From paperboy to front page – still in Hong Kong

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

pano

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?

Jenny: Yeah.

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.

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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.

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 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.

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Reverend Margith's first ceremony after returning to Hong Kong.

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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!

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BAM!! The transformation is complete. "Danish Julestue" is born! :)

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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.

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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!!

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Optimistic!!!

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Full!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Moments before delivering the Royal Geographical Society webtalk.

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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.

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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 ;)

 

 

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 still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

 Patreon Picture2MobilePay

 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - thankful.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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“Hong Kong’s only tourist” – day 290

Day 2,591 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). 

Your weekly update

pano

This entry contains a section in Danish…for the Danes…the ones from Denmark. It is almost right at the beginning and if Danish isn’t your superpower then just scroll past it until you reach the part, I wrote in English :)

Last week’s entry: Darkest just before dawn? – Hong Kong day 283

Hello there you! How’s your week been? Are things getting better? How was that thing you needed to take care of? Are your children fine? Are you fine? Well, here we go again. It is another update from yours truly – still stuck in Hong Kong with nine very closed off countries to visit. Oh yes, nine countries from a very ambitious goal of becoming the first in history to visit every country in an unbroken journey completely without flying. Madness! Oh yes! It kind of runs in the family. But my family seems to be doing well these days. Both my sisters have started up in new jobs and seem quite happy. My mother is back in work taking senior citizens to Italy – you can only imagine how COVID-19 put a damper on that job for a while!! And my father has officially announced that he will be retiring by the end of the year…kind of. Because he will still be doing a lot of stuff which is technically work. And the love of my life, my one-of-a-kind fiancée, she is also doing well although we miss each other and hope that the world will soon open up so that we can be together again. It has been over a year you know! But, thank goodness we live in 2020 and can do video calls. The following part will be in Danish as it relates to those interested in those who want to support a book from ‘De Berejstes Klub’ (the Danish Travelers Club). After that section I’ll continue in English.

English

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Danish

Og lur mig om dette ikke er første gang jeg skriver på dansk i Once Upon A Saga’s blog? Men det giver mening. Danmark har nemlig en rejseklub som er åben overfor alle. Det gælder både de som holder af at rejse for afslapning, for nydelse, for eventyr og for konkurrence. Klubben hedder De Berejstes Klub (DBK) og den blev jeg medlem af i 2015. Jeg er medlem nummer 762. Klubben er fuld af alverdens typer og masser af holdninger til hvad det at rejse går ud på. Jeg har været heldig at møde mange af medlemmerne på min vej igennem verden og de har været super søde allesammen. Klubben er også fuld af gode tilbud på billetter, rejsetips og små fiduser. Så kan du lide at rejse er DBK helt sikkert noget for dig. Grunden til at jeg skriver til dig skyldes at vi er en hel del medlemmer, der har været med til at forfatte en bog i tre bind! Og vi skal have forudsolgt 250 eksemplarer for at finansiere selve bogprojektet. Indtil videre har vi finansieret 38% :)

Bogens målgruppe er voksne som drømmer om at komme ud at rejse og opleve verden. Dem som søger inspiration. Dette er ikke nogen guidebog, men en bog man kan læse hjemme på sofaen, og som inspirerer og smitter med rejsefeber.

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Lars-Terje Lysemose fra DBK er tovholder og lancerede en crowdfunding, hvor man ved at indbetale et beløb på 400 kr. kan forudbestille bind 1 af 3 i bogserien “Kronisk rejsefeber – fortællinger fra De Berejstes Klub”. Bogen udkommer i anledning af klubbens 25 års jubilæum til foråret 2021. Bind 2 og bind 3 vil så, om alt går vel, udkomme til efteråret 2021 og til foråret 2022, umiddelbart inden jubilæumsåret udløber.

Så kom frisk!! :)

OM CROWDFUNDINGEN:

Crowdfundingen findes på adressen www.gofundme.com/f/kroniskrejsefeber – den vil også kunne tilgås via www.kroniskrejsefeber.dk og www.deberejste.dk. Klik dig endelig ind på siden og læs den fra top til bund, så er du informeret. På vegne af os alle sammen: tak for din støtte :)

Danish

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English

Alrighty then! Back to English. Ironically the official language of the sky. Apparently, all pilots must learn to communicate in English no matter which country they originate from. Or at least that is what has been recommended by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). Anyway, it has been a fairly active week on the social front with lots of hiking, a few dinners and the formerly mentioned videocalls with people back home. On the work front I genuinely don’t have much to do and continue to assess that I work around twenty hours a week as it is now. I’ve had a few interviews here and there, there has been the usual research and upkeep with the situation, some networking, some social media and that has largely been it.

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Saturday: hiking from Mei Foo to Tsuen Wan over a few mountains. With Kenneth (middle) and Poul - good people :)

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Saturday evening. Dinner followed by drinks with Thomas S. He's always good company and recently came out of quarantine! :)

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Sunday: joined Brett and his lovely wife Emma for dinner on Lantau Island. You can spot Baloo on the grass.

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Tuesday: hiked from Kwai Chung to Wong Chuk Yeung to see Thomas of the Andersen Clan :)

There is a reason for all of this hiking! Since September 23rd I have been part of the ‘Sydney to Melbourne Virtual Ultra’ by Mirrim Wurnit Athletics. It is a virtual take on Australia’s historical race from Sydney to Melbourne. The Westfield Sydney to Melbourne Ultramarathon was an annual ultramarathon foot race held between 1983 and 1991 and the record is held by Yiannis Kouros: 5d 02h 27m – for 1,000km (620mi)!!! Yes! It is a 1,000km foot race!!! However, in this virtual challenge we have a hundred days to complete it. So, I did some highly complicated maths and worked out that I could do 10km (6.2mi) per day for a hundred days straight. And that doesn’t sound like a whole lot. Except 10km is truly a lot when you don’t feel like doing them! In that setup I owe 20kms the following day if I skip one day, 30kms if I skip two days etc. I spoke to Brett from the Running Klub about it and he explained that the true challenge in such a setup is the stamina. A one-week challenge is more than halfway over on day four. A one-hundred-day challenge is truly a whopper. It is hard for most people to stick to any kind of new habit for a hundred days straight. Fortunately, within the Saga we are quite used to the whole “stamina thing”. I’m ahead of my schedule and have reached over 600 km within the first fifty days. But that is nothing! A fellow named Nathan did it all within just ten days…on a treadmill! Lots of people set themselves the goal of doing 20km per day for fifty days straight and more than thirty have already completed. It was Brett who got me involved and since he had to spend fourteen days in quarantine, I’m way ahead of him. And that is all that counts ;)

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On the races website you’ll find this as well: “We acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which the Back Paddock Ultra is run, the Marin-Bulluk people of the Kulin Nation, and pays respects to their Elders of the past. We pay our respects to the current custodians, the Wurundjeri people, and their Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise the significance of the culture in this place that lives on through spirits and dreamings.” And I find that to be a beautiful sentiment.

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Yuen Yuen Institute, Buddhist Temple complex.

Hong Kong remains an impressive part of our world. I like the people here, locals as well as “gweilos”. I have been nicknamed: “Hong Kong’s only tourist” by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), which operates Discover Hong Kong. And we have had a multitude of collaborations over the months. I could tell you a lot about Hong Konger’s, but there are millions of them so it would be a complete generalization. They certainly love their phones and will spend a lot of their day staring into them. They seem to prefer umbrellas over raincoats. They are very friendly but perceive themselves not to be. They are generally fit and the elders spend a lot of time exercising. While driving, they don’t care much for switching on the indicator before taking a turn. Hong Konger’s also have a hard time agreeing about which side to walk on. On escalators they stand on the right side so that others can pass on the left. They drive on the left side of the road. Commonly people walk on the same side as traffic moves. So as an example, in Denmark, where we drive on the RIGHT side of the road, people usually walk on the right side of a hallway and have those moving towards them on their left side. In countries where they drive on the left side of the road it is usually the opposite. In other words: pedestrians around the world imitate traffic. But not in Hong Kong. At least not always. And Hong Kong is a really dense city with a lot of people walking. Many places the sidewalks are wide and can accommodate a lot of people. Most malls have wide hallways and all the tunnel systems for the MTR and the walkways above traffic are wide. Generally, people in Hong Kong walk on the right side of these passage ways while they drive on the left side of the road – so that makes little sense. But every so often someone decides to go against the system and walk on the left side – which makes sense…although it clearly doesn’t because the overall consensus is that in Hong Kong we walk on the right? It can get really annoying sometimes especially since so many of those little walkers have their heads buried in their phones. But I love them all ;)

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Ocean Park Hong Kong main entrance :)

Hong Kong has two amusement parks. The oldest one is Ocean Park and was established in 1977. The other is Disneyland which opened to the public in 2005. By the way, I have a crazy Disney story and if you haven’t heard it yet then click HERE to find out more. Both parks were closed due to the virus outbreak when I we reached Hong Kong back on January 28th. However, they are now both open again although there are barely any foreign visitors this season. Tourists from mainland China are big business for Hong Kong but not this year. They can cross the border but it requires fourteen days of quarantine so most do not bother. I had my eyes set on Ocean Park for a while and finally decided to pay the park a visit. So, I reached out to my friends at HKTB, who immediately facilitated a contact at Ocean Park. And before I knew of it, I was set up with a complimentary ticket for a full day, a fast pass, a food voucher and a tentative itinerary. Brilliant!

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The "Whirly Bird", Ocean Park.

Even the weather was with me. A blue sky was stretching from one side to the other. When the park opened in 1977 it was constructed as a subsidiary of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. I’ve touched upon Hong Kong Jockey Club before but I’ll refresh your memory. It is a non-profit organization providing horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment in Hong Kong. It holds a government-granted monopoly in providing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, the Mark Six lottery, and fixed odds betting on overseas football events. And that has made Hong Kong Jockey Club extraordinary wealthy!! Fortunately, all of that wealth is pumped back into Hong Kong in a variety of ways ranging across Arts, Culture & Heritage, Education & Training, Elderly Services, Emergency & Poverty Relief, Environmental Protection, Family Services, Medical & Health, Rehabilitation Services, Sports & Recreation, and Youth Development. It is really impressive. The revitalization of Tai Kwun was also funded by the Jockey Club and you can read the blog about my visit HERE.

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

Ocean Park ceased to be a Jockey Club subsidiary on 1 July 1987, becoming its own statutory body, with a Government-appointed Board. And between then and now the Jockey Club has funded lots of development which has seen the park grow to its current form today. It is a very impressive park which is set on two different locations on either side of Brick Hill (Nam Long Shan). The locations are connected via a 1.5-kilometre (0.93 mi) long cable car system and a 1.3-kilometer-long tunnel (0.81mi). Both forms of transport are really cool! The cable car provides some really beautiful sights as it goes across the mountain. The tunnel connection is operated by the 'Ocean Express' funicular railway and is much faster.

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

It would be wrong simply to call Ocean Park an amusement park. It is so much more. Ocean Park is a marine mammal park, oceanarium, animal theme park AND an amusement park all in one. Ocean Park Hong Kong aims to merge entertainment and education, including conservation advocacy. I really had a good day exploring the park and trying some of the rides. The ‘Artic Blast’ rollercoaster had my eyes water and stomach turn so I was less brave in regards to the wilder rides after that. It’s funny when you think about all the crazy forms of transport, I have had to endure over the years but that rollercoaster left me with motion sickness. I did however also try ‘The Rapids’, The ‘Whirly Bird’ and ‘The Abyss’. The Abyss is one of those towers where you sit in a seat and get pulled to the frightening high top of it before your seat gets dropped or dragged in what feels like free fall. A plunge twenty stories straight to the ground! I have tried such ‘vertical ascent and rapid descent rides’ before but it has been several years. I confidently got in line, jumped into my seat and was not worried until my feet were dangling from the top of the 62m (203ft) high tower! At that point I was loudly speaking to myself saying: “This was not a good idea. This was not a good idea. This was not a good idea!” But it was. Once the drop began, I felt such an amazing rush and really enjoyed it! I should add that before the ascent I had a look at the number on the ground before my feet. It read “4”. The Chinese word for four sounds quite similar to the word for death in many varieties of Chinese and is often avoided for that reason. Some red (blood?) color was spilled across the number. That had me thinking about if I was about to die in a horrible accident strapped to my seat? But, it all went fine ;)

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

Overall, I had a really good day but think it would have been a lot more fun together with a friend. Also, I found the park to be really child friendly with lots of areas suited for children and families. Thanks to Vivien and Chokie from Ocean Park who made all the arrangements for me. It was superb!

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

I haven’t had much to share about the Red Cross within the latest entries. There’s no geographical progress within the Saga so we have not been visiting any new National Societies for a while. I have been sharing Red Cross Red Crescent updates on social media every Sunday as per usual and recently decided to share pictures from some of the past countries: Mali, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Namibia etc. I figure I’ll keep doing that for a while. Apparently, there is no trace of my name or Once Upon A Saga on the Danish Red Cross website which is just peculiar? For a second, I thought I had gone crazy and simply imagined all the work I had put into promoting the movement over the past seven years?! Could it possibly be true that a man can visit and promote the movement in 189 countries throughout the most hardcore and unique journey imaginable…and furthermore raise more that USD 10,000 for the movement in a highly unique and interesting fashion…without having any mention at all on the website of the National Society of which he is a goodwill ambassador? Yes, that is entirely possible and hopelessly confusing for anyone who wants to verify that I am in fact representing the Danish Red Cross through Once Upon A Saga. Fortunately, we have combined a great deal of stories, videos, pictures and articles on THIS SITE for everyone to enjoy. So, I am not crazy and it really did happen. It will however drive me crazy…

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Castle Peak with Thomas from the Andersen Clan (left) and Kenneth. I Surprised them by packing three cold beers :)

Let’s end this entry with a hike and a notice about a speaking engagement you can join if you are interested. Yesterday Kenneth, Thomas and I sat out on a five-hour hike to conquer Castle Peak and enjoy the weather. Temperatures have dropped significantly lately and it is getting rather pleasant now. We used to have a standard 32c (89.6f) every day but now we are enjoying 25c (77f) for the time being. And personally, I’m looking forward to the temperature dropping to the point where I need to put my jacket on again. Kenneth and Thomas are always great company. You will perhaps remember them both from the Ultimate Step Challenge HK, where all involved went all in. The castle Peak hike was surprisingly nice and I may choose to do it again at some point.

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And finally, I have been asked to do an online talk for the Royal Geographic Society in Hong Kong which is a great honor. It is set to take place on Tuesday November 17th at 7:00pm Hong Kong time. Anyone can join and you can find the details by clicking HERE or on the image below. Have a great weekend wherever you are. I hope you sort out all that stuff you are dealing with. We are going to be okay. I promise.

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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 still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

 Patreon Picture2MobilePay

 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Really tired.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

 Once Upon A Saga logo small

Once Upon A Saga

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Darkest just before dawn? – Hong Kong day 283

Day 2,584 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). 

Perspective is a valuable thing

pano

Most of us have more to be thankful for than what we generally acknowledge. Is the key to observe what we already have or to generate more to be grateful for?

Last week’s entry: We need more tolerance – Hong Kong day 276

Reading ‘Endurance’ (Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage) really helped adjust my perspective on things. A hundred years ago those seafarers had to fight for their lives under conditions most of us couldn’t possibly imagine. And they didn’t seem to complain much about it. When they did complain it was often done in a subtle and dignified way. ‘Endurance’ was the name of their ship but it also turned out to be a fitting word for what those twenty-eight men had to go through. Perspective is always a good thing to have. It is strange though – because there will nearly always be someone that has it worse than you. It is doubtful that the mother who lost her son would find comfort in hearing about the mother who lost two children. Pain is pain. When people have nothing more to give then they have nothing more to give. Regardless of people’s individual levels we should always respect that their best is their best. And on that basis, anyone’s best is equal to everyone’s best. I was brought up with the words: “if you have done your best then there is nothing more anyone can demand of you”. I guess the problem is that most people have no idea where their limits lie and therefore claim “their best” or “their limits” have been reached before they actually have. I wonder how many people in my place would have quit and gone to the airport by now? I wonder how many people would last longer than me? 283 days is a long time. Is daybreak on the doorstep?

1

Unfortunately the Museum of History had already closed for renovation! I thought I had until the end of October (photo from October 30th).

It appears to me that many people think I am hanging out in Hong Kong because I want to rather than because I got stuck during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and haven’t been able to leave since. And once again I must admit that it was a lucky break getting stuck in Hong Kong and not on board a ship or a small island. While the people who think I have a choice in the matter probably aren’t the same people who spend any of their time reading my blogs, I’ll still clarify the situation with a few points:

  • Only residents can enter Hong Kong so if I somehow left then I would not be able to return.
  • Hong Kong Immigration as well as the Marine Department are not allowing passengers to board container ships due to the present situation.
  • It is currently extra difficult getting passage onboard ships as they fear getting the virus onboard.
  • Of the remaining nine countries, eight have prohibited entry.
  • Palau appears to be open for tourism however not if you have been in Hong Kong, Macau or China within the past fourteen days. (edit Nov. 6th 2020 11:05pm: I received an email confirming that Palau is hermitically closed).

Yup, that’s the situation and it has been like that for a while. I do wonder if I would be able to reach Palau? Let’s say there was a way to do so - would it then be a good idea? It would first of all change the countdown from nine countries to having eight countries left, so that counts as progress. It would also offer some welcome change albeit I believe the change would be short lived. Without a plan for leaving Palau and without the option of returning to Hong Kong it could be a bad choice. I am sure Palau is wonderful but if I was destined to be stuck for another six months would I then prefer Palau over Hong Kong? Unlikely. And furthermore, immigration in Hong Kong has been very forthcoming. It is impossible to say how immigration in Palau would react if I had to extend my visa several times. You know what you have. You do not know what you are going to get.

2

I love my fiancée. Thanks for the care package! :)

A few days ago, I went to request for yet another extension of my Hong Kong visa. It has so far been a smooth process but I detected some attitude this time. Not surprisingly as Hong Kong Immigration must first and foremost govern Hong Kong’s borders and ensure that nobody overstays. When the Saga reached Hong Kong on January 28th 2020, I was automatically given three months. Since then my visa has been extended every two months by sixty days. The process has always been super easy and top efficient and I have never had to bring any additional paperwork other than my passport. This time the immigration officer questioned why I had been in Hong Kong on a tourist visa since the beginning of the year. He wanted to know if there were no flights back to Denmark. I replied that I’m sure there are flights to Denmark and proceeded to explain that I was nine countries from becoming the first to reach every country completely without flying before I got stuck in Hong Kong. The officer repeated his question regarding flights to Denmark and showed no sympathy. Somewhat surprised about the change in attitude I calmly explained who I was and that I have had the support of Hong Kong Immigration ever since we did the TVB Pearl interview in June. Furthermore, I told him that I also had the support of Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), which the Saga continues to have an ongoing collaboration with throughout our unintended stay. The officer wanted to know if I had any proof of what I was saying? I handed him a business card which the Chief Immigration Officer gave me in June. HKTB has written and signed a support letter but I did not have it along with me. The officer left with the business card and returned minutes later telling me that I cannot continue to extend my tourist visa and that the extensions will become shorter and shorter. He then handed the business card back to me and told me to return ninety-minutes later. When I returned my application had been processes. I was told to pay and soon after received a forty-five-day extension which expires on December 23rd. I find myself in a strange position. I fully understand how Once Upon A Saga is none of their business and that a made-up rule about not flying isn’t their concern especially when there are flights back to Denmark. If I could leave today I would but leaving on an airplane would terminate the project. When/if the time comes to extend my visa once more then I will bring all my paperwork…just like in the “good old days”.

3

I walked all the way to immigration: 12km (7.5mi). I am finally halfway in the Sydney to Melbourne 1,000km (620mi) in 100 day challenge.

When is a pandemic over? I have been looking into definitions lately and the answer appears to be that the WHO will likely declare the pandemic over, once the infection is mostly contained and rates of transmission drop significantly around the world. Globally most nations are currently in the process of delaying the spread, thus buying scientists more time to develop vaccines and a cure. As we know it is also about ensuring that the healthcare system doesn’t collapse. It is anyone’s guess when the pandemic will be over but I’m thinking it may be around March 2021. Meanwhile I’m hoping for more borders and travel bubbles to open up in early 2021. If I had to go somewhere and risk getting stuck for several months then I would prefer it to be in Fiji, New Zealand, Australia or Sri Lanka as those four countries offer sound logistical connections as well as rich opportunity. Well, one can dream – right?

8

The US elections are racing as I’m writing this. No matter the outcome, hundreds of millions will be disappointed. It is an important ordeal for the USA but for the rest of the world as well. How that country is lead has a profound impact on the rest of the world as well as our environment. We are going to be okay – right? The Rolling Stones said it: “You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometime. You'll find. You get what you need”. One leader or the other: it is going to be okay. This planet has been hit by asteroids, deadly pandemics and ice ages. We are still here. And while COVID-19 is a virtual nightmare for most of us I have investigated what the positive effect are…because there must surely be some? First and foremost, there have been reports that climate change has slowed down (a bit) as the use of fossils fuels have been cut dramatically. And COVID-19 might also have benefitted the image of female leaders around the world! It seems that some of the best results during the pandemic have been created in countries lead by women while the worst outcomes have all been in countries with male leaders. Another byproduct must surely be that we have discovered how vulnerable we are and one might hope that it would lead to better preparation before a really serious virus breaks loose. I imagine that the general attitude towards healthcare may also have improved globally. For many people the pandemic has also been a time in which family has been brought closer together, which in many cases (one would hope) has generated closer family ties. And finally, I can mention that I have personal experience in observing many people finding great appreciation in the outdoors. Yeah – but overall, it sucks! October 2020 should have been the month in which the Saga would have reached its final country if the pandemic did not get in its way.

4

Lions Rock Head, Hong Kong. I passed by it on a solo hike (25km distance | 991m elevation gain | 5hrs and 26min)

It feels like a thousand years ago but it was actually earlier this year. When the Saga first reached Hong Kong I almost immediately spoke at the Danish Seamen’s Church for an almost exclusively Danish audience. We aren’t many Danes in Hong Kong but we are some ;) It now feels like the circle is almost complete as I have met nearly everyone from the church council by now and I have even volunteered to assist during this years Christmas Market. The priest (Margith) recently returned to Hong Kong and is currently in quarantine. Frank is the chairman and I have met him on several occasions. Thomas (from the legendary Andersen Clan) is secretary. Anders, whom I recently went hiking with, is treasurer. Then there is Anita, who made me a homecooked meal after our foot massages, and Lene whom I only recently met as well as Kasper whom I have met a few times. They are all volunteers when they can spare the time. Lately Lene and I (mostly Lene) have been putting a lot of effort into clearing the so called ‘Danish Room’ which is located at Mariners Club. The very same Danish Room I spoke at on February 3rd. Imagine that? I spoke there in early February thinking that I would have left Hong Kong a few days later. And now, that I should have returned home victoriously after seven years, I am on my knees cleaning the very same room. “Life is like a box of chocolates…”

5

The blue building is Mariners Club in Kwai Chung.

Well – if you happen to be in Hong Kong then it is already now possible to order Danish “Christmas products” and see the schedule for Christmas services, the Christmas market, Christmas events etc. It is meant for the Danes so it is all in Danish. But I am sure everyone is welcome. The Danish Seamen’s Church was an initiative which began already in 1867 when the first Danish priest was sent out into the world to service the Danish seafarers. The earliest destinations were Hull, Newcastle and London in England, Hamburg in Germany, Sct. Peterburg in Russia, and Buenos Aires in Argentina. Denmark has for many years been a leading seafaring nation measured on tonnage as well as ships registered in Denmark. The Seaman’s Church function has always been to service and comfort Danish seafarers. It is particularly valued by many seafarers that someone is thinking about them and that they can get a short break from life at sea. The Seaman’s Church supplies seafarers with Danish products, Danish newspapers, a chance to speak Danish, a chance to speak with an outsider and generally getting some assistance when needed. These days seafarers are often busy when at port and do not have time to leave the ship. So, the Seaman’s Church also offers to come onboard and bring a variety of products with them. COVID-19 has complicated things in 2020 and in most cases, seafarers cannot leave the ship and the Seaman’s Church cannot come on board. And while there are still many Danish ships the tendency is that there are fewer Danish seafarers. Danish Room is as mentioned located inside Mariners Club which is shared by the Mission to Seafarers in partnership with the Apostleship of the Sea, the Danish Seamen's Church and the German Seamen's Mission. Honestly, I miss life at sea…I have had the privilege of travelling on board twenty-five container ships and have made friends with many seafarers. Unfortunately the industry is struggling HARD under COVID-19.

6

Ironically these are busy days for the shipping industry in this part of the world. China’s exports are booming while the USA is importing much of it. How’s that trade war going?

7

Plenty of laundry and air-conditioners.

That is the end of this entry people. I hope you are holding your heads up high in spite of everything which is currently going on. I am grateful for the many people I have met here in Hong Kong which I can continue to meet up with. And very grateful to the Saga’s project partners for sticking this out as the days continue to blow off the calendar. Overall I guess I’m doing well given the circumstances. Let’s hope that “daybreak” comes sooner than later. Let’s keep on keeping on.

 

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 still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - The beard has got to go soon.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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