| Aziz Idris |
A DANISH globetrotter who has set off on a unique expedition to travel the world in a single unbroken journey without flying, said he finds Bruneians “absolute sweethearts”.
Fast forward five years and nine months, Torbjorn Pedersen, also known as Thor, arrived in Brunei Darussalam last week as the 185th country via border crossing from Miri, Sarawak.
Brunei instantly reminds him of the Caribbean where its people have the “island mentality” and are “super friendly” despite what is portrayed online or in the media.
In an interview with the Weekend Bulletin, Thor expressed how “people (in Brunei) have been absolute sweethearts. People are prone to offer a ride if they see you walking.”
He gave an example where a man working at a restaurant left his post to guide him, when he simply asked for directions.
“Strangers constantly smile, ask where I’m from and say welcome to Brunei. It’s a peaceful, laidback and easy-going country to visit. I’ve felt safe everywhere. It’s mostly modern and to me Brunei has a clear island vibe and often reminds me of the Caribbean,” he added.
The Dane is also a Red Cross goodwill ambassador and travelled more than 260,000km by land and sea to visit Red Crescent National Societies across the globe.
He also visited the Brunei Darussalam Red Crescent Society as the 181st National Society where he met with its President Haji Muhammad Suhaimi bin Haji Ibrahim.
Prior to arrival, Thor admitted that he thought Brunei was a nation with an abundance of oil reserves. However, he was surprised to see spectacular nature and “super friendly” people.
The former logistics worker also actively posted his journey called Once Upon a Saga across social media, along with photos and some information regarding Brunei.
Apart from visiting landmarks in Bandar Seri Begawan, he also visited Seria, the heart of the oil industry in Brunei and saw ‘nodding donkeys’, took selfies with the Billionth Barrel Monument and caught the sunset along the coastline.
According to him, most people reacted positively to all the information. However, some critics immediately had to point out that Brunei was “unsafe”.
Based on his travel experiences, he said there are no dangerous people or countries as the media depict.
“I have seen a different aspect of reality. I have witnessed humility, generosity, and the caring nature of people. Some of my friends were shocked to see that I visited countries they considered dangerous. I explained to them that the world is a better place.
“There is a positive vibe in every corner of the world with normal people, living normal lives. Who am I to focus on the bad when all I am is a guest? And don’t media already have the negative aspects covered?”
He is very passionate about meeting new people which always reminds himself that, “A stranger is a friend that you have never met before.”
Thor, 40, started his unique journey on October 10, 2013 from native Denmark for Germany. His mission is to spend at least 24 hours in each country and attempts to survive on a budget of USD20 a day.
The next country he will be travelling is the Malaysian state of Sabah, before taking a container ship to Manila, Philippines, and will continue travelling east. He has covered 185 countries with only 18 left to explore with Maldives being his final destination, before he returns home at the end of 2020.