25,000+ new friends within a week / Hong Kong
Day 2,661 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).
I do not have all the answers
This week has been super busy. We only have so much time on our hands and it is fascinating how much we can get done when we optimize every hour.
Last week’s entry: Hello! And welcome to the Saga – we’re still stuck in Hong Kong
Once Upon A Saga is now a project with nearly 100,000 friends, fans, followers, family members and what have we. In light of the recent boost which came from Nas Daily’s video, there has been a recent and rapid influx of interest from all over the world. People have been pulling me from all directions! Collaboration proposals, interviews, dinner invitations, requests to meet up, and questions…lots and lots of questions! The largest stadium in Denmark is “Parken” in Copenhagen which has a capacity to host 38,065 people. That is a lot of people! Imagine you created an event which filled up the stadium and that you were standing in the center of the arena. Some audience members would be busy with their phones, some would be talking with each other, most would silently be observing you, and some would have questions. If only 1% had questions for you then it would still be 380 questions. How quickly could you answer? Some might not even be questions. Some audience members might just want to say thank you for the invitation or thank you for creating the event. Out of 380 people wanting to say something, you couldn’t possibly know who wanted to ask a question, who wanted to give you an offer and who simply wanted to say thank you. So, what do you do? Do you take time to engage with everyone? If your average engagement lasted 15 seconds then 380 interactions would equal about 90 minutes. Should you engage with some and ignore the rest? Should you hire someone to engage with the audience? I haven’t figured it out yet. However, Once Upon A Saga is now host to more than TWICE the capacity of Denmark’s largest stadium and the engagement rate is high.
Plover Cove Reservoir, Hong Kong.
During an average week I don’t have a lot of air in my schedule. I pack it quite tight and as a result it gets really hectic if I’m suddenly required to spend a lot more time on something. In Hong Kong a lot of people have domestic helpers to assist with the daily chores. Within Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population there are about 400,000 foreign domestic helpers with the vast majority being women from the Philippines and Indonesia. Some really lovely ones too in my experience. People from the Philippines and Indonesia are generally really kind, hospitable and soft-spoken in my experience. But my point is that I of course do not have a domestic helper and do nearly everything by myself. I need to shop for groceries, cook my meals, do the dishes, bring out the trash, wash my laundry, hang it up to dry, fold it and put it away, I do all the cleaning etc. None of these chores are complicated, however they are time consuming – and necessary.
Tai Mo Shan (in the back) is Hong Kong's highest mountain. It is a very old volcano which has not been active for many years.
When Hong Kong’s COVID-19 restrictions once again tightened they also closed Kwai Chung Sports Ground where I used to go running. In the spirit of adapting and improvising I decided to put more effort into hiking / trail running. And soon after that I challenged myself to complete the entire MacLehose Trail (100km / 62mi) in less than 24 hours. The date has now been set for January 29th – 30th. The kicker is that the trail contains over half of Mt. Everest’s elevation in overall elevation gain. 100km in less than 24 hours would be a tall order for most people even on flat terrain. So, I have been training hard for a while. Frank is another Danish, Dane from Denmark and he has completed the Oxfam Trailwalker which used to be an annual event in Hong Kong prior to the pandemic. Due to the pandemic the Oxfam Trailwalker has now been cancelled twice. The trailwalker also covers 100km on the MacLehose Trail although the route is slightly different. As such Frank has been coaching me a bit with ideas and advice. It seems that it would be a good idea to cover about 100km (62mi) per week up until the event in order to gain the required strength. Again, it is not brain surgery, however it is time consuming. Fortunately, a lot of the hiking I do can be considered quality time as I often do it together with friends. If I’m on my own then I might spend some of the time replying to social media, replying to emails, replying to whatsapp messages, creating social media content, listening to news podcasts or in best case: just enjoying the moment. It is however incredible how much can be managed on a smartphone while on the go. I have written entire blogs on my phone.
I still find Hong Kong Immigration super efficient! And I have a lot of experience with them.
Hong Kong Immigration Department granted me my employer visa this week. That is great for a number of reasons. I have been given a job here in Hong Kong as the assistant for the Danish Seamen’s Church. In reality I have signed a contract with DSUK (Danish Seamen’s and Foreign Churches) in Denmark and look forward to carrying out the job. I have virtually met some really nice colleagues in Denmark and a lot of the people involved with the church here in Hong Kong are friends of mine. It is not an overwhelmingly complicated job and especially not during the pandemic when events are out of the question due to social distancing and seafarers are not permitted to leave their ships. I am also not permitted to go onboard the ships but can make deliveries at the gangway. As such I have now been on the gangway of two ships without going onboard and traveling onward with them. A strange sensation as my vast experience with container ships has been as a passenger. We only service those ships which fly a Danish flag and it is my job to reach out to them by email and offer our services. We have the ability to print out and deliver newspapers from a large variety of countries as well as the Church also offers online counselling to the seafarers. Should the captain request any specific items then I will also go and shop for them.
It's a different hat for me - but I guess it fits me quite well :)
The Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong Kong has been around since 1979 while the tradition for Denmark, as a seafaring nation, is well over 150 years old. There is great debate about how many Danes there might be in Hong Kong but certainly no more than 800 and likely closer to 400. The Church also tends to the Danes in Hong Kong and sells a selection of Danish food items online. Whenever someone makes a purchase it is my job to pack it and coordinate collection with the customer. Furthermore, it is my job to keep the place clean and tidy. I also run the social media which consists of a Facebook account. Yeah – it’s not rocket science but it is a nice job and serves an important purpose. The added bonus is that with the employment visa I will not need to worry about immigration for a while. It is unlikely – however, getting deported for not having a valid reason to stay within Hong Kong is a concern of mine. especially as deportation would most certainly be on an airplane, ending more than seven years of an unprecedented accomplishment on the final stretch.
Hiking is a popular activity among Hongkongers who rank very high in life expectancy.
Interviews are really time consuming. If someone sends you fifteen questions and requests some specific photos then it can easily take an hour or more to reply. And the Saga has been blessed with plenty of interviews. It sometimes feels like a necessary evil. Over the years we are talking about interviews across more than 150 countries worldwide. They appear to come in waves and most interviews are hard to postpone. On top of everything else I still have family, friends and my fiancée to keep up with. My fiancée and I have successfully been in a now more than seven-year long distance relationship!!! Any kind of relationship takes effort and long-distance relationships are hard work. Anyone who has ever been in one knows what I am talking about. These days we have a videocall every 2-3 days apart from the usual everyday correspondence. Yeah – one day does seem to take the other. And it’s not like if the world is standing still either.
Next stop on the bureaucracy train: get a Hong Kong ID card and get a Hong Kong drivers license.
The USA got themselves a new president…again. It is always such a global event, which I do not mind. But could those Americans not shorten the process down to a few a week’s or less? ;) This year it seems like they had some difficulties finding out who actually won the election. I know that a lot of people would be quick to state that the winner was clear ever since the election – yeah, sure. However, you cannot underestimate the voice of 100 million people who oppose the election results. I actually don’t know how many people truly believe that President Biden is not the legitimate leader of the USA? It could be far less than 100 million. It is just rather scary when one of the worlds most powerful countries can have doubt among the public on such matters. Prior to the inauguration the big news was the storming of the United States Capital. That truly made headlines – even to such a degree that people were questioning why I wasn’t blogging about it? Well, first and foremost: I’m from Denmark and not from the USA. And what most people around the world experienced was that a government building in a foreign country got stormed for a few hours before it was left again. Special forces or counter terrorism units did not need to be deployed. And while the Capitol building does hold significant meaning to many people within the USA…at the end of the day it is just a building. If the building burned down then it wouldn’t mean the end of democracy. It is entirely symbolic and one would hope that the foundation of democracy is stronger than some brick and mortar. Having said that, I am really sorry on behalf of everyone who was shocked and terrified in the events which unfolded. What can I say: we keep on keeping on. I have friends which are Republicans and friends which are Democrats. We get along (most of the time). We do not agree on everything and often we rely on completely different sources. I can certainly see that the former President and his administration got some things right. There were other things I disagree with. I have generally never been in favor of how things were presented by the former president. Good luck to the new one. And good luck to all our American friends.
Hiking 19.64km (12.2mi) around Plover Cove with Welsh Dave! :)
Well – that was an entry which mostly centered around my life in Hong Kong and not Hong Kong itself. I have delivered about fifty entries from Hong Kong and I really do find that I have already covered a lot on people, culture, food, different parts of the city, temples, shopping, finance, nature, animals, education and to some degree even politics. Once Upon A Saga is generally not a political project. It is a project which demonstrates strength. A project which looks for the best in mankind, in history, in culture, in development and generally just anything positive or uplifting. It is a project which aims to show that a stranger is a fiend you’ve never met before. And furthermore, that people are just people. People are people at their best and their worst…generally just people. And both you and I are a part of that club.
I have no idea when I will get vaccinated. No idea when the world will go back to normal. No idea when the Saga can continue to the next country. No Idea about what the next country will be. No idea if I will give up before the end. No idea how much longer this will take. No idea at all! I don’t know how to efficiently manage social media with nearly a hundred thousand accounts? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know! But I do know that in the last seven years I have been through more than most people have in a lifetime. And I do know that the Saga did not get this far without the help of thousands along its way. And I do know that what we are doing with this project is unique and holds real value. And I do know that I will try my hardest…and that is no small thing. Have a great day wherever you are – and thank you.
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) - swamped!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga