Learning Greek the hard way (from Hong Kong)
Day 2,976 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).
Size doesn’t matter
Omicron is here, and so is my ultra-wifey. I much rather prefer one over the other. Another week has passed by and not an uneventful one. We are still keeping on keeping on.
Last week’s entry: Time flies, I don’t (from Hong Kong)
Size most definitely matters in a number of situations so it is a funny sentence? Still, you will often hear people say “size doesn’t matter”. Well, if your left foot is the size of a bus then I’m sure it matters for a number of reasons. Can you see love? No. Can you feel love? Hopefully the answer is yes. Can you see wind? No, but you can surely feel the wind and see how the world reacts to it. Where am I going with this? I don’t know…I was just once more wondering how something too small to see can continue to generate this much havoc? Most conversations reach the point where some facet of the pandemic is being spoken of. And I’m sure the conversation will continue long after the pandemic comes to an end. And now we are talking about Omicron – the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet and a ‘variant of interest’. And that is mostly what we know at this point. There might be much speculation but, in the end, we don’t really know if Omicron will be a big problem or if it is to be ignored. And authorities are also tasked with not making it sound too serious as to cause unnecessary chaos. And also not make it sound too harmless as people will then not care. As to how it will affect the Saga we simply don’t know yet. I have not seen or heard anything that points toward further delay at this point. Pacific International Lines (PIL) has informed me on some really positive news. These days I am writing with Captain Siddiqui in Singapore who’s dealing with this complex task. Captain Siddiqui informed me that they are waiting to hear back from PIL’s agent in Guam. PIL has already taken all relevant information from other ports in regards to my transit onboard PIL’s vessel. Guam is another Pacific Island, along with nearby Saipan, and a territory of the USA. I think few people realize how complex all of this is. An example of the complexity is that Guam requires that I have a USA visa in my passport before they will allow me to transit – even if I never leave the ship. The Government of Palau has given us green lights long ago and it seems that so has PIL’s agent in Palau. It is wonderful with all this support.
Click HERE or on the image to watch the awards show. Sarah and I feature at 49:58mins. But watch the full thing if you have time! :)
The Nomadmania Travel Awards. What makes a traveler especially interesting? Is it rooted in positivity? Could it relate to intrepidity? Must the journey have purpose? Is it all about online content? Does gender matter? Well, last Sunday the Nomadmania Travel Awards were held in an online forum and the winners of several categories were announced in an “Oscar-style/Music Awards” fashion. The man behind Nomadmania (which is an excellent website for travelers) is none other than Harry Mitsidis who is possibly the worlds most traveled person. He is certainly at the top. A while ago Harry’s friend Sarah Mcarthur moved to Hong Kong and we were introduced to each other by Harry. Sarah is a super cool woman who has been to more than a hundred countries and travels out of personal interest and not for social media or recognition. Sarah was one of three hosts for the awards show and I met up with her in Sarah’s apartment to prerecord my “special guest appearance”. The real “special guest” within our eight-minute window (of the 3hr 21min awards show) was in reality Egbert. Or perhaps Egbert’s tail. Egbert is one of Sarah’s two cats which made several appearances while Sarah and I were speaking. Kidding aside it was a great event with a phenomenal collection of astonishing travelers. Lots of inspiration to be found for just about anyone. I’ve been fortunate to meet several of the nominees and on a personal note I’m really happy that my friend Tony Giles got the ‘Against All Odds’ traveler award. Tony is blind and nearly deaf. He’s also a lot of fun and all kinds of amazing. Tony just set foot in Tunisia a few days ago making it his United Nations country number 126. But congratulations to everyone. And sorry about how Sarah and I butchered all those names :)
I finally got my medal from the HK50 trail run. My first official ultra distance race. And the thing is made of plywood! That's how far I am from gold ;) Thanks to Salomon for all their support with equipment.
Well, ultra-wifey is back in my arms! That’s probably better news than making progress in reaching Palau! It is almost never easy making the logistics and bureaucrazy of her visits work with where I am. And yet she has managed to visit twenty-three times now. This is her second visit to Hong Kong. The last time she came Hong Kong’s borders were closed to tourists so she entered on a dependent visa as my wife. This time she entered as a tourist as Hong Kong is open to anyone who’s willing to spend 2-3 weeks locked into a hotel room. She managed to arrive before the Omicron variant lifted the quarantine to three weeks again. So, she got away with two. That’s around HKD 10,000 (USD 1,300) to get locked inside a room. And its not even simple. You wouldn’t be able to fly to Hong Kong now during December because all the quarantine hotels are fully booked. We got lucky. Our friend Jessi works at Marriot Hotels and was able to find a vacant room and secure the booking. The only other way would be to start calling quarantine hotels to hear if they have received any cancelations. These times that we are living in…
Happy Valley Race Track.
Wonderful to have her back! It never feels like loosing when I'm with her :)
It worked out. Last Monday I picked her up outside her hotel at 00:30am and brought her back home. And its nice to once more experience how we click immediately as if we were never apart. One of the things we used to do a lot the last time she was here, was to walk to Hong Kong Island. It’s about 10km (6.2mi) and includes the nice little ride onboard a Star Ferry. So, we did that again which is something I haven’t done for a very long time. Ultra-wifey also wanted to go and visit the racetracks in Happy Valley. The horseraces have gone on throughout most of the pandemic but without spectators. However, since her last visit they have opened up to spectators again. We opted for the low costs entry which came at a mere HKD 30 (USD 3.85) for both of us. I’ve been once before and the last time I made it away with a little money. This time we mostly lost. Some of the gambling options include picking the winner (win) or betting on a horse you think will come in top three (place). I know nothing about picking winners so its all about irrelevant stuff like the color of the jockey’s jersey, the horse’s name or the horse’s race number. We didn’t pick any winners but we got place a few times. Besides – it was all about the experience. And it was a cold experience. Winter has arrived and that means temperatures sometimes drop. If you are used to 25 Celsius (77 F) being the lowest temperature both day and night then 16 C (60 F) is downright painful. I should have brought a jacket. Ultra-wifey is a bit more “Viking” than me these days as she is still used to the cooler Nordic temperatures.
Five out of six nutcases at The Andersen Clan's castle. Missing Jesper.
The Thursday-hiking-group is slowly breaking up. We are six permanent members that for the longest time have been meeting up every Thursday around 6pm to hike for two hours and then sit down over a good meal and a few bottles of red. Most of our Thursday hikes have been in relatively flat urban environment so we usually clock up 10-12km (6-7.5mi) while talking all along the way. We are all Danish Danes from Denmark within the group which has gone by several different names. Today Jesper got on an airplane and flew home to Denmark to be with family and friends for Christmas. When he returns on January 2nd 2022 Jesper will begin his three-week hotel quarantine. Jakob is also flying back to Denmark for a while and will then spend some time in Thailand where his wife is from. So that is two out of four. And I will also be on my way sooner or later. Jakob will eventually return but Jesper will only come back to HK for a short while as he has been offered a position in Thailand and will relocate. Thomas, Kenneth and Poul aren’t going anywhere so the “nutcases” will prevail in some form. Hong Kong is very much an expat destination for many and coming and going has always been a part of the history around here. I’ve experienced a lot of people coming and going while I’ve been solidly planted throughout the entire pandemic. It’s a bit sad to see the group coming apart as it has been such a bright light within much of my time here. And I have only just realized that the last time the six of us would be together has already come and gone.
My role as a Goodwill Ambassador of the Danish Red Cross has been an interesting journey within itself. I have been shown the highest respect in some countries and I have been ignored within others. On a few occasions I have directly been snubbed by Secretary Generals but in most cases I have been welcomed with lots of warmth. I was recently asked to share stories about my Christmas’ across the world and that brought back many fond memories with many kind people. A few onboard ships with seafarers. And one particular Christmas living with the family of the Red Cross Secretary General in St. Kitts and Nevis within the Caribbean. The Vietnamese Red Cross showed me a lot of respect and honored me with a special pin from Ho Chi Minh City. I recently thought about the Vietnamese Red Cross as they are celebrating 75 years of humanitarian action. Isn’t that just wonderful news? Helping and supporting the most vulnerable people in Vietnam for as much as a lifetime. Congratulations Vietnam Red Cross Society. On a much smaller level I will be donating blood at the Hong Kong Red Cross for the third time this upcoming Monday. They say that one donation can save three lives so I’m bringing Kenneth to up the odds :)
Louis Nikolaj Clement was baptized in HK by reverend Margith Pedersen.
There’s no doubt that the Saga comes with great personal rewards in a variety of ways. It unfortunately also comes with some great costs. My good friend Lars and his wife Annette were fortunate to bring a lovely little girl into this world this year. And she is the most wonderful little being. I obviously haven’t met her yet and I haven’t been home to share Lars’ joy. Fortunately, we have mindboggling technologies today which enable delay-free colorful video feed and perfect audio communication. Just think about that for a second! Lars, Annette and little Ida are 8,000km (5,000mi) away from Hong Kong and by looking into a thin piece of technology I can interact directly with them! That’s pretty much magic! This week Ida was baptized and I wasn’t there for that either. Everything in life comes with a price and as the days fall of the calendar the price for Once Upon A Saga becomes heavier and heavier. I was particularly reminded about Ida’s baptizing as Louis Nikolaj Clement was baptized by reverend Margith Pedersen here at the Danish Seamen’s Church in HK. Margith is a very experienced reverend but will soon be heading back to Denmark as her time in Hong Kong was always meant to be temporary. Reverend Rebecca Holm has finished her two-week hotel quarantine and will officially take over on Sunday. Margith and Rebecca have a few weeks together to make the handover flow effortlessly. After that it will be Rebecca and I who take care of the day-to-day tasks within the Danish Seamen’s Church. And eventually I will leave too at which point they will need to look around for a new assistant. Unbelievably I have now been employed for a full year!
My new boss: reverend Rebecca Holm. Welcome to Hong Kong.
Okay, this is the end of this entry. I started writing it yesterday and I thought I would finish it but ran out of time before heading out to join the nutcases. I then thought I would finish it when I got back but we hit the red pretty hard last night and I am super hungover! The morning was really rough and I’m not feeling to hot now either. It seems incredibly stupid to feel this sick and know very well that I am the only one to blame. Self-inflicted sickness must be the pinnacle of human idiocy. Especially given that I only have three weeks with ultra-wifey this time. Why waste a day? Ultra-wifey is out with Anita and Rebecca getting pedicures and manicures so at least she is making good of it. And I’m looking forward to a quiet evening when she gets back. See you next week. Thanks for reading along.
Someday soon I will board one of these and be off to Palau. Some day soon.
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) - I heard it through the grape wine
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga