Vertigo in Canada, martial arts in Thailand or a tribal dance in New Zealand: Christoph Karrasch travels to seek adventure worldwide.
EdgeWalk in Toronto: Christoph Karrasch walks around the ledge of the CN Tower, more than 350 meters above the city.
Round the world in 10 days? That’s no problem for Christoph Karrasch (32). The travel writer is so successful that he is now venturing beyond the bounds of his travel video blog Von unterwegs. Recently, he branched out into TV. Whether it is ski yoga in Swiss St. Moritz, Thai boxing in Koh Phangan or dancing the Haka with the Maori in New Zealand, he thinks anything is better than lying on the beach. The father of two children, Christoph Karrasch, prefers to do that at home in the German coastal town of Kiel.
DW: Christoph, how much time did you spend away from home in the last 12 months?
Christoph Karrasch: Just under three months. Before that I spent as many as four-and-a-half to five months a year on the road. That was difficult for my family. Recently, I have been lucky enough to land more big projects where I can do a lot of preparatory work at home at my desk.
Does that mean that you have had enough of travel after five years as a travel blogger?
I still have the urge to travel. Once you've got the bug...(laughter). But it's not about running away or escaping. My daily life is pleasant and fulfilling. And now I don’t need to take an eight-hour flight to feel that I am travelling. I also feel like that when I go to the German North Sea island of Amrum or Föhr.
What motivated you to start a travel blog back in 2011?
My urge to travel. I had a good job at the time with a private radio station in Kiel called Deltaradio - with a steady salary and 30 days' holiday a year. That enabled me to make regular trips to Barcelona or London in my early twenties. But as time went on, traveling became an increasingly consuming hobby.
At some point, 30 days a year were just not enough, so I started thinking how I could combine my hobby and my profession. After going on a research trip to southeast Asia I wrote to a few editors. My idea was to sell a few stories about my experiences. And I struck lucky!
I think that they appreciated reading about the travel experiences of a younger person for a change. My blog, which includes many of my travel reports, was - and is - my business card. I earn my living primarily through reports and articles for traditional media.
Do you always have to experience a challenge?
I'm not the type of person who feels the need to battle through the rainforest and live off turtle flesh. But I do like experiencing things when I travel - and I consciously seek out things that others tend to avoid. Martial arts in Thailand, for example, is something that lots of people could do. But I actually did it, and I know what it's like to be boxed on the nose under palm trees. And when readers of my blog sent me to New Zealand to learn a war dance from the Maoris, it was great. I will remember that my whole life long.
In 2014 you set out to go round the world in 10 days. How did this unusual journey come about?
I’d had the idea of traveling round the world in 10 days, meeting various challenges for a long time. When a publishing house approached me to discuss possible projects, I mentioned it casually in the conversation. One concept and many conversations later, the idea took shape. That was when I really had to swallow hard.
Aside from the time constraints, what other challenges did this round-the-world-trip involve?
I wanted it to be an interactive journey. My video blog was to act as a link between my audience and myself. Three months before I set off, I let my viewers decide the route that I should take - five places on five continents. The next thing that I asked them was what exactly I should do there. There were many, many suggestions. Some of them were life-threatening. Things like swimming in the Everglades with crocodiles. Of course, those kinds of things were ruled out from the start. But the basic idea was to do as many things at each specific place, as time would allow. My followers on the blog decided on the main thing that I had to do after I'd already set off.
Which challenge would you have preferred to avoid during those 10 days?
The Skytower jump in Auckland. That was the worst day of my life. As I was standing up there on the podium, I imagined that I would feel proud afterwards. But that feeling never set in. Instead, I couldn't stop shaking for ages afterwards because of the adrenalin. But if you know the cameras are rolling, you always think: "Well, ok, I’ll do it for the camera."
That sounds as if it was more fun for the viewers than for you. Were there things that you did that you did really enjoy?
Yes, luckily there were. In Cape Town it was my job to help in a house building project in a township. That was great. And in Kathmandu I couchsurfed in an orphanage. I sat together with 25 kids of different ages and played them German songs on my ukulele – and they sang me their songs. I really like it when I can touch people emotionally and not just entertain them.
Another unusual travel project, "Kleine Welt" (Small World), ran from March to May 2016 on the German TV station N24. It was based on the "six friends theory" that says all of us on the planet are separated by only six people. And you tried the theory out in practice in two episodes. Is the theory watertight?
Of course, I can't prove it statistically, but why shouldn't it also be true of a tribesman in Papua New Guinea? In the second episode, when we set out to find a connection to Ishita Malaviya, India's first professional female surfer, we weren't sure it would work. Our starting point was a young Vietnamese woman who was in the audience during a song slam in Frankfurt. She knew someone from Marburg, who was working as an aid and development worker in Kathmandu and had friends in Delhi. That took us a whole lot nearer to Ishita. After six different ports of call and a journey across India, we finally made it.
And then what happened?
The TV company decided not to continue the series. But as far as I'm concerned, "Kleine Welt" is not over yet. Maybe I can tell you after a few more journeys whether I still believe in the "six friends theory".
So you're planning to keep on traveling a lot. Where would you like to go, if time and money weren't an issue?
Outer space. I'd like to see what goes on up there. And to Fiji, because of "The Truman Show". I've dreamed of Fiji ever since "The Truman Show".
The interview was conducted by Matthias Steinbrecher and Taina Niederwipper.