Welcome to team: ONCE UPON A SAGA IN HK
Day 2,831 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).
Slow and steady wins the race
The most dreaded question has for a long while been: “when are you going to the next country?” And trust me, I’m working on it. But it is harder than you may think. Meanwhile – let’s make the best of things.
Last week’s entry: Let’s walk to Thailand!! (Hong Kong continued)
The Friday Blog on a Sunday!! What has the world come to!!! Is the sky on fire and has the surface of the earth cracked opening up the gates to hell? For years I have thought there was something off with that picture? God is up and the devil is down? I would have thought that God would be at the center of our planet protecting it from evil from within. And as such the devil would be up beyond the clouds, trying to attack us from above. Wouldn’t that make a lot more sense? Well, the stories contained within most religions do not make any sense at all – that is why you need to believe in them to give them value. I’m not against religion and I have seen how important religion is to people all around the world. My only two reservations in relation to religion is 1) don’t push it upon other people, and 2) do no harm. And fortunately, in my experience, that is how most people live their lives.
Jakob and Kenneth making their way down the stairs.
How can we possibly leave Hong Kong without flying? Once Upon A Saga was difficult enough as it was before the pandemic. Trying to pull off the impossible now..? Ideally, we would get on a ship to Palau and wait there until the next ship arrived two weeks later to bring us back to Hong Kong. Then we would take the Saga to Aotearoa (New Zealand) and make it our new base until we could move forward again. Palau is possibly one of the worlds most beautiful countries judging from photos on the internet. It is also a fairly isolated pacific island nation. It is furthermore our last pacific country in the norther hemisphere and the sole reason why we went to Hong Kong. Having been to 194 countries within the Saga I find it simply mindboggling that we have spent more time in Hong Kong than anywhere else – especially given that Hong Kong wasn’t even on the list!? However, as always, I’m grateful to have spent the pandemic here and not on a ship or a small pacific island. So! How do we accomplish the ideal plan of reaching Palau and afterwards Aotearoa? Fortunately, the Saga has a friend in Palau! Roel is Dutch and has been in Palau throughout the entire pandemic. He reached out to me a while ago and offered to help. Roel has already helped me get in touch with the Director of the Ministry of Health within Palau. And I have made a formal request for an invitation. Meanwhile I have been in touch with our friends at PIL (Pacific International Lines) in Singapore to hear if they could help us reach Palau and return to Hong Kong? PIL replied that they would be happy to take it to top management once I have the invitation letter. Especially since I’m fully vaccinated, hold an employment visa in Hong Kong and a Hong Kong ID-card. So – there is a potential chance that we can pull this off and promote both PIL and Palau along the way.
Dinner at Thomas' place. The king of the Andersen Clan. Cooked by Jossie. Always a pleasure!!
And how about Aotearoa and why are you calling it that? Well, it is the Māori name for the land and was in use long before Europeans arrived. When the Saga reached Papua New Guinea I was welcomed into Theresa and Craig’s home. They have since moved back to Australia but Craig, who is from New Zealand, told me to call it Aotearoa as it would make people happy. In honesty I’m still struggling with the pronunciation and New Zealand Tourism is still calling it New Zealand, but it’s nice to be nice. Maersk is a long-time friend of Once Upon A Saga and has helped us out in many different ways. Craig works for Maersk, which is a Danish international container shipping company (largest in the world) and a world leader within sustainability. And Maersk operates a service from Hong Kong to New Zealand. Meanwhile, throughout July, team ‘Once Upon A Saga in HK’ is raising funds and awareness for refugees though the New Zealand #RedCrossJourney and I would very much like you to join! Taking part in this challenge is the right thing to do and it also goes a long way in generating some goodwill towards New Zealand.
I've had the pleasure of boarding three ships this week. And disembarking just as many.
While I dream about setting my feet firmly within a new country it is completely uncertain when that will happen again. And it is not without risk. While the pandemic is more or less over for some it is still going on for others. Getting on a ship to Palau could leave us stranded within Palau or onboard a ship for an unforeseeable future. I have no doubt that Palau is an amazing country but the size of the nation and the geographical location does not play well into a strategy for reaching the final nations. And getting onboard a ship to Aotearoa is likewise risky as it is a long voyage and much could change during these uncertain times. However, the greatest risk is found in that we know that my dear ultra-wifey can enter Hong Kong. We do not know if we can get her into any of the upcoming countries. So that is that. I’m working on bringing us forward. It is just not simple.
I had a nice podcast interview with Anis Mohammedi in Algeria. Lovely country and our last nation in Africa.
Before we continue, I would like to tell you all that Once Upon A Saga is now officially Once Upon A Saga ApS. ApS is an abbreviation for the Danish word ‘anpartsselskab’ which translates to a limited company often abbreviated as Ltd. The change in company form evolved naturally as the Danish Business Authority ended the previous form (entrepreneurial limited company). Furthermore, the board members of Once Upon A Saga ApS have approved the financial accounts for 2020. Good job and high-fives all way round. Thanks to Ann-Chistina, Parth, Soren, Torben and Kuno for all their support.
Our team has reached the top of the ranks!! Let's stay up there :)
And now let’s dive into the adventures of the #RedCrossJourney!! I have been recruiting as many as possible to join or support the challenge in which we raise awareness for refugees all around the world. Some refugees cover incredible distances on their feet when they need to flee their homes and look for safety. My team is covering one of those distances to illustrate the hardship. But who are we kidding? We are eating well, we have good hiking gear, we sleep in our beds and we do not carry the mental torment of being homeless and in fear. Nope! We are the privileged ones that get to raise funds and awareness though this “gimmick” and I’m looking to recruit more team members! Team ‘Once Upon A Saga in HK’ already counts ten members: Jakob Jeppesen, Poul Kristensen, Jesper Larsen, Kenneth Petersen, Thomas Andersen, Le Gjerum (ultra-wifey), Lars Thuen, Tai Okuno, Virinder Singh Bhasin (Viru) and myself! – a string team for sure and 11 days in we have already covered 688km (428mi) of the virtual route from Myanmar to Thailand.
In addition to that we have received lots of donations and are nearly halfway in meeting our target. Thanks to Peter Draminsky in Singapore I actually reached my personal target of raising NZD 150 (USD 105) almost immediately, as Peter generously donated the balance of NZD 124 :) The group target is however set somewhat higher as NZD 3,000 (USD 2,100). It goes a long way considering that NZD 20 (USD 14) can buy a tarpaulin to help a family after a natural disaster. So thanks for the many donations to Peter, Sushil, Jesper, Scott, Anita, Gaither, Gurung, Kenneth, Tai, Jean, Le, lars, Ingelise, Sheryl, TZ, Seb, Fruursula, Satish, Phil, Sara, Lynn, Hayashi, Poul, Jesper, Kenneth, Thomas, Virinder, Jakob and Volodymir. And thanks to future donations as well.
Congratulations to the Danish National Team! A team with as much heart as skill! I'm truly sad that we did not make it to the finals. As I'm hardly interested in football I'm not sure why? Maybe it's just in my blood.
It has been an exceptionally busy week for me. I have personally pledged to covering 425km (264mi) within the #RedCrossJourney challenge which symbolizes a refugee’s journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan. That means that I need to look for an average of 2-3 hours a day in order to accomplish it within July. My work at the Danish Seamen’s Church ramped up severely as the Danish national football team performed incredibly well and reached the semi-finals! Unfortunately, England proved to have a strong team and they continued to the finals. Denmark went home. Ultra-wifey and my father can talk football for hours. I reach my limits within a minute or two. The game never really caught my interest although I enjoy watching a match at a stadium. England is now playing Italy and I know who my mom will be rooting for! She loves Italy! I’m inclined to root for Italy too as I’m displeased with England leaving the EU and we can’t have them taking the gold after that ;) Anyway, we have been showing all the Danish matches (six) with all of them being past midnight here in Hong Kong. Those were some really late nights when Denmark won! The games were shown in a collaboration with the Danish Chamber of Commerce (DCC) with fifty(!) crates of beer sponsored by Carlsberg. Poul S. and Kenneth from the DCC were very helpful in making it a success. Lots of extra cleaning for me.
All geared up an ready to serve! :) I wen't onboard Eugen Maersk, Nordborg Maersk and Skagen Maersk just this week. Beautiful ships and competent crews. The good ship Nordbord Maersk was on her maiden voyage - a brand new ship!! My first! :)
And then Hong Kong is all of the sudden being visited by heaps of Danish flagged ships which all need something. That is the best part of my job: servicing ships! And I generally enjoy shopping on their behalf and going onboard the ships to deliver the items. It is however a time-consuming ordeal and adds to the stress of an already busy week. Where do you go to get guitar strings, coffee beans, reading glasses, a suitcase, a sim card or a waffle iron? Well, I know the answer to all of that now. Let’s see which treasure hunts the future will bring. With Maersk being both Danish and the world’s largest shipping company, all of the ships I service here in Hong Kong are Maersk vessels. That should go a long way in terms of building up some goodwill there too.
This weekend the founders of Ross.dk (Claus and Lars) both celebrated turning fifty years of age. I have had the pleasure of working with both of them on several occasions and I even got to reunite with Claus when we took the Saga to China. Claus and Lars are by personalities day and night which has turned out to be a formidable combination within the company. And I only wish that I could have joined the celebration which looks like a lot of fun. I have been able to view some videos in a private group on Facebook. The celebrations were set up in a festival atmosphere with live bands playing for two days. It’s never boring with those guys! And this is just yet another thing I have missed out on as Once Upon A Saga continues to drag on. Some people do not understand why I do not quit and return home. Those people have likely never accomplished anything remarkable and never will. And they don’t have to. Doing what you believe in isn’t always a long list of easy choices. What we are doing with the Saga certainly comes at a price – and I am grateful to Ross DK and Geoop for helping us make it a reality since day one.
The last sentence will make you laugh: The "Disney rash" is a kind of blood vessel inflammation called vasculitis that affects the lower parts of the legs after you perform strenuous exercise or activity for a long time, especially in warm weather. It is more commonly seen in women aged over 50.
It has truly been quite a week. The good and the bad. Lots of administrative work and lots of physical work. A disrupted sleep pattern, some laughs here and there, and a week with the unexpected. For some reason the website stopped working for a while until I contacted Soren and René in Denmark who swiftly got it back up and running. And then I also pushed a 90-hour online workshop into my schedule with Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) who are looking to rebrand Hong Kong and position Hong Kong as a world class travel destination. I cannot say no to HKTB :)
Okay, let the rest of this entry unfold in photos with captions. I hope you will enjoy the journey – and please support our efforts through the New Zealand Red Cross Challenge. Thank you.
On Saturday July 3rd, Poul and I sat out to complete the Hong Kong Trail for the 3rd time together. Both earning around 47km (29mi) for team Once Upon A Saga in HK.
Unfortunately Poul twisted his ankle and had to head home after about 26km (16mi). We managed to get him to a nearby BBQ area from where he could get an ambulance. But Poul opted to limp another 3km (1.9mi) to the nearest public road to get a cab home.
I continued the hike alone but was soon subject to the heat and high humidity. I rarely need to sit down but it was certainly called for on this ultra distance hike!!
After cooling down and hydrating some more I managed the remaining distance and finished the trail. No new record but I completed what I had sat out to do.
Later that night we were showing the match between Denmark and the Czech Republic. Lot's of free beer that night so Poul showed up - even with a swollen ankle ;)
Thomas, king of the Andersen Clan, and I hiked up and down Shatin River one evening and then had dinner together. Always good to catch up with "the king".
I had the pleasure of meeting Viru from Pune in India. He moved to Hong Kong when he was 19 and set up his own business which he successfully ran out of mainland China. Viru speaks seven languages including Mandarin and Cantonese - bright guy! While some people have grown throughout the pandemic, Viru actually went from 140kgs (308lbs) to around 90kgs (198lbs) in the past ten months!!! That is a remarkable achievement! He credits his weight loss to no longer eating packed food while exercising every day without fail! We agreed to join forces on the Hong Kong Trail on Saturday July 10th (yesterday). It was a beautiful day but it was brutal!! 33C (91.4F) in the shade, a relative humidity of 70% and direct sun from a blue sky!!
About 8 hours in, and after 26km (16mi) Viru was suffering from some powerful cramps in both legs. But we managed them by raising his legs. Unfortunately they kept coming back. Viru joined me for an impressive 32km (20mi) at which point I recommended that he would call it quits and return home. And Viru took my advice. The trail only got harder after that and "brutal" covers it quite well. I have built up some ultra distance experience while in Hong Kong and this simply wasn't the day for pushing a body to a new extreme and personal first. After another few hours I reached the final marker and headed home exhausted. Well done Viru! We will have another go at it another day :)
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) - still in Hong Kong
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga