What’s next? 115 days in Hong Kong
Day 2,416 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).
And the beat goes on...
I wanted to start this entry by writing “the kindness of people continues to surprise me”. However that’s not true anymore. It doesn’t surprise me. It rather pleases me that it is simply so.
Today Edward Savagar turns twelve years old. That equals twelve trips around the sun without falling off the planet. Well done Edward! :) I’ve been around the sun 41 times. Age is a funny thing. I was listening to a podcast (‘You’re dead to me’ on BBC) where the guest kept saying: “I’m older than what I look”. I figure that beyond some point age measured in years is inaccurate and meaningless. Your body could be fifty years old but if you were in a coma for forty years of your life then what are you: ten or fifty? So on one hand it makes better sense to measure age in life experience. But how the heck do you do that? You may just run into someone who looks seventy but has 600 years of life experience. Or a fifty year old with the wits of someone half the age. I feel old. I find myself wandering between feeling smarter than everyone else and dumber than everyone else. Do you ever feel like that? There is so much which I don’t understand or which I grasp too late. On the other hand I may have forgotten more things then what most will ever learn? Silly me to start an entry like this. I guess I’m just tired. Tired in a fashion sleep cannot cure. But Edward makes me smile! He’s a bright one!! He has a complicated train of thought and excels in speculation. I bet he would be good at chess. Happy birthday Edward :)
Congratualtions dear Edward! Enjoy your sorbet at FCC :)
Yeah, I’m not surprised by human kindness anymore. It seems to be the norm. I rarely meet someone unkind or unhelpful. Perhaps it’s because I smile a lot? Or maybe people are just like that. 115 days of observing and meeting Hongkongers is even more proof. For more than seven years I have not stayed anywhere on earth as long as I have here. It’s not even by my own choice but it couldn’t have been better. Hong Kong is really something special and that will probably never change. However Hong Kong will change. Hong Kong is like a unique, beautiful drop of water falling from the sky, heading towards the sea. Much can still happen before impact. Yet the ocean is constantly getting closer. Time will not stand still. Change is inevitable. At current many believe that whatever change will come can still be negotiated. Perhaps it can.
I met up with Karena, Andy and Zen from Passion Times and we had a nice afternoon exploring Choi Hung Estate and doing some filming. In this picture you see Zen and his chest pocket reads: "Cuddle Team Leader" :)
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC) is a brilliant place. I’ve never seen it as it is meant to be due to the unfortunate timing. Parts of the club are closed in order to comply with the fight against COVID-19. As such I have never had the chance to enjoy the jazz lounge. FCC is quite well known for having excellent speaking engagements. An impressive cast of business leaders, politicians, journalists, photographers, public figures etc. and even some internationally famed people such as Michael Palin and Muhammad Ali. It has even been suggested that I should speak at FCC some day when it again becomes possible to gather people. I dare not!! How can I follow such footsteps? How can I speak before journalisms finest and acclaimed photographers? I would be in the deep end of the pool for sure. The Rt. Hon Lord Patten of Barnes CH, Former Governor of Hong Kong, recently appeared as a guest speaker in an FCC webinar titled “What’s in Store for Hong Kong’s Future?”. My host James and I sat in his home office and logged in to the broadcast which was set up through Zoom. What a thing to witness! Lord Patten is a highly accomplished man and he is both sharp and well spoken. He was also fearless when it came to sharing his opinions. The webinar was hosted by Keith Richburg who is Director and Professor at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre (The University of Hong Kong). I’ve met Keith on a few occasions and he is both well-spoken and kind. While the Saga is not a political bastion I think it’s enough to say that the FCC stands for free speech and free press. And I can also hint that Lord Patten’s opinions did not fare well with policy makers in Beijing. The media has certainly had a lot to report on in the aftermath and Lord Patten must surely feel relieved that he is located in England, far beyond the Red Dragon.
I had dinner with Peter who's another good guy. Afterwards we messed around on his electric skateboard.
Well, tick tock goes the Saga clock. Time flies – I don’t. Hong Kong is slowly opening up. Some students have begun to return to school. Edward is one of them and he started last Wednesday. Students are required to wear masks, frequently use hand sanitizer and are only at school on half day basis. Apparently the library as well as instruments are off limits however it is progress as they have not been to school for over four months. Other schools are opening up next week. Bars are again open and so are cinemas. Camping sites, picnic sites and parks recently opened in Hong Kong. Borders are still closed including the one to Macau. Temperatures are going up and the humidity is a killer. People tell me it is still nothing. But is certainly something. My short runs are getting harder. I find that I should tread lightly regarding my mental balance under the vast stress and pressure of this highly ambitious project. I could easily fall subject to depression and I am a firm believer in a healthy body being key to a healthy mind. So I try to run every second day. I also need to keep building my strength ahead of the attempt to conquer the 78k (48.mi) highly mountainous Wilson Trail. The heat will not help.
The heat when running!
As Hong Kong has begun to open op so do my possibilities for doing speaking engagements. In fact I recently had my very first one this year. At least my first one face to face with an audience. I still had to wear a mask though but it was great to be out there again. The audience was that of Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. (ZIM) which is an Israeli international cargo shipping company, and one of the world’s top-20 global carriers. ZIM’s HR Manager for Asia Pacific, Mr Kim Fung, reached out as they plan to deliver a series of ‘ZIM Talks’ (the name is initiated by TED Talks) for their staff internally with various guest speakers hoping to have them share successful stories about positive mind-set and can-do attitude. I was asked to focus on agility which is a one of ZIM’s core values. Ahead of the speaking engagement I met up with Poul who’s a friend here in Hong Kong and works at ZIM. We had a delicious lunch at Bentley Café which lies in connection to a Bentley car salesmanship. I don’t know much about cars by I know what I like. And for whatever reason I really like the shape of a Bentley. Meanwhile Hong Kong seems to be a “Tesla town” as they are everywhere. Hong Kong used to have a no tax policy on the sale of Tesla’s which even tax free are quite expensive. However there are enough people in Hong Kong that can afford them and tax free the Tesla’s became bargains. Getting back on track Poul and I had a good time (as we always do) and after lunch we proceeded up to their office and soon after that the session started. Great audience!! I received some really solid questions and the atmosphere was fantastic. I’m not sure why I over the years mostly end up speaking at shipping offices but I guess it’s because we all share a common interest in logistics. I wish I would have had the chance to speak at ZIM when I was in Israel but that day may still come.
So wonderful to be face to face with a crowd again. A really great one too!! :)
Where was it again? Oh yeah...at ZIM ;)
You know, it’s really hard to pick what to share and what not. If I had to describe this entire week which has passed then it would quickly amount to a book. For weeks I have now been mindboggling busy and the added workload has primarily been due to a high demand for interviews and local collaborations. Kate Springer’s formidable article in CNN a month ago truly became a diving board into global attention. For a while I have been averaging three interviews per day and it has been exhausting. It has been wonderful too. The Saga has recently been featured in: France, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Denmark, Italy, Egypt, Finland, UK, Hong Kong, Ghana, USA, Australia, Philippines, Iran, Georgia and some Arabic ones too!! At least those are the ones I know of…because it has really taken off. Much of this is also thanks to the incredible support of the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), which shared the Saga across their global platform. And I’m also helped by Herve Piglowski at Chateau Marianne. Herve basically just reached out early this year and offered to help find some interviews for the Saga. I’d say that on a normal week I do one or maybe two interviews. Three a day is a lot of work. In any regards I’m grateful to Kate, Herve and the HKTB. And to anyone else who means the Saga well. I’ve just recently finished a day of filming with TVB which is a big deal although I did not know it at the time. But apparently TVB is huge both in Hong Kong and in China. We filmed for the English speaking part of TVB and it will become a 15 minute episode which will feature in the upcoming weeks. And the media frenzy still isn’t over. Albeit my calendar is (thankfully) looking a lot more open next week.
Hanging out with Tina, Louis and Kaho from TVB :)
Now – sometimes I’ll flat out write people’s names and sometimes I find that a bit of privacy is better. This may be a case for the latter. I’m very well connected here in Hong Kong and I rub shoulders with some highly prominent people. I suppose that would be the expected result of 6.5 years’ worth of networking. Hong Kong is highly international and under normal circumstances it would also be a place of people flying in and out. Things are a bit upside down these days to say the least and I hope you are keeping sane wherever you are. Here in Hong Kong a lot of residents would usually have left by this time of the year and the streets would normally be flooded with tourists. But this year there are virtually no tourists and all the residents are here. Strange times. Well in any case I’m far from the only Viking you might find in this Special Administrative Region. Two of my countrymen decided it was about time that I saw another side of the city and invited me for dinner at Wooloomooloo Prime in Tsim Sha Tsui. That night ended at Ned Kelly’s Last Stand!! When I arrived I found the well-dressed Vikings seated at a table with a backdrop view of the city skyline. There were two glasses of martini on the table each with olives in them. I was asked what I wanted to drink while one of the men casually commented that they were enjoying a real man’s drink! So I handed the menu over to the waiter and noted that I would have what they were having. I might want to add to this story that I hardly ever drink more than a social beer or a single glass of red wine these days. My binge drinking days ended decades ago and the last time I went completely overboard was in 2011 when a co-worker and I needed to let some steam out and pondered if we could actually drink a shot from every bottle at the bar. That night in 2011 did not end well for me. I had now arrived to Wooloomooloo with an almost empty stomach and after having been out for a run in the heat. I was checkmate from the get-go.
The two gentlemen were both senior to me and had furthermore been living in Hong Kong for twenty and thirty years. It wasn’t long before I was sipping on my second martini. Then we moved to another table and ordered dinner…and wine. The food was fantastic and so was the conversation. I remember that we ordered at least two bottles of red wine. Later on there was the beer and then those black drinks served in cylindrical glasses but I was beyond any hope by that point. Yeah…I wrote that the night ended at Ned Kelly’s but it actually didn’t. After having my complications with ordering and finding my Uber driver I reached “home” around 02:00am. I zigzagged my way upstairs and soon found myself in the bathroom with my head in the bathtub. At some point during the night I had tried to rinse out the bathtub with the showerhead but that just resulted in a nasty soup of half-filled tub to deal with the next day as I sobered up. MAN!! What am I? Fifteen years old? Well at least the last one of these was back in 2011 and not sooner. The hangovers were rough but in reality I found myself marked by it all for about three days. I may call myself a Modern Viking but the drinking gene seems to have weakened over the years. What a night. GREAT company though!
Unfortunately the band was not planing at Ned Kelly's.
Ned Kelly’s puts a smile on many a face. The establishment has been around since 1972 and has seen its fair share of visitors. Hong Kong is a great many things. It’s a place which knows how to entertain! It’s green and beautiful. It is spiritual. Hong Kong is home to 7.5 million people which I find to be kind and considerate until you get in their way ;) Hongkongers are generally people who know what they want. I had the chance to meet up with Paul again from Walk In Hong Kong. It was in connection to the TVB shooting we did in central. Paul is such an amazing guy! He had planned out an interesting afternoon and guided me past the old police station at Tai Kwun, we took a selfie at the mural on Graham Street, had a drink at Kung Lee Sugar Cane Drink, touched the golden pen at the Man Mo Temple in Sheung Wan, notified the Gods we made a donation and finally we paid a visit to “the printer” at Kwong Wah Printing Company which was established in 1954!! Yam Wai-sang runs it and showed me an Alan Walker video on YouTube in which he is briefly featured (it has been seen 800 million times!!). It was partially a rainy day. I will be so sad to leave Hong Kong some day and all the friends I have. This always happens when I end up somewhere for more than a month. This has now been 115 days. If I stayed 115 days in all 203 countries then the Saga would take 64 years to complete.
Selfie with Paul at the mural on Graham Street.
Kung Lee Sugar Cane Drink.
Golden pen at the Man Mo Temple.
Kwong Wah Printing Company.
Paul being interviewed by Tina at Kwong Wah Printing Company.
Hong Kong immigration has never disappointed me! It was easy when I first arrived in January and Keith, the agent from PIL, helped me through it. Then a month ago I had to approach the Immigration Tower on my own to request an extension and magically I was in and out of the building in less than twenty minutes?! Keep in mind that I have dealt with far more immigration globally than most people can brag about. So it should hold some weight when I say it has been easy in Hong Kong. The meeting for my extension was set for May 21st at 11:00am and this time it took less than two hours before I was set and left the building. And there were truly many people there. Afterwards I met the Chief Immigration Officer who handed me his card and told me to contact him if there was anything he could help with. Hong Kong immigration is amazing as far as I’m concerned.
Standing before the Immigration Tower.
I miss my fiancée terribly. We haven’t seen each other since late August 2019. We are fine and stay in touch every day. However this long distance crap is getting old. We should be together. 2020 is however an easy time for people to stay in touch. It’s not like we need to look for smoke signals or wait for a pigeon to arrive. Another great thing about Hong Kong is the internet which is usually fast and stable. And it’s not too expensive. Sometimes it is even free. As such it has been possible for me to Skype and Zoom left and right with friends, family, schools and of course journalists. It feels a little more real when you have a video feed and can satisfy a second sense during a conversation. People keep asking me when I think the Saga will be able to move forward. I don’t know. Nobody knows what the future has in store for us. Things could regress and get worse. Hopefully they won’t but it’s out there as a possibility. If the border between Macau and Hong Kong cannot open then I have little hope for the rest of the world opening up anytime soon. However I do see baby steps here and there…and anyone who has ever been asked to watch a baby knows that you can’t turn a blind eye for too long. Let’s make for the great escape! Stay safe and sane out there. Thank you for all your love.
I spend an awful amount of time on the otherwise efficient public transport system in Hong Kong. And I have been through Prince Edward station many, many times!! But this time with Edward - and on his birthday :)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - somewhat overworked.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga