“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
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.
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.
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!! :)
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 :)
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.
Saturday: hiking from Mei Foo to Tsuen Wan over a few mountains. With Kenneth (middle) and Poul - good people :)
Saturday evening. Dinner followed by drinks with Thomas S. He's always good company and recently came out of quarantine! :)
Sunday: joined Brett and his lovely wife Emma for dinner on Lantau Island. You can spot Baloo on the grass.
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 ;)
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.
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 ;)
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!
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.
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.
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 ;)
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!
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…
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.
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.
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 :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Really tired.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga