Showing wifey Hong Kong
Day 2,717 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!
(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).
The week that went
As most of you already know: I am stuck in Hong Kong. Right now, I couldn’t reach the final nine countries even if I tried. However, hopefully that may change within the upcoming months. I got my first COVID-19 jab and will get the next on April 7th. And my wife and I have been touring Hong Kong and building up a daily routine.
Last week’s entry: Hong Kong’s new honorary guest - my wife!!
I follow the world news on a daily basis and there is much which saddens me. Keeping in the spirit of the Saga there is also much which gives me hope. While COVID-19 cases are once more rising numerous places around the world, we also see that many vaccines are reaching people all around the world. Not as evenly distributed as one could hope for but we seem to be getting somewhere at least. Israel and the UK have done really well for themselves and even the USA appears to be getting the hang of things. There appears to be a direct correlation by individual liberty and COVID-19 cases across several countries. Wave one, wave two…why are we still counting waves? Numbers have been rising in Hong Kong again which was expected after Chinese New Year, which is the greatest festivity out here in this part of the world. While there weren’t any parades or huge group gatherings, families still got together to have a good time. And a few weeks later COVID-19 cases went up. Hong Kong’s government has frequently announced whether COVID-19 regulations would be tightened or relaxed on a weekly basis. Usually on Tuesdays but it has switched to Wednesdays. I was sure that regulations would be tightened again! For the same reason my wife and I opted to do all the things we wouldn’t be able too in case they were shut down. We prioritized visiting the Maritime Museum and going to the cinema. Hiking is an activity we can always do.
400+ days in Hong Kong has shown me more than most. I think I know HK better than Copenhagen by now.
To my surprise regulations did not change at all. They were neither relaxed nor tightened? Perhaps because the vaccination program is now speeding ahead! I received an early vaccination date for being in a priority group due to my job at the port. But the day before I was vaccinated it was already announced that vaccinations had now opened up for everyone above the age of thirty. I’m forty-two, so well within that boundary. Hong Kong is truly an efficient part of this planet!
Getting a much needed massage at Iyara - Anita and my hangout! :)
My wife’s name is Le. Not Lee. Just Le. In Danish it can mean both laughter and scythe. She has a twin sister back home in Denmark who always bakes cookies for me, which Le can bring me whenever she visits. And she did it once more to my delight :) Le also brought other items with her from the great kingdom in the high north of Europe but most importantly she brought herself. We had not been together for nineteen months when I picked her up at the airport shortly after midnight. So naturally we have been prioritizing some time for the two of us. Le also brought her work with her and works weekdays from around 2-3pm until midnight to match Danish office hours. Normally she would be seated at her desk at the office but due to the pandemic most staff have been working remotely from home – in her case from Hong Kong now. We could have taken some time off together but decided to build up a routine right from the start. Hopefully she will be here for several months at which point her office will reopen and I will embark a ship. And for the first week our routine has been working well.
Man Mo Temple. One of the oldest and most significant in Hong Kong.
On her first day in Hong Kong, I showed Le some of the practicalities. I wanted to ensure that she could handle herself in the event that something happened to me. I am now getting a COVID-19 test on a biweekly basis and if I test positive then I’m off to a camp at the airport for a few weeks. So, the first day was spent showing her the nearest MTR station (metro), supermarket, where I keep the keys and stuff like that. And in the evening while she was working, I went on an urban hike with the boys as we do every Thursday. On day two I showed Le a lot of urban Hong Kong. We walked from Kwai Chung to Tsim Sha Tsui (10km/6.2mi), took the historical Star Ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, continued our walk to SoHo, paid a visit to the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Rd, had a foot massage at Iyara, went for some dumplings at Wang Fu (affordable Michelin star restaurant), stuck our heads into Decathlon (sporting goods store) and then took the MTR home from Hong Kong station. That evening I headed back to central to help Kenneth create an online event for his company by filming at several locations. Afterwards we sat down and had an amazing meal at an Italian restaurant. Kenneth and his wife Rose were there, Poul was also there with his wife Amy and Thomas of the Andersen Clan was present as well. Kenneth, Poul, Thomas and I also happened to be hiking together the day before. And by a complete coincidence, Thomas and I had dinner together with another Thomas last Tuesday making this the third day in a row I was seeing Thomas (of the Andersen Clan).
World class dumplings!
Saturday came which was Le’s first full day in Hong Kong. In the morning I was on a videocall with Art and Sara whom I met in the USA back in 2014. Art and I shared a train ride (California Zephyr) and Sara just so happened to be on the same train. We all became friends and later on did a walking tour in San Francisco where we also met Adam who became a friend as well. Somehow, we have all been sticking together (online) ever since. Afterwards I introduced Le to the running track at Kwai Chung Sports Ground, where we went for our first run together in a very long time! And in the afternoon, I was a guest on ‘Dear Future Grandkids’ which was a lot of fun!
Probably my favorite web-interview! Check it out HERE! :)
In the evening we paid Thomas and the Andersen Clan a visit because: why not see Thomas four days in a row! But also, to return the treadmill to Thomas which Le had borrowed during quarantine. And most importantly to introduce Le to the Andersen Clan which means a lot to me. There are two families in Hong Kong which mean a lot to me: The Andersen Clan (Thomas, Natali, Luis) and the Savagars (James, Cassie, Edward and Harry). I stayed five moths with the Savagars and a full month in the same village as the Andersen Clan. Le will meet the Savagars on Saturday. Meanwhile we had a lovely time with Thomas (although it was the 4th day in a row) ;)
The Foreign Correspondents' Club (FCC), Hong Kong.
Sunday came and we used that to visit the Maritime Museum, drop in on Kwai Chung Centre for Heritage and Arts, stop at my favorite café for lunch, walk through Hong Kong Botanical and Zoological garden, take the peak tram up to Victoria Peak, enjoy the view across Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, and then we made it to a cinema just in time to watch ‘Soul’. Great movie. We were the only ones in the theater and as per regulations we had to wear our masks and snack and drinks were not permitted.
There is always something going on at Tai Kwun! But somethings stay the same. Like this "instagramable" spot.
Monday came and we spent that in Mong Kok which is one of the most densely populated places on earth. But before checking out Mong Kok we made at stop at Immigration in Wan Chai where Le received a Hong Kong ID. Amazing how efficient that was?! I mean – Hong Kong is efficient but she received it in less than forty-five minutes from entering the building! In Mong Kok we stopped by the Salomon shop to buy Le a trail running backpack as we plan on doing some serious hiking. And Salomon just happens to have the best ones! I also took her to Langham Place which has one of the world’s longest escalators within a mall. We then went for a run along Tai Lam Chung Waterway before I introduced her to ParknShop which is one of the two largest supermarket chains in Hong Kong, the other being Wellcome. I made it back in time for an interview with Billy for Runners World while Le worked the rest of the day.
Langham Place escalator.
Last Tuesday I had to get my pant-zipper fixed on my otherwise excellent Salomon pants. They’ve been with me since the Philippines 2.5 years ago. My friend Jo who made my Hong Kong suit told me of a place in Jordan (it’s an area in Hong Kong). I love when it’s possible to repair stuff! Afterwards we had to return to Mong Kok to exchange some clothes we bought the day before to a larger size. Apparently, I am a size XXXL? Next stop was Sham Shui Po which I know fairly well (thanks to Paul from Walk In Hong Kong) and I gave Le a decent tour of the historical neighborhood. We then had lunch at a local restaurant which only took cash so I had to deposit Le while I chassed through several ATM’s all over the neighborhood. Finally, we made a stop at Mong Kok Flower Market which is a sight to behold and then headed home. Le had to work and I had to head out with a film crew and shoot an interview/introduction as Hong Kong Tourism Board has made me a “Hong Kong Super Fan” which involves a lot of exclusive events to promote Hong Kong further.
Flower Market Road, Mong Kok.
And then it was WEDNESDAY!!! Hong Kong Disneyland had graced us with two complimentary tickets and the weather was beautiful!! The day began at Tsuen King Circuit Sports Centre where I got my first jab of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Now, this is a great time to remind you all that I’m not a medical expert, a journalist, a professional researcher or anyone you would want to trust on such matters as these. I’m just someone who likes to do some degree on research on certain matters for my weekly entries. And in researching the jab I got I found this: it was funded by Fosun (Chinese pharmaceutical company), the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. Apparently, Pfizer’s (American pharmaceutical company) CEO Albert Bourla stated that he decided against taking funding from the US Government ‘Operation Warp Speed’ in order to avoid bureaucracy getting in the way of scientific work. So, the US actually didn’t take part in the development and research but the US is active in production and distribution. Apparently BioNTech (German biotechnology company) began development on January 10th 2020 based on the genetic sequences which were released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus was only detected in December 2019 so that seems really fast to me! The jab I got is called BioNTech/Fosun (Comirnaty). While a great deal of Comirnaty vaccinations will be produced in mainland China, Hong Kong’s government apparently clarified that the shots to be supplied to Hong Kong will be manufactured in Europe. Not that I understand the importance of where it is produced.
First jab - one step closer to world health and the final nine countries!
As expected, it was it was top professional and impressively efficient! Hong Kong is just really good with that stuff. I went through a few quick checkpoints, received some written material, signed off on understanding what was about to happen, was shown to a medical professional, sat down, rolled my sleeve up, was told I couldn’t film or take photos, received the jab within a few seconds, didn’t feel a thing, was shown to a waiting area, waited for fifteen minutes, no issues, received a package with disposable facemasks, left the Sports Center, was reunited with Le, got into a taxi and we were on our way to Disneyland!
I saw two Hongkongers kiss while wearing masks and thought it was cute. This shot did its rounds on social media!
Oh Disney!! Such a heartwarming place. A lot of Hongkongers swear to the other of Hong Kong’s theme parks which is Ocean Park. It’s a great place too but I’m a Disney guy! And Le was also looking forward to exploring the park. Towards the end of November 2020, I visited Hong Kong Disneyland and conquered all the attractions within a day. This time I entered with my wife which was a lot better that being on my own. Especially as I kind of knew the park and could act as a guide. We tried the Ironman ride, the Ant-Man and the Wasp (four times), Space Mountain, it’s a Small World, the Liki Tikis, Jungle River Cruise (twice), the Fairy Tale Forest, the Moana show, Mad Hatter Teacups, Mickeys PhilharMagic, Sword in the Stone, Building a dream: The Magic Behind a Disney Castle, The Castle of Magical Dreams, Mystic Manor (twice) and the Festival of the Lion King show!! Brilliant!! The park has an incredible atmosphere as the sun sets.
Mad Hatter Teacups by night. Fun!! :)
We had our lunch at the Corner Café where I first sat with Natalie, Angela and Terry back in November 2020. I remember they wanted me to try the Coca Cola Special Set Menu. Back then I went with laksa instead. But this time I was ready to try that crazy menu!! Le and I sat down and both ordered it. I added the “Popcorn Carnival” beverage which is literally decorated with popcorn. The menu is a three-course meal with an appetizer which contains Fanta. A main course based on Coca Cola or Sprite and finally a dessert flavored with Coca Cola. They actually pulled it off! It sounds horrible but even Le who loves food said they got away with it.
Scallop, Mussel and Squid Salad and Molecular Fanta!
Crispy Pork Rib and Sauteed Mixed Vegetable. Served with pesto, tomato fettuccini and Coca Cola barbecue sauce!
Coca Cola Rasberry Chocolate Mousse Cake!
Thursday morning, we got up and had an easy start to the day. We then set out on an urban hike through much of Kwai Chung on our way to Upper Shing Mun Reservoir. We stopped at a wet marked on our way and picked up some dim-sum which we enjoyed while overlooking the reservoir and Shing Mun Country Park. Then we explored the dam which holds back the water. Construction began in 1923 and completed in 1937. Afterwards we made our way back through a charming village before reaching urban Kwai Chung, running some errands on our way. When we got home our total distance proved to be 16km (10mi). Le switched on her computer and went to work. So did I. Throughout this week I’ve had the Danish Seamen’s Church to keep an eye on, the social media of Once Upon A Saga, the correspondence regarding collaborations and interviews and administrative tasks such as glitches with the Facebook account as well as PayPal which the helpdesk needs to look at. PayPal came back pretty fast – I still haven’t heard from Facebook. I wonder how they run a helpdesk when they have more than two-billion accounts?!?
I love that Le got to see this. A small quiet village in Hong Kong. Not far from the hectic city sphere.
My final words will be: thank you. Thank you to all the people who have reached out from all over the world to congratulate us on our marriage. Thank you to Le’s friends and family for letting me have her for a while. Thank you for all your support toward the Saga. Thank you to friends and family. Thank you to our project partners and thank you to all the wonderful people across Hong Kong who have helped us through the past more than four-hundred days. And to all of you: hang in there…there is light at the end of the tunnel!
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) - halfway vaccinated
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Once Upon A Saga