36 minutes | Mar 17, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Montenegro
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I visit beautiful Montenegro. This one was first released in October 2020.
29 minutes | Mar 10, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: South Africa
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I drive the Garden Route east of Cape Town, South Africa – and visit the famous Ronnie’s Sex Shop. This one was first released in June 2020.
22 minutes | Mar 3, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Sahara
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I drive through the Sahara Dessert. This one was first released in February 2019.
45 minutes | Feb 28, 2023
263 NEBRASKA, USA: Cattle, Parade, and a Tale of a Danish Immigrant
HARVEST CELEBRATIONS AND HERITAGE: EXPLORING GOTHENBURG, NEBRASKA Welcome to another episode from my American road trip. In this one, I’ve reached Scandinavia … in Nebraska. I had a “Farm Stay” that I booked through Airbnb. Here they call it “Retreat to Buffalo Creek Valley Bunkhouse” but you can also book it directly at their own website YourBunkhouse.com. I get to stay in a renovated cabin that used to be the host’s Great Grandpa's workshop. I’m greeted by John and their dog and after showing me the cabin, we go over to the main house of the farm where I meet Mary Lou and their grown-up son, Chris. FROM PASTURES TO PLATE: THE CATTLE INDUSTRY IN GOTHENBURG Chris is a modern cowboy and as he was about to go check on the cattle roaming around on the fields. He asked me if I’d like to tag along, and obviously I accepted. So, we saddled up – in his pickup truck with the dog in the back and was on our way. We drove around on the field looking at the cattle. The cows, a bull and even a little baby calf. I got to learn a lot about cattle farming in Nebraska from this fifth-generation cowboy. As Chris gets out of the car to open the gate to the field, let me talk a little bit about cattle farming here in the state of Nebraska. It’s a significant industry, as Nebraska is a major producer of beef in the United States. You’ll find a large number of cattle ranches and feedlots, where cattle are raised for meat production. Nebraska has favourable conditions for cattle farming, including a large supply of grass and feed crops, as well as a good climate for year-round grazing. The state also has a strong transportation infrastructure and is located near major beef-processing centres. We’re driving on a bumpy hilly field, and I can see that Chris is a pro. He’s definitely done this before. It might not be a big farm they have but, in my book, they have a lot of cows, a bull and when I was checking on the cattle with Chris, we spot the cutest little baby calf. Cattle farmers in Nebraska use a variety of techniques to raise their animals, including pasture-based systems, feedlot operations, and a combination of both. In feedlot operations, they are confined to pens and fed a specially formulated diet to maximize weight gain but in pasture-based systems like here, the cattle are allowed to graze freely on grass. In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly cattle farming practices in Nebraska. Many farmers are using techniques like rotational grazing and conservation tillage to reduce the impact of their operations on the land and improve the health of their herds. Their meat, Bunkhouse Beef, is 100% grass fed beef from start to finish. They guarantee their animals spend their entire lives happily living on open pasture. They are antibiotic feed free, hormone free, and are never fed any grain. It was absolutely a unique experience staying at a farm in Nebraska and meeting the family. Mary Lou, John, and their son, Chris is in his late 20’s and fifth generation of this place – and a real cowboy. He taught me a lot about cattle farming which is an important part of the economy and culture of Nebraska. THE DANISH ANCESTOR Chris’s mother Mary Lou is 25% Danish, and when I had dinner with the family, she told me a fascination story. Before we get into the it, I want to mention two things: Firstly, when I was having dinner with the family and Mary Lou told me this story, I wasn’t recording. Plus, there were so many details that needed a lot more research, so in the production of this episode, I’ve asked Mary Lou to do that, and she’s been hard at work for days digging into her family history, talking to members of the family, and reading up on old letters and so much more. Also, I want to say that, with me being Danish, I’ve chosen to say the names of people and landmarks as we would say it in Danish. And a little funny fact: Mary Lou’s great grandfather’s name is in their world spelled different than how we would spell it. Mary Lou would say that his name is Neils but in Danish it’s actually Niels. Not spelled N-E-I-L-S but N-I-E-L-S. We would never spell it that way, and I bet you anything that Niels himself didn’t either – but somehow some time it got changed and stayed that way. Just a little fun fact. With that, get yourself a nice beverage, send the kids to their room so it’s nice and quiet, and get ready for a tale filled with adventure, hardship, excitement, seasickness, and maybe a little bit of scandal. PIONEERING WOMEN: THE STORY OF A DANISH IMMIGRANT IN GOTHENBURG Once upon a time, in a village called Råbylille on the small island of Møn in the southern part of Denmark, a girl named Marie was born in the year 1862. She and her family were very poor and as a teenager she dreamed of a better life in the great new country called America. Her cousin Jim had been there and, and on a visit back to Denmark he called it “a land of opportunity.” After some consideration, Marie decided to embark on a journey to this "new land of milk and honey" far, far away in the search of a better life. Or was there another reason? One early morning, she walked with her niece and dear friend, Kristine the ten kilometres from Råbylille to a dock in Stege on the small island. As they were walking Marie, said to Kristine: "I am not going to be poor like my parents." On the small ferry from Møn to Copenhagen, teary-eyed she waved goodbye to her niece, not knowing if she would ever see her again. I’m guessing that Marie – apart from being nervous, also was exited to the adventure laying ahead but unfortunately, but her excitement pretty quickly turned to nausea, and she spent most of the voyage on her back, praying for dry land. As the ship swayed and groaned, Marie was overcome by the affliction of seasickness, but maybe there was a touch of morning-sickness thrown in as well. This trip and the seasickness also meant that Marie would never see Denmark again. In a letter home to Kristine in 1883, she wrote: "A lot of people – like Cousin Jim, go home to Denmark to visit, but as I get so sea-sick that I almost die, I dare not sail, and I shall never come back to Råbylille and Møn again." It was also told that she could barely watch the wind blow across the water in the stock tank on the Nebraska farm without her getting seasick. But despite being seasick (or something else), she persevered and made it to the shores of America … alive. And after that all the way to Omaha, Nebraska in the center of the country. This in itself is a long journey of more than 1200 miles (2000 km), and she probably made the journey on the brand-new Transcontinental Railroad (originally known as the "Pacific Railroad"). In Omaha, she was introduced to a man named Neils, also from Denmark. He had immigrated with his mother and two brothers from Thisted of their home country a few years earlier. The Danes listening, will know that Thisted is in Thy in the north-western part of Denmark, and very rural. It actually looks a bit like this part of Nebraska. And even with the small distances in Denmark, it’s very far from Møn. Just about as far as you can get in the country, and very unlikely that someone from Møn should meet someone from Thisted. But in this story, that’s exactly what happened. Neils, a young 25-year-old man was looking for a suitable wife, and his family in Omaha, apparently had heard about this new young girl from Denmark, fresh of the boat. And a marriage somehow either was arranged, or they were simply introduced to each other by the family and fell in love. Marie fit the bill, and they ended up getting married and settling down in a place called Wild Horse Valley, near Brady, Nebraska. Marie had a son named Albert, but the circumstances of his birth were shrouded in mystery or maybe a bit of sadness or a small scandal. Officially he was born after Marie and Neils were married on October 2nd in 1886, but someone in the family suspect that this was not his actual birthday. That the date was "adjusted" to cover up a story of his untimely birth. Also, no one knew for sure who the father of Albert was. Maybe it was Neils, but maybe it was not. One theory was that she had been taken advantage of by a man in Omaha where she worked before she could speak English. Another theory (that also was the first thing that came to my mind when I heard of a teenage girl going on a one-way ticket across the world without her family), is that the young Marie already was pregnant when she got on the ship from Denmark and had chosen to “flee away” from the shame of having a child out of wedlock. Maybe that was part of the reason she got so sick on the ship from Copenhagen. Questions on this theory surround the story on both sides of the Atlantic, for even a cousin in Denmark asked a visiting relative: “Did you ever figure out who the father of Albert was?” No one will ever know what happened – and it doesn’t really matter. No matter what, this is truly a story of people who handled a difficult situation in the best way they knew how. And regardless of the circumstances of Albert's birth, Neils loved him and raised him as his own. Neils and Marie built a successful farm and an impressive home on the Wild Horse Valley homestead and lived well beyond the poverty level of her Danish parents. It’s been said that their house looked like a mansion compared to her home in Råbylille. They had nine children, but Marie also faced hardships and illnesses and losing two of the children. But they got through all this with a strong belief in God and Jesus. At some point Marie wrote in another letter back to her nice in Denmark: "Kristine, I am getting old and can't work much anymore, but my daughters work for me." Marie wasn’t really that old: Only 50. The oldest son Albert went on to marry a Swedish woman and had a family of his own. And their son grew up to become the father of Mary Lou who is telling me the story as I’m having dinner with her and her family on the farm in Nebraska. In the end, it's a story of people doing the best they can with the hand they've been dealt. Marie's legacy was one of perseverance and love, as she made a life for herself a
9 minutes | Feb 25, 2023
262 VAGABOND DIARY: Right Now, in Melbourne, Australia
Here is my weekly diary, telling you what's been happening in my nomad life. I’m back in Melbourne after a week of road-tripping on the Great Ocean Road.
29 minutes | Feb 24, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Nicaragua
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I visit an orphanage in Nicaragua. This one was first released in August 2018.
32 minutes | Feb 21, 2023
261 SOUTH DAKOTA, USA: Ghosts of Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, and more
Welcome to this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I continue my road trip in the old west of the USA. We started in Billings, Montana, went to Yellowstone, and east to Devil's Tower in Wyoming. And in this one, I've driven an hour further east to a place with a Wild West History – and a place that is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the American West. My name is Palle Bo. Welcome to f*ing Deadwood… as they say in the TV series. BLACK HILLS OF SOUTH DAKOTA I'm in The Black Hills, a range of South Dakota mountains known for their stunning natural beauty and rich history. The hills are home to several national parks and monuments, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, with the iconic carved faces of four American Presidents, and also Badlands National Park, which features unique geological formations and diverse wildlife. More on both of these a bit later. The Black Hills are also an important cultural and spiritual center for several Native American tribes, including the Lakota and the Cheyenne. In the late 1800s, the Black Hills were the site of the famous Black Hills Gold Rush, which brought thousands of settlers to the area in search of riches. THE GOLD RUSH PUT THIS PLACE ON THE MAP And we start in a small town in South Dakota that was a big part of this Gold Rush and so uniquely the old Wild West that it became the location and name of a TV series and a movie. I'm in Deadwood, South Dakota, a town with a rich and wild history that makes it one of the unique places in the United States. Deadwood attracted some of the most famous figures of its time, including Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Today, the town has embraced its history, with many original buildings still standing and used as hotels, restaurants, casinos, and museums. And I start my visit to Deadwood by going to one of these museums. ADAMS MUSEUM The Adams Museum is the oldest in The Black Hills, and I go to learn more about the rich history of Deadwood. In 1930 pioneer businessman W.E. Adams founded the Adams Museum right here in Deadwood to preserve and display the history of the Black Hills. He donated the building to the City of Deadwood. Inside, I speak to Visitor Services Associate at the museum, Diane. "The Gold Rush attracted many people here, and at the time there were 5,000 people living here. Today only around 1,200." Deadwood was founded during the Black Hills Gold Rush of 1875, and it quickly became one of the most dangerous and lawless towns in the American West. Lots of legendary figures used to hang out here, and let me fill you in on two of the most well-known. WILD BILL HICKOK AND CALAMITY JANE Wild Bill Hickok was a legendary gunslinger and lawman of the American West, and his death in Deadwood, South Dakota, is one of the most famous events in the history of the Wild West. Hickok arrived in Deadwood in the summer of 1876, and he quickly became one of the most recognizable figures in town. He was known for his gun skills and reputation as a lawman, and he has often seen playing cards in local saloons. His friend, Calamity Jane was another famous figure of the American West who called Deadwood home. She was known for her rough-and-tumble lifestyle and was a skilled marksman, but she is best remembered for her association with Wild Bill Hickok. Calamity Jane claimed to have been married to Wild Bill, but no historical evidence supports this claim. Nevertheless, she remained a popular figure in Deadwood and was known for her wild and adventurous spirit. Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane represent the spirit of adventure, the lawlessness of the frontier, and a big part of the rich history of Deadwood. MAIN STREET DEADWOOD I'm taking a stroll down Main Street. In the Deadwood series, this street was dusty in the sun and muddy when it's been raining. Now the street is paved, and no horses are tied outside the saloons. And it doesn't smell of horse manure and sweaty cowboys. It's still got that iconic Wild West look feel. It's incredible to think about all the stories and legends created in this small town. Walking the streets of Deadwood, I can feel the energy of the past and the spirit of the wild west. It's like stepping back to a place where gunslingers, gamblers, and gold miners roamed the streets. I will explore some of these historic sites Diane told me about at the museum, and my first stop is the saloon where Wild Bill played his last hand of poker. WILD BILL GOT SHOT HERE PLAYING POKER On August 2, 1876, Wild Bill was playing a game of poker at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon (Saloon no. 10), when he was approached by a stranger named Jack McCall. Wild Bill, with his long hair and iconic mustache, was sitting with his back to the door, and McCall came through the door, drew his gun, and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head, killing him instantly. It was later discovered that McCall was seeking revenge for killing his brother, and he claimed that Wild Bill was responsible. The death of Wild Bill Hickok shocked the people of Deadwood, and it quickly became a part of the town's folklore. Hickok's death remains one of the most famous events in the history of the American West, and it's a testament to the lawlessness and violence of the frontier. Although he was known for his skills as a gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickok will always be remembered as one of the most legendary figures of the Wild West. She lived on for 26 years after Wild Bill got killed, and today, their graves can be found side by side in Mount Moriah Cemetery right here in Deadwood. The signs at the cemetery read: James Butler Hickok, alias "Wild Bill." Born May 27, 1837. Died August 2, 1887. Victim of the assassin Jack McCall. Martha Jane Burke, alias "Calamity Jane." Born May 1, 1851. Died August 1, 1903. Her dying request: "Bury me beside Wild Bill". Even though they are both long gone, their stories continue to captivate people worldwide, and their grave sites are now popular tourist attractions. THE GHOSTS OF DEADWOOD With such a rich history and the lawlessness of many people being killed in these streets and saloons, it's no surprise that many people believe that Deadwood also is home to many ghost stories. One of the most famous ghost stories in Deadwood is that of Wild Bill Hickok, and inside Saloon No 10, I've just seen the chair he was sitting in and in a frame the playing cards he was holding in the poker game – the so-called "Dead Man's Hand." And it is said that his spirit still haunts the town and that, on occasion, visitors to Deadwood have reported seeing his ghostly figure wandering the streets at night. Some had even claimed to have seen him playing cards in local saloons, just as he was when he was alive. Another famous ghost in Deadwood is that of Calamity Jane. She is said to haunt the town, and visitors to the cemetery where she is buried, have reported seeing her ghostly figure wandering the grounds. Some have even claimed to have heard her ghostly laughter or the sound of her spurs clanging against the hard ground. But there are also several other ghost stories associated with Deadwood. The Bullock Hotel, for example, is said to be haunted by the ghost of former owner Seth Bullock, who is said to still walk the halls of the hotel. And the Bella Union Saloon is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who died in a fire there many years ago. And then, the place I'm heading to now: The Fairmont Hotel. It is said to be one of the most haunted hotels in the American West and the site of one of the most popular ghost tours in the area. The Fairmont Hotel Ghost Tour is a guided tour that takes visitors through the hotel's dark and creepy halls, exploring its haunted history and sharing tales of the spirits that are said to haunt the property. Inside I meet George, who can tell me more about this place. GEORGE SAW AND HEARD GHOSTS According to local legend, the Fairmont Hotel is home to several ghostly entities, including the spirit of a former hotel employee who died on the job and the ghosts of several former guests who never checked out. Some people have reported seeing ghosts wandering the halls or hearing strange noises coming from empty rooms, and the hotel staff has even reported seeing objects move on their own or hearing footsteps when no one is there. "I didn't believe in ghosts before I got here but I've seen two ghosts in the year and a half, I've been here. I was working upstairs, I saw a guy, dressed in black walk into a room. I went down to chase him, but he wasn't there. I also built a shoe rack, and I go up there and the sneakers are all over the place." George also tells me that he's only been afraid one time. "I was sleeping up there one night, and in between our two properties, there was a banging on the wall that shook both places. It was four o'clock in the morning, pitch black, and it was like "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM" about ten times. And that scared me because, I thought, if that ghost can hit the wall like that, he could hit me. And that's the only time, I was really afraid." The Fairmont Hotel Ghost Tour is a popular activity for visitors to Deadwood, and it's a great way to experience the town's rich and haunted history. The tour guides are knowledgeable and passionate about the hotel's history and the area. They are sure to keep you entertained as they share the stories and legends of the Fairmont Hotel and its ghostly residents. So, whether you believe in ghosts or not, there's no denying that Deadwood, South Dakota, is a town with a rich and colourful history, and it's a place that is steeped in mystery and intrigue. But what I love about Deadwood is that it's not just a place of the past; it's a thriving community with a bright future. The town has been able to preserve its history while also adapting to the changing times, and it's a great example of how a community can come together to celebrate its heritage while also moving forward. MOUNT RUSHMORE I drove about an hour south to Mount Rushmore, a famous landmark in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA. It is a massive sculpture that feature
9 minutes | Feb 18, 2023
260 VAGABOND DIARY: Right Now, in Melbourne, Australia
Here is my weekly diary, where I tell you what's been going on in my nomad life. I’ve arrived in Melbourne down south in the land down under.
18 minutes | Feb 17, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: New York, 20 years later
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I visit New York 20 years after 9/11. This one was first released in September 2021.
30 minutes | Feb 13, 2023
259 USA: The Wild West Experience from Billings and Yellowstone
I’m back in the USA after a brief stay in London. In this episode, I’ll be in Montana and Yellowstone National Park – where I get up close with a bunch of buffalos and a big bear. I met Stefan Cattarin of Visit Billings and asked him to say a few words about Billings. “We are the largest city in the state, we serve about a 500-mile radius as the largest economic hub. We’re a railroad town founded in 1882, and part of that American expansion era, but we’ve since become a progressive cradle in this region.” It’s not the typical big American city with skyscrapers, but even though it’s not so big, it has a lot of hotels. According to Stefan, they serve around 5,000 room nights with 50 hotels. “Montana has a draw. People want to come here, so we get a lot of leisure travel and the location between Denver, Seattle and Minneapolis makes it a natural place to stop.” FACTS ABOUT WHERE WE ARE With around 100,000 people, Billings is the largest city in Montana and is known for its rich history, diverse culture, and thriving economy. Montana is nicknamed "The Treasure State" because of its abundant natural resources, including coal, oil, gold, and silver. Billings was once a hub for cowboys and is still known for its rodeo culture, hosting the Montana Fair rodeo each summer. Montana is home to more than a million acres of national parks and forests, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. You can also find the longest undammed river in the lower part of the United States here – the Yellowstone River. Montana is one of the largest producers of organic wheat in the United States and is known for its delicious wheat-based products. Montana is also known for its thriving arts and music scene, with several venues in Billings hosting live performances and events year-round. You have a lot of space here. With only seven people per square mile, Montana is the third least densely populated state in the USA. Only Alaska and Wyoming have fewer people per square mile. YELLOWSTONE COUNTY MUSEUM IN A HISTORIC CABIN I spot a museum as I pick up my rental car at Billings Logan International Airport. It’s called Yellowstone County Museum. It’s placed right on top of the rim, right next to the airport. There’s an amazing view here, but once you head inside the historic cabin and see more than 20,000 artifacts. The Yellowstone County Museum has been open to the public since 1956. The entrance is a historical building called “The McCormick Cabin.” It was built as a space for social gatherings by Paul McCormick in 1893 in present-day downtown Billings. The cabin was moved to its current location in 1954 to serve as the Museum’s entrance. Executive Director, Terry Steiner, tells me more: “Teddy Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill were personal friends of Paul McCormick, and they quite frequently came up to sit down and drink cheap scotch and probably smoke cigars in this cabin.” They also have a Buffalo there with fur on one side and a skeleton on the other. Or is it a Bison? If you’re landing in or flying out of Billings, take time to visit the museum. And it’s free. AMERICAN ROAD TRIP BEGINS Now I’m starting my road trip, and when I met Stefan of Visit Billings, I thought he would be the best to ask what I should see. “Well, you can’t go wrong no matter if you north, south, east, or west. Truly we’re known as Montana’s trailhead, so we’re really that great hub to get you into all the great Montana adventures.” After seeing the buffalo at The Yellowstone County Museum, I decided to head south to see real buffalos in Yellowstone National Park. DRIVING THROUGH YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK Yellowstone National Park is one of the most stunning and unique natural wonders in the United States. Spanning across three states, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, this massive park covers over 2.2 million acres – that’s almost 9,000 square kilometers and about the size of Puerto Rico or Cyprus. It’s home to an incredible array of geysers, hot springs, and other geothermal features. You can also spot a lot of wildlife, including bears, wolves, buffalos, and elk, and it's surrounded by breathtaking and scenic views that are simply awe-inspiring. The park's history is rich and fascinating, and it was the first national park in the world, established all the way back in 1872. Over the years, it has become a beloved destination for millions of visitors each year. One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of Yellowstone National Park is its over 10,000 geothermal features, and we, as visitors, can witness the power of these natural wonders as they boil, bubble, and steam in the midst of the rugged wilderness. I’m driving down towards the most famous of these. It’s called Old Faithful – and there’s a reason for that. But we’ll get to that. Another fascinating aspect of the park is its diverse wildlife that can be seen roaming freely throughout the park. Visitors can also spot a number of bird species, including eagles, ospreys, and other birds of prey, making it a birdwatcher's paradise. DON’T GET CLOSE TO THE BEARS There are signs all over that we should stay at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from wolves and bears. But at a parking lot I saw a bear just a few meters away from a group of people taking pictures. This was crazy dangerous, and a car with some rangers drove up and shouted “move” and “get away” to the people. This was really dangerous, and some of these people could have ended up as bear lunch that day. I actually caught this on video, and on theradiovagabond.com, you can see it, hear the car with the rangers approaching – and them shouting “move.” You’ll be shocked to see how close some of them are. Just a few feet away from this huge bear. OLD FAITHFUL One of the most popular attractions in the park is Old Faithful, a geyser that has been erupting for thousands of years. It is one of the most famous geysers in the world and is a major tourist attraction. Old Faithful gets its name from the fact that it erupts every 90 minutes, making it a reliable and predictable geological feature. It erupts by sending a column of steam and hot water into the air, reaching heights of up to 185 feet (56 meters). The eruption lasts between 1.5 and 5 minutes, and even though its faithful nature, the interval between eruptions can vary a bit. But they do have a sign saying when the next eruption time is. Old Faithful is one of the world's most famous and well-studied geysers and is a symbol of the natural beauty and geological wonder of Yellowstone National Park. It is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the park and is an experience that visitors will never forget. I’m watching it from a viewing platform, but you can also take a guided tour to learn about the geyser and the surrounding area. The Old Faithful Visitor Education Center is also a popular destination, offering information about the geyser and other geothermal features in the park. I spent some time there and also watched an interesting video in their movie theatre. PUT YELLOWSTONE ON YOUR BUCKET LIST Whether you're an avid hiker, a nature lover, or simply someone who loves to explore new places, Yellowstone National Park is an unforgettable destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression. It’s a true bucket list destination that you won't want to miss. Overall, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique and stunning natural wonders in the United States, and my visit to this incredible park is an experience that I'll never forget. DEVIL'S TOWER WITHOUT ALIENS I have one more experience to share with you. I made my way across the state of Wyoming from west to east to a unique mountain. It’s called Devils Tower, and actually it’s not a mountain. It is a geologic formation, a monolith, and a massive chunk of rock rising out of the prairies like a middle finger flipped at the sky. The rock itself is like nothing you've ever seen before and truly a sight that takes your breath away, a testament to the raw power of Mother Nature. With the unique flat top, it’s rugged and covered in deep grooves that speak to the millions of years it's been standing here. As you approach, you can feel the energy of the place, a pulsing beat that hums through the ground and up into your bones, and you can sense that history and mystery as you wander the base. Devil's Tower became famous after serving as the centerpiece of the 1977 science fiction movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film tells the story of a group of people who have encounters with aliens after seeing strange lights in the sky. The main character, played by Richard Dreyfuss, creates a copy of the tower in his living room and then is drawn there – even though the government tells people to stay away. They didn’t tell me to stay away. Just to stay away with my microphone. I spoke to a ranger telling some interesting stories and asked him if I could record that for the podcast. He said I needed a permit for that and sent me to an office. Here, the manager said that he also wasn’t able to give me that permit. I had to send a special request to the PR department of the Park Service – and then MAYBE, I would get a permit in a few weeks. This is America, and very bureaucratic in this way. Getting anyone to repeat what they just said to visitors into a microphone for a podcast is a long and difficult process, and something I experience again and again in this country – and only here. But still, I got to admire the unique landscape I remember so well from the movie. In it, the aliens communicate with the humans on the ground through a series of musical tones. And to this day – even though it was just a film – many people visit this place in the hopes of having their own close encounter. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the American West and a protected national monument. It’s a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. It is considered sacred by several Native American tribes, who have a long and rich cultural history tied to the site. So if you ever find yourself in Wyoming, make the pilgrimage to Devil's Tower. Stand in its shadow, feel its power, and be humbled by the shee
16 minutes | Feb 11, 2023
258 VAGABOND DIARY: Right Now, in Airlie Beach, Australia
Here is my weekly diary, where I tell you what's been going on in my nomad life. I’m still in Airlie Beach on the east coast of Australia and reflecting on my time here in this beautiful country.
24 minutes | Feb 10, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I visit an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. This one was first released in April 2017.
38 minutes | Feb 6, 2023
257 SAUDI ARABIA: Old Town, Half-Built Skyscraper, and Camel Beauty Contest
Welcome back to the last episode from The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In this one, we’re going to Jeddah, after a stop in beautiful Yanbu at the Red Sea, and stay with a local and look at a very special construction site standing still. And then head back to Riyadh to visit The Camel Festival and look at some beautiful camels entering the Camel Beauty Contest. THE DRESS CODE A few words about the dress code in Saudi Arabia. It is expected that both men and women dress modestly. This includes covering the arms and legs and wearing an abaya (a headscarf) for women. As a Saudi Arabian visitor, it is important to respect local customs and dress codes. In the first three days, Cynthia would be wearing a headscarf to cover her hair, but then we were told that it’s not necessary for women to cover their hair, so she stopped doing that and never had any comments about it. Except people smiling and saying, you’re beautiful when they saw her blonde hair. That happened quite a few times here at the night market in Yanbu. It is also worth noting that the dress code in Saudi Arabia can vary depending on the region you are in and the specific circumstances. For example, we are expected to dress more modestly when visiting holy sites or attending religious events. NIGHT MARKET IN YANBU After checking in, we spend a lovely evening at the Night Market in Yanbu. The buildings are traditional style but fully restored – it was shut down for 10 years and recently reopened. We have a nice chat with a young lady named Mashaal, who has a small doll shop in the Night Market. As we depart, Masaal's mom, who didn’t speak any English, approaches and gives us a bag of delicious dates as a gift. No strings attached. Truly just a gift. The weather is lovely, and we stroll the courtyard outside the Night Market. It is not crowded, but everyone is active, with many families here and kids in 3-foot-long electrical mini-cars driving around on the square. We’re surprised by how little noise there is – people are generally quiet with no loud voices. FACTS ABOUT YANBU Yanbu is a port city with a population of 188,000 (250,000 in the urban area), located on the Red Sea west coast of Saudi Arabia. It is considered to be one of the major industrial cities in the country, even though it’s quite small. It is home to the Yanbu Industrial City, which is one of the largest industrial complexes in the Middle East and is known for its oil refineries and petrochemical plants. Yanbu is known for its rich history, which dates back at least 2,500 years. According to Wikipedia, it was established in the year 491 BC. Its earliest history places Yanbu as a staging point on the spice and incense route from Yemen to Egypt and the Mediterranean region. In more recent times, the city served as a supply and operational base for Arab and British forces fighting the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The city is also home to several universities, including the Yanbu Industrial College and the University of Yanbu. Yanbu is known for its beautiful beaches and is a popular tourist destination, especially for those interested in marine life and scuba diving. It is also part of the coral reefs of The Red Sea, which are known for their diversity and beauty. MEETING OUR COUCHSURFING HOST TARIQ We made it to Jeddah, where we’re CouchSurfing with Tariq. He’s a very friendly Pakistani who has lived in Saudi Arabia for 25+ years. He used to live in Yanbu but is now in Jeddah, the bigger city around 350 km down along the Red Sea coastline. We’re joined by another traveller, Jack. A Swiss guy who lives in Dubai. And with Cynthia from Florida, USA, and me from Denmark, we’re quite a little international group. It is normal when you’re CouchSurfing and staying for free with a local that you repay by taking the host to dinner. But here, our host insisted on paying for us. JEDDAH With a population of almost 5 million people, Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia and is considered one of the country's most important cultural and economic centres. The city is known for its rich history and culture, as well as its thriving business sector. THE WORLD’S TALLEST BUILDING – OR NOT The next day, we drove out to see a massive, deserted construction site in what is to be Jeddah Economic City in the northern part of Jeddah. The world's tallest building under construction in Saudi Arabia is the Jeddah Tower, previously known as Kingdom Tower. It’s to be the first skyscraper to reach 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) or more. For comparison, One World Trade Center on Manhattan, New York, the tallest building in the U.S., is roughly only half that with 541 meters. The building is being built by the Jeddah Economic Company. It’s expected to have over 200 floors with residents, offices, hotels, and recreational spaces, 59 elevators, and is to be the centrepiece and first phase of a development and tourist attraction known as Jeddah Economic City. The design is created by American architect Adrian Smith, who also designed the building that currently is the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. There was steady progress, but in January 2018, the ambitious project was stopped, and about one-third was completed. It was stalled by Saudi political intrigue, labour issues with a contractor, and COVID shutdowns and remains in limbo to this day. Most people say that there are no plans to restart construction. But there might be hope. In an article from HowStuffWorks.com, the president of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a global non-profit, Antony Wood, is quoted for saying: " I genuinely do believe that at some point the project will be finished, because it's an embarrassment not to finish it. What I don't know is if it will adhere to its original design or if it will ultimately be the tallest building in the world." I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. OLD TOWN OF JEDDAH One of the most interesting aspects of Jeddah is its Old Town. We spent the afternoon walking around a maze of narrow streets and traditional homes. This area is a window into the past and it gave us a glimpse of what life was like in Jeddah many years ago. The old town is a mix of architectural styles, including Ottoman and traditional Islamic. The buildings are made of coral stone, which was abundant in the region and has proven to be a durable material for construction. The homes in the old town are typically tall and narrow, with intricate wooden balconies and doors. The narrow streets, with high walls and arches, create a sense of intimacy and mystery. One of the most famous landmarks in the old town is Al-Balad, a historic neighbourhood that is considered the heart of Jeddah. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to many of the city's oldest and most important buildings, including the Shaf'i Mosque, the Ottoman Consulate, and the Red Sea Palace. Al-Balad is also known for its traditional markets, where visitors can buy everything from spices and perfumes to textiles and jewellery. Visiting the old town of Jeddah is a must for anyone interested in the history and culture of Saudi Arabia. Whether you're wandering the narrow streets like we were, admiring the coral stone architecture, or shopping in the local markets, you'll be transported back in time and experience the traditional way of life in this fascinating city. A LOOK IN THE HISTORY BOOK Saudi Arabia has a rich and varied history that stretches back thousands of years, but the modern-day kingdom is not that old. It was founded in 1932 by King Abdulaziz Al Saud, who united the various tribes and regions of the Arabian Peninsula under his rule. Before the formation of the kingdom, the region was home to a number of important civilizations, including the Nabateans, who built the city of Petra, and the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the region for centuries. The region also played a key role in the spread of Islam, with the holy cities of Mecca and Medina located in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Throughout the 20th century, Saudi Arabia underwent significant economic and social changes as the country began to modernize. The discovery of oil in the 1930s transformed the kingdom into a major global player, and the country began to invest heavily in infrastructure and education. Overall, the history of Saudi Arabia is a complex and fascinating one, shaped by centuries of cultural, economic, and political change. Today, the kingdom is a modern, prosperous nation that is working to balance its traditional values with the demands of the 21st century. KING ABDULAZIZ CAMEL FESTIVAL We drove the 1,000+ km back to the capital, Riyadh, and on our last day in Saudi Arabia, we went outside Riyadh to look at The King Abdulaziz Camel Festival. It’s an annual event – a celebration of the cultural and historical importance of camels in the country. The festival has auctions and various competitions, such as racing and camel beauty contests. Yes, camel beauty contests. More on that a bit later. Visitors can also enjoy traditional Bedouin music and dance performances, as well as traditional handicrafts and clothing exhibitions. The festival is a great opportunity to learn about the significance of camels in Saudi Arabian culture and to experience the country's rich heritage. The festival typically takes place in the desert area of Janadriyah, near Riyadh. It’s a big area with a lot of sand. So, dare I say it? We got stuck again. This time a bunch of guys came over and had a lot of fun pushing the car. When that didn’t help, the loudest guy came up and told me to get out of the car. I don’t think he felt like a Danish guy could handle this. He got in, and I got back with the other guys pushing. When we got unstuck, he took a few laps driving fast around in the sand where I just got stuck, and showed us his driving skills. A lot of fun with some friendly and helpful locals. Unstuck, we returned to the area with the camels in the Camel Beauty Contest. This is something they take very seriously. Maybe a part of that is because the prize for the winner is 66 million US dollars – around 60 million Euros. It’s a competition in which camels are judged on their physical appearance, including factors s
6 minutes | Feb 4, 2023
256 VAGABOND DIARY: Right Now in Australia
Here is my weekly diary, where I tell you what's been going on in my nomad life. I’m in Airlie Beach on the east coast of Australia and on a trip to Whitehaven Beach – one of the best beaches in the world.
35 minutes | Feb 3, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Garden Route, South Africa
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where start my road trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg in South Africa. This one was first released in June 2020.
48 minutes | Feb 2, 2023
255 SAUDI ARABIA: Interview with a Saudi (part 2)
Welcome to part two of the conversation with my Saudi friend "J". If you haven’t heard part one yet, you should listen to that one first. We will talk about love life, couples, arranged marriages, dating, sex before marriages, wedding traditions, dowry, the wedding party and how different it is from our traditions. But also about the Saudi way of inviting guests over for dinner and not sitting down eating with them, about progress and extreme changes in this young country, about Saudi Arabia opening up to tourism and if Saudis see the western people as decadent and potentially a bad influence. But also about LGBTQ, if women are oppressed, driving, drugs, drinking, democracy, crime, safety, the Royal family, and camels. My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you.
29 minutes | Jan 31, 2023
254 SAUDI ARABIA: The Ancient, Modern, and Hip Al Ula
Before we start, let me apologise for being a week late with this one – and part two of my conversation with my Saudi friend, “J”. But there’s a good reason for that: The screen on my MacBook stopped working – again. You might remember that I broke it when I was in Uganda less than a year ago. At that time, there was a small crack on it. This time I did nothing. It simply just stopped working. Nobody knows why. I had it replaced in March in Denmark, so only ten months ago. The Apple warranty only covers 90 days, but the Danish consumer law would give me 12 months. The only thing is that I’m not in Denmark. In fact, I’m halfway across the planet, so it was not an option for me to travel back to get it fixed. And the price of a new screen is more than a thousand dollars or Euros. So, I called Apple Support and was put through to a senior supporter who, after an hour, made an exemption. They would pay for the screen, and I only had to pay for the labour to the authorised computer repair shop in Cairns, Australia. So, while I was scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, they worked on it. Now it’s back, and so are the next episodes from Saudi Arabia. When I left you, I was in Al-Ula, where we start in this one. AL ULA: WHERE CULTURE MEETS NATURE I’m travelling with my good friend Cynthia from Florida. We’re in the north-western part of Saudi Arabia in the town of Al Ula. It is a stunning area, one I would like to return to later and spend a couple more days in. We’re only here two nights, and today we have a full day where we’re trying to see if we can get a helicopter ride and hopefully also visit the world’s biggest mirror building. Al Ula – like all of Saudi Arabia, still remains largely off the global tourism radar, giving us plenty of space and time for reflection with the vast desert and the monumentality of its natural assets. You heard me in the latest episode tell you about the stunning natural rock formations and canyons, but there are also a ton of adventure sports options and cutting-edge art installations. MEETING A HIP SAUDI WOMAN In the morning headed straight to the vendor street located immediately above the "Old Town" of Al Ula to find a place for breakfast. The street is above the ancient city and looks new, but the construction of the shops and restaurants mirrors the style of Old Town. There were only a dozen tourists as we strolled the street around 10 am. Again, we have it to ourselves. There was a small booth where the young girl, Dalal, was selling trips for an adventure company, Husaak Adventures. She was dressed in jeans and hiking boots and had no hair covering. Even though she didn’t look and sound like the typical Saudi woman, she was: born and raised in Al Ula. Dalal spoke freely about how Saudi has been actively changing for five years, and she feels it is for the best and that it will benefit all citizens. She really looks like the next generation of Saudi Arabia. Her colleague was a young man wearing a t-shirt saying “Change in Progress” on the back. After our chat with Dalal, we were settled in for breakfast at Palm Garden Cafe in a Bedouin-style seating area with big couches in a private 'outdoor' room just for us. AL ULA OLD TOWN After breakfast, we left the vendor street and walked down to the original Al Ula Old Town with 1300 mud brick structures that are remarkably intact. Al Ula is one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula, and once at the crossroads of The Silk Road and The Incense Route, Al Ula is rich in historical significance. In the 12th century, Al Ula Old Town became an essential settlement along the pilgrimage route from Damascus to Mecca. It’s built on a slight elevation, and the town is overlooked by the Musa bin Nusayr Castle, a citadel dating back to the 10th century. NO HELICOPTER After leaving Old Town, we went to the office selling helicopter flights over Al Ula. We had a few questions for the nice woman selling the trips, like “are we guaranteed a window seat”. She didn’t know and said, “I just sell the tickets”. But then we discovered that the next available flight was the next day at 5 pm, and we knew we had to do that another time, as we would be leaving the next morning. MARAYA MIRROR BUILDING Instead, we decided to make the drive out to a unique building in the desert called Maraya. Maraya means mirror or reflection in Arabic, which celebrates Al Ula's significant role in history as a crossroads of cultures for centuries. The building is the Guinness World Record Holder as the largest mirrored building in the world. You cannot see Maraya from the road. And although we heard that there was a major star doing a concert that evening in the area around the building – and entry even to the grounds was unlikely today with the concert, we decided to try our luck. We got to the guard building and access gate, and sure enough, we couldn’t get in. While I was waiting in the Cynthia tried to charm us inside. And I’m not sure how but she succeeded. Maraya is a truly breathtaking structure. As the largest mirrored building in the world, it stands as a testament to the country's forward-thinking approach to architecture and design. The building's unique reflective exterior is made out of thousands of individual panels, each one carefully placed to create a mesmerising optical illusion. The result is a structure that appears to change with the movement of the sun and the sky, creating an ever-changing visual experience for those who take the time to admire it. Inside, the building houses a concert hall, exhibition spaces, and a state-of-the-art auditorium. The mirrored building is covered by almost 10,000 m² of the mirrored facade (that’s almost 105,000 ft²) and was opened in December 2019. It’s located just north of Al Ula. Make sure you try to get in there if you’re in Al Ula. And make sure you go and see my pictures of it on theradiovagabond.com. DIGITAL NOMAD CHECK Saudi Arabia may still not be the ideal destination for digital nomads, but that being said, the country does have a number of modern cities with good infrastructure and a high standard of living, such as Riyadh and Jeddah. However, it is important to remember that Saudi Arabia has a conservative culture and social norms that may differ from those in other countries. It is important to respect local customs and laws and to be mindful of your actions and behaviours while living in Saudi Arabia. Suppose you are considering living and working as a digital nomad in Saudi Arabia. In that case, it is advisable to research the country thoroughly and make sure you understand the local laws and customs before making any decisions. It may also be helpful to reach out to other digital nomads who have experience living in Saudi Arabia to get their perspectives. On the plus side: It’s a safe and modern country, with decent internet speed in most places. On the downside: It’s not exactly cheap but not that expensive either. A lot more expensive than Thailand and a lot cheaper than say, Copenhagen. Around the same price level as Lisbon, which is the third most popular digital nomad hotspot, according to NomadList.com, as of this recording. So, Saudi Arabia may still not be the most popular destination for digital nomads, but I could see it being attractive in the future. GETTING STUCK IN THE SAND … AGAIN Dalan had suggested that we go where the locals go for sunset to "Wadi Rum;" she even found it for us on Google Maps. We followed two local 4x4 trucks into the area along one of the sandy 'paths', easily enough. We separated from them at a large, flat area (let's call it a flood plain without water, surrounded by dunes that are backed by dramatic mountains). There were maybe ten cars, as far as we could see, in a very large area. We climbed a dune to watch the sunset, which was not dramatic. A man in a Toyota truck was having a lot of fun “dune bashing” (driving crazy in the sand dunes) and got badly stuck. I went down to help him out of the sand while Cynthia had fun sliding down the sand dunes on a piece of plastic she found. After that, she wanted to have some more fun driving crazy round patterns and testing the car on the flood plain. But by then, it was getting dark, and we needed to head out. I got behind the wheel and headed towards two trucks on the north side of the flood plain, as we thought we could get out there. But we were wrong. In the episode, you can hear the sound of what happens when you get stuck in the soft sand in Saudi Arabia. Psssssssst. It is the tires of our car being deflated by some locals. As soon as we got stuck, three Saudi men from the trucks came running and helped deflate the car tires and push to get our car unstuck. Apparently, it’s much easier to get out with flat tires, and all of them had a little tool in their pockets to do that. After we got out, they showed us where to go further east in the floodplain to exit safely. As we got back to the pavement, the sky exploded in colour. Truly a dramatic end to an amazing day. GETTING FREE AIR BACK The first thing the next morning, before the drive of the day, we needed to get some air back in the tires. We went to a garage because we couldn’t find any air at the gas stations in town. I insisted on paying for it, but the nice guys insisted it was free. All the time, we were meeting nice people in Saudi Arabia. They all want to help and talk to us. And not being able to speak English never seem to be a problem. There’s just a curiosity and an interest in who these foreigners are. With the tires refilled, we left scenic Al Ula to drive the 365 km (close to 230 miles) to Yanbu on the Red Sea. There is very little traffic – not just today, but really since we left Riyadh four days earlier. Technically it’s just a four-and-a-half-hour drive, but we enjoyed the changing scenery all day and made plenty of stops so it to us 5-6 hours to reach Yanbu. At first, it's volcanic mountains with loose black rock. There are small towns, but nothing large. Mostly, they look poor and half-built. A few towns appear to have grand entrances with trees and pavers on fancy divided lanes – one town had a sign for the "Saudi 2030" campaign. In the afternoon, we got a view of Big Jagged
10 minutes | Jan 28, 2023
253 VAGABOND DIARY: Right Now in Australia
Here are ten minutes where I tell you what's been going on in my nomad life. I’ve made my way to Cairns in the northeastern part of Australia. It’s been two weeks since my latest diary entry – and there’s a reason for that: My MacBook screen went black. You can also hear me talking about going scuba diving in The Great Barrier Reef.
70 minutes | Jan 27, 2023
FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Saving Children in Cape Town
Welcome to Flashback Friday. Join me in this episode of The Radio Vagabond, where I visit an orphanage in Cape Town. This one was first released in March 2020.
51 minutes | Jan 19, 2023
252 SAUDI ARABIA: Interview with a Saudi (part 1)
In this episode, I have a conversation with my Saudi friend "J". We will talk about love life, couples, arranged marriages, dating, sex before marriages, wedding traditions, dowry, the wedding party and how different it is from our traditions. But also about the Saudi way of inviting guests over for dinner and not sitting down eating with them, about progress and extreme changes in this young country, about Saudi Arabia opening up to tourism and if Saudis see the western people as decadent and potentially a bad influence. But also about LGBTQ, if women are oppressed, driving, drugs, drinking, democracy, crime, safety, the Royal family, and camels. My name is Palle Bo, and I gotta keep moving. See you.