In a tuk-tuk

The list of incredible journeys just got amended. Two young Danish tourists are now travelling 18,000 kms in their three-wheeler tuk-tuk from Bangkok to Denmark on a historical tour.

Anjita Pradhan

Kathmandu, April 29:

It was a sight uncommon. That’s why people thronged the roads to watch them as they rolled through towns and countryside. It’s not everyday that you get to see western tourists drive a brightly decorated tuk-tuk through crowded streets. But Michael Pedersen and his friend Tina Pedersen are unfazed by the stares; they wave to the onlookers and continue towards their destination.

Michael and Tina are like any other young tourists hailing from Denmark, except that

they drive a tuk-tuk rather than take a coach or airplane on their tour of Asia. The duo

are on a trans-continental tour that started from Bangkok on February 8, 2004. They

hope to make it back to Denmark by around September in their tuk-tuk.

Michael and Tina travelled 6000 kms from Thailand through Malaysia and Singapore. From Chennai in South India they travelled through India to enter Nepal. “People seemed amazed and quite shocked when they saw us—two foreigners travelling in a tuk-tuk but the repercussion was great, it put a smile on their face,” says 25-year-old Michael.

“The idea of travelling in a tuk-tuk was crazy but I wanted to try out something different which no one had ever dared to do before,” says Michael, who has works with Jysk Travel Agency in Denmark and has travelled extensively.

He says he fell in love with the vehicle when he first saw one in Bangkok. From then on he conjured visions of adventure and ideas of an expedition in Asia. Michael says that the main purpose of them taking this wonderful expedition was to promote Asia as a major tourist attraction and Nepal as the main destination for tourist. Michael has travelled widely and has even visited Nepal four times. He calls Nepal his “favourite travel destination for trekking and rafting.”

These adventure loving Danes arrived in Nepal on April 11. “The experience has really been fascinating,” says 28-year-old Tina, a student of design in Denmark. “I feel like a journalist on this expedition and I have collected lots of stories to narrate to people back home about our adventures,” she says with a smile.

Tina said that she would be writing a travelogue, which deals with their adventures on the road for the travel agency Michael is working with. “Michael used to keep talking about Nepal and I always had this deep desire to visit the country. Now that I’m here it’s like a dream come true,” she says. It is Tina’s first visit to Nepal as well as Asia.

One of the most memorable events and something that will last a lifetime for Tina was being invited to an Indian wedding. “Everything was so colourful and bright… and I was pulled away from Michael by a group of girls. They took me and applied mehendi on my palms. It was really a beautiful experience,” she shares with a smile.

Their companion — the tuk-tuk – also seems to have a mind of its own. It drove them nuts every once in while, stopping and altogether refusing to move any further. But every time it played up, it gave them an opportunity to meet and take the help of local people along the way. “Whenever we faced a problem with our vehicle, we were touched by people’s concern and their overwhelming helpful attitude,” they say.

Recalling a funny incident Tina narrates, “In India when we stopped for a banana or water, people would surround us. We felt like two monkeys gobbling banana in a cage.”

While in Nepal, they also enjoyed popular adventure activities like mountain biking, kayaking and bungee jumping. “We had a fun week but the only regret is that we could not go for trekking,” they say.

Chalking out plans to move ahead, Michael says they will now travel to Delhi via Sunauli. The tuk-tuk team will then head for Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Germany and finally Denmark.

“While in Pakistan we plan to travel to the highest point – Mt K2 and that would be a big challenge for us,” says Tina.

Jysk Travel Agency of Denmark is financing the tuk-tuk adventure. The travel agency also has its branch in Kathmandu. “Basically Jysk Travel Agency in Denmark is promoting Nepal as a great tourist destination and it is a kind of great culture exchange,” says Hari Dharel, managing director of Highlander Trekking in Kathmandu.

Mike and Tina were given a robust farewell from Kathmandu on April 29. As they embark on the next leg of their journey, our best wishes go with them.