Hong Kong Viking Hiking, a #MaerskMoment and my new suit!
Day 2,626 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).
Six more days to Christmas…
Sometimes I reach Thursday and wonder: “what the heck went on this week?” Then I look at my photos and type up a story for you all. This week turned out to be quite eventful.
Last week’s entry: Hiking, suiting up and turtles doing yoga - Hong Kong
Hello you! Are you keeping your head up high in spite of the global pandemic? I hope you are. And I hope you’re staying safe and sensible as well. While scientists and other clever people are working on a solution in the form of histories greatest vaccination program, the rest of us only need to deal with ensuring that the virus does not spread. Have you been doing a good job this week? I hope the answer is yes. I am carrying some big plans these days which I cannot reveal for you yet. However, you will be the first to know as soon as I can. They unfortunately do not relate to getting on a vessel and heading for a new country. I don’t think that kind of plans can be made until we are well into the new year. My employment application is still with immigration and we are hoping to hear from them soonest. Christmas shouldn’t get in the way of it as that is not a big thing in Hong Kong. Although it is well worth noticing that Hong Kong, as a former British colony, does have Christmas traditions. They just don’t go overboard with it. The big celebration which does shut down Hong Kong is Chinese New Year, which you may remember I arrived for last year. Oh yes…it has now been 325 days here in Hong Kong which is about 81 times as long as we expected.
Most hikes start with public transportation. And they often end on the same note. I adore public transportation across Hong Kong as it connects everything very efficiently. And quite often I find it to be low costs as well. And as such my friend Andrew from Chicago and I met up at a metro station and took a minibus the rest of the way to the trail head. The target was “Robin’s Nest” near the border of mainland China and very close to Yantian (China).
Andrew leading the way!
Andrew and I have been hiking a lot together across Hong Kong. He set himself the goal of doing all of Hong Kong’s hiking trails (some 160 trails) as a COVID-19 project. At this point Andrew is only a few short with the remaining ones on some hard-to-reach islands. He has a small inflatable boat which he uses in good weather. Good luck Andrew! Temperatures just dropped to 12 degrees Celsius (53.6 F).
Standing in Hong Kong, looking across the border at Yantian in mainland China.
Hong Kong closed its borders on March 25th 2020 to all non-residents and it has stayed that way ever since. So, it felt rather special getting so close to China that we could see across. On our way down from “Robin’s Nest” Andrew and I followed a trail which brought us closer to the border than what I was prepared for. I was not carrying my passport and got increasingly worried that I would have to identify myself. Fortunately, we did not run into any uniformed men.
The trail lead us right up against the boundary area to mainland China. A little too close for my taste.
The next day Cassie (China) and James (England) of the Savagar family had invited me to join them on a company hike. Cassie and James both work at Maersk and have more than forty years of combined company experience. Maersk is a Danish shipping company and the largest in the world at that. For years there has been a close connection between Maersk and Once Upon A Saga in a variety of ways. I have spotted a Maersk container in some 190 countries so far, Maersk has offered us a ride on ten of their ships, I have spoken and interacted with staff in more than fifty offices across more than fifty countries, Maersk has assisted with invitation letters, sim cards, media connections, meals, accommodation and social activities. I actually went hiking up on Table Mountain together with some wonderful Maersk employees in Cape Town, South Africa. And here we were hiking in Hong Kong too! Olga and Mike had arranged the hike which was to follow the Hong Kong Trail. In its full length it is 50km (31.7mi) but we were given the option to step out halfway. I would have loved to go the full distance but I had some engagements in the afternoon,
Always good to see the Savagars!! And Olga is waving behind them :)
Hong Kong is incredibly beautiful under a blue sky! Mountains, waterfalls, reservoirs, beaches, forest, birds, monkeys, snakes, cows, buffaloes, squirrels, spiders, dogs and so much more. These days a thick grey blanket has been resting over Hong Kong and it has been a while since I saw the sun. Regardless of the lack of blue sky it can be very beautiful – and it was. The best part of the hike was however the company. Anyone who shows up for a long hike on their day off is my kind of company ;) We were a highly international crowd and a good mix of Maersk employees along with friends and family. Away we went.
For many it would become their first hike of such a great distance. We met up at 06:30am and left soon after. Before midday I received notice that my afternoon engagement had been cancelled and that I could stay out on the trail. I didn’t give it much thought before opting to complete the entire distance. We were spread out across the trail after only a few hours of hiking. I was walking together with Cassie, James, Olga and a few others. Olga (Russia) was contemplating doing the full distance and Cassie and James had decided to complete half before leaving to enjoy a nice lunch in Central Hong Kong. The full distance would be somewhere around twelve hours while half was “only” six. Most completed the half distance while seven of us kept on keeping on. Coincidently Maersk’s company logo is a white seven-pointed star on a blue background ;)
We were the seven who completed the entire trail! Well done everyone! :)
It took the seven of us less than twelve hours to complete the trail. Three of us had done it before while it was the first time for the other four. And it become my personal best time on the trail! That somewhat surprised me as my first time on it was together with Brett, Dehua and Leon – and we ran some of it! However, I must assume that our overall average speed on the first attempt was slower and perhaps we spent more time resting along the way. Certainly a good effort on everyone’s part back then and during the Maersk hike as well. Thanks for having me along! It was yet another #MaerskMoment ;)
Heading up to the taxi ranks after completing the Hong Kong Trail.
The next day I woke up tired but far from exhausted. In fact, I felt like I could have continued the night before, which bodes well for my attempt to do the MacLehose Trail (100km / 62mi) in less than 24 hours. Thomas (Denmark) of the Andersen Clan was receiving the second of two containers with Christmas Trees and he had told me that I was welcome, although I could also stay at home because it was Sunday and he had plenty of people.
In front of my tea Christmas calendar which the Savagars gave me. I yawn every time I see this photo.
I didn’t want to stay away. I wanted to be where the action was and got up early to join Thomas at Fotan station from where we continued together in his car. As I wrote last time I like such curiosities in life. Helping to empty out that container would be the last for 2020 and the next one isn’t due until Christmas next year.
And I like the sense of community as well. There were a lot of familiar faces: Natali (Andersen Clan), Luis (Andersen Clan), Peter (step challenge), the legendary Treadmill Poul (step challenge), Ivan (step challenge), Mai, Josie and loads of other people. This planet would be so incredibly lonely without people. And people are just people. And most people I have met across the past 194 countries have been kind, helpful and pleasant. And that is something.
All done. No more Christmas trees this year. Hopefully I wont be around this time next year.
It has been a while since I last crunched the numbers and I want to share with you how the Saga is actually financed. Most of you probably already know that the daily budget is set at $20 USD and covers transportation, meals, accommodation and visas. It’s an average and Hong Kong has been closer to $30 USD / day. Ross DK and Geoop are our financial partners and have now covered a whopping 45% of the project. That is no small amount of money considering that we are dealing with seven years. You guys have generally supported this project with 44% which is absolutely amazing!! That is more proof that this is our project and not just mine. Thank you for sticking with it. And not a single cent comes from the Red Cross, which is just the way it should be. People should feel comfort in the fact that donations to the movement go to carry out humanitarian work. And there you have it.
I’m blessed to have many friends and an incredible amount of connections across Hong Kong. Something which has opened up a great deal of doors and continues to do so. Just last night I enjoyed yet another two-hour city hike with Poul, Kenneth and Jesper, which ended up around a table with some good food, good wine and in good company. Poul’s lovely wife Amy joined us. Perhaps you remember her from when I spoke at Trimco back in July? Funny as I also had the pleasure of speaking at Poul’s office (ZIM) back in May. So we are batting 100% of that families workplaces :) And on a completely different topic Ross DK has created a super cool Christmas calendar for 2020 with a short video featuring an employee and a quote every day on LinkedIn. I had the honor of being December 16th. It’s a really great idea, a fun way to get to know the employees and there are some great quotes as well.
On a final note: I suited up!! They say you haven’t been to Hong Kong until you’ve had a suit done. It all began when I had dinner with Mike a few weeks ago and he invited his friend Jo to join us. She’s a lovely woman and happens to run a tailor in Mong Kok together with her brother Matthew. Well, the rest is history as they say. However! I’d really recommend you pay Jo and Matthew a visit or at least take a look at their page here on Instagram or Facebook. The shop is located within Golden Plaza. The easy route is to take the MTR to Prince Edward St, leave out exit C1, turn right on Nathan Rd., enter Golden Plaza at the entrance with an escalator, ride it up to the first floor and enter shop no. 104. BOOM!! And that’s how you suit up in Hong Kong! ;)
Hanging out with Jo :)
If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga still needs funding. Thank you :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - tired from a week I hardly described at all.
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga