THE ULTIMATE STEP CHALLENGE HK (Aug. 3rd to 9th)

Day 2,486 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). 

Man! Me and my “mini projects”

Pano

I would be really happy to see all of you engage with this upcoming step challenge. Lately some friends and I have been working hard to make it a success and raise money for the Red Cross. Please commit to it :)

Maybe I should start from the beginning. I’ll make it short though so stick around and know that there might be a super cool Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatch in it for you! I reached Hong Kong 185 days ago and only for transit between two ships. However, I got stuck due to COVID-19 and have now had my visa extended twice already. I left home on October 10th 2013, have visited 194 countries (of 203) without flying and have wanted to go home since 2015. In Hong Kong I have stayed occupied with speaking engagements, collaborations, interviews, hiking, extreme hiking, friendships, social media and step challenges. The first step challenge was just a friendly competition between Jakob and I. By the end of the week we were both exhausted and had reached about 230,000 steps each! A few weeks later we were silly enough to do it again!? The second time we invited ten friends and together the twelve of us raised about USD 3,250.00 for the Red Cross. The winner took over 410,000 steps!! I did not win that one but my feet were a freakshow in the following days. Now we are back again!!

THE ULTIMATE STEP CHALLENGE!!

August 3rd to 9th 2020, Hong Kong!

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Register at the bottom of this page: https://dcchk.eventbank.com/event/ultimate-step-challenge-25686/

We are 25 people who together aim at reaching 5 MILLION steps and raise at least USD 4,700.00 for the Red Cross within a week. Yours truly will attempt to take 500,000 of those steps within the seven days! So for me that would be about 60km (37mi) per day for seven days straight. I have never before done such a thing. Do you think I can pull it off? I have no idea. But I will certainly try!

YOU can take part in a few different ways. I’d love for you to pick a sponsorship based on how many steps you think we will reach.

1a

Register at the bottom of this page: https://dcchk.eventbank.com/event/ultimate-step-challenge-25686/

The PERSONAL sponsorship is only HKD 0.00006 per step up to 2.5 million steps! (HKD 150 / USD 20). If we reach 5 million steps then we are talking HKD 0.0001 per step (HKD 500 / USD 65). And as a bonus we will draw FIVE random winners from everyone who signs up for the PERSONAL sponsorship. The lucky winners get a super cool Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatch (value USD 149.99). On top of that the donations go uncut to the Red Cross. Furthermore, you will receive a personalized Thank You Certificate. Updates on the challenge leaderboard will be made daily across Saga social media. You can even share how many steps you did every day in the comments and compare with us – we are all sorts of people in the challenge. A few are expected to do more than 55,000 steps per day but some will also be aiming at 15,000 steps per day crossing that magical 100,000 limit within a week. We are a mix of men and women. And it is typhoon season. What can go wrong? ;)

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Register at the bottom of this page: https://dcchk.eventbank.com/event/ultimate-step-challenge-25686/

Then there is the STANDARD sponsorship. The first three to sign up for this one will all receive two Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatch. The starting rate is as little as HKD 0.0006 per step up to 2.5 million steps! (HKD 1,500 / USD 194). If we reach 5 million steps then we are talking HKD 0.001 per step (HKD 5,000 / USD 645). This offer includes a Thank You Post on my LinkedIn page, your company logo featured on the participants Certificate of Achievement and a personalized Thank You Certificate. And do I need to remind people that the money we raise goes uncut to help the world’s largest humanitarian organization, which has been alleviating suffering of the most vulnerable people since 1863. Come on! This is a sweet offer!

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Register at the bottom of this page: https://dcchk.eventbank.com/event/ultimate-step-challenge-25686/

The most prestigious offer is the CORPORATE sponsorship. And we have our first sponsor already!! So thank you to: Ross DK & Geoop (developing green energy from geothermal resources) – www.rossoffshore.dkwww.geoop.dk. Let’s get the snowball rolling. There is room for more so please sign up. With this sponsorship you will be featured in Daily Posts across my LinkedIn profile (Aug. 3rd to 9th 2020), You will meet me in person (if in Hong Kong) or have a virtual 60 minute session on any VC platform, your logo will be featured on the participants Certificate of Achievement and you’ll get a personalized Thank You Certificate as well. Besides – you are raising money for a noble humanitarian cause during difficult times! The CORPORATE sponsorship starts at HKD 0.006 per step up to 2.5 million steps! (HKD 5,000 / USD 645). And if we reach 5 million steps then it is (still) HKD 0.002 per step (HKD 10,000 / USD 1.290).

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Register at the bottom of this page: https://dcchk.eventbank.com/event/ultimate-step-challenge-25686/

We’ve got people in all ages competing in this challenge. And we have some fairly busy (yet competitive) CEO’s as well. “Treadmill Poul” and everyone else from the last step challenge are back again. It is going to be a fierce top five!! Last time the top five made this many steps in just seven days:

1) 410,778

2) 402,825

3) 360,605

4) 330,130

5) 237,052

5

My personal Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatch on my arm. Everyone within the challenge got one. They are really cool, can track your daily steps and more! 

I think it is so cool that Misfit is gifting us the watches. It is great that this challenge is being carried out with the Danish Chamber of Commerce (DCC). Stridekick has sponsored us the usage of their app! The graphics look great and have been made by Kinny and Bian! There is even this 42 second fast pace video for you to watch. Anja from DCC is a real sweetheart and has been helping out as our event coordinator! This is no small thing! We have even had media cover our upcoming event in both Hong Kong and Denmark. It has been a fair amount of work so far – I really hope you will help us get this off the ground. Tell a friend. Share it with family. Reach out to a business. And if you think the PERSONAL sponsorship is too much for you then maybe you can split the costs with some friends and join anyway.

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A few days ago the Danish Red Cross shared a post informing about how COVID-19 is costing lives in ways that most of us do not know. According to the United Nations more than 10,000 children die from hunger every month, as their families cannot afford food due to restrictions and economical consequences under COVID-19. The Red Cross is doing everything within its power to limit transmission of the virus by making hygiene easily accessible and encourage people to keep social distance. The Red Cross is also disseminating information about the virus and busting myths. Money is being handed out to alleviate economical consequences which are costing human lives. The United Nations furthermore estimate that every month 500,000 children are malnourished as a direct consequence of COVID-19. So NOW is a really good time to support the Red Cross. It does not need to be through our step challenge but anyway you can. As a Goodwill Ambassador of the Danish Red Cross and a man who has visited the movement and seen the work across 189 nations, I kindly ask you to take affair. It is no secret that I have my personal issues with certain elements of the Danish Red Cross administration…however the humanitarian work is indisputable and something I could defend blindfolded at any time. Thank you.

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I had a lovely interview with Claudio from Fundacion Helice in Mexico. I hope to have a link for you soon.

“And now to something completely different” as Monty Python has often said. Here is a quick picture by picture update of the week which has passed.

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Lately I have had several good days (for a change). And this one was a hike with Andrew and Seth. Seth and his wife run For Something More which is an excellent hiking site.

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Seth and Andrew cooling off.

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Beautiful views on the Ma Dai stream hike with Seth and Andrew.

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Would you jump? He did.

Three fast ones:

  • I was invited to join the Savagar’s and their neighbors for dinner in Sai Kung. We naturally had a good time. Good to see everyone again and listen to David Bowie at Glastonbury 2000.
  • Since I’m on a USD 20/day budget and don’t have much money I asked Salomon if the Savagar’s could pick some items from their website for being such amazing hosts throughout five months. Salomon kindly agreed and shoes and apparel are now on their way to Hong Kong. So cool!
  • I’ve been to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) plenty recently. Still amazing to enjoy guest membership in such a special place. These past days I met up with Peter, Svend, Michael, Thomas and Tim there. Great people and good company.

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My friend Paul joined me for an interview with ViuTV. We were interviewd by Chin, Chun and Ken :)

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After the interview Paul who runs Walk In Hong Kong showed me the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. Paul is joining the step challenge! :)

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The eyebrow champ?

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Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.

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After the visit to the Monastery I asked my phone to bring me home. It chose this way! It worked though.

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As per July 29th Hong Kong has regressed to having all bars and restaurants closed, people can maximum gather in pairs of two and wearing a mask has become mandatory. We are now one step away from complete lock-down. (Edit: Starting July 31st Hong Kong reversed its decision to ban dining at restaurants. Under certain conditions they may serve customers until 6pm).

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I have moved into my new apartment. I now live in Tsuen Wan West thanks to the Danish community in Hong Kong. The apartment has stunning views. I'll miss the Andersen Clan in Wong Chuk Yeung though. Thomas helped me move :)

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The sun keeps setting. People keep telling me that the sky is never this clear. Some benefits from the pandemic.

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I kept my promise to Oscar and Johan and headed out to Lamma Island. The tree stacks behind the mountain are iconic for the island. They are from the power plant.

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Talking geography and history with Johan's son Allan and wife Hanna. We also spoke Scandinavian. They are from Sweden :)

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My evolution of masks. 6 months of this. Please find a cure for COVID-19 and open the world again!!

 

 

I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop

 

If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga needs funding. Thank you :)

 

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - hopeful for the step challenge!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

 

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Once Upon A Saga

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In prison with the key in hand (Hong Kong day 178)

Day 2,479 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). 

We all try. Succeeding just isn’t guaranteed. Try harder.

panoMy goodness there is much I could say. I could pour out my heart. I could illustrate the magnificence of Hong Kong. I could easily tell something motivating or inspiring. I Could just ramble. What will I write this time? Maybe something about the DKK 21,129.00 (USD 3,250.00) we collected for the Red Cross…

If you missed last week’s entry then you are in luck. Just tap the link. And yeah, so in a (by now) classical “the Saga is not easy to pull off” rant I’m somehow still here. Remember that time I quit the project because it got too hard and I went home? No?! Well neither do I because it never happened. And I suppose that is worth being proud about. No matter how tough it ever got I never packed up and ran away. Naturally I had the strength to stay strong due to the influence of thousands of amazing people along my way. I have many great Hong Kong stories but the greatest must be the Savagar family that took me in and hosted me for five months!! What a remarkable family. And I miss them. We got close over the course of five months but saying farewell is and has always been a huge part of the Saga. Tens of thousands of hellos and just as many farewells. Fun? Not so much. Some I will see again someday. Some I probably won’t. I’m sure people have no idea how much I think about them. This big melon on top of my shoulders is full of memories with people from all over the world and these memories pop up randomly. I think a lot about people I have met, what they have said and what I have learned. And thanks to ‘oh so many’ people the Saga has become a highly successful project. There isn’t a single border we have not crossed, not a single stamp we did not get, not a ship we did not find and no checkpoint we did not pass. 194 countries without flying and still counting…although stuck without a projected date for release.

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The beauty of nature can only be understated.

Yes…Hong Kong is an absolutely amazing host! Just today I walked past a banana plant with low hanging bananas. I bet most of you had no idea that bananas grow in Hong Kong? Well, Hong Kong is home to many surprises. I recently had a skype call with my father and he told me about his visit to Hong Kong in 1982. Just imagine that! 38 years ago! That would have been a completely different Hong Kong. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Google, no Lonely Planet guidebook (almost true), no World Wide Web, no computer viruses, no smartphones and no ‘many other things’. My father came for a business meeting and told me a bit about that. But then he asked me if I had been to the “James Bond bar”? A quick google search later and I was aware that Hong Kong once had a bar called ‘Bottoms up’, which featured in the 1974 James Bond film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. My father put on a cheeky smile. He had been there and there was something particular about the place. Alas…his innocent son will “never know” as the final version of ‘Bottoms up’ closed down in 2009.

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“Why is Hong Kong an amazing host Thor?” I would simply answer: opportunity. Networking opportunities seem inexhaustible. My goodness the amount of people I have met here and the doors which have opened. I’m particularly found of the Hong Kong Tourism Board whom I have been collaborating with for a while. They are really nice people and have been greatly beneficiary to the Saga. Overall, I think the Saga’s social media has grown with more then ten thousand people while we have been stuck in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a big-business kind of place and I haven’t dived much into that but I’m sure opportunities are there. I have, as you know, been very invested in the 75% of Hong Kong which is nature. All the hiking, trekking, trail running etc. Good stuff. It feels comforting to be out there under a green canopy surrounded by the sounds of nature and nothing else. Well…the occasional airplane does cross the sky but it is so rare that the ones which fly are noticeable. They mostly carry cargo these days. When the Saga eventually lifts anchor and sets sail again there will be much to say farewell to here. I have walked the streets, tasted the fruits and met many, many new faces. I have made good friends too.

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I finally made it to Lamma Island on a day-trip with some very friendly Danish Vikings!

Will we be setting sail anytime soon? I really don’t know. I have been trying to leave for 178 days and we are still here. However, Australia may grant me permission to enter if they find my reasons compelling. One could hope that they would. I have been in touch with Bjorn Hojgaard from Anglo-Eastern and they are certainly doing their outmost to find me suitable passage. Let’s see where it leads. In case I’m still in Hong Kong by August 3rd I’ll be participating in THE ULTIMATE STEP CHALLENGE! Yes indeed! And this time we are going BIG! It is expected that the winner will take more than 500,000 steps within a single week so it will be quite the spectacle! It will all play out across Once Upon A Saga media on a day to day basis. We are again hoping to raise lots of funds for the Red Cross which I find to be a noble cause. I can tell you about Nigerian Red Cross volunteers who were digging in rubble with their bare hands until they bled…and then continued. This was after a bomb attack on a building and they were the first responders. There are devoted EMS (Emergence Medical Service) employees at the Lebanese Red Cross who with a straight face have told their family that the job comes first and that family comes second. Because it must! Young teenagers with the Syrian Red Crescent drove ambulances in and out of conflict zones without hesitation. Teenagers! And in spite of running low on supplies they did it anyway. Why do I know such things? Because I have met these people and have looked deep into their eyes with bewilderment and awe. We will never reach the last of my Red Cross stories because they have been carefully collected by personally visiting the movement across 189 countries (which is historically unparalleled). Just trust me when I say donating is the right thing to do. This new charity step challenge will specifically go to fund the support of the world’s most vulnerable people. And while less people are suffering year for year, we still have a long way to go.

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This challenge will be properly announced on Monday July 27th!

“So, what about the last step challenge?” It went well! Thank you so much for your kindness and contributions. We reached a total of DKK 21,129.00 (USD 3,250.00) which were transferred to the Danish Red Cross last Monday. That is equivalent to 160 days in the Saga’s budget to put things into perspective. While the world is a tragically corrupt place the Saga simply isn’t. I haven’t paid out a single bribe anywhere in the world and I can guarantee you that every coin went uncut to the Danish Red Cross (I even added a little myself). The Danish Red Cross is a good place to send the money as they are actively involved across roughly 45 countries in the world. You may also want to consider that any Red Cross or Red Crescent is a mirror of the country it stems from. If you, as an example, generalize Germans as precise, hardworking, efficient people then you’re almost guaranteed to find that the German Red Cross is also precise, hardworking and efficient. They certainly are in my experience! Denmark consistently ranks as the least corrupt country in the world and therefore it is safe to assume that the Danish Red Cross is among the least corrupt National Societies in the world. Which better place to send the money and expect great results? The people who donated to the last step challenge were: Jakob, Thomas, Poul S, Poul K, Kenneth, Louise, Mette, Kathrine T, Laila, Elizabeth, Siv, Morten, Charlotte, Naja, Karin, Lisbeth, Hanne, Elin, Angela, Bo, Thorbjorn, Anne-Mette, Le, Roar, Annika, Birthe, Noenne, Eija, Ulla, Susanne, Rasmus, Kathrine M, Brett, Robin and Margaretha. Thank you once more! The breakdown is: DKK 17,533.00 (USD 2,724.00) came from the five (Jakob, Thomas, Poul S (Jointak Group Limited), Poul K and Kenneth) who pledged an amount per step. DKK 423.00 (USD 65.00) came from PayPal donations and DKK 3,173.00 (USD 493.00) came from MobilePay. Amazingly the Danish Red Cross was so ecstatically grateful that they posted the results all over their social media in pride over their accomplished Goodwill Ambassador and everyone who joined. Just kidding…they did no such thing. But they did email me a heartfelt message thanking us all for our efforts. Kidding again…they didn’t do that either. But they did continue to ignore me as they have so excellently done throughout the entire year. Not kidding. I wonder what is up with that? Maybe I’m not posting enough photos of crying children? One can only wonder. One thing is for sure: the Danish Red Cross has never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity when it comes to the Saga. Why break that tradition…

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This is the image that meets you when you visit the Danish Red Cross. The text reads: "Hunger is killing in Yemen!" It's like screaming: "It is your fault! Feel guilty!!" I guess we see the world in different ways.

Ups!!…I cannot write that about the Red Cross and then leave you hanging. I genuinely think the Red Cross is a blessing to out planet and the amount of humanitarian work carried out by some 13 million volunteers globally on a daily basis can never be fully measured. It is IMPACTFUL! These days the movement is naturally also actively dealing with COVID-19 in a variety of different ways. No – my issues with the Danish Red Cross are with elements of the administration and how they have been treating me throughout the years. Nine countries from now they will be receiving a highly accomplished Goodwill Ambassador in Denmark and it will be interesting to see if they feel they have nurtured their investment to a degree where they in good conscience can pluck its fruits. The one good thing I can always say about the Danish Red Cross is that they invested in the Saga before it even existed. Oh yeah…and they do some mighty fine humanitarian work too.

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Proof of transfer to the Danish Red Cross.

Do I feel alright? Am I doing well? Well…that depends on where you want to focus? I’m in Hong Kong and that is pretty great as far as places go these days. I’m healthy, I’ve got friends, I’ve got food, I have things to do etc. I am however also stuck and mentally tortured by not knowing when I will be able to go home. A home which I have not seen for nearly seven years. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I am essentially in a prison cell while holding the key to the door. Using the key has real consequences but I am free to do so anytime I would like. The airport is right there! However, the Saga and everything we have worked towards for years would immediately be thrown away. My situation is not unparalleled to that of the many seafarers who are stuck at sea. Sure, I haven’t seen home since 2013 but I can climb a mountain. Sure, they have only been stuck for months but all they have is the ship and each other. Kate Whitehead nailed it in this article: ‘Prisoners at sea’: ‘stuck on board cargo ships, crews find their mental well-being under threat’, which she wrote for the South China Morning Post. It was published in early May but it is as relevant as ever today. If the supply chain breaks then the world will truly suffer. We need immediate solutions for travel during COVID-19.

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We all have bad days. Some just feel it worse than others.

Another thing I have mentioned before which deserves repeating is that waiting it out in Hong Kong is not a long-term sustainable solution. We are closing in on six months now and I will not wait forever. Besides the kind Hong Kong Immigration may not extend my visa indefinitely. I once wrote that I feel like I am in a boat with no oars drifting down a river towards a waterfall. I do not know how far ahead the waterfall is but once I go over the edge it is over. I truly do not know if I am willing to give this a few more months or a few more years. I do however know that the edge of the waterfall is somewhere out there.

8b

This is where I have been living since the beginning of July. The apartment belongs to Thomas who lives nearby. I often have dinner with him and his children (Natali and Luis). Really goodhearted people.

I will leave you on a positive note. My fiancée and I are doing well and continue to grow stronger in spite of the distance. I was hoping that we could find a way to bring her to Hong Kong but it has recently become much harder with the new cases. It has become a monster of a long-distance relationship but we are managing it. This week I have also had video calls with both my sisters who are dear to my heart. Amazing times we live in when we can connect as such by the click of a button. And I’m also all set up to move out of this apartment and into a new one. A remarkable apartment as it happens! There is nothing wrong with the one I am currently staying in throughout all of July. It is in fact a really nice apartment but it has been rented out to someone starting August 1st. The Danish Seafarers priest however just left Hong Kong and that apartment is now empty until a new priest is found and non-residents once gain can fly into Hong Kong. So, I will be taking over for a while. Not as priest…but as tenant ;)

finalb

I do like my own cooking! :)

 

 

I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop

 

If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga needs funding. Thank you :)

 

 Patreon Picture2MobilePay

 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - perception is reality
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

 

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Once Upon A Saga

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As my beard grows longer (Hong Kong)

 Day 2,472 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). 

We can do better folks!

pano

The June step challenge between Jakob and I ended at 224,547 steps within a week. I remember when that used to be a lot of steps…prepare for change…

First things first! Accumulated the twelve of us managed 2.4 MILLION STEPS within a week earning the Red Cross a whopping HKD 20,533.00 (USD 2,648.00)!! So that is really something! And before we hand over the money I would very much like to see if we could raise the amount. So if you are feeling generous then please send your contribution to Once Upon A Saga’s MobilePay #12711 or PayPal account. Kindly mark it: HK STEP CHALLENGE FOR RED CROSS. You matter and so do your actions. Thank you :)

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1

These amazing people made a difference!! And so can you! :)

And now the step challenge!! Well that quickly got out of control!?! Jakob and I brought ten of our friends into the challenge. My fiancée Le and my friend Lars in Denmark both joined. So did “Treadmill Poul”, Anders, Poul K, Kenneth, Thomas, Luis, Natali and Jorgen. On day one the top three positions read: 1) 51,380 steps, 2) 47,194 steps, and 3) 45,630 steps!!! We were actually thirteen contestants but after that start one left cursing our testosterone driven macho battle! :) Yeah…granted…that was a heck of a start. So Jakob, who is the Executive Vice President for Asia-Pacific at DSV, came up with the suggestion that our steps should count towards money for the Red Cross. And that was a really good idea because then it all seemed a lot less stupid. Jakob pledged to pay HKD 0,001 per step we accumulated if we reached 1 million steps. Jakob would pay HKD 0,0015 per step if we reached 1.5 million steps and if the unthinkable happened and we crossed 2 million steps then Jakob would contribute with HKD 0,002 per step! Well…things got out of control!! It did not take long before others joined. Poul K and Thomas generously matched Jakob’s contribution and so did “Treadmill Poul” through his firm Jointak Group Limited which is a professional in-house manufacturer of accessories for garments. On top of that Kenneth pledged to support with HKD 1,000.00.

2

Man I've seen a lot of Hong Kong!!! Walking home at night through the city.

It got bonkers!!! On average I managed 57,000 steps PER DAY!! That is far more than a full marathon distance per day. And I did not even win!! Last Thursday when I was writing last week’s entry I was realizing that I had no shot at winning. The honor would go to “Treadmill Poul” who was simply a machine! I call him “Treadmill Poul” because he has done about 20% of his steps on a treadmill under air-conditioned conditions. That is completely within the perimeters of the step challenge however a clear advantage compared to crossing mountains in 32 degrees Celsius (90F) with a humidity above 70%. However in “Treadmill Poul’s” defense he most definitely took the steps. And he is used to walking/hiking a lot and plays a lot of squash as well. Poul also somehow manages to smoke two packs of cigarettes every day?! :) There were several hiking enthusiasts in our challenge. Competition was fierce. Poul K for one did about 50,000 steps one day pacing back and forth in his apartment! The problem is that it is incredibly time consuming. If you calculate roughly 6,000 steps per hour then you would have to invest 9-10 hours per day to stay among the top three! Not everyone was that crazy. The three last positions were all below 85,000 steps (12,000 steps per day) which is far saner. I have no idea how this got so competitive but it did. And I had other obligations to attend to so I did not believe I could catch up to “Treadmill Poul” and mentally began to settle for a second place. However second place wouldn’t come easy either and had to be fought for.

3

I saw hundreds of monkeys last week.

Friday last week I was scheduled to speak at Maersk but it fell apart as new COVID-19 cases have lately been rising here in Hong Kong. Fortunately no new deaths so Hong Kong remains at four. However the new cases which are being referred to as ‘Wave 3’ have seen the region regressing to a former state. We can once again only gather in small groups, many offices have sent their employees home and the schools which were not already closed for summer have been shut down. People around the world are naturally sick and tired of hearing about the pandemic. We all want it to be over but it takes effort. We can’t just shrug our shoulders and cheat on the guidelines. This takes effort and the same stuff is still valid: wash your hands frequently, keep social distance, stay at home if you’re sick, wear a mask in crowded places and don’t cough and sneeze into open air (because the last one is just gross). Yeah, so while we were beginning to speak about “regional bubbles” which may soon be opening up we regressed instead. And pay attention to that! Because Hong Kong was dealing with COVID-19 long before the rest of the world…long before it was a pandemic. Most of you were laughing about Hongkongers hoarding toilet paper long before we began laughing at you for doing the same. We have generally been ahead of the curve here in Hong Kong and now things are regressing…meanwhile other parts of the world seem to be opening up and relaxing precautions. What do you think will happen next?

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The promenade at Shing Mun River is lovely.

Ah yes…I’m still thoroughly stuck in Hong Kong. It is the same “I am in a prison with the key” scenario I have described before. I can leave but then I have to give up on the Saga and violate the flying rule. Or I can wait but nobody knows how long. The shipping industry continues to be in a disastrous situation which should worry you. 80-90% of everything traded is transported on board ships and if that part of the supply chain stops then we are in real trouble. Since all of this COVID-19 chaos began seamen have largely been stuck on board their ships. Crew change has been made virtually impossible and the situation is dire. Meanwhile you are not feeling it because the ships are still going round and round with cargo from one port to another. However if we do not find a way to conduct crew change then it may all stop. The men and women at sea have families, emotions and limits just like everyone else. And the idea of getting me on board a ship during these times is just ridiculous. Meanwhile the borders around me remain closed and getting on board a sailboat appears suicidal. Even if I could find a sailboat crazy enough to leave Hong Kong then which country would accept us? We would be at risk of running out of provisions and dying at sea. And yet daily I need to reply to people asking why I am still here or the classic: “when do you think you will be able to leave?”

5

Last Friday I did however meet up with Cassie at Maersk as she had been kind enough to buy ten energy gels for me. I really needed them for the weekend. Afterwards I had lunch with Peter and Kristy at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC). They are both great people but I was only expecting to meet up with Kristy. In Danish it is evident in the language if one or more people are expected when saying ‘you’. But in English ‘you’ can be either singular or plural. I was writing ‘you’ referring to Kristy and she was reading it ‘you’ referring to her and Peter. Normally not an issue but as a guest member of the FCC I’m only meant to bring one guest inside so it had me a bit worried. It all went well though. The FCC is a fairly easygoing member’s only club and the staff is really kind and helpful. Peter, Kristy and I ended up having a good time. Later the same day I was invited to meet the team at Pacsafe. It is a brand of travel equipment with emphasis on anti-theft features which was founded in Hong Kong back in 1998. Pacsafe is headquartered in Hong Kong and I met Phil and Marcus who both work there in early July. So far they have gifted me an advanced 5-layer facemask with bacteria killing silver ions! Yeah! That is how high-tech I am now! They also gave me a 3L portable safe which I have decided is super cool but nothing I need for anything at all. However I just so happened to run into Michael on the street a few days ago. You will not remember Michael but we met up a few times months ago and he works within personal security here. It is crazy that you can bump into people you know in Hong Kong but it somehow happens more often than not. Michael and I got talking and he got really excited about the portable safe. It is simply a match made in heaven! Pacsafe also gifted me a new backpack which is super cool! So that one is a keeper. It has all sorts of amazing safety features which would have been a lot more handy traveling through the first 194 countries and less so for the last 9. However I’m keeping it! :) I did a small Q&A at Pacsafe with some of the staff and had a good time there. Among the audience was a psychologist who quickly identified that the Saga is a tremendously lonely ordeal and that I have been through quite a lot over the years. She offered me some pro bono counselling. And you know what…I might just take her up on that.

6

Sporting my new Pacsafe bag. Great stuff! :)

I realize that it sounds like fun: travelling to every country in the world. However there is a lot more to it than that and better people than me have tried and failed. And that is all I have to say about that. Last Friday I still managed 51,220 steps based on my idea that public transportation was a waste of time and could be deducted from hiking time. Yes…last week I basically walked/hiked everywhere! The level of “fun stuff” aka procrastination was brought down to zero. There was simply no time for procrastination. I did however listen to a few podcasts while out there. I found a really good one by the BBC World Service called ’13 minutes to the moon’. The podcast is from 2019 and tells the amazing story of the first moon landing which took place in July 1969. It is a tribute to the people who made Apollo 11 happen in spite of the odds being against them. Really good stuff! The music is produced by Hans Zimmer which should tell you something about the production level.

7

Walking until sunset...and beyond...

7b

Hicking MacLehose section 4+5 with Andrew from Chicago.

Last Saturday I went hiking with Andrew again. My feet were killing me! I had originally thought that I could do 50 km (31 mi) that day or maybe even 60 (37). Then follow up with even more on the last day (Sunday). But my feet had so many blisters! It was tremendously painful and in addition to that it often felt like I was walking directly on my bones. I was especially in trouble when walking on the flat bits or downhill. In fact it barely hurt at all when walking up hill but that model seemed unsustainable. I decided to toughen up but going fast and far was pretty much out of the question. Meanwhile “Treadmill Poul” was uploading tens of thousands of steps and not showing any sign of weakness. What kind of futuristic terminator was that man?!? Andrew and I did a lot of elevation that day. We came past Buffalo Hill and West Buffalo Hill which are both among the twenty highest peaks in Hong Kong sitting at about 600 meters (2,000 ft) above sealevel. So we made a detour and I’m now left with only nine of the twenty peaks. That day I managed 62,182 steps across a 2,166 m (7,106 ft) elevation gain. And that had me in second place behind “Treadmill Poul” who had reached 346,329 steps (34,840 steps ahead of me). In order of closing the gap I would need to walk at a strong pace for about six hours! And “Treadmill Poul” was announcing he was planning at least 80,000 steps for his final day. What the heck!! I was chanceless.

8

Hiking some elevation. I had my Salomon gear in daily use during the step challenge.

However in a serious bid to do my best on the final day I began hiking at 08:15am. I walked down the hill to Shing Mun River which basically has a boardwalk around it. There are also shops and cafes for refreshments. I had attended to the worst of my blisters and sat out with energy gels, energy drink, painkillers, a battery pack, sunscreen and the final episodes of ’13 minutes to the moon’. At 09:00am I took the first painkillers knowing that I had to wait six hours before I could repeat that action. And round and round the river I went. “Treadmill Poul” was way ahead but I felt like my spot in second place was secure. But then it happened!! A message from “Treadmill Poul” appeared in our WhatsApp group!!! 8.11pm: “I will unfortunately not reach the 80k. Massive blisters on my heals have stopped me. So Thor and Jakob can chase first place and have a good shot at reaching it.” 8.11pm? So I had 3 hours and 49 minutes left until midnight when the challenge would end. I could do roughly 6,000 steps per hour so possibly 24,000 steps in that time. What was “Treadmill Poul’s” latest upload? WOW! I had a shot at it!!! With renewed energy I turned up the volume on my “step challenge playlist” and smiled!! ACDC were blasting “BACK IN BLACK” into my ears!!! However after 30 minutes I was feeling quite exhausted again. The prospects of winning wasn’t a large enough boosts. Earlier in the day I had marched into a Kentucky Fried Chicken and ordered a large bucket of chicken. I ate more than half of it before marching back out again. I had not had any dinner. But I did not have time for dinner. Ever second counted. I rationed my last energy gels and supplied them with water and energy drinks. I passed the 70k (43.5mi) marker and noticed that “Treadmill Poul” had uploaded an additional 11,000 steps!! NOOOO!!! I would need an additional TWO HOURS to reach that!! At midnight “Treadmill Poul” closed at 410,778 steps and I had reached 402,825 steps. That day I had been out for more than 15 hours and clocked 74.57km (46.34mi) which added up to 91,167 steps. Just not good enough. Later on I found out that “Treadmill Poul” had added his extra 11,000 steps by walking on his treadmill. He only did it out of fear that I would have beat him. Darn it…congratulations Poul! Well done!! And Well done everyone!! We accumulated 2.4 MILLION steps in a week earning the Red Cross the maximum sum of money we could. And with the ’13 minutes to the moon’ podcast on my mind I think it is only fitting to say: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” I Hope you will make a contribution.

9

Yup...5125 calories!! THAT DAY! ;)

So….past midnight I made my way back up the hill to Wong Chuck Yeong where I was greeted by Thomas. Thomas is the owner of the apartment I’m staying in and lives a stone throw from it. Thomas also set his personal record in the step challenge with 40,000 steps in a single day!! He’s a really good guy with a kind heart and a solid sense of humor. Thomas opened the fridge and nuked some dinner for me. I basically inhaled the meal so Thomas supplied me with an apple and an orange. I inhaled those too! Then I drank a camel’s share of water and went to bed somewhat disappointed. But it was fair. “Treadmill Poul” had taken an insane amount of steps that week. 410,000 steps dwarfs the 230,000 steps Jakob and I managed in the previous challenge. How many will we reach in the next? ;)

10

All the skin around my pinkie toe loosened and filled with fluid. It looked like a balloon!! I've never seen anything like it!! In the days that followed the toe turned into strange colors and I wondered if I was going to loose it? I have been waking up at night due to pain in my toes. Great stuff? However I'm much better now.

The following day everyone from the challenge (except Le and Lars in Denmark) met up for dinner and Jakob had arranged for diplomas and prizes for everyone. Good times and great people! Tuesday I met up with Immigration and received my second extension which now runs until September 9th.

11

Hong Kong Immigration is a blessing! Always so easy and efficient to deal with.

And apart from that I have been sleeping a lot and walking very little. My body took quite a toll. Courtney Dauwalter has been called the best ultrarunner in the world. I covered 318km (197.6mi) on foot last week (seven days). Courtney completed the Moab 240 (383km) in just 58 hours! She’s superhuman!!

12

Last Monday. Moments before putting my feet on the ground...

 

 

I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop

 

If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga needs funding. Thank you :)

 

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - I actually like "Treadmill Poul"
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

 

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