Getting high in Hong Kong!
Day 2,451 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).
A week outside of the ordinary
Looking back at all the highlights my life is amazing. Looking ahead it seems promising. Being in my shoes right about now isn’t too bad. This week has been a needed distraction from reality. It all came together quite well in this ‘week extraordinaire’.
Let’s kick off with last week’s insane distraction from reality. WHO WOULD END UP WITH THE HIGHEST STEP COUNT AT THE END OF THE WEEK: JAKOB OR YOUR’S TRULY?!
Sai Kung is a stunning part of Hong Kong and great for hiking.
My goodness that Viking turned out to be stubborn and determined. And I don’t exactly fall short within that category either. It started out as a friendly challenge but we both ended up putting serious hours into it before the clock stopped! Doctors recommend that we should do 10,000 steps per day as a reasonable target. Jakob and I never fell below 30,000 per day! Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Jakob was in the lead but Thursday I rolled out the big guns and went to bed in the lead (having hiked 36k (22.3mi) in 7.5 hours). When I woke up Friday morning Jakob was already back in the lead!! I had to do a walk/hike twice per day to keep up. Saturday morning I found a beautiful hike following Three Fathoms Cove in Sai Kung. I did that trail twice (forth and back) in order of gaining 27,5k (17mi) and then I followed up with a long evening walk too. I had formed a plan which I was following closely.
Dehua showed up to support me on my Sunday hike :)
For the entire week I suspended all running and only hiked and walked. My Sunday plan was the ace up my sleeve. Since Jakob had access to my Garmin account he could see my activities and step count. I had been doing a long hike in the morning in addition to an evening walk for several days…so I figured that if I followed the same routine on the last day (Sunday) but then did an additional long evening walk right before the clock stopped, then Jakob might think I was done before I really was. And thus I could surprise Jakob with an additional tally of steps he didn’t suspect. As such the score just three hours before midnight was: Jakob 192,654 steps and I had reached 206,335 steps. My hope was that Jakob would simply push to beat 206,335 while I went for an additional 10k (6.2mi) shattering his dreams. And I did exactly that…I sat out at 9pm with the target of clocking those 10k (6.2mi) which would take about two hours. However at 11pm I decided to walk on a little longer and didn’t stop until 11:55pm. I was really tired at that point but curious to see if I could still run? So I ran for a few minutes with surprising ease? Where are our limits exactly? Past midnight I uploaded my final walk which came to 15.37k (10.17mi) in anticipation of a big win. To my surprise only 1,374 steps separated us!! So if I had walked five minutes less and Jakob (who clearly pushed hard right to the end) had walked five minutes more then he might have won! Such a small difference after a full week’s effort: Jakob 223,173 steps and I finalized with 224,547 steps (32,000 steps per day). What a great battle!! Thanks for the tough competition Jakob! :)
There can be only one!! ;)
As I mentioned last week the kind people at Hong Kong Tourism Board helped organize a week’s worth of accommodation at two luxury hotels. I needed some time off and the term “staycation” came to mind. I could probably leave Hong Kong and head to mainland China if I wanted. However what good would that do? I could perhaps also get on a sailboat and head to sea…however I would not be able to return to Hong Kong once leaving which would be a heck of a risk to take! There are no countries out there which I know of that would accept me since I’m not a resident. Worst case I could starve to death at sea. Nah…I’m pretty stuck closing in on five months now. The Savagar’s took me into their home and have treated me incredibly well. Good company, lots of humor, kindness and love, a safe place to be, good food and anything anyone could ever wish for. However it is their home and not mine. The Saga is an incredibly social thing. I am always meeting new people and constantly finding myself in a conversation with someone. Buses, trains, taxis, ferries, ships, hostels, schools, companies, meetings and a variety of engagements. During 6.7 years in the world I have been witness to the kindness of people wherever I have been and it has been amazing. Naturally it has been a lot of work too but people are generally truly amazing. However in spite of that kindness and all the fantastic people that surround me here in Hong Kong I found myself socially tired. As you readers know: the Saga is immensely ambitious and demanding. I needed a break.
Checking into my room at Ritz-Carlton :)
My room at Ritz-Carlton.
Lunch in luxury.
Going for a run way above the clouds!
Hong Kong could easily also be nicknamed: "city of lights"
Amazingly Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, opened their doors for me for a few nights! Ritz-Carlton!!! The brand name dates back to 1911. The current company was founded in 1983 and has 101 luxury hotels and resorts in 30 countries and territories around the world. The one here in Hong Kong is the highest hotel in the world, occupying the top floors beginning on the 103rd floor of Kowloon’s International Commerce Centre (ICC). They can also pride themselves in having the world’s highest pool measured from the ground up at 484m (1,588ft). The views are stunning!! The luxury was exquisite and you haven’t had real service before if you haven’t experienced a well dressed woman elegantly race across an elaborate hall so she can press the elevator button for you! Michelin Star restaurants, an exceptionally “instagramable” wine corridor, hallways scented with Black Orchid and incredible detail to quality. It was like the Siren call. Once I got the taste of it I would gladly have crashed my ship upon the shores. How do you return to normal life after an experience like that?
"Instagramable" wine corridor.
Enjoying the worlds highest pool! :)
I could get used to this life!
Well…the all-inclusive stay was just what I needed. I only had to leave the building twice and would happily have stayed up there, high above the city, in my ivory tower. However I had a few meetings. One of them was with Paul from Walk In Hong Kong. We had met a few times before and he asked if I would come and help him out with a promotion they were shooting. Apple Daily TV was filming it and the focus would be on historical personalities in Sham Shui Po. I love that neighborhood and on arrival I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was Chilam who was operating camera and sound. Chilam and I first met in May when Apple Daily ran a story on Once Upon A Saga. It is always good to see Paul who is incredibly knowledgeable on Hong Kong and truly enriches the experience of walking down the streets. I am much wiser on the city’s history thanks to Paul. After we were done filming Paul and I headed over to a well-known restaurant in the area where we met with his business partner Olivia for dinner. It was a really nice evening and after we parted I returned to my sky high living quarters.
Hanging out with Olivia and Paul in Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong.
While the quality at the Ritz-Carlton is amazing on its own I think that it is people that make it truly special. I was fortunate to meet Kristy and Fiona who handle marketing and communication and made sure that I was well taken care off. Fiona even gave me a guided tour of the Ritz-Carlton Suite which has accommodated both a-list celebrities and royalty. The impressive suite comes with an endless list of luxury including your own personal butler. And it will “only” run you HKD 159,000.00 per night + a 10% service change. That is approximately USD 20,500 / night. To put that in context three nights would cover the entirety of Once Upon A Saga from start to end (transport, accommodation, meals and visas). However if I could afford it I would definitely stay there! It was astonishing!
A very small peak into the elaborate Ritz-Carlton Suite. Video to be uploaded on YouTube soon.
Checked out from Ritz...heading to Cordis :)
Oh well…last Wednesday I checked out and rode the high speed elevator down to the ninth floor from where I could connect to Elements Mall and Kowloon MTR station (metro). I had a lunch appointment with Clare from Cordis which is a five star hotel in Mong Kok. Cordis (latin for heart) had invited me for a three night luxury stay and some fun activities! After checking in with Jackel at the front desk, Clare met me at Ming Court which is a well-known restaurant in Hong Kong. Ming Court has been recognized by the Hong Kong & Macau Michelin Guide since 2009! Yeah…that was a really good meal in good company. After a while Clare and I were joined by Win who just came out of one meeting and was on her way to the next. Between Clare and Win I was in superb company.
The unbelievable dessert after an unbelievable meal at Ming Court!
After the Michelin star meal I was given a tour of the hotel before receiving a guided tour of the neighborhood. Mong Kok is a really vibrant and super cool part of Hong Kong. Busy, busy, busy. But in an exciting and fun way. It sort of seems counter intuitive that a five star luxury hotel would be situated in such a neighborhood but it is a magical combination. Head out into the exotic chaos of the streets and then return to the air-conditioned sanctity of Cordis. From the lobby of Cordis there is an enclosed bridge-way straight into the famous Langham Place Mall. And the mall connects to Mong Kok MTR station – easy as that.
The impressive "Xpresscalator" at Langham Place takes you from the 4th to the 8th floor!
I wish I looked like this during my Tai Chi Class - but I'm sure I did not :)
Spider-man: far from home!! But in superb surroundings in the Ballroom of Cordis! :)
Clare and Win had created a casual plan for my stay which included a Tai Chi Class, a movie experience in the Ballroom and an intimate wine tasting at Ming Court. I halfway feared the plan as I wasn’t keen on to many obligations and just wanted to spend some “me-time”. However the plan turned out to be very casual and I really enjoyed it. The Tai Chi master (Master Cheung) was loads of fun and obviously highly knowledgeable. The movie experience was out of this world and the wine tasting isn’t until later today (Friday) but I’m sure it’s above and beyond.
My room at Cordis! :)
Brilliant view for a run! :)
My stay at Cordis coincided with a public holiday: the Dragon Boat Festival. So lots of people across Hong Kong were “staycationing” and the pool at Cordis was alive with children families. The gym is amazing and the view over the city as seen from the treadmills is a real experience! I have been running a lot on treadmills lately as it has simply been easier and even faster than getting down on street level. Besides on street level I would be dealing with traffic, heat and humidity. The latitude of Hong Kong is actually the same as that of Honolulu in Hawaii.
I miss my fiancee. The art at Cordis is beautiful.
Oh yeah…this “break” has been more than welcome. The luxury was not a necessity but I’m not complaining ;) And as always when something good happens within the Saga then it is because of people and there are many to thank this time. So I’m just going to take the easy way out and thank everyone at Ritz-Carlton, Cordis and Hong Kong Tourism Board for all the kindness, service and effort which has been put into giving me a breath of fresh air. The only thing that could have made it better would have been to share it with my absolutely amazing fiancée who is about 8,685k (5,397mi) away as the crow flies. However that is not about to happen and thus my beard will continue to grow longer.
My friend Johan just happened to have a night at Cordis. What are the odds in a city of 7.5 million? :)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Grateful for the opportunities!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga