Yes, I’m crazy – Hong Kong day 262
Day 2,563 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).
Typhoons and covid
This is now the first entry after crossing the seven-year mark. We still have far to go. The remaining nine countries are Palau, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives
Last week’s entry: South! - HK
Welcome to year seven. And thank you to so many of you for being such loyal supporters of Once Upon A Saga and what we are trying to do through this project. I thought I might lead this entry with my thoughts on how disappointed I am in how we are handling the pandemic globally. Hong Kong has handled it very well. New Zealand has handled it well. Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, China and Australia are also among the countries which have handled it best. Wave one, wave two, wave three…are people not seeing this? It keeps popping up here and there. For a while it has reminded me of the carnival game known as ‘Whac-A-Mole’ in which you are issued a large hammer or mallet and stand before a number of holes. As the game begins puppets randomly appear from the holes and it is your job to whack (hit) them on the head. When one goes down another appears somewhere else. Isn’t that the perfect metaphor for COVID-19 here on our planet? It just keeps popping up. There isn’t global consensus on how to handle it and most people simply have their fingers crossed hoping for a vaccine or a cure to pop up. How is that going to play out? Let’s say we reach January and they announce that there is a vaccine and a cure. Then distribution starts and the world slowly returns to normal. Then in April 2021 a new virus breaks out…then what? Are we going to go through all of this again? COVID-19 has not been a big deal on its own. It has taken more than a million lives globally which may sound like a lot but it truly isn’t in the big picture. At one number per second — with no breaks, at all, for any reason — it would take 11 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes, and 40 seconds to count from one to 1 million. But we are more than 7.5 billion people on this planet. It would take you more than 270 years to count to 7.5 billion using the same math.
We know that most of those that have died from COVID-19 were at old age and did not have many years left as it was. Many others suffered from comorbidity. The loss of human life is a tragedy and I feel sorry for anyone who has lost a loved one. However, very few people have lost a loved one to COVID-19 in the big picture. And yes, many more may have died if we had not reacted at all. The other end of that argument is that far fewer would have died if we had reacted differently. People are just people and most people have their own problems to deal with. Most people are simply looking out for themselves and those around them. Most people do not care the slightest about people dying on the other side of the planet. Our empathy only reaches as far as it does. As a result of that I believe that most people who are not scared of COVID-19, have turned tired of COVID-19, and couldn’t care less about others getting it. And therefore, I believe that many people are unwilling to wear masks where it is required, respect social distancing, avoid assembling in large groups and take other necessary precautions. After all, when was the last time you washed your hands for more than twenty seconds? No - in the big picture COVID-19 has not been a big deal on its own. Our reaction to COVID-19 has been a big deal, has lost people jobs, has shut down businesses, has had a massive impact on the economy and through that the livelihood of many, many people. It is a mess!! We made a mess out of COVID-19 and it is still continuing today.
75% of Hong Kong
Please consider my question from earlier: Let’s imagine that after curing COVID-19 a new virus breaks out…then what? Are we going to go through all of this again? And what about next time, and next time, and next time…can we keep locking down countries, shutting down all transportation and hold the worlds population as hostage? Of course not. We need a better system. And we need multilateral cooperation between nations. Yes, there is some of that today…but we need it on a much larger scale.
Ma On Shan, Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Yeah – so as you might have guessed from the context so far, I am no closer to a solution of moving the Saga forward, reaching the final nine countries and returning home to my fiancée and country. And that sucks. Not in a “I’m going to die on an ice floe in Antarctica” way, but in a “I don’t know how much longer I can keep working toward a target which has taken over seven years to reach so far” way. There is such a thing as burnout. I’m not at that point yet but the Saga is quite a grind even when sleeping in a king-sized bed between clean sheets. The bed and the sheets do however make it much more bearable – and so does all your kind support, which is not going unnoticed. Thank you.
Skyline Path, on the steep side of Ma On Shan.
On October 10th 2020 the Saga turned seven years of age. It has been quite the adventure so far. It has also been seven years of visiting and promoting the Red Cross Red Crescent globally. It has furthermore been seven years of being in a long-distance relationship. On the day itself I went hiking once again with Andrew from Chicago. Andrew set himself the goal to hike every trail in Hong Kong and he is getting close to completing it. I really like that idea. One of the remaining hikes he had to do was the Skyline Path in Sai Kung. It edges its way around the steep side of Ma On Shan which is a 702 m (2,303 ft) peak of great beauty. Some say that the Skyline Path is Hong Kong’s hardest trail. I will vouch for that! It took us FIVE hours to cover the first FIVE KILOMETERS (3.11 mi) of the trail. And it was a complete workout for the body! In the end we covered over 12 km (7.5 mi) before heading home. Andrew has been on Dog Teeth’s Ridge, which some claim is the hardest, and said it was a piece of cake in comparison to the Skyline Path. It’s the kind of hike I’m glad I did but I don’t want to do it again. It was hard and not really worth it other than for bragging rights.
Making our way along the Skyline Path. It was Andrews idea! ;)
This week I learned that a typhoon, a cyclone and a hurricane are all one and the same thing. I did not know that and thought they independently described various weather phenomena. Well, Hong Kong received a T8 typhoon warning earlier in the week and the city prepared. The scale peaks at T10 which is rare and would be serious trouble! When one of these signals are issued, ferries generally stop running and all schools and law courts are closed. People away from home should either return immediately or find a safe place and remain there until the danger has passed. Windows and doors should be bolted and shuttered and cars parked in sheltered areas. Full typhoon precautions should be completed as soon as possible as it is extremely dangerous to delay these until a T9 or T10 signal is issued. I was scheduled to go hiking on Lantau Island with Anders from Denmark on the day of the typhoon. However, we cancelled it given the T8 warning. As the day progressed, I didn’t observe much weather at all from the apartment. It was slightly rainy under a grey sky with little to no wind. Hong Kong is funny like that. Given the mountainous landscape you can feel the full force of a storm or nearly nothing at all depending on wind direction. Lantau Island seemed exposed however in Tsuen Wan West where I live it was quiet. And further inland I figured it might be equally quiet and safe from the typhoon. So I opted to get all my Salomon gear ready and headed out the door.
Miu Ko Toi Peak is within the fog/clouds.
The target was Miu Ko Toi which reaches 770 m (2,526 ft) into the sky and is among Hong Kong’s twenty highest peaks. Reaching them all has been a side project of mine for a while and I was down to having only five left. As I headed out door, I found that I was not alone. Several elderly people were calmly walking along the first part of the path I had chosen. They were carrying umbrellas which is a very Hong Kongish thing to do. They really seem to value umbrellas over raincoats. As I began to head upwards, I walked on a narrow path in a dense forest. The trees were mostly quiet and undisturbed by any wind. As I left the forest and approached the peak it began to get quite windy!! I had to make a decision regarding aborting or completing the trek. The sky was slightly darker and the rain was pounding on my face like continuous pin pricks. I figured that I was safe from falling trees or branches and continued upwards. The further I got the harsher the wind got. I nearly got knocked off my feet a few times. Every step meant I was getting closer to the peak. The rain had turned the soil on the beaten path into slippery mud. I came prepared. I had my Salomon raincoat with me for shelter and carried plenty of liquid along with a few energy bars. I scanned the landscape to look for potential shelter if needed. There were several large boulders so I felt safe enough. Besides, with seven years of the Saga and 194 countries behind us I know something about calculating risk and taking care of myself. As I made it to the summit the wind was at its strongest!! And now I could see the other side of the mountain. A daunting black sky was moving rapidly in my direction. The rain was painful. It was hard to stand still as the wind jerked me around. I was laughing!! It was loads of fun feeling how small and meaningless I was in the grand scale of nature. The power I was up against was awesome in the words true meaning! Then I quickly turned around and ran down the mountainside until I reached the forest and had returned to relative safety.
Miu Ko Toi Peak!! 770 m (2,526 ft) above sea level (during a typhoon warning) - fun!
Sure, I’m crazy. Generally I try to categorize it as “good crazy” but who knows. Leaving home seven years ago with the goal of becoming the first to reach every country in the world completely without flying is a crazy thing. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs once said that. People say a lot of things though. Some say Australia will keep their borders shut until 2022. I can’t believe that. Some say that a travel bubble will soon open between Singapore and Hong Kong. Let’s see. I had a close look at our remaining nine countries and it didn’t look good. Meanwhile COVID-19 keeps on playing its massive game of ‘Whac-A-Mole’ with the world. Just put on a mask will you. Thank you :)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - determined - not patient.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga