My tropical ice floe - Hong Kong
Day 2,549 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).
Yes, it could have been much worse...
I finished reading ‘Endurance’, who handles COVID-19 well?, enjoying Hong Kong, Productive Accidents, a real Rockstar, moonlight, birthday and long beards. Enjoy!
Last week’s entry: 'Endurance' and the Saga - more Hong Kong
Yeah - so I finished reading about Sir Ernest Shackleton and the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition". WOW! And now, for a while at least, it feels it’s impossible to complain about anything. And I mean anything at all. Because what those twenty-eight men had to endure a little more than a hundred years ago was brutal!! Their ship had to be abandoned in the ice and snow landscape of the Antarctic. And then when she sank, the men were left to survive in a white Mars like landscape far from civilization while the world was busy with WWI. Giving up would have meant death. Fighting for their lives was their only chance. It is a HECK OF A STORY and so much more impressive given that it is all true!
This book had been recommended to me several times over the years. And most recently it was once again recommended to me by a friend (Nat (or Mo)) who saw several similarities between the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" and “Once Upon A Saga”. There is no doubt that the Saga requires a staggering amount of willpower. And that has been proven over and over again. There have even been a few accounts of life-threatening danger within the Saga, however such moments were short lived. While Shackleton and his men were stuck on an unimaginable desolated location...I happen to be stuck in Hong Kong which is one of the safest places on earth. Should I give up on the Saga then it wouldn’t mean death. It would mean heading home to one of the greatest countries in the world on an airplane. Possibly a part of my soul would die but that’s only in a poetic sense. My struggle is not one of lack of comfort, hunger or overhanging danger. No, my struggle is one of the mind. Nah - it’s hard to complain too much about anything here in life as long as the ‘Endurance’ remains fresh in memory. And that’s a pity...because I’m from Denmark and we excel at complaining ;) The parallels Nat (or Mo) saw in both the "Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition" and “Once Upon A Saga” were two voluntary missions which both turned into nightmares. Granted though…my nightmare is lived out in a soft bed while Shackleton had to deal with frost bite, blizzards, a shortage of food and the very real threat that the ice floe they were all on would disappear below them. And yet, somehow, I wish I had departed to Antarctica onboard the good ship “Endurance”. I think I would have fitted right in.
Peter is a really good fellow I have met with several times and his new book "Productive Accidents" has recently been published. I was given a copy and look forward to digging into it.
This will be the second last entry before the Saga reaches seven years of age. And with nine countries remaining there is no possible way that the Saga will not reach eight if it is to be completed. Some would say that it is amazing and fantastic that the Saga has lasted this long. I find it hard to agree. Hong Kong is however a wonderful pocket to be stuck within. And people are right when they say it could have been much worse. Because is certainly could! In fact, it could hardly have been any better. Hong Kong is one of the safest places on earth. Crime seems benign, the infrastructure can handle extreme weather and there’s a firm grip on COVID-19. When the Saga reached Hong Kong in late January people where already wearing masks and large amusement parks such as Ocean Park and Disneyland (both open now) had been closed down. We are now in the beginning of October and among a 7.5 million population there have “only” been about a hundred COVID-19 deaths. Walking about in Hong Kong it’s hard to picture that anyone actually carries COVID-19. But better safe than sorry. Hongkongers began wearing masks long before government declared it a requirement. Hand sanitizer is available everywhere. Temperature checks are standard at cafes, bars, restaurants, shopping centres etc.
Masks make a difference! It is not the full solution but a good start.
Different venues have on and off had to close or operate under reduced hours and regulations on group sizes in public have varied over the months. Quarantine periods exists for new arrivals and the borders have for a long time been closed to foreigners. Those who hold residency or a HK ID are free to travel in and out of Hong Kong. Social distancing is upheld and handshakes remain rare. “Elbow-shakes” and fist bumps are common. Disinfection of contact points across public transportation and other places is also common. The collaboration between government and Hongkongers has worked wonders. As a result, Hong Kong has never been in a full lockdown and we have always been able to leave our homes and walk about unrestricted. Well, beaches have been closed for a while so there is a bit of restriction. But you know what I mean. Well done Hong Kong. It has long been common place that you sit down at a restaurant wearing a mask but take it off while dinning. If you need to visit the restroom then the mask comes on again. Leaving home without a mask feels like leaving home without pants. It is just normal. And while some undoubtedly believe that wearing a mask saves them from contracting the virus, I’m sure the culture here has far more people wearing masks because it protects everyone else. While it is no longer a requirement to wear a mask while exercising surprisingly many continue to go jogging wearing a mask. Keep in mind that in many Asian cultures it is common practice to put on a mask if you have a common cold; so that it is not transferred to you.
Last weekend Thomas, Morten, Michael and I headed out on Morten's boat to enjoy a nice day. If you zoom in you can see Morten drinking alchohol free beer being the responsible driver of the boat :)
Ah yes – maybe Hong Kong has handled COVID-19 better than anywhere else. Maybe not. However, Hong Kong is definitely ranking very high globally in spite of its extreme population density. Tracing and testing are also done highly efficiently here. So, if you are in a part of the world where COVID-19 cases are rising, then you may want to gain some inspiration from Hong Kong. It is not “just” the testing, the social distancing, the sanitizing, the masks and the regulations…in my opinion it is the common social responsibility to defeat the virus along with being compliant, respectful and unpartisan.
After the boat trip we all ended up at Morten's place for some traditional Danish rye-bread with Danish toppings. A little bit of Denmark far from home.
And now to something completely different. Oscar is the cofounder of EQ Lab, has a rich background within design and excels within problem solving. He is also a really nice guy who has involved me in several of his online forum projects. Oscar lives on Lamma Island which is a short boat ride from Hong Kong Island. While Hong Kong Island is probably best known for its high-rises, banking, shopping and tourism…Lamma Island is sort of known for its creative minds and hippies. Three tall stacks rise up from the Electrical Power Station and serve as an easy to spot landmark on Lamma Island which otherwise is home to small traditional villages, tons of restaurants and some excellent hiking. The “creative minds and hippie” business I mentioned is attributed to the foreigners who live there and not so much the locals who make up most of the islands population. While my worn hat and long bushy beard may have people fooled into thinking that there’s a little hippie hidden somewhere within me, I can assure you all that there isn’t. My inner corporate bulldog ate that smelly dreadlocked weirdo decades ago. However, my social heart has grown considerably over the years ;)
The moon on the night of the Moon Festival, Lamma Island.
Arriving to Lamma Island became my third visit. Oscar invited me to join his birthday party which happened to be two days ago. However the party I attended was yesterday which coincided with the National Day of the People's Republic of China. Now that is a hot potato for some Hongkongers who instead celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival aka the “Moon Festival”. I celebrated Oscar who is now close to fifty years but looks half his age. October 1st and 2nd were both holidays in Hong Kong so we could party and sleep in the following day. Note to self: beer, sake, rum and red wine do not go well together. Before getting on the ferry to Lamma Island I observed a single man proudly parading down the boardwalk with an oversized Chinese flag waving gently in the air above him against the blue sky. It is an emotional subject for many. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a much lighter and far jollier subject. It is the second biggest traditional Chinese holiday after Chinese New Year. In Hong Kong, you can supposedly watch fire dragons and lion dances, enjoy festival food and drinks and lantern displays, find festival related sales, and encounter crowds of shoppers and tourists on holiday. Well – fewer tourists these days. I have on a few occasions affectionally been called the only tourist in Hong Kong.
This just screams Lamma Island to me. Some hippie juggling fire, a dog with florescent light, a beautiful beach and the power plant.
Oscar is married to Michelle who is a delight. And both Oscar and Michelle are long term friends with Johan and Hanna whom I visited the last time I came to the island. Johan and I go back to May this year when he did an interview about the Saga for Dagens Industri. Johan is in fact a highly accomplished journalist and praised author. I have recently read his book “Shenzhen Superstars” which I really liked and I hope to read the new one soon. Today, Friday the 2nd of October, marks three years in Oscars and Michelle’s marriage. So, I find my short overnight visit to the island was really eventful! Congratulations to them both and I wish they shall have many more.
It took less than five minutes to find someone on Lamma Island with a longer beard than mine. "Nick the Book" was happy to take a photo with me. He is a former journalist and definite intellectual. And yet within a few minutes of our meeting he went into a rant about aliens living on the dark side of the moon harvesting energy directly from the sun.
Do any of you remember Bob from Uganda? He runs the webshop for Once Upon A Saga. I recently had a nice skype call with Bob who is doing well and has taken a job in Boston, USA. All products from the website are made and shipped from USA and Bob sends his greetings to you all. If you want to stop by and place an order then feel welcome to follow THIS LINK or the one above. I think the Tee's are super cool!! :)
That’s about it for this one. I hope that no matter where you are, you are staying safe and sane. The world is not falling apart. Take it from a man who has seen more than most. I promise you that life continues behind most cameras, that people continue to fall in love no matter where you point on a world map (possibly oceans excluded) and that a mother’s love for her children is no less across any border on our planet. People are just people.
Got recognized on the street by Anthony while out exercising. Kind fellow. I'm now more than 10% done with the Sydney to Melbourne Virtual Challenge ;)
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - yes - I'm still here.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga