The India Leg has concluded...next?

Thursday April 24 –  

India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.” ― Shashi Tharoor

Wow! That is all that can be said about our last four amazing, jaw-dropping, life-changing days here in India. Teams have returned from traveling hundreds of kilometers (some smartly and some not so smartly) attempting to complete over 125 challenging scavenges. They are humbled, ass-kicked and utterly amazed by India. A few are indeed dealing with Delhi Belly--get well soon!

 I don't know who said this, but it is our events measuring stick that: "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away." (Anonymous?) Spades of deep breaths here in India…

All the teams checked wide-eyed and wobbly at the designated 6PM deadline here in Delhi at the LeeLa Palace New Delhi. Congrats went out to the newlyweds and peer review assignments were mad and press interviews conducted.

Teams have 14 hours to recuperate until we catch an 11AM flight to…

Brief asides:

-Not a good sign when the hotel room you just checked into has an amenity that are bright orange…ear-plugs!

-My sense is that travelers probably think too much about India while in India...maybe because they time spend so much time in traffic jams and that makes one reflect so?

-India is so special they have six seasons: spring, summer monsoon, summer, autumn, winter and winter monsoon.

-I was told today that India has in fact never invaded any country in its long history...Hmmm, I seem to remember something about the Bloody Birth of Bangladesh (aka East Pakistan) in 1971?

-Like fruits and vegetable? Little know fact, the wholesale market at Azadpur is Asia's largest market. Almost 3,000 trucks bring in fruits and vegetables here daily to over 30,000 vendors…

-Why do I see mangos everywhere…but nowhere to eat—especially at my hotel?

-Delhi is a BIG city, but rather schizoid I think…a labyrinth of teeming narrow streets and alleys in “Old” Delhi completely contrasts with the imperial city of “New” Delhi of tree-lined roads and fountains?

-Hard to dispute when a driver agrees on a price and takes the cheapest way their…his priority is money not time; whereas the tourist cares about getting there quickly…be damn the cost. That old time vs. money equation we have mastered in the West…or have we?

-Telling my son today about my first tablet I got when I was six—he’s 8 and wants one--it was an Etch a Sketch!

-Why do old Volvo’s, the picture of liberal environmental and safety considerations have the carbon foot print the size of Donald Trump's ego?

-I realized today that I simple miss film photography…I know digital is convenient, but looking at scrolling digital pictures on my computer today was not good...it seemed to hypnotize me into a type of stasis of nostalgia--of both horror and regret too—of  the past. Don’t know if that is a good thing?

-If India every rebrands, it could be called Kramastan?

Okay, thank you for indulging me…we are off to Dubai. Only one traveler has been there before. Should be interesting.

More later, I mean earlier….

The Current 2014 Event Standings (BI—before India):

Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!

 

Ladies & Gentlemen we have a wedding!

Congratulations to Mr.& Mrs. Travis & April Knight...

We Are Still Here...in India

Wednesday April 23 – The 2014 Event’s Half-Way Point!

We have made the turn and are officially on the back nine. I know this because I just did my laundry in the shower, meaning that I was out of suitable clean clothes. ..

Hello all, we have not disappeared from the face of the earth, although that is not hard to do here in India. We have ALL been very busy getting to and fro and site-doing. A few teams were spotted enroute to Ranthambore National Park, a few were spotted at the always magnificent Taj Mahal, a few on trains, and a few taking a foodie excursion here in Delhi. We were in Jaipur…but we saw no teams there.

We will know more tomorrow evening at 6:00PM when hopefully everyone checks in ending the India leg of the 2014 travel adventure competition.

 Presently, I know a few folks that are mighty grateful for winning the random genetic geography lottery that is life... (BTW: Did you know that over sixty percent of a person’s lifetime income is determined by where a person was born?)

So, a few photos to tide you over…
 


Water Palace in Jaipur.


Lotus Temple in Delhi


Not what you think...


Moneky in flower market


Taj...the side building!


Taj friendly face


Iman teaching at Jama Mosque...


Full?


Beauties at Amber Fort...


Not the Rickshaw ralley...

More tomorrow.

Breakfast at the Taj Mahal

Dateline: New Delhi, India - Tuesday April 22

Good morning from India…o-dark-thirty here as we catch the 6:15AM train #12002 (aka the Bhopal Shatabdi Express) to Agra and a breakfast date with the always majestic Taj Mahal!

This is the only mandatory scavenge teams have in India, and of course I could not let my not son see the Taj. My daughter will have to wait until she comes on her own one day soon…

And so we devour India.  Ohh India, ohh India…We all know the first line...but not the last two. Here is Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West" (1889)
Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

India is hard to explain to someone who has not been here themselves. And India defies travel logic in so many ways and that is why it is fitting that we have such a long leg here. You cannot fight India and expect to win. All you can do, as conquers and travelers before us have done is ultimately just embrace India. I suspect this will be a life-changing experience for some...

India is not just a place. India is an altered state for those to open to it. India is a drug that pulls you back in, again and again. When you leave India, withdrawal symptoms occur. India is everything, and more, all at once. It is sensory overload. It is a visual explosion. It is organized chaos. It is humanity in all its glory, frustration, despair and hope. India is so very much more than just the land of turbans, monsoons, moustaches, palaces, flying toilets, mountains, bright saris, bougainvillea, lumbering cows, over 1,000 spoken languages, marigolds, and 40 types of mangos and an endless onslaught of people. India is bursts of sunlight and hundreds, nee, thousands of curious gazes. India is the home of chess, pi, the decimal system, yoga, cotton clothes, meditation, quadratic equations, non-violence, zero, the world's largest film industry, there are as many Muslims in India as in Pakistan, it is the largest buyer of gold in the world, and the world's largest democracy.  

And speaking of the world's largest democracy: The election of all elections here India is happening right now. But it is not a one day sale. Not with over 810 million people voting. No this election will be held over multiple phases between April 16 and May 13. It takes that long to facilitate all the voters in almost a million polling stations. Think of it…810 million eligible voters!  And this year, there will be over 150 million first time Indian voters! (BTW: demographically speaking, by 2020 India will also be the world’s youngest country with an average age of just 29. Think of that potential.)Turnout is predicted to exceed 60%. And the Pew Research Center survey suggests that 63 percent of those polled said they would prefer that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party to lead the next government, compared with just 19 percent who picked the governing Indian National Congress party, which is led by Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi of the Gandhi Dynasty--the Bushes have nothing on them. The main issues here are corruption and high inflation and slowing economic growth (only about 7% and not high enough to matter to the 800 million poverty-stricken Indians).

There are dozens of parties, all politics is local and it is dirty, down and low here. Bribes, booze, broads and band aids are the order of the day. Newspapers here will vilify you if you don’t purchase ads in their papers. An anti-corruption party the AAP offers a hopeful albeit Quixotian (sp?) challenge to the major two parties. The Aam Aadmi (Common Man's) Party has secured a spectacular result in some recent local polls here in Delhi and is fielding candidates in all of parliament's 543 elected open seats. But the main contest in the elections is between the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, the latest member of India's influential Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and the BJP, led by the charismatic and controversial Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi--a man sworn to celibacy like the Pope I might add! Every taxi driver and retailer I have talked to here says the BJP will win…that it is time for change.

But I regress…back to India.

India can inspire, horrify, enlighten and astonish you. India is utterly heartbreaking from moment to moment. India is all about serendipity as the best laid plans quickly go by the wayside as you inevitably are challenged with adventurous detours, unavoidable mishaps and life unfolding chaotically right before your eyes.  

But most of all, India is personal, real personal, and there are no canned experiences here because each and every one of us deals with India differently. Every traveler coming to India has their own personal Darjeeling Limited experience. Some will embrace it. Some will be repulsed by it. Some will fight it. Some will try to conquer it. Some will be overwhelmed by it. But each and every one of them will react to it...and differently. I have often heard it said that you either love India—or hate it. And that is indeed the full spectrum. But until you experience India personally, face-to-face, you don't know India. And even when you have visited many times…you still don’t know India!

But we will all be trying to get to know nit a little better today.  

More later today from Jaipur.

Current 2014 Event Standings:

Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!

 

India Ho!

Monday April 21 –

Good morning…

See here, proof, we are all in India!


This morning we were luxuriating at the #1 hotel in Delhi, The Leela Palace New Delhi. Thank you Neeti. Thank you Harmandeep. Thank you  Saurabh and Sonny. Thank you all…we look forward to our five night stay!

Quick recap: we left Vancouver Sunday (April 13) and spent three glorious days beboping around Osaka, Kyoto and Nara. Then we shuttled over to Seoul, South Korea where teams performed amazing site-doing scavenges from the fish markets in Busan to the DMZ along North Korea and every place in between. The rally stopped there in Seoul on Saturday evening and we took the day off yesterday (Easter Sunday) to reposition ourselves to South Asia here in Delhi, India.

Peer reviews were conducted during the transition here and the final results of the Korean leg revealed a few surprises. First off, no surprise that the teams that completed the maximum three Bonus scavenges did well. Teams that completed the more difficult (high risk/high reward) scavenges did well. And teams that were creative in their endeavors and open to serendipity did well and had fun. The team challenge of getting the highest in a Korean building was interpreted differently by a few teams—tallest building in meters vs. tallest building in altitude (build on a hill)—and they split the points.  

That all said, here are the results of the third of eight legs on the 2014 travel adventure competition (a par 4)
5th place belonged to The Ogopogos (Gerry & Phil) our 2013 defending champs earning 1,378 points;
4th place went to a newbie team, Bare Necessities (Bettina & Jonathan) who earned 1,470 points;
3rd place went to the steady as can be sophomore team Retired Traveling Chicks (Kim & Maria) with 1,645 points (who by the way walked 13+ miles on Saturday!);
2nd place went to Sister Act Two (Emily & Rainey Jr.) who are obviously highly competitive challengers this year raking up a whopping 1,843 points;

And the winners of the third leg, their second straight rally leg victory,are the dynamic duo of  Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey) who completed 38 scavenges in 52 hours and amassed 1,905 points.

Amazing job everyone! Event results are here.

But now the real test…daunting, breathtaking, frustrating, exhilarating haunting, sacred, dynamic, traditional, thrilling…I could go on and on…India! A difficult Par 7! We have never had a Par seven. That means the dye will be cast here in India on the second week of the event over the next 4 days here. The leaders will build an insurmountable lead, or one of three or four chasing teams will be right back in and we will have an amazing final 10-days.

Teams were given their scavenge hunt list for the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur, Rajasthan and Amritsar…over 100 options that should have them traveling in a classic travel triangle (never backtracking) in amazing India. The issues will be the heat—it is hot and draining; the crowds—they can be daunting (especially if you are blonde or 7ft tall!); the chaos—things take a while to organize here; and the bureaucracy—there is a right way to do everything. That and the fact that we are in the middle on the world’s largest passion play—Indian elections—where 815 million people are in the process of electing a new prime minister! Good luck all…


I will report more later, but the fruits of India beckon.

Some of the teams are blogging, enjoy:
Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey):
The Odd Couple  (Erik & Casey):
 Silver Surfers (Natasha & David):

Please friend/like/follow us on Facebook...we will attempt to add Twitter insight (in 140 characters or less!?) and YouTube-like vines (6 second clips) if possible along the way.  I will also be writing periodic Huffington Post pieces along the way as well. So stay tuned.

Finally, remember that The Global Scavenger Hunt has always been about more than traveling around the world competing for The World's Greatest Travelers crown in the world travel championship... it is about helping others help themselves through the GreatEscape Foundation. This year, to celebrate our event's 10th anniversary, our goal is to fund 10 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small one-time $25 online donation during the course of the 2014 event, we know a lot of kids needing an education that would thank you. Thank you all, because we all know that every little bit helps out a lot. (FYI: All individual donation names will be put in a hat and on May 3rd we will select a winner for a special fun prize—it will be worth much more than your $25+ donation!). Thank you!