport was stolen in the Gambia. The only time I was robbed in 6+ years as a full-time traveller. Due to extremely bad infrastructure from Dakar to the Gambia, I arrived after dark at the ferry station in Barra to take the ferry into Banjul. As I lined up someone took my passport in my front pocket. I’m sure they were hoping for a wallet, but losing my passport was a lot worse than losing a wallet. It had my important stamps and visas I had worked very hard for. I was devastated. I screamed and cried and got the attention of hundreds of people. Around 10 minutes later a policeman came to see me with my passport. It was perhaps the single best moment of my travels. Very relieved to get it back.
22. Italy is one of my favourite countries. I have spent months there and will continue to come back. I read that hitchhiking wouldn’t be easy, but I have hitchhiked in Italy many times, and it all depends on where you hitchhike. What is interesting about my hitchhiking experiences in Italy is that twice people have said no taking me and a bike onboard, and twice they came back later to get me and the bike. One time it was a German family in very mountainous roads. The other time it was getting dark faster than I expected. Two critical situations where humanity proved once again that we care about each other.
23. My Horrifying Experience in Pointe-Noire. Following a trouble-free visit to Brazzaville, I took a domestic Trans Air Congo flight to Pointe-Noire, the second biggest city in the country with a population of around half of Brazzaville’s. It is also a beach destination and probably the closest Congo gets to a tourist destination.
Trans Air Congo had arranged for me to stay for two nights at Hotel Palm Beach, a comfortable 4-star hotel of international standards and one of the best in the city. I rarely take a taxi when I travel, but in most parts of Africa, they are quite cheap. A taxi from the airport to the hotel cost me only 1,000 CFA (close to 2 dollars), and I was pleased with the quality of the hotel. Contemporary design, free internet that wasn’t slow and good, affordable food.
The city itself does not have much to offer except the beautiful beach located right outside the Palm Beach Hotel, and this is where the scary story begins. On my day of departure, I decided to take some photos of the beach, but suddenly a man that looked to be a security guard was yelling at me from a distance running towards me. Having travelled a lot in Africa, I knew what this meant. Paying a fine for doing nothing wrong, and if I refuse, I might end up in prison like British adventurer Graham Hughes did in this country. I ran back to the hotel, went up to my hotel room and changed my shirt. I asked the hotel to get me a taxi to the airport to come right to the entrance of the lobby, so I would avoid getting in trouble with the security guard from the beach. If you think this story it scary, just wait. It gets even scarier.
I arrived at the airport, and some guys grabbed my passport and wanted to check-in for me. I refused when I found out these guys were not airport staff to check my ticket, but there to make money out of people. At first, they refused to give me my passport back, and then I got upset and got it. Following a successful check-in, a police officer took my passport and began to fill out my departure form and refused to accept my multiple “no thank you.” He, of course, wanted money and got upset when I refused to give it to him. I did not need his help, and it was again an awful impression of the city of Pointe-Noire.
Followed another bad experience, I arrived at security in this international airport where they threatened me. Some of the worst I have experienced in my travels. The guy did not speak English but wanted to check my entire bag and my pockets including the wallet. He said it is not allowed to bring CFA out of Congo, despite the fact that it’s the primary currency in West and Central Africa. I refused to let him see the wallet, and he got very upset and said something in French that felt very threatening. I must admit I got quite afraid if he would call some of his “friends” at the airport to get as much money out of me as possible. While waiting for his permission, to proceed to the gate, I managed to hide my wallet on the inside of my jeans to increase my chance of not getting caught. Eventually, another guy came and also aggressively wanted money, but after a few minutes, I was finally allowed to go to the gate and leave this horrible airport. Despite a trouble-free visit to Brazzaville, thanks to Mikhael’s Hotel, I would consider Congo as one of my least favourite countries based on the horrifying experience in Pointe-Noire.
24. The most authentic experience was in Burkina Faso. Hotels said no to hosting me, even after an employee of Air Burkina Faso called. Instead, he offered to host me with his family, and I had perhaps the most authentic experience in my travels. Very traditional. I had a very hard time sleeping a night with around 50 degrees Celcius with no air conditioning. Uncomfortable at the time, but makes a great story afterwards. Over the coming days, we explored the capital on his motorbike.
25. Hotels miss the pick up. It has happened to me multiple times that my hotel has missed my pick up. In N’Djamena, Chad Kempinski missed my pick up, and as I was without local currency, I decided to hitchhike. I have hitchhiked from the airport at several African airports, but this was perhaps in the most undeveloped place. I got on a motorbike with a very friendly local that gave me a great introduction to this country at least when it comes to hospitality. It’s a quite dusty city with chaotic traffic, but nonetheless an experience.
26. The best visa story. I wasted many hours on the Equatorial Guinea visa. First, their embassy in Pretoria tried to help me, but without success. Then their embassy in Libreville guaranteed me a visa. I waited for one week, but they didn’t keep their promise. Other travellers have been able to get a visa by paying an extreme to overprice, but with my low budget that wasn’t an option. Instead, I printed an A4-page about myself and went to their consulate in Lagos, Nigeria where I got the visa on the same day as their ambassador was helpful and interested in helping my project of visiting every country in the world. It’s such a beautiful country, but unfortunately so hard to get in for Europeans.
27. My last country was Eritrea. On April 1st, 2016 I arrived in Asmara, Eritrea to complete my project of visiting every country in the world. Eritrea is number one on the list of countries with the least amount of press freedom, and it was a challenge to get the visa. Their embassy in Cairo couldn’t help me, but they confirmed something I’ve read on the internet; that it’s possible to get a visa on arrival if I could get a visa letter from a tour operator. I managed to get this, but I didn’t know if it would be enough. It was a long process the airport, but I managed to get in. When I came to the hotel, the electricity was off so I couldn’t celebrate that I had completed my project and been to every country. I was excited to explore the country for the coming days, but it was a strange feeling to be disconnected and just go to bed. Eritrea turned out to be an incredible experience from a travel perspective. You can read more about it here.
28. Sierra Leone hectic arrival. Sierra Leone has a big potential for tourism, but war and Ebola have made it difficult, to say the least. My arrival experience was perhaps the most unpleasant one in my travels. First, the immigration officer wanted money just to stamp my passport. Then an angry woman was screaming at me for sitting in a lounge area of the airport. Then when I got out of the airport, a policeman tried very hard to get money out of me. Not the best start. The airport was located on an island away from the capital itself. I think all foreigners took an expensive express boat into the city, but I was on a budget, so I took the cheap, slow local boat into the city. It felt unsafe, but I got into Freetown where my driver was waiting. I experienced Sierra Leone over the coming days, and I must say it is such a beautiful place. Their beaches are world class. Especially at Tokeh beach where I stayed at a hotel on one of the nights. There is a big potential for tourism in Sierra Leone and 10-15 years from now it might be full of tourists.
29. The most boring country. Tuvalu. There is really nothing exciting to do on the main island. Some travellers just do a turnaround and say they’ve done it, but I decided to stay two nights. I spent time interacting with locals and setting up a website for the best place to stay in the country, Esfam Lodge, and adding the property on TripAdvisor.
30. Nigeria surprised me a lot. I had low expectations with Nigeria as the media has given the country a bad reputation. The thing most people forget is that the international press hardly tells any good stories from Africa. Nigeria was a fantastic experience. I couldn’t believe how it felt arriving in Lagos for the first time. A city three of the world’s most travelled people (Charles Veley, Lee Abbamonte and Peter Greenberg) all consider the worst place in the world. Lagos is said to have changed a lot, and that might be the reason. I arrived in Lagos and expected just to stay a few days in Nigeria, but as I liked it a lot, I ended up staying a week. I met incredible people and enjoyed Nigeria a lot more than I usually enjoy a country as my expectations were very low. One of the locals showed me a different state of Nigeria, allowing me to experience the city of Abeokuta as well. What I learned from this story is not to take other peoples opinion too seriously and go and get my own opinion about a place instead.
31. The best bus journey was in Rwanda. Rwanda is one of my favourite countries in the world. The land of a thousand hills is a beautiful experience. The infrastructure is fantastic by African standards making it very enjoyable. I first travelled from Kigali to Gisenyi and back. Then from Kigali to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. All trips were spectacular. While the scenery is the highlight, I also liked when people ran after the bus to sell stuff like elsewhere in Africa and interacting with locals.
32. The worst bus journey was from Lomé to Niamey. Almost 30 hours of extreme uncomfort. On the night before this trip, I couldn’t find a comfortable place to stay in Lomé, Togo. Palm Beach said no to hosting me, so I decided to walk in late in the evening and talk to the receptionist. He allowed me to take a nap in the lobby before my bus journey early next morning. I didn’t get much sleep, maybe nothing at all and was really looking forward to getting on the bus and get some sleep. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. The bus was extremely uncomfortable, especially as the roads were in terrible condition. Sand, dust, pollution. The trip had it all. Horrible. I didn’t get any sleep and arrived in Niamey around 30 hours later after the hardest trip I’ve ever done. The Niger border post even had rats running around. It was just horrific and something I would never do again. I like adventures, but not when they are extremely uncomfortable. Upon arriving in Niamey, I walked to Grand Hotel and asked to see the General Manager. He had lived in America and was happy to help my project with a room. I could finally get some (in my opinion) well-deserved sleep.
33. The worst train journey. 2012. From Wellington in the Western Cape of South Africa into Cape Town. A very cheap local train or an expensive taxi? Those were my two options. I decided to go for the cheap option. The ticket was around a dollar. I was one of only two white passengers onboard. The other white person was sitting with his feet out of the train and smoking something that looked like a cigarette. It felt unsafe, and I was very careful with my belongs. Bizarre experience. Glad, I no longer have to travel on an extremely low budget.
34. My best experience with Couchsurfing was in Australia. In 2009, not long after Tiger Airways was started their operations in Australia, they had fantastic campaigns with a lot of $28 dollar tickets. A completely different world to before where flying domestic in Australia was very expensive. I booked a lot of these promotional tickets allowing me to explore the country on a very low budget. Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Sydney, Gold Coast and Brisbane were some of the places I saw. Australia is a usually an expensive country to travel, but with Tiger Airways’ promotions and by staying with local people I was able to experience Australia for less than some of my friends probably spent on just living back in Denmark that summer.
35. Stopped by Americans soldiers in Kabul. Afghanistan was a great experience, but not without its difficulties. There is usually one security check at most airports, but when you fly out of Kabul, there are six. I went to Afghanistan with two Americans that had cameras with them. Suddenly while driving in Kabul, we were surrounded by several military tanks. We took lots of photos, but they didn’t like it. We were stopped by soldiers that asked what we were doing and asked us to delete photos of them. It was a scary situation, but a good story afterwards.
36. Food poisoning in Bali. November 2013. I had been lucky with food where I had a Japanese Miso Soup at the breakfast buffet at the InterContinental resort, just to try it. Through the day, I got worse and worse. In the evening, while having dinner with the Marketing Manager at The Legian, I was in so much pain that I had to leave during the starter. I had difficulties breathing, and it did not get better. The following day, I went to emergency at the hospital as my breathing ability was critical, and I was unable to walk by myself. I got better over the following days, and back to normal after a few days.
37. Food poisoning in the Andaman Islands, India. In a destination without luxury hotels, Ixzire (with a Tripadvisor rating of 5) was one of the best options in the Andaman Islands, located between the Indian mainland and Thailand. While the property was fine, the dinner on the first evening was the beginning of the worst six months of my life. A fish curry made me seriously sick where I couldn’t breathe properly. After three days I tried to fly back to the mainland, but it was the worst flight of my life. The cabin crew gave me oxygen and asked for a doctor. I had to lay down for the entire flight. I couldn’t even sit up for landing. I arrived in Chennai, and it took me a week before I was able to fly again. The problems with my breathing ability came back multiple times over the coming months. Lesson learned. Be very careful about what you eat.
38. Food poisoning in Greece. A few months later In the airport in Athens before flying to Rhodes, the only affordable option for a quick meal was McDonald’s. I try not to eat there and to eat vegetarian whenever possible, but the lack of choices made me decide to try their local McGreek. A disaster. First of all, as expected it didn’t taste good, but I also got an immediate headache and bad feeling in my body. Upon arrival at Rhodes, I still felt a bit weak but managed to get to my hotel, Spirit of Knights Boutique Hotel without problems.
In the evening, it got worse and worse, and I began shaking. The night manager wanted to call for an ambulance, but that scared me, and I decided to stay in bed. The next morning I was a lot better, and after a few days, I was back to normal.
39. Issues afterwards on the American highway. As I wrote earlier, I continued to have issues for months after what happened in the Andaman Islands. One of the worst times was in Atlanta, where I suddenly had difficulties breathing again at night in a cheap bus on the American highway. I was desperate and asked for help, but passengers only laughed. I don’t know what kind of help I was looking for; I was just desperate. I would have left the bus if I could. It was a very hard trip to get through.
40. Food poisoning in Dubai. The latest food poisoning incident occurred in Dubai in 2015. Radisson Blu Hotel Deira Creek was originally the first luxury hotel in Dubai and is still a good hotel. Unfortunately, the Arabic salad I had at their executive lounge made me very sick on the evening before an early morning flight to Addis Ababa. From 6 pm to midnight I got slowly worse and worse. Just before planning to leave for the airport, my headache was the worst I have ever had. Extreme pain and I began shaking. I couldn’t walk and was about to collapse.
I called the night manager. He went to my room with two other staff members. They immediately called an ambulance when they saw me and handled the situation professionally and were very sorry I had been food poisoned at the hotel.
41. Bagless. I did an experiment of travelling around six months without a bag. It was a great experience. All I had was an iPhone, charger, passport, credit card, headphones and an extra pair of underwear. Travelling bagless made airport security and hitchhiking easier, but decided to travel with a bit more close and a laptop to easily write articles like the one you are reading now.
42. North Korea. In my opinion the most interesting country in the world. The national airline is the only 1-star airline in the world and an experience in itself. Two of the scariest flights I’ve ever been on, but I survived. North Korea is unique in many ways. You can’t explore the country freely. Many things feel strange, and the food is extraordinarily bad. Click here to read my article on how to visit North Korea.
43. Religion. The Pacific is one of the most religious parts of the world. In Samoa, I hitchhiked many times, but, one of the cars left me in a small village. It was hot, and I was in desperate need of something to drink. I couldn’t get it anywhere. I got more and more dehydrated, then dizzy, and I then prayed to God that a car would come by to pick me up. A few minutes later a priest and his wife picked me up and took me to a shop to get something to drink. Did this happen by chance or did God listen?
44. Funniest hotel experience. Yyldyz hotel is a 5-star luxury hotel in Ashgabat located in a unique building. I e-mailed them many times but received no reply. In Turkmenistan, I just walked in and asked if they had received my e-mail. I was asked to come back later, and so I did. Same reply. Come back later. I then came back early evening and received a warm welcome as the request was approved, and I got to stay a night at their incredible hotel. Many companies might not understand your request at first and follow up is important. Sometimes it just takes a little more effort, like in Turkmenistan.
45. What to do when airlines don’t reply? I had contacted the CEO of Air Marshall Islands Airlines many times for month with no reply, so I decided to go to his office to meet him in person. He had received my e-mails but didn’t explain why he had not responded. He was happy to give me a ticket to another island and back to Majuro on a day trip with local politicians. Unfortunately, the story does not have a happy ending. Just as we had left the ground, we returned, and they informed us that there was something wrong with the plane. We were asked to wait, but after a few hours, they told us we were not going to fly today. I’ve been flying Air Marshall Islands for few seconds, but can I really say I’ve flown them?
47. The most stressful moment was probably in Djibouti in 2014. I couldn’t check in for my flight to Yemen as my Yemeni visa letter didn’t arrive in my inbox. The tour operator kept saying it was about to arrive, but I don’t think they understood how serious my situation was. It was very stressful as I would have to make a lot of changes to my travel plans if I didn’t get on this flight. Just before check-in was closing, I got the visa letter in my inbox and was allowed to use a computer and printer at the airport to print the document out. I managed to get to Yemen safely and also visited Socotra which I consider one of my favourite places in the world.
48. When you have nowhere to stay. Suriname is a former Dutch territory in South America. I try to plan things ahead of time, but I, unfortunately, had nowhere to stay for the night. Instead of going to a public place to sleep, I decided to be creative. So I decided just to walk the streets of Paramaribo and talk to people. The first one I talked to was an American living in the city. We didn’t talk for more than five minutes before he offered me a room at his house. It was great. I spent three night at his place and a night at Royal Torarica, the best hotel in Suriname. Suriname is a unique country and well worth a visit.
49. Spent some the night on my 25th birthday at a bus station in Banja Luka, Srpska, Bosnia & Herzegovina as I didn’t get a place to stay for the night. 2012-2014 was often stressful as I was very low on money and had to save wherever possible.
50. Syria during the war. I went to Syria in December, 2015 after many months of research. Danish journalist, Rasmus Tantholdt has reported from Syria for the past many years, and I decided to seek his advice on how to get a visa. He told his fixer about me, and the fixer then told his friend, the Syrian ambassador to North Korea about me. After many e-mails back and forth I picked up a visa at their embassy in Pretoria, but having a visa isn’t always enough to get into the country. I flew into Beirut where my contact picked me up and took me to the border. The immigration officer wouldn’t believe I was in Syria as a tourist, but after a long talk with my contact back and forth they decided to stamp me in.
So that was 50 of the best stories. I have a lot more that didn’t make the list like when I was in a police car for the first time in my life in Samoa and how I stayed at 50 private island resorts in Maldives. I expect to tell those stories and more in an upcoming book where I also plan to describe the stories above in greater details.
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