Day 2,542 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country
(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).
No matter how much you suffer…
One week takes the next. I found myself waking up last Tuesday thinking that it was Sunday. The weekdays hardly have any meaning anymore. Does anyone else feel like that?
Last week’s entry: Keeping the engine running – 34 weeks in Hong Kong
So here’s an interesting observation I have made in my life! Or at least what is going on right now. I’m deeply absorbed by a book called “Endurance – Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage” by Alfred Lansing. It is the true account of an expedition to the South Pole which went bad. And the heroic and frankly unbelievable account of survival. The book actually deals a lot with the subjects of leadership and group community. The story is riveting! The book has been recommended to me several times over the years and most recently by my friend Nat (or perhaps her dog Mo) in Cyprus. So I discovered this thing called Amazon and ordered it. True story. That was my first Amazon purchase. I simply couldn’t find the book in Hong Kong and had to go online. I generally enjoy reading books but I normally end up getting distracted by nearly anything and as a result I can spend years reading a book. My interesting observation is that this particular book has become the distraction from nearly anything else. And that is a truly rare thing. I met up with Mark Agnew again who is the one that plans on becoming the first to row through the North West Passage. He invited me for dinner at Hong Kong Yacht Club and the book seemed a natural topic to bring up. It turns out to be his favorite book and he envied me that I was reading it for the first time.
Hong Kong Central
Last Saturday I finally got around to film, edit and upload the latest Status Update for Once Upon A Saga which has now had 2,449 views across Instagram and YouTube. The last one was back on February 18th. For those of you who follow the Saga closely there isn’t going to be much news within it. And for those of you who are slightly out of touch it’s a good video to catch up on the situation. I regret that I forgot to mention within the video that I cannot cross the border to mainland China and also that the border to Macau has been closed since before we reached Hong Kong. Therefore, a vessel is truly our only way out of here. And furthermore, it would serve no purpose going to mainland China even if the border was open. Not logistically anyway. You can watch the status update by clicking HERE or on the image below. It may be fun for you to watch the update from February too…I got some things right back then and some things wrong as well.
Click on image to watch the video.
Elections in the USA are upon us. Yes: us! We cannot escape it no matter which country we are from. I heard a radio interview with a gentleman from Main, USA, who said that he couldn’t wait for November to arrive so it would be all over. Fair point. Unfortunately after November we will not be able to escape debates on whether the right candidate won. Since I’m in Hong Kong I’m also very close to mainland China. Some would say that I am as close as I can get. I can see China from some of Hong Kong’s peaks when I’m out hiking. I find China fascinating and have plenty of good things to share about the three times I have been fortunate to visit. As I follow the news, I also hear unfavorable things about China. Especially in the US presidential debate. Like it or not the USA is the only real superpower on our planet and it matters to the rest of the world who is in charge of that country. So we all pay attention. Recently I heard talks about COVID-19 being a Chinese virus and that the Chinese are at fault of this global pandemic. Well…that is actually becoming an old tune but it has again intensified during the presidential debates. Personally it is beyond me why the world doesn’t come together and fight our pandemic in a joint effort. It will never be defeated if we do not collaborate. However my point here is another one all together. Is this truly a Chinese virus? The outbreak may have started in China but they quickly got the outbreak under control. Foreign reporters in both Shanghai and Beijing are reporting that life is back to normal in every sense and that it is hard to believe that there ever was an outbreak to begin with. The world was quite harsh on how it received news on the hard lockdown in Wuhan, China, which officially ended on April 8th. Looking back it seemed to work. China has had 85,307 total cases and 4,634 deaths in a country with 1.4 billion people. If you don’t believe the figures then just multiply with ten. It wont matter much in regards to what comes next. The USA has had 6,959,409 total cases and 201,822 deaths in a country with 330 million people. At which point does this become a USA virus? Don’t get me wrong, I love the USA and can talk endlessly and favorably about that country. I just wonder if it is a strong argument stating it is a Chinese virus? And passing blame certainly will not defeat the pandemic.
I haven't seen anything but Hong Kong for a while. I hope the rest of the world looks up from its phones once in a while?
Hong Kong is as lovely as ever. What an amazing part of our planet she is. Beaches, waterfalls, mountain peaks, butterflies and I hear there’s a city here somewhere too ;) Nah – I spend most of my time in the city and then escape to the wildlife when I get the chance. The city is great too though…as long as you don’t need to buy an apartment. Apartment prices are through the roof! The city is something though with a kaleidoscope of different neighborhoods with different cultures to be found around every corner. People here are just trying to get on with life as everywhere else. They see their city much in the same way we all see our every day surroundings: with routine. I have been changing my routine during the past few weeks. There is a lot more focus on reading and running. I have already ordered another book which arrived a few days ago and Brett from the Running Klub got me into another ultradistance challenge. This one is called the ‘Sydney to Melbourne Virtual Challenge’ and it is basically about covering 1,000 km (621 mi) in a hundred days or less. That boils down to an average of 10 km (6.2 mi) per day. It needs to be running or hiking though so walking between stations or going shopping doesn’t count. It is a great little Australian initiative and I am happy to take part. The official name of the challenge is ‘Mirrim Wurnit Back Paddock Ultra’ and you are still welcome to join if you think it’s a challenge for you. I particularly like it because it is a hundred-day long challenge which makes me wonder if I’ll be covering some of that distance on a ship and even more excitingly finishing it in Australia? Who knows – a hundred days is a long time? My money is however on that Christmas and New Year will be spent in Hong Kong. But let’s stay optimistic!
Click on image to visit the challenge.
Also this week immigration went through without a hitch. So good! In and out in nearly no time. I arrived on the given day for my extension appointment, handed over my paperwork and was told to come back an hour later with HKD 230. And an hour and seven minutes later I walked out of there with my extension. You’ve gotta love Hong Kong immigration. So efficient! So streamlined! That extension bought the Saga more time (expires November 8th 2020). There is no reason to think it would not be extended again….here is however also no guarantee.
Waiting (1 hour) across from Hong Kong Immigration while it rained outside.
Speaking engagements continue. Mostly online. It was a blast meeting up with the Hutchison Ports Team last week. Nothing beats speaking to a live audience. And yet I had a really good time sharing the Saga with the Lego team through my screen here in Hong Kong. Shackleton would have been chanceless back in 1915. Such modern commodities belong to our time. I think my audience was around thirty people but all I could see was Christian. And he’s a good looking guy so that’s okay ;) Who doesn’t love Lego?!? The amount of hours I have spent huddled down over blue, red and green plastic bricks is a story on its own. Some of my favorite Christmas gifts which Santa had left me under the tree were Lego boxes! Cartoons I watched as a child turned into mindboggling constructions in my Lego city. From my mind, to my hands and into reality. I even ended up having a summer job as a Pirate in Legoland Billund just before my military service at the Royal Life Guard began. Those were the good old days! I loved going to work at Legoland!! Who wouldn’t want a job in a place where people come to be happy and have a memorable day? My colleagues were great too and a lot of fun. On my first day my new Pirate colleagues handed me a worn VHS tape of “Down Periscope” and told me that I had to watch it as an initiation. I was issued with a Lego sword, and dressed as a pirate, I would somehow lose a lot of battles with brave children from all around the world. Who would have thought children possess such sword fighting skills. I would also sneak up behind parents, put by Lego sword around them and utter a mighty Pirate roar: “YARRRRRRRRR!”. That would usually scare the living daylights out of them to the children’s delight. All in good fun. I loved that job so much that I would wake up early and head to the park long before my shift started just so I could be there. Oh yeah…that was a good job. Unfortunately it didn’t offer much prospects in terms of a career path and wealth. It was a summer job. But I was happy. Well, I hope you enjoyed that little story from back in the day. Needless to say, it was a real pleasure connecting with the crew at Lego from far across the world.
My Lego Mandalorian! A gift from my sister when she visited earlier in the Saga. She also worked at Legoland. "This is the way!"
I’d say it has been a fair week for me. I have been busy with a variety of engagements as well as keeping up with friends and even making some new ones. I continue to frequent the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) where I have also made several of friends. The FCC is a members-only club and meeting place for the media, business and diplomatic community. It is also just a really cool place to hang out in traditional colonial settings, have a good meal and write down this week’s entry for you. One thing I’m particularly fond of at FCC is the wonderful staff. A stone-throw away from the FCC I had the pleasure of joining Phil Morais Jr for lunch at Club Lusitano. Club Lusitano is the oldest European club in Hong Kong and was founded back in 1866. It was founded as a private members club for the local Portuguese community which has existed in the region for many years. The Portuguese first arrived in the 16th century and eventually went on to colonize Macau while Hong Kong was a British colony. Phil, who is a really easygoing and kind man, explained to me that those from Macau are called 'Macanese' which I personally found sounds really cute.
Phil’s life has in recent years transitioned into a great passion for diving and conservationism. Especially in and around Fiji. So we had a chance to talk about bula shirts as well ;)
At Club Lusitano with Phil.
Hong Kong has its clubs. The FCC is a for me a super cool and relatively laidback club with a rich journalistic history. The Yacht Club which I visited with Mark looked nice, had good food and obviously has a close connection to the boating community. Club Lusitano serves as a classy hangout for Portuguese descendants and it had an almost secretive medieval feel to it in the coolest way possible. And Portuguese food!! Come on!! No complaints there. Then there is The Hong Kong Club. I suppose it is the Rolls-Royce of Hong Kong’s social clubs in which new members can only join upon referral from a member and I’ve heard that the joining fee is a MILLION USD! I haven’t been in there yet but hear that it looks nice. I would probably need to borrow a suit just to enter the lobby. Yeah – Hong Kong is a lot of different things.
Writting this entry for you at the FCC. You can find me at the club ;)
And with those words I believe we have reached the end of this entry. I’m doing okay given the circumstances but I’m not thrilled that the Saga is approaching seven years of age. And I’m not thrilled that my fiancée and I have been apart for more than a year. And I’m not thrilled that there is no clear vision for the future. However, I’m quite thrilled about my book and must conclude one thing: No matter how much you suffer – someone has had it worse.
Extreme social distancing! 8,662 km (5,382 mi) of distance to be exact.
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - I get by with A LOT OF HELP from my friends.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
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