Respected Explorer. Successful Businessman.
Thomas Foo’s life is an adventure & his explorer business is a success. He has a record of 100 countries visited and is a pioneer in overland expeditions. Sharing his passion, he is also a partner in Explorer Outfitter an adventure outdoor retail store in 4 malls, and owns a camping shop, Outdoor Centre, in Kuala Lumpur.
I chatted with Thomas, while Tyler made a very interesting video to record this adventure success story.
Overland Kuala Lumpur to Paris Trans Mongolia 21 Aug – 24 Oct 2019.
Rainforest Trophy Malaysia 2017.
Beaume Trans Africa.
At the young age of nine, Thomas hitch hiked from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh to visit his scouts cubmaster in Ipoh for a trip to Pangkor Island. When he was in Form Three, he helped his scoutmaster organize a trip to Thailand by bus for 75 scouts. He also rode a “kapcai” motorbike from Port Dickson to Kuantan.
Thomas studied Merchanical Engineering in England. He worked odd jobs to save money for his travel. This adventurer organised 30 trips to destinations such as Normandy (France), Prague (Czech Republic), Cairo (Egypt) and Latvia.
“I woke up at 4am to clean offices before going to class. In between lectures, I worked as a courier with the Pony Express. At night, I was a bartender at a pub.” Thomas Foo told Majorie Chiew The Star
“I saw an advertisement offering the opportunity to see Israel in its original state, with air tickets paid for. All I had to do was to work for a month. During that period, the Israeli government opened its doors to students from all over the world, for help to rebuild the country. Volunteers had to work in a kibbutz (communal settlement). The students worked like farmers: they toiled the land and grew vegetables. About 300 students from all over went to help in the reconstruction of Israel. We offered help on humanitarian grounds. We worked for 10 hours and slept in tents.” Thomas Foo told Majorie Chiew The Star
After Israel, Foo toured the Middle East, visiting Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran.
After getting his degree, Thomas joined British Aerospace in Longbridge England. Lucky Thomas was sent to Madrid (Spain), Toulouse (France) and Hanover (Germany) due to the merger process, and later to the United States to work.
Between 1992 to 1997, he was our 4X4 Ambassador promoting Malaysia under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry. He led his club members from Malaysia to Laos, China and Africa.
“The KL-Vientiane Friendship Expedition was two weeks long but it took two years to plan with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry,” said Foo. “In Laos, we were asked to visit many places to promote Malaysia. Twenty years ago, driving to Vientiane was a big thing. People would ask, ‘Where is that?’,” Thomas Foo told Majorie Chiew The Star
In 1993, the club was invited to Kunming, capital of Yunnan province in China. The club members drove to Guangzhou (China) and Loyang (Mongolia).
In 1998, Foo visited Tibet for the first time. To Thomas,Tibet is a magical land of mountains, vast terrain, monks and monasteries where there is inner peace.
In 1997, Thomas together with officials from the Foreign Ministry, met with Nelson Mandela (then President of South Africa) in Johannesburg to kick start the Malaysian contingent exploration trip to Africa.
In 2006, Thomas visited Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru and Chile.
In 2013 he organized the Trans Outback Australia. His group consists of 25 explorers from China, South Korea, Singapore, Argentina, the Netherlands and Malaysia. The expedition was from Perth to Sydney, across one of a 2000 km track that went through aboriginal settlements and the Great Sandy Desert.
Thomas said that travel broadens the mind and opens the heart. You see different culture. It makes you a better person. He believes in living life to the fullest.
“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” -Aldous Huxley
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by.” -Robert Frost
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” -Saint Augustine
“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet.” – Rachel Wolchin
“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Andre Gide
Thomas is a partner in Explorer Outfitter an adventure outdoor retail store in Publika Solaris Dutamas, Atria Shopping Gallery, Giant Cheras and Damen Mall. He also owns a camping shop, Outdoor Centre, in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur. He made his passion for adventure into a retail success.
Wandering through the shop is an experience. It has everything, big and small. It truly offers a diverse choice of different outdoor gears for climbing, hiking, travelling, camping, adventure lifestyle, 4WD expeditions from local and international suppliers.
The company also organize overland expeditions and outdoor workshops to spread the knowledge and skills of outdoor lifestyle. Enthusiasts can learn how to set up camping tents, how to set up fires, how to perform CPR, tie the knots and other useful skills for outdoor activities.
Malcolm Gladwell in this book, Outliers: The Secrets of Success, said that success is not just about innate ability. It’s combined with a number of key factors such as opportunity, meaningful hard work (10,000 hours to gain mastery), and your cultural legacy. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have.
Success is about making things happen, He put Malaysia on the 4×4 Map. It is not easy to organize overland trips, especially before the internet. What made him successful?
- He started experiencing adventure early as a kid. Adventure was in his blood. He got his 10,000 hours of mastery earlier than most people, and never stopped.
- Adventure was his passion, and this passion drove success.
- Because he was good and passionate, opportunities came to him. The passionate explorer was invited by the government to do Friendship Tours, people joined him on overland trips and he had many sponsors.
- He worked hard and was on tour for 3 – 4 months every year. Though the trips were fun, it was also gruelling.
This man is cheerful, easy going and kind. Simple and humble, but with strong leadership to lead troops across difficult terrains, safely and with lots of fun, all over the world.
Congrats, and I have deep respect for this gentleman. Proudly Malaysian. Leading Malaysians. Promoting Malaysia. Wishing every success for your next adventure.
Straight Roads Don’t Make Skilled Drivers.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain
“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” -Jack Kerouac