After we were introduced to each other by a common friend, we knew that we had to interview Christian, the unusual traveler. At the young age of 27, he has traveled to 97 countries and has many crazy travel stories as he travels through obscure countries. He has been held by gun point and escaped various catastrophic accidents, yet won’t stop as he is driven by his passion to keep exploring and discovering different cultures around the world.
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- When and how did you get into traveling?
- What is the most difficult/challenging/craziest travel experience that you have gone through?
- Out of all the places that you have been to, what is your favorite and why?
- You go to a lot of off the beaten path destinations. How do you choose where to go and what attracts you to these countries?
- Can you tell us about an unforgettable travel moment?
- How do you fund your travels?
- Have you ever felt that you were in real danger during any part of your travels?
- What destinations that you have yet to visit, are on your bucket list?
- What’s the best piece of travel advice that you have ever received?
When and how did you get into traveling?
I have actually been traveling my whole life. Both my parents and grandparents traveled a bit in their younger days, so I grew up with artifacts from all over the world in my parent’s house. When I was a kid, my teddybear was actually a real stuffed Koala that my grandfather shot in Australia when it was still allowed to do so. I have been lucky to travel abroad, mostly around Europe with my parents until I was 17. As soon as I turned 18, I started traveling alone.
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What is the most difficult/challenging/craziest travel experience that you have gone through?
I don’t really find traveling challenging anymore. To this day, I have never gotten stuck in place that I didn’t want to be in. I have always found a way to travel and enjoy the experience.
However, the most difficult and craziest thing that ever happened to me was when I got my passport ripped into pieces by corrupt border guards in Tajikistan. I then had to bribe my way into to Kyrgyzstan with a broken passport. There was no Norwegian embassy in the area and it ended up being quite a frustrating adventure.
It wasn’t much fun when it happened and I was extremely lucky that I didn’t get arrested and sent back to the capital. In the end, everything got sorted out. Now, I can look back and laugh at the experience.
Out of all the places that you have been to, what is your favorite and why?
Iran, such an amazing country, and everyone that I know that has been to Iran agrees with me on this one. By far the friendliest and most welcoming people in the world. The country is totally different than what we get told in the western media. You will never see any religious extremism in the county, you will not hear any “death to the west”. In fact, I felt much safer walking around in Iran then I do in most of Europe. Iran has everything! From high class ski resort, world class hiking and culture. Don’t get surprised if it will take you hours to just walk a few km around city as you will get invited by locals for a cup of tea, or dinner. Even the police stopped me a few times to ask if they could drive me around and show me the city
You go to a lot of off the beaten path destinations. How do you choose where to go and what attracts you to these countries?
Sometimes I do some “reverse research”, I do a lot of research to find the place with least information online and then I go there to discover what the place has to offer, it’s easier to get surprised and discover new places when you know nothing about the place.
Other times, I go to the bus station and take the first bus that leaves or simply ask the person selling tickets to sell me a ticket to a random destination. Sometimes, I just get off the bus if the place that we are passing through looks cool/interesting. (READ: What the Hell does Adventure Mean?)
Can you tell us about an unforgettable travel moment?
The first time I went to Mt. Everest basecamp was amazing and it’s a place I keep on going back to. Now, I have visited Mt. Everest basecamp 3 times. 1 time from the Tibetan side and 2 times from Nepal.
When I attended the African football cup in Gabon in 2012, I went to one of the games with a friend and the locals where more interested in me and my friends rather than the game. People were coming up to us, buying us beer, and cheering more for us than for the players. We were constantly shown on the big screen since we were the “only” white people at the stadium.
How do you fund your travels?
I do go back home to Norway once a year to work for a short period of time, I have also worked a bit on the road while traveling, with everything from bar work, hostel work, farm work, working in a dive centers and more. But the world is changing fast, it’s getting harder and harder to find decent work while traveling since more and more regulations are stopping foreigners to work in some countries. (READ: 5 Ways to Save for Travel)
Have you ever felt that you were in real danger during any part of your travels?
I have been held at gun point by the corrupt border guards in Tajikistan. I have been threatened with machetes by tribal people in Cameroon. Been on a bus accident in Nepal and was in a capsizing boat in Indonesia.
When stuff like that happens, the adrenaline kicks in so you don’t really feel the danger before it’s over. Then you realize what’s actually happened. But I’m still alive and unharmed so the only thing I can do now is to look back at it and laugh.
What destinations that you have yet to visit, are on your bucket list?
My dream destination for years has been Papua New Guinea. I have been dreaming of traveling from the western part of the country to the eastern part of the country with only using public transport. After that, I want to finish it off by taking a local ferry over to the Solomon Islands. (READ: Why we Don’t have a Bucket List and Why You Should get Rid of Yours)
What’s the best piece of travel advice that you have ever received?
Just go for it! There’s always a way, if not karma will sort it out.
For me, traveling has always been about going to places where none or at least not many other travelers had been before. I have absolutely no interest in visiting places where everything is sorted out and there’s a travel agent on every corner. So I decided to make this the theme of my blog the Unusual Traveler.
Check out Christians amazing photography on Instagram: @aroundtravel