Making the best of it. Hong Kong day 73.
Day 2,374 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).
Marooned in Hong Kong
While the pages blow off the calendar I once again see one of my greatest fears in the horizon: being escorted to the airport for deportation. My visa doesn’t last forever. However I hear that immigration is friendly with extensions these days.
“Marooned in Hong Kong”. Nick Hopkinson tweeted the other day that I was “somewhat marooned at present” and I kind of like the sentence. Not so much the situation. However once again I can ask myself: “who am I to elevate myself during these troublesome times?” Troublesome indeed! I must admit that I had completely underestimated an element of the virus outbreak: the aftermath. In the pure sense of statistics the numbers of sick people we are seeing is not a big deal in the big picture. However the world’s reaction to the virus certainly is. As cynical as it most definitely sounds, the loss of one or two million people on a global scale due to a virus isn’t much of a dent in our history. And we are by no means at that level yet! Globally we are at less than 100,000 lives which have been lost due to an organism smaller than what the human eye can observe. We are about 7.8 billion people on this planet. If I wrote that out in numbers then it would look like this: 7,800,000,000. If you subtract 100,000 then you get 7,799,900,000. And about 240,000 children are born every day so we are dealing with small numbers among huge numbers. Globally about 160,000 people die every day. So we are looking at a couple of days to replace the loss of a hundred thousand people and 25 days to recover the loss of two million people. The real tragedy is the one which is occurring financially.
Masks and mobiles in the MTR (metro).
I served as a Royal Lifeguard in Denmark and I am very proud of our royal house. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is a formidable ambassador for my country and her son will be a King of true format when his time comes. It was however a speech from our neighbors to the west that caught my eye. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms, delivered a very well written speech. I was especially drawn by her opening:
“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country: a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.”
The reality of the loss of income, lost jobs, companies closing, unemployment and the domino effect of it all is a real disaster. I never saw that coming. Certainly not when the virus outbreak was a local affair and not even as it turned into a pandemic. I never expected the world’s reaction to COVID-19 to be this severe and to have such an impact. I am sorry on behalf of those who have lost people dear to them. I am sorry on behalf of those who fear for the health of their loved ones. The “financial difficulties” element of it all is however the part of this pandemic which will leave the greatest mark on us all and that is a big deal. As businesses collapse we will also see a shift in power as the strong take over and dominate new shares of the market. China has been racing forward for a while and the government owned shipping company COSCO recently overtook CMA-CGM (French) as the third largest shipping company in the world pushing CMA-CGM to a fourth place. These are difficult times for the shipping industry and many companies are at risk of going out of business. COSCO is a likely candidate to buy those businesses, enabling China to control an even greater share of global trade. That is just one example of many changes we may soon come to face. We, within the Saga, are fortunate that Ross DK is still open for business and eager to explore new geothermal opportunities / projects – both engineering, execution e.g. drilling and analysis of past production. If you are wondering where that sentence came from then it was written by Jesper at Ross DK :)
Easter Greetings from the team at Ross DK A/S wishing you all well.
If you at any point have felt inspired, educated, motivated, entertained or in any other way have been touched by Once Upon A Saga then that is great! The project isn’t free however as transportation, meals, accommodation, visas and more all cost money. The Saga has been fortunate to have a strong partnership with Ross DK since 2013, which is to say since the beginning! While Ross DK does not cover all costs they have certainly paid more than anyone else and for that I am grateful. It helps keep the Saga going, and going, and going like some unstoppable Duracell bunny. I am of course also grateful for all of your generous donations across MobilePay (12711), PayPal and Patreon. Please keep them coming as the Saga is still far from breaking even.
Harry (9y) lead his brother (11y), parents, Dehua and I up a nearby hike in Sai Kung. It began with a python warning. All the best hikes do.
Sometimes life sneaks up on you. In last week’s entry I spent some time arguing why masks are not necessary at this point within the pandemic. That was last Friday. I have furthermore for months been referring people to find information at the CDC, the WHO and from the Red Cross Red Crescent. The following day (last Saturday) the CDC announced that they recommend people to cover their faces with a cloth or a homemade mask. Simultaneously the CDC emphasized that people should not use a facemask meant for healthcare workers. However this is on their website: “Everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.” The CDC is the leading national public health institute of the United States and it is a United States federal agency, under the Department of Health and Human Services. The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health and they are not recommending the same. Neither is the Red Cross Red Crescent as the world’s largest humanitarian organization. A mask may be helpful under certain circumstances but it all depends on the type of mask, how you use it and which other precautions you are taking. It is also greatly about context. In relation to context you should think about a mask as a helmet or hardhat. You wouldn’t wear a hardhat anywhere…you’d only wear it where it is needed. And in most situations in life a hardhat is not required or helpful. Neither is a face mask. Having said that I can’t help other than to speculate what the heck is going on with the CDC’s change of direction? Is it political? Is it about business? Is it about health? Telling people to cover their faces but not to use masks meant for healthcare workers is like saying: you should cover your face but don’t use proper equipment. It just sounds like they are saying: we should all wear masks but we don’t have enough so make your own and send the good stuff to the healthcare workers – which makes sense as they are at a greater risk. But people being people are unlikely to let their boxes of surgical masks and N95 respirators go after such an announcement. Aren’t they?
The old dairy farm depot in central Hong Kong.
Well, that’s my contribution to speculation which I generally advocate against. So I’m a hypocrite too. There is plenty of time for speculation…which just might not be all that helpful. Difficult times all around. As the British Queen said: “and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all.” As far as places go, Hong Kong is a good one to be “marooned” at. I am definitely trying to make the best of it. Tim Huxley invited me to join him for dinner at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) so that I could sign the necessary paperwork for my guest membership! What an honor! As one can read on the FCC website: “The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong is probably the most famous press club in the world. We have a long and rich journalistic heritage dating back to our founding in China in 1943. Over the ensuing decades, our members have been eye witnesses to history across Asia, bringing the stories to the world in words and pictures. They have reported on everything from the Vietnam War to China’s economic rise and the 2014 Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.” From the roughly 2,500 members about 500 are journalists and anyone is welcome to apply for membership. It is however a ‘members only’ club which adds to the exclusivity of walking through the doors.
At the FCC (upstairs).
Being a guest member is just brilliant! I originally thought that the FCC was the first club membership within the Saga. However I then remember that I became a member of the Danish Travelers Club (DBK) after meeting some of “the boys” in São Tomé and Príncipe. So the FCC will have to be the first club membership within the Saga where I have had a chance to visit the clubhouse. And what a magnificent building! FCC has occupied the North Block of the Old Dairy Farm Depot since 1982 and is one of the few remaining colonial buildings in the Central district. The building was originally constructed in 1892 and renovated and extended in 1913. It was once used as a cold storage warehouse and horses would drag huge blocks of ice up the hill and into the building from the ships down below. The FCC Hong Kong has had several locations since it was founded in 1943 and the colonial style and historic ambience of the Club really only dates back to 1982. But I can tell you this: it is a place like none other I have come across. The people who have frequented the clubhouse and many who still do have stories which few of us could possibly comprehend. Stories from warfare and conflict. The walls are lined with award winning photography and in some cases gruesome depictions from the Vietnam War.
My second guest at the FCC was Michael from Denmark. Great guy who has been living in HKG for 2.5 years. We went for dinner. Earlier the same day I met up with Svend from DBK for lunch. Yup - getting as much time at the FCC while I can ;)
In the age of social distancing the FCC has taken a great deal of necessary precautions. The jazz bar has temporarily been closed and there are currently no speaking engagements. Masks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks are strictly enforced and opening hours as well as alcohol consumption has been limited. Keeping the place open provides the more than 100 employees with a means of income and the suppliers as well. These are tough times for many and I cannot even begin to imagine the loss of income for such places as Disney Land and Ocean Park, which have both been shut since January 26th 2020. Their employees, the suppliers…”financial difficulties to many.” I can only say that I am very honored to be able to frequent the FCC in its current form while I try to make the best of my unscheduled stopover in marvelous Hong Kong. There were talks about having me as a guest speaker at FCC but that has naturally been put on hold. Such a shame…can you imagine the questions the crowd could pose? Well on the bright side I did have a really good time with Mr Andrew Chiu who’s a teacher at Malvern College Hong Kong. We did a livestream interview which was very well received by both students and teachers. And you are in luck! Because it is now online on YouTube for you to watch.
Click HERE to watch. Lots of great questions in this one!! :)
I knew that Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) was going to be something special. Well, in all honesty the movement always is. However even though these are tough times the HKRC is still out there making the rest of us safer. The very kind Ms Katy Chan greeted me with an elbow “handshake” and took me around their impressive HQ which was built just a few years ago. She’s been a part of the movement for 12 years. The HKRC has been around for 70 years already so that’s a decade for each of the fundamental principles. These days many of their employees work from home while others deliver medicine to those who can’t venture outside. Please have a look at this short video called “A day Of Samuel”
The HKRC are perhaps most known for their involvement in blood donations and overseas relief. However they also conduct a multitude of humanitarian activities across Hong Kong which their more than 20,000 brave volunteers assist with. The Hong Kong Red Cross is a branch of China Red Cross which we visited on the 18th of March 2019.
Even teddy bears need first aid :)
And that brings us to the end of this entry. There is a very bleak outlook on any departure from Hong Kong in the near future. Not that Maersk sets the rules but as a global leader it’s worth taking notice that Maersk announced that they prolonged the stop for crew change until May 12th. This is for the safety of the seafarers who are out there ensuring that the supply chain we all depend on does not fail. However it also means that no nonessential personnel gets to come on board for the time being. And even if I could get on board a ship then it would be a total bureaucratic nightmare of Kafkaesque proportion to have anyone leave a ship. Especially where we are going. So once again I send praise to the kind Savagar family who have been hosting me for a now WHOPPING 73 DAYS! I regularly hear from people who cannot believe that kind of hospitality exists. It is however a testament to what we have been saying for years within this project: a stranger is a friend you’ve never met before. Furthermore I got hold of a pulse watch which adds a lot of quality to my running experience. I love to nerd about all the details the watch can provide me with. And running is such an important tool for my well-being. I run for my inner harmony and peace. That’s also why I’m so grateful to my fiancée for sponsoring a pair of new running shoes for me! What a woman I have! Healthy body healthy mind…I have no doubt that it is true. And the next big physical challenge is set to take place tomorrow (Saturday) as Brett, Leon, Dehua and perhaps a few more will join me in crossing the entire Hong Kong Trail (50km/31mi) in less than a day. We should be able to accomplish that if we hustle. The trail offers easy, fairly difficult and very difficult sections and is in its entirety nominated to take 15 hours. However racers do it in astonishing times. A solo runner from the UK did it in 05:10:47 last year but our friend Pavel Toropov (whom I met in late March) managed to do it in a whopping 04:18:35 back when he was racing semi-professionally. WHAT?!? Yeah – he’s hard-core…well we (Brett, Leon, Dehua and perhaps a few more) will be hiking tomorrow (not running) and hope to complete it in less than 12 hours. Besides…the weather forecast has just gone from predicting a sunny day to predicting rain. WOO-HOO. Tomorrow should be fun/challenging but, please world: Go back to normal again.
Ready for some #VikingHiking
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - just trying to make the best of it.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga