Hong Kong, Ding Dong, King Kong, Ping Pong (still stuck)
Day 2,325 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).
Kind people, good food and less sand left in the hour glass
I cannot believe that I’m update you for the fourth time across four weeks in Hong Kong? What are the odds that the Saga would get stuck here because of a virus outbreak? The last one was 17 years ago. Well – here we are.
It is kind of funny. If the good ship “Kota Hakim” had stayed in Majuro (Marshall Islands) for 27 hours as scheduled then we would have reached Hong Kong two weeks earlier and the virus outbreak would not have been a problem. But “Kota Hakim” left after only 11 hours which meant I had to leave the ship to make the full 24 hour visit. And the next ship arrived two weeks later. In fact I could even have left Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) a week earlier if the good ship “Shengking” had not been delayed by a typhoon – but she was…and as a result of that I missed the good ship “Capitaine Quiros” by a few days and had to wait almost a month for her to come back and pick me up. As such we would have made it to Hong Kong a month earlier in “what if land”. Did you know that when we reached Hong Kong on January 28th this year, the agent asked me if I wanted to connect with a ship the following day or wait for the good ship “Kota Hidayah” on February 12th as planned? I guess getting on board that ship too would have kept the Saga free of virus-trouble. But here we are. In hindsight I would not have had the wonderful experiences from the Solomon Islands (Vori Vori villagers), Marshall Islands (New Year) and Hong Kong (countless) which have now enriched my life and inspired others. Something I rarely mention is that this project has undoubtedly been the best education I have ever had!! I don’t think the education would have been as great if I did not have the background I had before leaving home. My life, education, work experience and more is what the Saga stands on top of. And what an education it has been: geography, culture, history, social media management, interview technic, politics, language, character, negotiation, mental strength, humility, geopolitics, confidence, public speaking, project execution, fundraising, people skills, networking and much more I am sure! In addition to that I have had countless larger than life experiences and made a rainbow of new friends. Much good can certainly be said to have fallen in my direction.
The remaining nine countries have never been presented better than this :)
I recently did a Status Update which had been seen more than 8,000 times by the time I wrote this. You can watch it by clicking on the image here below or on THIS LINK.
The video status update covers a lot in relation to where we are today, what is going on, what the dilemma is and what the possible options are. The same day as I posted the video the situation already got slightly worse. I have been informed that I will no longer be able to leave a ship in Singapore if the ship has been to a Chinese port within the past 14 days of reaching Singapore. It will be VERY hard to find a ship which only calls Hong Kong and none of the surrounding Chinese ports. China is responsible for a large chunk of world export…Hong Kong is not. Furthermore Chinese land borders are now closed. I feel like there is little to say about the COVID-19 outbreak, which I have not already covered in the previous three entries. However there is always something which can be said ;) I don’t know how big a topic the outbreak is where you are – but it is a huge conversation topic in Hong Kong. So huge that I can’t remember to have spoken to anyone without the subject of viruses coming up at some point? And that is understandable. It is scary…especially if you focus on the medias fear mongering and a severe lack of facts. I cannot speak for how the situation is in China. However I can assure you that life continues in Hong Kong which has had very few cases. Only about 67 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across more than 7.5 million beating hearts. That means one person out of every 115,385 people in Hong Kong have fallen sick (not died). In 2017 3,867 people in Hong Kong lost their lives due to coronary heart diseases. That would be one person out of every 1,939 Hong Kong’er. Since the COVID-19 has only claimed two lives in Hong Kong it means that one person out of 3,750,000 Hong Kong’er has lost his life to the virus (they both were diabetic and one was elderly). Yet nearly everyone wears a mask in public although the health authorities continue to state that it isn’t a requirement. At the metro stations the speakers repeatedly announce that you should put on a mask if you are feeling sick. The health authorities advise that you should keep a high standard of hygiene, wash your hands with soap frequently and cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough. My personal opinion is that wearing a mask in Hong Kong is comparable to carrying an umbrella under a blue sky in case it rains. However there is peer pressure among Hong Kong’ers to wear the mask. For some it is even a way of showing off a fashionable stylish mask. In general I’d say it is actually polite to put on a mask to show solidarity and awareness. It is weird. But I do remember that we weren’t shaking hands in Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak. Not because we were worried about bacteria or virus – but to practice awareness and stay vigilant. The problem with using masks when you don’t need to is however the unnecessary build-up of waste in millions of discarded masks each day. And the lack of masks because of the over usage.
Good job Hong Kong Red Cross!
Do's and Dont's!!! Important stuff!
The last three entries from Hong Kong:
This week has been a social one. I have had the pleasure of spending another week with the Savagar’s who are kindly still hosting me here in Hong Kong. I have located a hostel in Hong Kong which only costs $12 USD / night but the Savagar’s told me there was no need for that and that I was welcome with them for as long as need be. Outstanding hospitality on their part! James, Cassie, Edward and Harry make up a really nice family too. The weeks fill up with physical exercise, playing games, working, getting home schooled, family meals, Minecraft, YouTube, hiking, evening walks, laughing, talking and the occasional evening movie on Netflix. Schools have announced they will stay closed until mid-March now so that complicates logistics for those parents who need to go to leave home to go to work. And work places seem to be opening up again. Many are however still working from home as are both James and Cassie. James has been attending “boot camp” every morning this month which I think is cool. It is a form of cross fit training which James has had the personal discipline to join early mornings before the sun rises. I wouldn’t know for sure because my routine has been to set the alarm at 08:30am and get out of bed soon after that. In the other end I go to bed around 02:00am on most nights. I’m still hopeful in regards to finding a way out of Hong Kong…however it’s a case of making the choice of the lesser evil. And on top of that choices are sparse. If you have not watched the status update then you should. I’m not happy about it. But what can in fact be done now? I have a few things I’m working on but everything feels like a longshot at this point.
From left to right: Harry and Edward. There's always room for a conversation on Star Wars or Vikings! ;)
People are right. A lot of people have said that since I’m stuck anyway, I’m quite lucky to be stuck in Hong Kong of all places. That is kind of true. Hong Kong is certainly a great place to visit. I love what Hong Kong has to offer and in that context I don’t mind being here. Looking a little further ahead it is a problematic destination. If I’m somehow still here when my visa expires on April 27th then where do I go? Into China? To Macau? I guess Macau would work. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.
Valentines Day brought people out :)
Last Friday was Valentine’s Day which they celebrate in Hong Kong as well as many places around the world. Many would probably argue that it is a highly commercialized thing. Nonetheless I was out with the Savagar’s to walk the streets and have a good meal at a local restaurant. They live in Sai Kung which is in the New Territory of Hong Kong. The “new territories” were actually ceded to the British colony over a hundred years ago so the name is a little misleading. However Sai Kung is marvellous. Sai Kung Village has been a fisherman’s village for hundreds of years and is now a modern town with a lot of charm. With the entire “virus thing” lurking over everyone’s heads and many people staying at home, I think a degree of cabin fever had hit a lot of people. So many people were back in the streets having a good time. It must have been the magic of Saint Valentine ;)
I'm a sucker for chinese soups!!
"Please do not proceed". Request denied. And we made it to the top of Ma On Shan ;)
I’m well fed these days. The Savagar’s have been very kind. I wonder how you pronounce Savagar within your mind? It is a hard ‘gar’ like in ‘cigar’. Cassie is a good with food and loves to cook. But most meals are prepared by Arlene who is the house helper. Arlene is really kind too. She is from the Philippines and is practically a part of the family. Lots of people have a maid, a house helper or similar. It is affordable in some parts of the world and it provides work opportunities and better pay. A win win situation. The variety of food I have had under the Savaga’s roof has been nothing less than impressive. Very international to say the least. They have even cooked Danish meals for me more than once. It will be hard to leave. It always is…
Ma On Shan. A little more demanding to summit than anticipated ;)
People are just people. And life continues.
Yeah…so…as mentioned earlier it has been a really social week. I met up with Svend (from last week (fellow Danish Travellers Club member)) and his wife Ophelia who had invited me to join them for lunch. I joined them at their workplace which is downtown on Hong Kong Island (90 minutes from Sai Kung by public transportation). They both work at SAAB which I knew for automobiles. However the last SAAB ever built was in 2014? Instead they now deal in services and solutions for military defence and civil security. Well, I was in their office where I was introduced to a lot of nice people including Samuel who gave me a demonstration of their port surveillance technology. Pretty cool stuff!! The day we met was also the day I should have left Hong Kong on board the good ship “Kota Hidayah” towards Palau. So Svend asked Samuel to pull up “Kota Hidayah” on the chart so that I could wave farewell to her. And that’s Danish humour for you. We had a good night out. Korean barbecue in an almost empty restaurant. But the food and company was great.
Every green triangle you see is a ship in Hong Kong waters.
I also had the pleasure of meeting up with Katherine who’s English/French, her husband Andrew who’s Hong Kong’er/Australian and their charming daughter Talia. We headed to an Indian restaurant and had a good time talking about travel and what constitutes a visit as well as what counts as a country. On that note I recently updated the Saga’s FAQ page with a few lines on that topic. After dinner we headed out for some dessert before they gave me a ride back. Really nice people! Sometimes I feel like I must surely have met my share…
Andrew in the back, Katherine to the right and Talia in front :)
However as I know that Japanese NYK (part of the ONE) has a ship which goes from Hong Kong to New Zealand, I still wasn’t done meeting people. Ole from Maersk in Singapore introduced me to a former Maersk colleague named Poul. Poul now works for the Israeli shipping line ZIM out of Hong Kong and was happy to meet with me. We headed to a nice restaurant where Poul treated me a delicious meal before we sat down at a café to continue talking. You see…Ole told me that Poul might know some people at NYK. And indeed he did. He also knew a million other things and we ended up having a really good time before I hopped back on the metro and made my way from the city to Sai Kung. One thing Poul told was that Julian, whom I met at Maersk in Delhi, India, knows the CEO of NYK. Maersk has been a kind friend to the Saga for many years and I often wonder where the Saga would be today without their involvement? As the world’s largest shipping company they are bound to know a few people ;)
Poul is a really good guy!
There is a first for everything. The offices remain closed so we found a way ;)
Let’s see where all of this leads. NYK is as mentioned Japanese…they don’t know me or the Saga. Can I offer any incentive for them to bring me on board? It is hard to say? What can I offer them? What do I have which they want? Well the Saga does reach people in nearly every country in the world so I could offer some promotion. However does their target group follow the Saga? Not likely. It is however NYK’s chance to be a part of a truly unique project and a solid attempt of making world history. An opportunity like that does not present itself every day. An opportunity which DOES present itself every day is the wonderful and indeed glorious Saga Shop operated by our friend Bob in Uganda!! :) Phone covers, stickers, cool t-shirs. Man! We’ve got it and it is free to browse ;) Kidding aside you are more than welcome to do some shopping. It helps fund the Saga as well as a small cut goes to Bob for being such a stand-up fellow. Click HERE or on the picture below to get directed to the shop.
Finally I can add that this social week also presented a bit of hiking with Mardelaina who’s a true Hong Kong’er and woman of the world. She has been bitten by the travel bug and longs to see as many countries as possible. We hiked around the paths of Quarry Bay and Siu Ma Shan which was a lovely part of Hong Kong Island. Mardelaina and I are pretty much polar opposites when it comes to the virus outbreak. She feels the need to wear a mask while out in public and plastic gloves as well. I don’t. Fortunately we are both open minded people and fully accept that people have different ideas about different things. So if someone wants to do or believe something they are most welcome. Mardelaina and I simply set two rules: whatever people want to believe or do should not be forced upon others or be harmful to anyone. Mardelaina is pretty cool. She’s been backpacking since the 90s and has been to 42 countries across 6 continent. The Hong Kong passport is actually quite a bit stronger than the Chinese ;)
With mask and gloves or hat and beard :)
Mardelaina has a face too. And a BLOG :)
I’ll end this relatively short write-up with a few curiosities. First of all I’m thrilled about all the attention from my home nation lately! It is just wonderful to see the excitement from so many people. Lots of interviews and lots of new faces across the social media. 99% of all the interviews were well produced and that was just lovely. There was however one which felt like a bit of a plane wreck in which the radio hosts referred to me as a “tourist” and “pedestrian”. I wonder if they knew who they were speaking with. As the Saga reaches more and more people I will take more and more hits like that. I will hear many things I do not like to hear. There will be more negative comments and more trolling while there will also be lots of praise, support and friendliness. It is the nature of the game. Most will understand what the Saga truly is, some will not and some do not want to. We know what we have done with this project. I say we. I mean you and I. I mean the project group. I mean anyone the Saga has ever touched and anyone who has ever touched the Saga. That is who we are. Thank you for being here with me through thin and thick. Let’s keep on keeping on.
75% of Hong Kong is green. 25% is urban.
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - I wonder how far I can swim?
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga