Day 2,598 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).
Change is inevitable
If you want to change, then you can. There is no reason why you couldn’t be someone else ten years from now. In fact, you are highly likely to be somebody else ten years from now even if you fight against it.
Last week’s entry: “Hong Kong’s only tourist” – day 290
The movie called Forrest Gump came out in 1994. I remember getting the soundtrack on a CD. Here’s a quote from the movie to start things off:
Jenny: Do you ever dream, Forrest, about who you're gonna be?
Forrest Gump: Who I'm gonna be?
Forrest Gump: Aren't-aren't I going to be me?
Oh yes indeed dear Forrest. You will most definitely be you. There is no escaping who we are or what we have done. However, most of who we are is a reflection of people’s perception of who we are. I guess that very much circles around, as people generally build their perceptions of us more or less based on who we are. But let’s avoid getting too philosophical right now and just head towards my point ;) There is always the old classic: the woman who left the village to head to the city where nobody knows her. Or vice versa. You can simply uproot, move to some place where nobody knows you, and start all over. I guess that works for some people. Less dramatically I have a friend in Denmark who worked as a craftsman for several years until he injured his back. He then returned to school, got the grades he needed to enter a higher education, and he is now working as a mechatronic engineer - we went to school together. Almost twenty years ago I was working in Austria and made some good friends while there. They spoke English but for the most part we got by speaking German although I wasn’t quite proficient. Years later I returned and discovered that one of them now spoke Danish fluidly! That was so strange to me! Not a great mystery as he had married a Danish woman and she had taught him Danish. But it was like meeting a new person now that we could speak without a language barrier. And then there is me. Who was I back in 2013 and who am I now? Well dear Forrest, I’m still me. I’m always going to be me. However, I’m not the man I used to be. What I am trying to say is that it is never to late to start over. I almost did not go ahead with Once Upon A Saga because I was thirty-four and felt that I was too old. I should have done it when I was twenty-four. Then I realized that at the age of forty-four I would likely say that I should have done it when I was thirty-four…in which case I had the perfect age.
I have started using the track at Kwai Chung Sports Ground. There is something about it in a repetitive way.
This week has been a lot busier than the last. I’m definitely still stuck in Hong Kong and had an interesting conversation with a friend back home. In fact, I have had that same conversation with three different people lately: “have you thought about how long you are going to give it before you head home?” My friend said: if you knew for certain that you could not leave Hong Kong until after five years would you then stay?” I did not hesitate to answer no. The conversation continued: “four years?” no. “three years?” no. “two years?” no. “one year?” hmmmm… Something has to give – right?! I’m by far not the only one waiting. COVID-19 is a global situation and we all want this to be over. In the latest news two different companied in the USA have now developed vaccines that promise to work with 95% efficiency. China also has a vaccine and Russia likewise announced they had one but for some reason it did not seem to be taken seriously. Production and distribution is a huge challenge. I heard an expert on the radio who said that we can now hope to see a normalized world by next winter. NEXT WINTER?!? Come on people!! Speed it up! Until recently Hong Kong had opened up for restaurants and bars to stay open until 02:00am but that was rolled back to midnight. And we were also permitted to be six people around a table but that is now back to four. Hong Kong has handled the pandemic really well. Some countries seem to have lost control. Even our Viking friends in Sweden have had to tighten their grip lately as cases were soaring. It is not technically hard to slow the virus down. We know how to do it: face masks, social distance, elevated hygiene and contact tracing. The hard part is to get people to do it. In case you are less experienced when it comes to masks and living somewhere, suspecting that you will be wearing a mask for months to come…then I recently made this video for you. It has a few tips and information that might be helpful.
Tap the image or click HERE to watch the video.
The Danish Seamans Church in Hong Kong finally has a reverend again! Reverend Margith ended her quarantine and returned to “Danish Room” which is a cozy space within Mariners Club which is reserved for the Danish Seamans Church. I’m frankly not sure how the room is used under normal circumstances? This year has after all been quite odd. The room has been quiet most of 2013 as seafarers have largely been unable to leave their ships, and thus did not come and visit. I suppose during a normal year Danish seafarers would visit Danish Room to sit and relax, read a book, watch a movie, use the WIFI, speak with the staff, feed the turtles, buy some snacks and clear their head. The Christmas Bazaar is a big deal for the Danish Seamans Church and has been a fun happening for many years. Again 2013 is a strange year and the bazaar cannot be held as a normal event due to restrictions on social distancing. The Christmas Bazaar is still on though! Just in a slightly adapted form and several of the Danish goods which are up for sale have already sold out! I know this because I have been somewhat involved in the preparations.
Reverend Margith's first ceremony after returning to Hong Kong.
Anita, Frank, Anders and Rev. Margith turning the Danish Room into a Christmas Bazaar!
Over the course of a few days, the Danish Room was transformed from its usual self into some over-the-top Christmas festive lair!! A bunch of us got together and emptied out the content of some nearby containers, then hauled it over to Mariners Club, carried it up to the third floor, and decorated the room. I am a complete novice so I mostly just delivered some raw power to the operation while others acted as the brains. It was very clear that everyone knew each other well and knew the routine from past years. Some arranged for food, some prepared the shelfs, some updated the website, some prepared online orders for collection. Everyone had a role and by the end of the day the results were pretty impressive!
BAM!! The transformation is complete. "Danish Julestue" is born! :)
The Christmas Bazaar is partially online and in part to be experienced in person. It is primarily meant for the Danes which is why all information online is found in Danish. And the first Christmas Bazaar of 2020 will physically take place this weekend. People will be let inside the Christmas Lair in groups of twenty and I’m excited to see how it will progress. Personally it is also fun for me to see so many Danish brands of food so far from home.
Lene making lunch for everyone who helped transform Danish Room into "Danish Julestue".
Lene from Denmark has been particularly involved in getting Danish Room ready before its Christmas makeover took place. As the room had been inactive for a long while, Lene took it upon herself to clean and organize the entire place. And there is nobody better for it than her! Lene has truly put a lot of effort into the Danish Room and while I find myself quite organized and fairly tidy – I’m simply no match for her. My relation to Lene is however of a completely different character. As it turns out, Lene is also a wizard in the kitchen and she somehow always manages to make a little too much food so that there is always some left over for me :) As such I have had the pleasure of eating two delicious meat/carrot lasagnas, a great deal of fruit and a Quiche Lorraine. A wonderful Quiche Lorraine which I definitely should not had eaten in one sitting! It was a rookie mistake on my part as I took a look at it and assessed that it was smaller than regular sized pizza so it would do fine as a single meal. In hindsight it would have adequately made for two full meals!!
Ready to die!!! But happy!
There is always something. I often find that I can spend the full day dealing with administrative tasks. It is not uncommon that I do a couple of interviews per week, social media also takes up quite some time, coordinating upcoming events, staying updated, staying connected, speaking engagements and then somehow DKK 28,264.41 (USD 4,485.50) suddenly went missing from my bank account leaving it overdrawn?! What the heck was that? The expense had the following reference: AIRBNB * HMS82R8FA3. Airbnb? I have not been staying at any Airbnb’s since November 2019. I reported this to my bank and cancelled my card. Then out of curiosity I searched the net for the reference and found that it referred to a lake house in Massachusetts, USA. Strange. It must definitely have been some sort of mix-up and within a few days my bank transferred the money back to me. It bothers me that it could happen to begin with. Fortunately, it all worked out in the end. Do you think it was some sort of CIA sting operation in which they needed funds from an innocent account? ;) Probably not. But staying on that subject I can inform that I have noticed that some of the first hits the Friday Blog receives are from two locations in Beijing and one undisclosed location in the USA. Without fail! It is always Beijing and an undisclosed location in the USA :) I’m not surprised if my file with a variety of intelligence services has grown a bit thicker than that of most other people. The Saga has after all taken us to Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Columbia, Nigeria, Cuba and North Korea. All wonderful countries by the way for one reason or another. And simultaneously (likely) also all countries that raises flags with intelligence services when somebody passes through them.
Hong Kong Maritime Museum.
This week I also found my way to the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. I had been once before but did not have enough time so this week I made a proper visit. It is a fantastic museum! The museum takes visitors on an 8,000-year journey of maritime development throughout Chinese history and into the modern-day port activities of Hong Kong. It is an interesting way to get behind the development of Hong Kong from the small quiet fisherman villages and up to the spellbinding mechanics of what has become one of the worlds busiest ports. The Chinese explored wide and far and by 111 BCE Chinese seaborn expeditions had reached Vietnam and Korea. They had reached India and the Roman Empire by the second century CE. Zheng He is a legend! I have known of him for many years and if the name doesn’t ring any bells with you then I highly recommend you do a little research. Zheng He was a great Chinese explorer and fleet commander who lived six hundred years ago. He went on seven MAJOR expeditions to explore the world for the Chinese emperor and to establish Chinese trade in new areas.
Notice the Danish flag! ;) Hong Kong Maritime Museum.
Denmark has been present in Hong Kong since around 1730 when the first trading station was set up. It was rather fun to see the Danish flag (oldest in the world) in old paintings of Hong Kong. Apparently, it was very stressful to trade with the Chinese. China did not want to trade under equal terms as it saw itself as the center of the world and others had to be subordinate. And the further away a country was the less civilized it was considered to be. This eventually evolved into tensions. Chinas exports of tea rose from 2,000 kgs in the late 17th century to a whopping 42 million kg by 1855!! The opium trade and the opium wars followed. And so did other wars. Hong Kong has seen rapid development over the last two hundred years and only a generation ago there were no bridges between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. Today Hong Kong is home to 7.5 million people and as mentioned, one of the busiest ports in the world.
Moments before delivering the Royal Geographical Society webtalk.
On the Kowloon Peak hike with Thomas and Kenneth. Leaving only one peak left before I can say I have been on Hong Kong's twenty highest.
Yeah – it has been another week. As we round up this entry, I just want to let you know that the webtalk I did at the Royal Geographical Society, Hong Kong, went well. I was a bit nervous as the Royal Geographical Society is quite the authority within “my line of work”. They were founded in London in 1830 and has paved the way for some of the worlds most amazing adventures and explorations. I can sometimes doubt myself in the light of others. I have not survived relentless conditions all alone in a jungle and I have never shot a bear while under attack. I have had a few adventures but do they measure up with the big guys? Who can say? It was a 45-minute talk followed by 15 minutes of questions and I believe it was well received. That makes 118 talks across 59 countries + Hong Kong.
The photo was taken by Maxime in HK. The article was done by Mette :)
Finally, I want to address the title for this entry. Because many years ago I was a paperboy and I would deliver the newspaper from door to door in a small village with 1,200 beating hearts. I’m not sure what I was dreaming my future might bring some day. I remember I wanted to be a ninja for a while. Then there was a period in which I thought the perfect life would be to drive a truck across the vast open lands in Australia. But when I was delivering newspapers I never once thought that my face would be on the front page someday. And Midtjyllands Avis is not the largest newspaper in the world. It is not even the largest in Denmark. That is not the point at all. My point is that once I was the kid who delivered that paper…and now I have been featured on the front page. If that is not a transformation then I don’t know what is ;)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - thankful.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
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