We are launching a new series with Mike Horn and his daughters, Annika and Jessica, featuring an Asia overland journey crossing Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. Mike is considered one of the world’s greatest living explorers for good reason. After a lifetime of feats and firsts, his multiyear Pole2Pole expedition has already taken him sailing across the Southern Ocean only then to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported. This adventure will culminate in climbing Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat, the world’s 9th tallest peak, in June 2018.
“I always want to integrate Annika and Jessica in my adventures. They play a big role in the planning, organizing, and execution of my trips, therefore it is only fair that they get to live the journeys they invested time and hard-work into,” says Mike.
“Additionally, to tell the truth, I love having them with me! It makes me proud as a father to see them enjoy the world as much as I do. My values and missions as an explorer, have now become theirs, and together we are definitely stronger. The best part about traveling together is the sharing of emotions and experiences. It is essential for me to spend time with my daughters and to transmit this legacy to them. Today we form a team, in which we each have a strengths and added-value to my expeditions, we’ve learned to work with and count on each other and we couldn’t go without one another!”
Driven to Explore: Episode 1 – Malaysia
Malaysia was really the ideal country to start this trip. The road from Kuala Lumpur to the Thai border saw them through extremely civilized and developed parts of the country. The roads were impeccable, the cities modern, the gas stations, hotels, restaurants in abundance… “It really wasn’t much of a culture shock in that respect, but a wonderful part of the world to discover!” says Mike. “The people made it particularly special, everyone was particularly open and welcoming to us. Malaysia really was a great place to set the pace for our adventure!”
Driven to Explore: Episode 2 – Thailand
By complete coincidence, the Horn family crossed into Thailand just in time for the Songkran Festival, the Thai new year. “A lot of people had warned us that there was no better time of the year to visit the country, and they were right!,” says Mike. “We have rarely felt so moved by an entire country, no matter the age, gender, or class, everyone was celebrating this astrological passage by throwing buckets of water on each other in the streets for a total of three days!”
In addition to witnessing the happiness and easygoingness of the Thai people, the Horns were awestruck by the beautiful and natural sceneries we crossed along their way up north towards Cambodia. “The West Coast of Thailand is home to some of the most magical places on this planet, then we crossed the one-of-a-kind city of Bangkok, and made our way east, passed Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex, home to hundred of different species of fauna and flora,” Mike says. “The diversity of Thailand is absolutely mind-blowing, every part of the country we discovered ended up being a pleasant surprise!”
Driven to Explore: Episode 3 – Cambodia
Despite facing difficulties traversing the border, Cambodia welcomed the Horns with open arms. From one country to the next, they started to notice the considerable differences between the populations of each country… the people, the languages, the foods, the resources, or swapping from driving on one side of the road to the other. Mike says:
“We made our way to Siem Reap, where we went on to explore the temples of Angkor. Usually, where one will find tourists, one will not find the Horns. It is a general rule, we prefer traveling the roads less traveled rather than visiting major tourist attractions. However, we decided to make an exception for the temples of Angkor. These sacred locations are unlike anything we have ever witnessed. It reminded us of the determination, strength and power of humans, but also that of nature—and that both can live in harmony.
“Then as we made our way east toward Laos, the perfect roads quickly turned to mud and gravel paths, and finally we felt as though we started living up to the word adventure! Accommodations, gas stations, and shops got scarce. Cell reception was lost. Simultaneously the villages we were driving by became smaller in size and simpler in structure. Increased poverty could be felt, but that did not result in decreased happiness. The faces that watched us pass were filled with life and genuine positivity!”
Driven to Explore: Episode 3 – Cambodia
“Laos is a country with so many hidden secrets,” says Mike Horn. By the time the Horn family entered Laos, they were fully emerged into and adapted to their lives on the road. “We took the time to visit some of the country’s most beautiful spots—we swam in waterfalls, climbed to the top of small mountains to admire the setting sun, stumbled upon temples and Buddhas, and learned about the family traditions of the Lao people,” Mike says.
>> Driven to Explore episode 4 footage by ROAM Founding Contributor Mike Horn