Niklas Adalberth – A Trip around the World–Without Air Travel
One hundred and forty-three days, twenty-five countries, and four continents. Without ever boarding a flight! The globetrotter Niklas Adalberth managed this feat, in the company of a friend, and shares his memories from the unforgettable journey.
Niklas Adalberth, co-founder of the e-business Klarna, and his friend Sebastian Siemiatkowski came up with the idea of undertaking a trip together. But they could never really agree on where to go. After all was said and done, they decided to embark on a trip around the world. But they would do it their own way.
– As we were chatting one evening, we decided to make the trip without ever setting foot on a plane, says Niklas Adalberth.
Accordingly, in April, 2003, Niklas Adalberth and Sebastian Siemiatkowski buried a bottle of champagne in the ground in Switzerland, where Niklas Adalberth and Sebastian for a time had worked as bartenders. The adventure could begin.
– It started by our hitchhiking to Vienna. The simplest way to catch a ride is to go to a gas station. You get a hundred rejections for every yes.
From Vienna, the trip went by train to Budapest and from there to Slovakia, Poland, and then on to Moscow.
– In Moscow, we got on the Trans-Siberian Railroad. It is advised that you try to get a Russian to buy economy class tickets for you. Usually, these tickets are not sold to tourists. You travel a whole lot cheaper in economy class.
The course was set for Mongolia and from there, by bus, to Beijing.
– The advantage of traveling this way, in open train cars and in the company of others, is that you get to meet a lot of people.
From Beijing, the trip turned southward toward Cambodia and Thailand, where they among other things visited the temple town of Angkor Wat.
They also managed to visit Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia before catching a cargo ship bound for Brisbane, Australia.
– When we got there, we immediately got on a bus to Sydney. We were actually supposed to board another ship there, but we arrived an hour late. We were only supposed to stay in Sidney for a short time. But then we learned that the next ship wouldn’t depart in another three weeks.
While waiting for the next ship, Niklas Adalberth and Sebastian Siemiatkowski found jobs as movers.
– In retrospect, it may be said that we chose to travel around the globe in the wrong direction. We went against the stream, which resulted in the trip’s lasting much longer. Most of the ships travel westward, not eastward.
Another consequence of the delay was that Sebastian Siemiatkowski would miss an exam at the university. The two friends deliberated on whether to return to Sweden. In the end, they decided to push on.
After a visit to New Zeeland, they arrived in Mexico. The boat ride had lasted three weeks.
– We traveled from Mexico to Los Angeles, and decided to try to hitchhike from coast to coast. And the fact is that we managed to get all the way to Buffalo, New York.
The freight company, whose ship they had only barely missed in Sydney, took pity on the young globetrotters and offered them heavily discounted tickets on the transatlantic luxury cruiser Queen Elisabeth II.