Eating carrots and being Danish – Hong Kong
Day 2,570 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).
Next week will be different
Given the fact that the Great Kingdom of Denmark in the high north of Europe is in reality quite a small country…I surely see it reach far beyond its borders.
Last week’s entry: Yes, I’m crazy – Hong Kong day 262
First things first: there is still no “escape” out of Hong Kong. The borders between Hong Kong and Macau remain closed which I use as a benchmark for progress. Both Hong Kong and Macau have COVID-19 well under control, are isolated entities and are connected to each other by both ferries and a bridge. It would only seem logical to me that the borders open between them before anywhere else. However, logic is not always what dictates what happens next. The potential travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore has been making headlines lately. Quarantine-free travel for residents only. It has not been realized yet, however it may be reality soon. The Saga has very few chances for departing Hong Kong anytime soon. And even if an opportunity should appear then all of our remaining nine countries are tightly closed. Exceptions can be made but it is really tough if you are not flying. Palau seems to be an exception which allows visitors to fly in and quarantine. Unfortunately, Palau is sticking to its guns with restricted entrance of travelers who have transited through or have been in China, Hong Kong, or Macau in the past 14 days. Amazingly China, Hong Kong and Macau are handling COVID-19 better than almost anywhere else. These times are strange and it is nearly impossible to predict what lies in the near future.
We don't wear masks to protect ourselves. We wear them to protect others.
Somehow some people still seem to believe that there is no pandemic and that it is all a global conspiracy. I truly understand why some people would get seduced to think so. Afterall most of us only see friends and families losing jobs, businesses shutting down and the repercussions of it. Very few people are exposed to COVID-19 deaths and severe COVID-19 illness within their daily lives. And as humans we are generally impatient and want to see results. It doesn’t sit well with most of us that many months have passed by and that this pandemic hasn’t been “fixed” yet. While it is true that high risk groups include people with comorbidity and those of high age, it remains important to remember that everyone can get COVID-19, there is no immunity, there is no treatment and all the data isn’t in yet. COVID-19 is far more contagious and carries a much higher mortality than the seasonal flu. The cocktail is potentially dangerous. We simply don’t know. I can only pass on the current wisdom which has not changed for a while: frequently wash your hands with soap or use hand sanitizer, if you go out in public then wear a mask where it is recommended, respect social distancing and stay at home if you are sick. These days phrases such as “Draconian Law” and “infringement on constitutional rights” are becoming common. I think people should try to relax a bit. COVID-19 regulations which exists today will eventually be lifted. The situation is temporary. The one thing I personally find hard to understand is why borders are closed? If some people can cross borders then why not all people? It would only seem logical to me that someone who tests negative for COVID-19 and who is willing to quarantine for 14 days should be welcome to cross any border. However, logic is not always what dictates what happens next.
Not Danish! But great hiking company as always: Andrew and Seth. Both from the USA. Andrew and I were talking about my diet and discovered that I have been eating nearly no vegetables at all! So now I'm eating carrots every day ;)
My days in Hong Kong have recently been particularly Danish. My lovely fiancée, whom I have not seen since I last shaved, sent me a care package with some Danish leverpostej (a sort a pate) along with her PhD thesis relating to dementia disorders. Not that she expects that I would understand much of it, but she wrote the following within the acknowledgements: “a very special thanks to my loving soon-to-be-husband and very long-bearded partner. Thank you for your amazing support and for your inspiring strong-will and hard-working mind. I am grateful that you are in my life!” And what else can I say to that other than I would never have been able to come this far without a brilliant, kindhearted, supportive and wise woman standing behind me all the way. It is just my luck that she is beautiful as well.
Eh, what's up doc? I didn't cut vegetables out on purpose. It just kind of happened.
Here you see His Royal Highness Prince Joachim. And a map of Denmark at its greatest extent.
With a solid internet connection and more time on my hands I have also been able to catch up on some Danish television productions. The first one I watched was His Royal Highness Prince Joachim’s six-episode portrayal of the Danish Kingdom. The six parts were themed as follows: religion, democracy, education, borders, laws and national symbols. I would lie if I said I did not shed a tear. It has been more than seven years since I have set foot within my country and as far as countries go, Denmark is not the worst we have on this pale blue dot of ours. After finishing all six episodes another one appeared. It was a television production in twenty-four parts filmed between the years from 1978 to 1982. Throughout most of my life Danes have been baffled that I have not seen this series. It is called ‘Matador’ and truly seems to be a part of Danish upbringing. I have often felt like the only Dane who hadn’t seen it. And Danish life is generally just full of references to this particular series. So much so that I know loads of stuff from the series without ever having watched it. But that is being remedied now. I am eighteen episodes in and have six more to go. The series is set in the fictional Danish town of Korsbaek (Korsbæk) between 1929 and 1947, and follows the lives of a range of characters from across the social spectrum, focusing specifically on the rivalry between the families of two businessmen. While the town is fictional much of the series is kept historical accurate and it feels almost educational to watch it. Furthermore, it describes life in Denmark during WWII (1939-1945). Do you have such a series which everyone has watched in your country? I’m very much enjoying watching it and fully understand what the rave is all about.
The game 'Monopoly' is called 'Matador' in Danish. The TV series is amazing!
Hong Kong has a wide variety of Danish businesses which are visible to me nearly every day. Maersk is our old friend, the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world, which has accommodated the Saga a countless amount of times. I see one of their containers nearly every day. DSV is another friend, a transport and logistics company offering global transport services, and also has a large office here - I frequently see their delivery trucks on the road. Then there’s Carlsberg (beer), Lego (toys), SAS (Scandinavian airline), Ecco (shoes), Jebsen Group (beverage, consumer, industrial, motors, logistics), Danish Crown (food manufacturer), Kjeldsen (cookies), Georg Jensen (silverware), Bang & Olufsen (electronics), Flying Tiger (variety stores) and the list goes on and on. One must sometimes wonder how a small Nordic country with only 5.8 million beating hearts ever made such a large imprint on the world? However it did…and its impact also involves science, music, sports, poetry, literature and arts although I rarely come across it here in Hong Kong.
Then this week I just so happened to be invited by a group of Danes for a lovely evening out and about. As it was a private event, I cannot elaborate much beyond that we had a good time. Throughout the afternoon a playlist produced every Danish song I know and later that night we ended up in Wan Chai because that is where The Station Bar is, which happened to be the hangout for Hong Kong’s Danish football team: Hong Kong Vikings! The team consists of primarily Danish footballers and has over twenty years of history in Hong Kong.
Anders and I on top of Nei Lak Shan :)
I even went hiking with a Dane! Anders has a background within banking and moved to Hong Kong back in 1998. You may remember him from the two last step challenges. Within the Ultimate Step Challenge (where we raised more than USD 10,000 for the Danish Red Cross), Anders aimed for a whopping 505.050 steps (for the symmetric value) and kicked his shoes off at 505.504 steps. So very close to his goal and well above half a million steps within just one week. For a while we have been wanting to go for a hike together. Last week we were scheduled to go hiking during the day of the typhoon so we cancelled. On our second try we managed a very beautiful hike across Lantau Island. Over a period of 4 hours and 23 minutes we managed to cross 18.6 km (11.56 mi) in distance and gain 1,066 m (3.497 ft) in elevation. And in the process, we made it to the peak of Nei Lak Shan which is the sixth highest peak in Hong Kong and thereby one of the twenty highest. With that one off the list I got even closer to my side project of reaching every one of Hong Kong’s twenty highest. It was a really nice day with Anders. He is fit and highly accustomed to hiking.
At the end of the trail we stopped at Tai O which is a sleepy fisherman’s village which used to be a smugglers paradise with drugs, guns, tobacco and other illegal activities. People have lived there for more than three-hundred years. Today the action has long since left the idyllic village where it is easy to find a nice coffee shop with a good view of the mountains. And from there we took the ferry back to where we began our hike, and parted as Anders got into a bus and I got on to the MTR (metro).
Oh yeah, my time here in Hong Kong has lately felt rather influenced by the old homeland and it doesn’t even end here! Yesterday Thomas from the Andersen Clan, the Ultimate Step Challenge (261.960 steps) and much more, invited me to come and take a look at the Danish Seafarers Church which he is a part of. Christmas is around the corner and the Seafarers Church has received its supply of Tuborg Julebryg (Danish Christmas brew)! And finally, today, as you may be reading all of this, I am heading out for a foot massage with Anita. You may also remember Anita from the step challenge. It was Anita who supplied us with all the Misfit Command Hybrid Smartwatches while being a mother, a wife, managing her office job and taking over 200.000 steps within a week! After the massage I have been offered to join her and her family for a homemade meal consisting of Danish Biksemad (Scandinavian Hash) and what could be better than that?
Not Danish! Dave is Welsh! :) And here we are on Wo Yang Shan which is Hong Kong's fifth highest peak at 857 m (2,812 ft). So now there are only two peaks left.
And that concludes this entry. All I have to say is thank you for being who you are. In the end you do not have a choice. You can only be you ;) And in regards to next week I will now be moving again. My role as a caretaker of this apartment, which has been my home for a few months, has come to an end. Not to worry though, because the Danish community here in Hong Kong has set me up as a caretaker of another empty apartment. We are about four-hundred Danes here in Hong Kong but nobody knows for sure. And as a final remark I plan to drop in on a few museums during the new week. Might as well, now that they are open again.
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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - always doing something.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga