Browse Author

Thor

Thor Winther is an engineer by profession but has been travelling the world full time since late 2015. He is the author of www.worldwidewinther.com, a blog focused on budget/backpacking solo round-the-world travelling.

What Were We Thinking (and other ramblings)

Lavender, France
From our trip to the lavender fields of France

A few months ago (who can remember exactly when), we decided to go on another trip.
I, Thor, wanted to see the rest of the world (south america and Antarctis). Both Amy and I wanted to visit friends and family.
At some point Amy has to have some continuity and get a career in Denmark and at some point we will make a family and then it’s hard to travel long-term.

Not now, though. Not now. Now it’s easy. Amy and I both quit our jobs and on a rainy day in August 2018 we took a plane to Vietnam. (And that answers the title question:))

We just came back from 10 days on Iceland – and what a blast!

Looking forward, at this point in time, we knew that we would be heading to Vietnam to plan our wedding July, 2019 and to visit Amy’s family. I’d be meeting her parents for the first time. Gasp!

We also knew we’d be going to Indonesia for a work opportunity.

Japan was on the itinerary to visit my, now, good friend JJ who was doing a sheep show there and my Niece, Tyra, who was doing half a year of study abroad on her asian studies degree

Finally, since this was also our honeymoon, we had (one-way) tickets to HawaiiUSA.

 

After this we’d be going to central America, Guatemala, South America, Antarctics. Possibly – plans change.

 

All this and home for christmas… or in january…

 

Keep looking back at this page. We’ll try to keep it updated. As well as on social media

Instagram

Facebook

Also follow my pursuit of weight loss (sorry it’s in danish)

 

Thor and Amy!

Monaco and Liechtenstein has been checked off

Europe was once ridden with independent mini-countries but now only a few remain: the mini-states of Andorra, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein as well as the city-states of Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City with the latter serving as the Catholic Pope’s residency.

During my latest and current roadtrip (I’m writing this from Portugal) we passed through first Liechtenstein and then Monaco. Both are interesting places!

Europe was once ridden with independent mini-countries but now only a few remain: the mini-states of Andorra, Luxemburg and Liechtenstein as well as the city-states of Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City with the latter being the serving as the Catholic Pope’s residency.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a country about 25km’s long, making it large, as far as mini-states go. It is situated in the mountainous Alpes between Switzerland and Austria.

We arrived here at 1am and looked around. Even in the dark moon-light, you can feel the charm of this city with winding roads and small shops.

High above the centre of Vaduz (the capital) is visible a highly picturesque castle. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to go inside the castle (even during the day) as it is a private residence. The prince of Liechtenstein – Liechtenstein is a Monarchy – still lives there.

Furthermore, it has excellent winter sport capabilities and has through a long period of time served as a billionaire tax haven. However, in the recent years, the country is no longer blacklisted as a tax-haven but still bolsters the highest GBP per capita in the world (meaning everyone living here is filthy rich!).

The castle in Vaduz, Liechtenstein where the Prince lives
The castle in Vaduz (capital of Liechtenstein) at night. The castle is not small. It stretches far behind what is visible here including several (modern) wings.

Monaco

Of the two, Liechtenstein gives off a secluded private haven in the mountains best suited for people wanting to take a break from an otherwise hectic lifestyle, while Monaco gives off a vibe of all the things your mom says you shouldn’t waste your money on: cars, girls, yachts and casinos.

Monaco is a city state located on prime real-estate on the French Riviera overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is about 3.5km’s long, meaning that it’s basically just a bay and that you can see from one side to the other from the beach (or from your yacht if you prefer). This makes it the second smallest and densest country in the world.

Monaco, like Liechtenstein, is a monarchy with a sovereign Prince as head of state with immense political power. It’s noteworthy that a single house, the house of Grimaldi, has ruled Monaco (with brief interruptions) since 1297! While Liechtenstein has the highest GDP in the world, Monaco comes in at a close second.

The reason for this are favourable tax laws, luring wealthy people from all over the world to the country as well as a sprawling gambling industry started with the opening of the famous (or infamous) Monte Carlo casino in 1863.

With exuberant social persons, quiet philantropists, casinos and the charming French Riviera combined with agreeable weather this place is currently a very lively place with all of walks of life enjoying their existence here. You’ll see helicopters in the sky and yachts floating outside the coast (all private, of course) topped off with an all you can eat buffet of expensive cars.

You’ll see more exotic cars (new and old) within a day here than at any car conventions I’ve been to. If that picture doesn’t convince you, consider this: at any time and at any place – if you look around you’ll see a car worth turning your head for.

Of the two, Liechtenstein gives off a secluded private haven in the mountains best suited for people wanting to take a break from an otherwise hectic lifestyle, while Monaco gives off a vibe of all the things your mom says you shouldn’t waste your money on: cars, girls, yachts and casinos.

Monaco with monte carlo casino, yachts and beach
Monaco seen from above. You can see the Monte Carlo Casino and one of the monstrous yachts in the background. There’s a beach behind there as well

Using the smugglers route to cross from Vietnam into China

In May 2016 I visited Lung Cu all the way up the most northern part of Vietnam but this is not what this story is about

After Lung Cu I thought it would be cool to see the border here. I’m drawn towards the border because I’m intrigued with the idea that a border to a country as closed as China would be completely unsupervised. I’ve always had this idea of a completely remote border, you know, without even a border control post where only shepherds roam somewhere deep in the mountains.

As I drove out the road the pavement suddenly stopped and before me was about 6 motorbikes and a tiny dirt path along the ridge of the mountain. It looked like something you would only want to walk and the direction took you straight towards China. This is it I guess – the border.

I could see pretty far ahead and it looked like at least a 15-minute walk down along a very muddy path before anything would change so I decided to opt against it. However, as I turned around a little bit I noticed a definite path going up the mountain, not towards China, so I figured it would be safe to go up there, at least for the view over the valley.

When I got up I saw several road marker stones with skulls on them all over the area. Skulls, just skulls. Frightening.

Thoughts of land mines and stuff like that popped up in my head and I was about to turn around. Enough is enough.

But when I was about to turn around I saw a shepherd with two cows on a definite path, albeit small, meaning that at least it would be safe, landmine wise – and so I continued towards him.

Around the corner I saw a paved road pop out in the middle of nowhere, Chinese signs and more skulls. I’m pretty sure this was the border. I walked up on the pavement, talked some with the farmer – who was Chinese! – and walked back to my bike.

On the way out, with mud all over my shoes, I got some concerned looks from locals who could only wonder what I’d been doing out there. I’ve heard from other people that the area is used for smugglers as well – which would make sense since it’s so easy and remote.