We need more tolerance – Hong Kong day 276

Day 2,577 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). 

We all make mistakes, let people change


Another week has passed and most of us are still here. Today is a week into the future compared to where we were a week ago when I sent out the previous Friday Blog. The future for our past present as this is our current present until next Friday when that becomes the present and this will be the past.

Last week’s entry: Eating carrots and being Danish – Hong Kong

Sometimes my mind runs off with me. I love thinking about stuff like the “grandfather paradox”, the “bootstrap paradox” and the complex subject of time. Because what the heck is time? Two people can meet up with each other at a set point in time. Most of us do this every day. However, the rate at which time passes is different for the same two people depending on how fast they are moving. That is to say, that time slows down for a moving object in comparison to a still object. Yes! It sounds crazy and just goes to show that most of us know how to use time while not at all understanding what the heck it is. I guess that, in a sense, it is not much different from understanding how to use a smartphone, yet not having the slightest idea how a smartphone actually works and operates. According to special relativity, time slows down for an object when it moves. A twin launched into space on a ship traveling near the speed of light would find on his return that he had aged more slowly than his brother left at the surface. This is not even theory. The fact that objects age differently depending on movement has been proven, which makes it even more crazy to try to understand. By having two super accurate clocks it is possible to send one around the moon on a spaceship and keep the other one on earth for comparison. And during the comparison the clocks will be found to disagree with one another. We do not even need to send a clock into space. In 1971 we simply flew atomic clocks twice around the world (both eastwards and westwards) and then compared it to a clock which remained stationary. And as expected the clocks disagreed with each other when afterwards compared. So in essence…this pandemic we have been stuck with for most of the year would just be a matter of minutes for someone, or something, traveling much faster than us. What a pleasant thought.


Retired deity figurines.

This week has once again been full of hiking, managing social media, following world news, doing interviews, having meetings, housekeeping, networking, research and there has been room for some procrastination as well. I have also moved from Tsuen Wan West to Kwai Chung which is a very big change within a relatively small distance. That is Hong Kong for you. In trying to assess my workload I would say that I am down to roughly twenty hours per week. And because the workload is as low as it is, I find myself being less efficient and that twenty hours of work probably takes me thirty hours to do. Some readers may be wondering what I mean by work? There are essentially three jobs within Once Upon A Saga: 1) logistics and bureaucracy (making the Saga move forward), 2) representing and promoting the Red Cross Red Crescent movement, and 3) promoting the world positively: a place full of people who are just trying to get by and will more often than not offer a stranger hospitality, kindness and assistance. Social media is one of several tools I have at my disposal and managing social media has long since become a job. Creating content, replying to people, blocking and reporting spammers and generally just keeping it all quite tidy. I have very little tolerance for racism and hatred across Once Upon A Saga’s social media and will delete such comments if they are not productive for a debate (and they rarely are). I will not delete a comment just because I disagree with it. I certainly do not know everything and if somebody wants to counter argue a post I created or on a comment which one of my followers wrote, then there is definitely room for that. In fact, I encourage a healthy debate. Quite recently someone challenged a post I created in relation to COVID-19 by stating that the pandemic is a hoax and that COVID-19 is nothing more than the common flu.


My own point of view back in early 2020 was that COVID-19 wasn’t much worse than the common flu and that surgical masks would have very little effect in protecting people. Over the course of this year I have changed my mind as scientists have come to understand more and new information has been available. And frankly I just didn’t get the point of masks in the early days of 2020. Here in Hong Kong people automatically put on their masks long before the government made it compulsory. There is of course the matter of the SARS epidemic which put a fright in the population nearly twenty years ago. However, the culture across much of Asia is simply also just more considerable in relation to the spread of sickness. Within a normal year many Asians will wear a surgical mask if they have the common cold, to prevent others from catching it. Across much of the world the wearing of masks is a foreign concept. In fact, in Denmark you might find yourself ridiculed if you do not show up for work based on having the common cold. Nah – I was late to understand that we are not wearing masks to protect ourselves (which I still think has very little effect), we are wearing them to limit the spread and protect others. And I don’t know why that was so hard for me to understand but once I realized it was the case it just seemed obvious. We really don’t know who is carrying COVID-19. It could be you, it could be me or it could be none of us. We don’t know. And the mask helps limit (not contain) the spread. And I am not at all saying that if we all put on masks then the problem is solved. There are many things we must do apart from wearing masks where recommended (social distancing, hygiene, tracing, quarantine, testing, temperature checks etc). Now, to get back on point, since I have changed my mind on the seriousness of COVID-19 and the effectiveness of wearing a mask – should I then be ridiculed or applauded?


The beauty of Sai Kung always takes me by surprise.

This leads to my point. I think there has been a global descent within tolerance. For many years I have been worried about the rate at which the world has become connected. Don’t get me wrong. I love that the world is getting more and more connected through travel, jobs, social media and in any other way one could imagine. It is just that I worry about people’s potential lack of understanding for different ideas, different solutions and different ways of life. I find this famous quote of Winston Churchill highly relevant: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. These days, propelled by the upcoming election, it is quite common to hear that the USA has never before been as divided as it is today. But I do not believe that to be true. There is certainly clear division on several topics within the USA however I believe that the division may have been present for a very long time. I believe that the tolerance, for the differences which exists, has lowered over recent years. And I think that might be dangerous. On a planet with a rapidly accelerating population growth and technology which can connect people across the planet within seconds, we need to have a high degree of tolerance. Otherwise we will be clashing heads constantly. There is no such thing as a perfect country. Every country has room for improvement. What may be right in the east can be wrong in the west and vice versa. Chopsticks vs cutlery. Shoes vs sandals. Pepsi vs Coca Cola. Yes – those are just some silly things in the big picture but you can scale up to much more important topics. The point is that we are never going to agree on everything and in many cases that should be just fine. Within Once Upon A Saga I have always promoted that we are (in the big picture) all the same. We take photos and upload them to social media, we like good food, we get educated, we work, we joke, we fall in and out of love, we get stuck in traffic, we like sports and various forms of entertainment, we care about those closest to us, we breathe, we sleep and we eat. A mother’s love to her child is no less across any border I have seen. Please never forget that! And please do your outmost to respect and/or tolerate other people’s opinions. And make room for personal change. We simply don’t know it all.


Hong Kong is super safe. Even at night people can feel safe almost anywhere.

Alright then – moving on: what happened this week:

  • As I mentioned last week, I had a lovely homecooked dinner last Friday after Anita and I got foot massages. Anita cooked us some “biksemad” on my request after asking which Danish food I was craving. And she delivered!! Her husband Christian and their charming two-year-old Victor, were also delighted and we had a really nice evening together. Anita and Christian have had a really interesting life and I enjoyed the company.


Yum yum! This was brilliant!

  • Then Dehua finally escaped his fourteen-day quarantine after returning from China and we went hiking along with his friend Gong who had never hiked before in her life. But it made for a lovely day in some easy terrain.


If there isn't a photo - did it even happen? 2020.

  • The following day Dehua and I met up again for some more demanding hiking in beautiful Sai Kung. Afterwards we joined a BBQ at the Savagar’s who hosted me for the first five months here in Hong Kong. A great day with great people and great food! Cassie had made “flaeskesteg” for me (another Danish household dish). It is always good to see Cassie, James and “The Saga Boys” :)


Back in the woods with Dehua! First time in more than three months.


Yum yum! This was brilliant!

  • The next day I joined Cristy from the Ritz Carlton and her husband Mark along with two of their friends for lunch. We had a lovely time at what I suspect is their favorite café in Sai Kung. This was the third time I met Mark who’s a lot of fun and possibly an ex-spy. Who knows!? ;)


Bananas in Hong Kong? You bet!

  • Last Tuesday Thomas from the Andersen Clan showed up to help me move from one apartment to the next. Thomas (and his family) has always been super helpful and kind to me. I suspect Hong Kong may be full of empty apartments now during COVID-19 when many people choose not to travel here or simply cannot. The trick is to know the right people and Thomas along with several other Danes have been setting me up which I'm thankful for. After the move I headed out to explore the new surroundings. I’m rather pleased with moving as it feels like something is happening…although in reality everything is staying the same.


The view certainly changed! I'm now a stone throw away from the industrial port.

  • Wednesday I went hiking with Andrew from Chicago, who’s now down to having only two trails left in Hong Kong before being able to say he’s done them all. We went on a rather tricky hike but it worked out.


You can just hint Andrew between all the green. Perhaps you can spot the waterfall too?

  • Thursday was spent writing this entry and getting it online for you to read. I also hosted a decision-making gym session at EQ Lab together with Noa and Oscar. And the day ended at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club together with Andrew for a splendid meal sponsored by Michael Hye Nielsen. Thanks for that!


My new home in Hong Kong :)

  • Friday still lies in the future for me but the plan is to visit a museum and then meet up with the PacSafe people for beer and cheese.

Yeah – it sounds like a nice week and it was. In between all of the above I managed the social media, got updated on world news, did a few interviews, took care of housekeeping, networked, researched and procrastinated. Besides, I am now only one episode from having watched all of Denmark’s national treasure television production: “Matador”. Once I have seen the final episode EVERYONE from Denmark has seen it. Because I am the last one. I think ;)


I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop


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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - In the future, or the past, or the present.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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