In spite of the rain… (Hong Kong continued)

Day 2,885 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).

We’re not made of sugar


A story about making a difference, caring about others, reaching further, making progress, anti vaxxers, flat earthers, media, and a memorable boat trip

Last week’s entry: Clickbait works really well (Hong Kong continued)


Did you know that I have offered the movement (Red Cross Red Crescent) in each country an opportunity to contribute with specific content for the weekly ‘RCSunday’ posts across social media? And not once have I been taken up on that offer between any of the 189 National Societies I have paid a visit to as a goodwill ambassador of the Danish Red Cross. Not once. With more than 50,000 followers on Facebook and more than 30,000 on Instagram the platform of Once Upon A Saga is far greater than those of most National Societies and offers a wider and often more diversified reach. And yet – nobody has taken advantage of it. Week after week I create my own content and have been doing that for many years now. Oh well, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. The content this upcoming Sunday will once again relate to donating blood as it has now been nearly three months since I donated here in Hong Kong. Tears ran down my face when I heard of the explosion in Beirut earlier this year, and again when ultra-wifey returned home. I have lost more than a few drops of sweat on Hong Kong’s beautiful mountain trails. And as such I have offered Hong Kong: blood, sweat and tears ;)


For a few weeks there has been no news in relation to progress in reaching Palau. Man, I would love to tell you all that we are on our way! And what an adventure it will be! However, Palau has detected several COVID-19 cases lately which is unfortunate as they have been able to isolate the pacific island nation from the virus thus far. Fortunately, I hear that the vaccination rate in Palau is an impressive 95% using Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Personally I think that this pandemic is coming to an end. For the longest time after the initial outbreak in early 2020, we were hoping to find a cure or develop vaccines. Spectacularly we were able to distribute vaccines in record time and a lot of people have had their chance since early 2021. How long are the vaccinated supposed to wait for the unvaccinated to get their jabs? It is of course not everyone who has been able to get vaccinated as the global distribution has been both unfair and unbalanced. But amongst those who have had months to get vaccinated and have willfully chosen not to do so – are they allowed to keep the rest of the world hostage? While I’m neither a medical professional or an expert of any kind I can only offer my personal opinion. And if you know better then please feel free to disregard my nonsense. What I’m hearing is that hospital beds allocated for COVID-19 patients are mostly filling up with unvaccinated people. I see that countries with a high vaccination rate amongst the public are opening up towards the world. It seems apparent to me that COVID-19 vaccines, while not being the full solution, certainly are a big part of the solution. And I wonder if I’m willing to show people who chose not to get vaccinated any more curtesy than those that believe that the earth is flat?


On top of my workplace which is located within Mariners Club.


Honored to service seafarers. I took this photo on the good ship Axel Maersk which became the 8th in August.

This week has been busy enough but less so than the one before it. Within my temporary job at the Danish Seamen’s Church, we managed to service and visit 100% of the Danish flagged ships which called Hong Kong this month. That was eight ships for August and all of them were Maersk vessels. The number of ships I have gone onboard here in Hong Kong have now surpassed the twenty-five container ships which has helped get Once Upon A Saga thus far into the project. I enjoy going onboard and speaking with the crew members. They are always happy to see me which is likely in direct correlation with me bringing them what they ordered. But many also appreciate seeing a new face onboard and getting the chance to speak Danish. While some people still adhere to a belief that COVID-19 is nothing more than a flu and should be treated as such, I recently heard something which made me think otherwise. A crewmember lost his life to COVID-19 while travelling back to his home country. I realize that people die every year from seasonal flu…but I’ve never before heard of a seafarer dying from the flu while rotating back home. That is not normal. It is of course a problem that far too few seafarers have been vaccinated as they are not considered essential workers by most countries. Ridiculous in my opinion. Shipping is one of our planets most important professions with some 90% of global trade relying on it.


Central Hong kong.

Within Once Upon A Saga I aim to do a great deal of things. One important aspect is to offer balance in information and give every country I visit some form of representation in a positive way while shining some light on the everyday people, of which there are most. While Hong Kong has had the benefit of this more than anywhere else we have taken the Saga, I am happy to hear from people that they look up past blog entries to hear about countries. Recently the spotlight has once again landed on Afghanistan which once held a record as the most mentioned country within media. I personally still think it is too early to make a call on whether the Taliban takeover is a horrible thing. Sure, there will not be any progress for women’s rights and a wealth of other rights under Taliban rule, but there might be peace. And the Afghans have suffered a lot under decades of armed conflict and instability. The problem with having the entire focus on Afghanistan is that a country like Yemen loses much needed attention. But if you focus on those two countries then what about Myanmar? And don’t forget Ethiopia or Sudan. Haiti also needs our attention. The list quickly grows long. I know people in each of those countries and I care. But most people really don’t care. A quote from the 2014 blockbuster ‘Interstellar’ has a quote spoken by Dr Mann (Matt Damon) which to me describes our problem well: “We can care deeply - selflessly - about those we know, but that empathy rarely extends beyond our line of sight”. I have tried hard to demonstrate how people around the world are just people. I have done a lot to emphasize that I have felt safe and welcome nearly everywhere I have gone. Most of everyone we share this planet with are good well-meaning people with good intentions. Politics and religion are important to some people. But often I find that these five things are far more important: Family, food, music, sports and talking about the weather. I find that most people just want to carve out a small part of the world for themselves. They ask for little more than to get by in life and to see their loved ones prosper. Is it newsworthy? Apparently not really. But it certainly represents the vast majority of everyone on this planet - and probably you too. Some journalist and news agency do a good job when it comes to telling the story. Unfortunately, too many outlets deal in shock and fear.


Not 'Boaty McBoatface' but the good ship 'Alexander Grantham' which was in service as the most prominent fireboat in Hong Kong for 49 years. I checked out Quarry Bay Promenade which is another nice part of Hong Kong.

Well, that’s what I have to say about that. I miss my wonderful super-wifey and she misses me too. 75 days ago, I drove her to the airport so that should could return to the office in Denmark. That is unfortunately a part of the costs to carry out a project of this magnitude. While I’ve quoted William Shakespeare many times for writing ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’ I might add that being apart is as well. And Hong Hong is so definitely a nice place to be stuck. So once again I remind myself that I have a life in Hong Kong which offers good conditions, opportunities and friendships. Between work within the Seamen’s Church and work within the Saga I have had several opportunities to meet up with friends this week. Anita and I sat down for an hour’s worth of foot massage combined with chitchat followed by dumplings. Solid tradition! There was time for a BBQ at Thomas’ pool and there has been time to hike and dine with the nutcases as per usual. Something quite memorable has been a boat trip last weekend which I’ll return to in a moment. First, I’d just like to mention that I have researched quite a bit on Boyan Slat and The Ocean Cleanup. There’s a lot of talk about problems and plenty of solutions. But in reality, very few people get up and do anything of real significance. It’s great when you donate a little to the Red Cross or sign your name on a partition. But everyone is capable of such much more. Boyan Slat is one of those ultra-fascinating people on a small Elon Musk scale. Elon Musk is actively a force for good on planet earth and looking to solve a multitude of problems. Boyan Slat is focused on one problem: plastic waste within the ocean. We’ve heard the warnings and most of us have seen plastic floating in water. The Ocean Cleanup is actually doing something about it. It’s cool stuff and it’s inspiring to see someone make a difference.


Sporting my Ocean Cleanup sunglasses which were made from ocean plastic caught durring the System 001/B mission at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

Okay – boat trip. So, Thomas and Morten bought their way into owning a speedboat together with a guy I haven’t met. But he sounds nice. I’ve gone boating with Thomas and Morten before on Mortens much smaller speedboat. The new one is however quite the upgrade! Unfortunately, the weather in Hong Kong has recently been quite unpredictable with hard showers and the occasional blue sky and sunshine. Hong Kong Observatory has a great app which warns about weather conditions. Quite commonly such updates report: ‘very hot weather warning’ or ‘thunderstorm warning’. Recently it hasn’t been uncommon to experience both within a day. We were set to go boating last Saturday but the weather wasn’t looking promising at all. So we agreed to assess the situation Saturday morning. At 09:08am Thomas wrote: “it’s a go for boat”. We met up at 11:00am at Mortens place. There were seven of us: Thomas, Morten, Jessi, Natali, Jørgen, Vivienne and me. Good company for sure. The rest will be told in photos.


When I told Thomas that a 'thunderstorm warning' had been issued he shook it off with: "they appear all the time". It wasn't long before we were cruising in the rain.


The rain hit me quite hard. It was painful and cold. But I somehow also enjoyed it. After all, we're not made of sugar.


An hour later the rain had cleared and it became a perfect day at sea!


In the back: Vivienne, Natali and Jørgen. Center: Thomas and Jessi. And Morten in front on the right.


Jessi pouring champagne for me! Just a photo opportunity. I drank alcohol free beer that day and drove home.


Heading back towards the sunset.


Oh yeah, and I got to see a dentist this week. The second time since leaving in 2013. I have an irrational fear of dentistry. Ridiculous given what I've been through the past eight years. Anyway, it went well although I was stiff as a board. I have a filling which needs to be replaced. That's all. First time to be fitted with glasses and such a mouth thingy :)




I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - doing the best I can

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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