It is getting harder to complain – still in Hong Kong
Day 2,738 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).
Complaining is a national sport in Denmark
Well, well, well…it has been a pretty good week. That is for me of course. I listen to the world news every morning and it sounds like our planet is coming to an end. It is good to know from personal experience that it isn’t…
Last week’s entry: Hong Kong’s most traveled man – day 1 gazillion!
Denmark is not the only country in the world where we can find time to complain about anything. There are many countries like that. It’s to hot, it’s to cold, the tax is too high, I don’t like this, I don’t like that…yeah, real stuff! We don’t get to complain about power outages or water shortages in Denmark because we always have safe drinking water and electricity. But we do get to complain about the train arriving a few minutes late!!! Ahhh…it’s good to be privileged. I wonder if most people are privileged? I guess they are to some degree. A lot of people are suffering though – most aren’t. I wonder how much of a headache the pandemic is to the Red Cross? I mean, they are hard at work on a global scale doing their outmost to inform, educate, implement, assists and alleviate the suffering out there. But there is a lot of humanitarian work which takes priority over a relatively mild virus outbreak. Picture a car crash with two injured passengers. One has a broken arm and the other is bleeding to death. They both need help but stopping the bleeding obviously takes priority over stopping the pain of a broken arm. The Red Cross faces dilemmas everyday in choosing where to direct resources. It’s not always as clean cut as our imagined traffic accident. It could be twenty people bleeding to death. Who do you help first and who do you risk losing? I like to see humanitarian work as a battle we can win. I view it as a finite challenge which can be overcome. Not as an infinite ordeal which we will never see the end of. As such I believe that we are doing better now than ever before and that we can approach the end of every humanitarian crisis if we continue to push! Support, take action and make a difference. And if we keep pushing then the gap will become smaller and smaller until it is gone. Hmmm…tell that to someone from Myanmar, Mozambique or Yemen. Well…even in those countries some people are privileged. Just not the ones that are hitting the news these days. You can support your local Red Cross or Red Crescent and make a difference.
You get to buy the weirdest things for seafarers! :)
I try to make a difference. Once Upon A Saga is a noncorrupt project. Believe it or not we haven’t paid out any bribes at all to get as far as we have come. I try to treat people with kindness, respect and dignity…but I’m only human and I have misstepped on a few occasions. I try to stay true to the Saga and accomplish the overall goal of reaching every country in an unbroken journey completely without flying. I’ve never cheated on any of the cardinal rules. If I had broken the twenty-four-hour rule in the Marshall Islands back in late 2019 then we would probably have reached Hong Kong a few weeks earlier and would have been on the ship to Palau before they closed their borders. Who knows how that may have turned out? I think Hong Kong has been the best destination the Saga could have hoped for during the pandemic. And as things played out, I got to get one of the worlds most recognized vaccines against Covid-19 while here. That’s quite optimal! Imagine if I was forced to take some vaccine which half the world didn’t recognize and because of that couldn’t visit the remaining nine countries? That would have been terrible! I feel rather confident that the last nine countries all recognize the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine aka the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine aka Pfizer vaccine aka BioNTech vaccine aka freedom juice!! I’m not sure anyone calls it freedom juice through :)
We were invited to join the Savagar's for yet another legendary BBQ with good food in great company. Neighbors and friends came around and it was good to see everyone.
I have my wifey by my side, I’m healthy, I’ve had both jabs ahead of most of this planet, I have a roof over my head, I get plenty of food, I have easy access to videocalls with friends and family, I have friends in Hong Kong and I’m free to move about. Hong Kong has the virus under control and it has been like that throughout the pandemic. There are certainly worse places I could be. They are now talking about opening up travel bubbles again so the future is looking pretty bright. In any case Hong Kong has been overwhelmingly good to the Saga. I like Hongkongers a lot. In a very generalizing way, I would describe them as truly kind yet resolute. I have encountered more than one upset Hongkonger during my time here, but it’s rare. Contrary I have experienced a lot of kindness. A small example comes from some nights ago when wifey and I went out to have “running sushi”. For those who do not know what that is it can be described as sushi on a small conveyor belt which runs past your seat in the restaurant. The line to get inside the restaurant was enormous but suddenly half the queue tried to inform us that the staff had room for two. We didn’t understand as we do not speak Cantonese but several people in the queue spoke English and helped us to the front of the queue. Apparently, the large queue had formed because everyone in front of us wanted to be seated together in larger groups. Somewhere else in the world we would have waited and nobody would have told us. But not here in Hong Kong.
We made a pitstop at IKEA and tried out the Swedish meatballs. Still plotting to visit all four in a day and having meatballs at each one.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hong Kong is great because of all its opportunities. The outdoors life is great with all the beaches, mountains, trails and waterfalls. Media has been very generous to Once Upon A Saga while in Hong Kong and often thanks to Hong Kong Tourism Board. In fact, we have now done interviews in roughly 170 countries around the world and I am not aware of any negative news. That is kind of an achievement on its own. It is possible to buy nearly anything in Hong Kong. It is easy to get something sent to Hong Kong as well. Highspeed internet and open access is abundant here. The local transportation system is efficient and immigration has been very supportive. Yeah – we could have done much worse than getting stranded here. I would prefer to be back home but this is the best option given that we had to get stuck somewhere. And the restaurants are good too! Prices range from cheap to reasonable and all the way up to “are you kidding me who would pay that much!!” A few nights ago, Anita and Christian joined wifey and I for dinner at a great Italian restaurant in central Hong Kong. They are such a nice couple with a rich history from their time in Hong Kong but just as much from around the world. They are both in the watch business but not competing. Although perhaps always competing :) Anita is a senior director at Fossil Group while Christian is behind Von Vogel custom watches, which is a really cool idea. So, they are both playing with a full hand and together they have their three-year-old little darling Victor aka the tornado! That boy has more energy than the Duracell Bunny! But he’s cute and gets away with almost anything.
Didn't manage to take a picture when we were out with Anita and Christian. But here are two turtles: Pelle and Palle.
Someone special arrived in Hong Kong! Jessi is a friend from 2018 when I first met her in Oman. Back then Jessi was working at the luxurious Anantara Jabal Al Akhdar Resort and set the Saga up for a few nights during our 150-country celebration! Jessi later went on to work at a luxurious resort in the Maldives where we were planning on celebrating the completion of Once Upon A Saga together with Gunnar Garfors (two times to every country in the world) and Lexie Alford (formerly the youngest to visit every country). That was to take place in October last year but the pandemic got in the way of that. Due to the logistics of the Saga I had to visit Oman twice and wifey came to visit me during the second round. Back then we went out for dinner and good times with Jessi who recently completed her 21-days of quarantine here in Hong Kong! I’m not aware of anywhere else which holds 21-days of quarantine for newly arrivals? Not only that, but it has to be hotel quarantine. It is a real deterrent for people wanting to leave Hong Kong for a few weeks. Nonetheless Jessi made it through and is now in Hong Kong to start a new exciting job! And it was wonderful to reunite with her again.
Conquering Needle Hill with Wifey and Jessi. Nothing but smiles.
We were either going for a lunch date or a hike. Jessi is fit and has accomplished a triathlon in recent years but it was hard to access how much of a hike she would be up for? Just out of quarantine? Oh, to heck with it…we went all in and invited her to join us across three of Hong Kong’s highest peaks as we conquered MacLehose stage seven and eight. That amounts to 16km (10mi) across a 1,500m (5,000ft) elevation gain including Needle Hill, Grassy Hill and Tai Mo Shan. You know, on and off I get the question: “do you think a woman can do what you do (every country without flying)?” Knowing how complicated this project has been I tend to doubt that this will ever be done again. But my overall assessment is that women can do anything they put their heart and mind into. My wifey is a strong woman and very accomplished. Jessi is a focused woman who has created her own luck. And both of them completed the hike with me. Of course they did.
It was a very foggy and mysterious hike. But in good company. And cows!
And we finished our hike with a meal consisting of dim sum. A Hong Kong specialty!
Me oh my…these times we live in. I like the American standupper Bill Burr. I think he is funny and often on point. I once heard him joke about how problematic the internet was. Before the internet strange people with strange ideas would be ashamed and alienated. Today anyone with a perverse or crazy idea can go online and find likeminded people – and together they can form a community and reassure each other. Bill Burr made it funny by adding attitude and examples. The premise of his joke is however true. No matter what you believe in, you can find information online, which will back your opinion. No matter what!! If you believe the earth is flat then you will find plenty of articles and videos describing how that is true. If you search for information which disproves the notion that the earth is flat then you will find that too. But who truly spends time searching for information which proves themselves wrong? I shared a “harmless post” stating that I had received both jabs of the Covid-19 vaccine, that I was feeling fine and that I was hopefully that this would help us reach the final nine countries. And I received a great deal of praise and support. Fantastic! Thank you very much. Oh – the antivaxxers, conspiracy theorists and other hardliners appeared. I did not realize that my post was an invitation for some to share information on “the devils mark”, “world economy being reorganized” and “big pharma’s global conspiracy”. My goodness…when did common sense and logic go out the window?
The nurse was kind enough to let me take this selfie while getting vaccinated. I've got more than thirty vaccines already so I'm happily welcoming this one too.
I understand how some people would be hesitant in relation to receiving a newly developed vaccine. But I have to believe that everything has been tested rigorously and that whichever worst-case scenarios exists…they are not dire. Our lives and societies are based on trust. We do not have enough time to become experts on every subject. How often do we check the brakes on a bus before taking our seat? How come we are willing to accept the potential long-term risks involved with using smartphones? Would you take painkillers if you thoroughly read the warnings which come with them? I’m statistically not at great risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19. I’m forty-two years old and healthy. Things might look different in another forty years. Time is relative but most of us do not get to sense it in any other way that the very real effect of aging. You’re older now than when you first began reading this entry. You will be older still before I reach my point! ;) If we do not do our outmost to contain the spread of this virus now then it will continue to take 2-4 million lives a year. Sure, not many out of the entire world population and furthermore mostly the elderly and weak. Hmmm…in forty years I will belong to that group! I guess the best thing I can do for my future self is to act today. My point: not getting vaccinated is short sighted.
And wifey and I have agreed on a beard length: 9mm :)
Yeah – that was my rant this time around. On a final note, I am kept busy with interviews, research, emails, social media, meetings, marriage, the household, fitness, my job at the Danish Seamen’s Church, upcoming collaborations, and friends: foreign and domestic :) My Hong Kong friends are important to me. They are a resourceful bunch. On that subject I really value our Thursday’s “hiking group”. We are a core of “members” and then we have “guest walkers” come and join on an on and off basis. It is a great tradition and in its simplest form we meet up at 6pm on most Thursday’s, powerwalk for about two hours, end up around a table and enjoy a good meal and some diverse conversation until it’s time to go home. Last night I hosted the boys and wifey had cooked a delicious lasagna for us. Conversations around the table varied from Sabrina’s 1987 hit ‘Boys’ to what sells better: gelatin or ammonium bicarbonate. Another good night in good company ;)
Always a pleasure!! Will miss these guys when the Saga moves on.
Best estimates for getting out of here would be around June 2021. Probably not before. We have a friend in Palau and plenty of friends within shipping. Let’s see what’s next…
And thanks to Pil, Martin and the Bendorff family for dinner! We had it at the FCC :)
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) - see you next Friday
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga