Anders Hjorth, a 30 year old dane, is currently traveling around the world on his motorbike. We had a chance to have a chat with him about his travel experiences and which advice he can give to fellow travelers.
Which route are you taking on your travels around the world?
I started in Denmark on July 1 2011 and basically rode east until I reached Vladivostok in east Russia. From here I sailed to Korea, where I could ship my motorcycle to Vancouver, Canada. In Canada I continued east to Boston and I been heading south ever since. My ultimate goal now is Argentina, from where I’ll go home again to Denmark. I think it’ll end up being about 60000km and 25 countries.
Where are you now?
Currently in Cali, Colombia having done 40000km during my 10 months.
What prompted you to go on this epic trip?
I am not sure, where I got this dream from, but once I said it out loud I started feeling really good in my belly and everything got a lot easier. Many people answer they want to travel the world and they told me it was impossible because we aren’t rich. I guess I want to prove them wrong, and who doesn’t wanna see the wonders of the world?
I spent a lot of time looking for the “best” bike. I was looking at a Yamaha XT660 Z Tenere and the BMW F800 GS, but someone tipped me that there was a new 2007 KTM 990 Adventure sitting at Aagesen.dk. I talked to them and they gave me a good deal on the bike and luggage system I wanted. The KTM 990 Adventure is made for adventure so I run it mostly stock with crash bars, panniers and a Garmin Zumo 220 GPS system. I choose this bike, because I knew i’d do a lot of kilometers in a short time and even ride 2 up for about 16000km.
Please tell us some of your favourite experiences from your trip so far?
I love all the thumbs ups and smiles I get from people all over the world when I ride. Every one comes to talk every time I stop and even the military and police has been great. It’s the little things that can make a bad day into a fantastic day. One fun experience was meeting a redneck in Tennessee who invited me to his trailer to shoot guns and drink moonshine. Or the motorcycle guys in Siberia who gave up their own beds and apartment to my girlfriend and I so we had a place to sleep in Cita, or señor Saldana who helped us with insurance and reparation of a buddy’s motorcycle, when he crashed into a bus in Panama. People are in general AMAZINGLY helpful and nice.
Of the countries you have visited till now which fascinated you the most?
The boat from Vladivostok to Korea is like a time machine. Korea is incredibly, organized, clean, hospitable and probably the best food of anywhere I have been. Colombia and Mexico was also very nice surprises and I will definitely want to come back here some time.
Cancun in Mexico is Mexico’s asshole, if you ask me and doesn’t do Mexico justice at all. American gringos all over the place and everything has become very money centric with no hints of the original culture. No need to go there again. But besides from that I can’t think of a place that has let me down is such a way I’d mention it here.
Have you felt afraid during your travels and why?
All the time, but it’s mostly due to my own, and others, ignorance. People are for example super afraid of Mexico, but the problems there are not tourist related. Unless you are a member of a drug cartel or respectless tourist, you’ll only see an amazing country and meet nice people. I am nervous and scare every time the police or military stop me or I need to cross a new border, but by now I know it’s only my prejudices that make me nervous and that everything will most likely be great.
What were your expectations when starting your journey and have they been met?
Some people are afraid of traveling due to the bad stories which always get passed along, but my thesis was that people would be good. They have been so, and much more that I hoped for. To be honest I am currently reassessing if I am actually as nice and hospitable as I thought I was.
Which things are you bringing on your trip and what do you find absolutely essential?
I think one of my best modifications was a little plate on the end of my side stand, so I don’t sink into the dirty whenever I park my bike. A little thing but extremely useful. The leatherman pocketknife I carry is also an amazing tool and my Thermarest madras is invaluable to me.
I’d like to think my world view have changed quite a bit by now and that I’ll have an easier time dismissing everyday “problems” which are not really problems after this trip. I have also learned that if I smile, learn and focus I can do anything. Smile: and people will help you with anything and things in general run much smoother and are more delightful. Learn: keep an open mind and remember others might interpret a different “truth” from the same facts as you. Try to understand why they feel they are right, before you say they are wrong and you’ll get further. Focus: I can do anything I want, but not everything I want. So at times reevaluate what really matters and then focus on that, instead of trying to do it all at once because then you’ll accomplish nothing.
Do you have any advice for people who are just setting out to travel around the world by motorbike?
Set a date for your departure and don’t over think it. If you do, you’ll talk yourself out of it. It’s not as scary as you think and once you get on the road all concerns and problems will solve themselves. But start by setting a date, which you say out loud to your friends. Then you’ll see everything gets easy from then onwards. – oh… and don’t ride at night… and the equipment doesn’t matter… but start out by saying the departure date out loud.
Where are you off to next? Tomorrow I’ll head to Ecuador and Peru and then I gotta figure out what I should see there.