My hat went viral!? And escaping Hong Kong
Day 3,067 since October 10th 2013: 195 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).
Heavy lies the…hat
Derived of the line "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," from Shakespeare's Henry IV, it is often said “heavy lies the crown” meaning, large amounts of power or authority carry with them stress, worry, and self-doubt. I don’t know if I can claim the power or authority – but the rest is there.
Last week’s entry: Quarantining in Hong Kong – what’s next
Have you heard about Ukraine lately? If not, then that would be something of an achievement! My morning news podcast covers it, conventional media covers it, it’s all over social media, and it’s a common subject of conversation: the Russian invasion of its neighboring country. Ukraine has the distinction of being the geographical center of Europe. It is a large country and one which we have been two twice within the Saga. Ukraine is only two countries away from Denmark which sits in the north. My heart is heavy with news from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Yemen and Myanmar…however, Ukraine is far closer related to my own culture. And the conflict seems utterly pointless. As such I created a post for social media which read: “I have been to Ukraine twice and to Russia three times. I have only been met by kindness on both sides of the borders. And the countries are furthermore closely connected like the Nordic countries are, like Spain and Portugal are, like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are…it’s very sad. Let's take a quick look at Ukraine” and then I shared some positive and interesting country facts. The post was well received across all platforms but on Facebook it went viral! As such it became the first and only viral post of Once Upon A Saga. The image I shared along with the text was of my trusty travel hat on a table within a café in Odesa, Ukraine. The post has of now had more than 350,000 views, 10,000 likes, 700 comments and 4,500 shares!! Thank goodness it was a positive post.
As you see, other posts reach 5-10,000 people. But this one ran away.
Overall, I aim at making most of my post positive, interesting, entertaining or informational. A good solid promotion of every country to show outsiders that no matter where we look: people are just people. And then sometimes I take the opportunity to vent out my frustrations. Thankfully it wasn’t one of my “venting posts” which went viral. It is not really strange to me that this was the exact post that went viral. Not given the support and attention the Ukrainian crisis is given. It is a hot topic and my post was simply posted at the right time and somehow caught on. I have seen a great deal of ridiculous and meaningless posts relating to Ukraine which have received far more attention. People are tuned in on the subject. I’m happy to see that most of the rhetoric is based on “Putin vs. Ukraine” and not “Russia vs. Ukraine”. In my opinion both countries are full of kind people and much beauty. It must be tough on the Russian soldiers as they meaninglessly invade a country with limited national support from home and most of the world in opposition. Especially compared to a Ukrainian army, backed by every Ukrainian, supported by the world, and fighting for its survival. If the Russian soldiers were aware of this then the morale would surely be low. I wonder if they know?
I received more than 100 questions and decided to reply to 50. Enjoy! Click HERE or on the image above.
Thanks to Miss K I had a nice time with these students and teachers from Delia Memorial School in HK.
I clocked up 120km (74mi) on Thomas' treadmill. Thanks Thomas :)
There is much within the Saga that could have gone viral. The Saga is an abnormally extreme project so one could simply take their pick. The Saga is however a tedious and slow affair. If a snail crossed the entirety of a country, then that would be absolutely remarkable. Yet, anyone passing the snail on its way would find it unremarkable. When you accumulate the highlights of Once Upon A Saga then you have a remarkable story. To those who simply capture a short glimpse, the man with the hat and the beard is just a traveler. And this traveler just left his compulsory 14-day hotel quarantine and re-entered Hong Kong. The quarantine ended at midnight between Monday March 1st and Tuesday March 2nd. Most people opt to check out in the middle of the night and be done with it asap. I have collected several people in the middle of the night including ultra-wifey the two times she had to quarantine in Hong Kong. For me it would have been pointless. I might as well enjoy the last night in a king-size bed, have the included breakfast and take a final hot, high pressure, enjoyable morning shower. And I did. I was able to check out at 10:00am and had help bring my luggage along with the treadmill down to the lobby. The staff had been very kind throughout my stay and made the “behind the scenes stuff” work seamlessly. Reverend Rebecca Holm of the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong Kong came to pick me up and away we went.
Reaching 195 countries without flying or returning home: nothing. Completing a 14-day hotel quarantine: here's your diploma!! :)
Good to see Rev. Rebecca again. She's such a huge win for the Danish Seamen's Church!!
A lot has changed since I left Hong Kong in early 2022. But most things seem to be the same. Omicron has been spreading rapidly causing much higher infection rates than ever before. The population density here is very high with people literally living on top of each other. Fatalities have climbed as well. A lot of places are closed. Most of those which are open need to close at 6pm. Restaurants and cafés can only receive take-away orders. Cinemas, museums, and other venues of entertainment are closed. Group gatherings have been limited to two people. And you now see a boost in people getting their COVID-19 vaccine shots.
On my first day out of quarantine I dropped by at my friend Poul's place to say hi. And to taste his freshly baked ryebread with Danish leverpostej!! :)
Yet, on street level most things seem the same to me. People walking about minding their own business and traffic whizzing by. While some people chase sensationalism by sharing photos of utterly empty supermarket shelves…I personally found most of them to be stocked up and the rest were sort of half empty. There are stories of people lining up to go shopping long before opening hours. There are stories of shelves which have been empty for days. There are stories of patients in hospital beds on the streets! And all of it is true. Also, all of it is to be taken with a grain of salt. The cameras and the focus always points in a certain direction and is usually surrounded by some sense of normality. We must always address these issues but not allow them to cloud our perception of reality. Self-testing has become a lot more prevalent and home quarantining is likely to be implemented. A hard lockdown is also looming over us as the government is getting ready to test every single person in Hong Kong! There are about 7.5 million beating hearts around here.
At the supermarket I managed to buy everything on my list: milk, raisins, blueberries, minced meat, toothpaste, deodorant and pasta. I realize that those items are not top priorities among Hongkongers which may have made them available. But overall there is plenty off food on the shelves and “you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find. You get what you need”.
Following my compulsory quarantine order I got my day-16 PCR test done as well. Really easy! No queue at all.
In close collaboration with Bjorn Hojgaard from Anglo-Eastern and Paramesh Prasad from Swire, we have narrowed it down to a few ships which could bring the Saga from Hong Kong to Australia (without calling any Chinese ports along the way). Swire has already helped the Saga several times before and have a service which heads south to PNG (Papua New Guinea) on its way to Townsville in Australia. That would be ideal. AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) took my inquiry to a higher level and reconfirmed that they do not have any objections relating to persons arriving on containerships. I’m really impressed with AMSA’s level of service and attentiveness. I’m still struggling to get through to the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Ultra-wifey managed to help me apply for an Australian eVisa as for some reason I couldn’t make the payment. The eVisa team has responded requesting paperwork for a seafarer joining a ship? I have now twice informed them that I am not a seafarer and explained the nature of the situation. I have no idea why this is so hard? Australia is open to tourist and travelers who fly in. What is the big deal with arriving as a passenger on a commercial ship? And why is it so hard to get in touch with Home Affairs? I’m sure they are nice and professional as soon as we establish contact – so let’s establish contact. Oh well, if this was easy then anyone could do it. And quoting John F. Kennedy: “We choose to go to the Moon...We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too.” That quote is far more fulfilling than another of my favorites: “because it is there!!” by George Mallory. Eight countries left: Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Sri Lanka and Maldives. Let’s keep on keeping on!
Trying to keep up with Olympic Gold medalist Jessie Diggins who's clearly a million times more fit than me!! Home Workout video | Salomon TV.
Okay – here towards the end I can reveal my plans to raise funds and awareness for the Ukrainian Red Cross Society. I have decided to divide it in to two parts: fundraising and awareness. I will try my best to generate the awareness and hope that you will try your best to raise the funds. It seems like a good teamwork effort. I’m going ahead with the Goggins 4x4x48 Challenge (4mi every 4hrs for 48hrs) which translates into 12 runs within 48 hours covering a total of 48mi (77.25km). And I will share videos from start to end on IG and FB stories. I might share to Twitter as well. And throughout the challenge I will remind you all of the link you can use to make a donation in support of the humanitarian work carried out by the Red Cross in Ukraine. The money is needed! And it is entirely up to you, of course, if you want to make a donation. Just know, that supporting the work of the Red Cross makes a real difference. A difference which is felt much greater than a share, like or comment on social media. Thanks for reading along. See you in seven days when we are one week older.
Bought by my sister, paid by my father, delivered to me by my (now) wife during her visit in Zimbabwe.
If you enjoyed this blog or find that I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga welcomes funding. Thank you :)
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - Ost, ost, ost, ost, ost. Jeg må ha? o-hooost!
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon A Saga