Dateline: April 24 – Milano, Italy
So, we close the books on Leg 5 and move onto a rather challenging Leg 6 – Europe! It is challenging not because of true difficulty—let’s face it, Europe works! The transportation systems (city, inter-city and inter-country) here are all top notch and reliable. No, the real challenging aspect of the European leg is the human part—the expectations of our travelers and their desire to fulfill them: what will they do and where will they do it?! They have so many choices and options here, that some could become overly ambitious in their endeavors to win this critical leg that they make some strategic errors—take in one too many cities; try to complete one too many bonuses; take in one too many late night scavenges; get too tired in their frenzy of site-doing activities to make a simple miscalculation of their time. In a word: get too greedy!
New Street...literally sidewalk art...
The Classic Duomo view...
Teatro Alla Scala...the home of rock n' roll...I mean Opera!
April 23 – Transition Day: Abu Dhabi to another continent?
Team Photo in Abu Dhabi
Dateline: Abu Dhabi, UAE – 21 April 2015
It is day 10 of our 23 day around the world event and we have settled in a dry heat here in the Emirates.
A lot has occurred since we last reported in yesterday from the airport lounge…
First off, we arrived in Abu Dhabi last evening around 11:00PM local time picking up four hours of time from our Bali destination. Meaning that we were all extremely tired after 10 hours flying on two flights. But we made it and are fully ensconced in our new surroundings.
We are staying at the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, and it is a jarring juxtaposition from our last stop. (For those of you who have seen the mega-blockbuster Fast & Furious 7, our hotel is where the climatic last scene was shot…and the Lamborghini is parked outside the main entrance to prove it!) This is a lux place—although it conjures up memories of Vegas back in the day—and the amenities cannot be denied.
That said, we leaped not only oceans and continents, but also made a giant jump in destinations; from traditional, green, rural, artsy, homespun, walk-able, humid, sustainable, boutique-style…to none of the above. Abu Dhabi is not Bali! It takes some doing to accept our new reality and adjust according as all great travellers now.
The 5th Leg of the 2015 event began this morning with teams being handed their newest scavenger hunt booklets. They have two full days to tackle over four dozen interesting scavenges; including some rather challenging Bonus scavenges. Here they can rent cars for the first (and only) time during the event and may also team up with any other team to complete unlimited scavenges. (Whereas normally you can only team up for 5 scavenges within a 24 hour period.) Teams will check in tomorrow evening, high above the fast growing Emirates at Ray's Bar located on the 62nd floor of our hotel…good luck all!
But of course I am ahead of myself as usual. (It is hard to slow down for us as organizers because we see the full schedule lying ahead of us clearly and our teams (and you followers) only see what is revealed one day at a time.)
…Teams handed in their Bali Peer Reviews before boarding our 2nd flight last night and Road Officials had plenty of time to check for inconsistencies and heard numerous travel stories. When the dust settled, it came down to the completion of Indonesian Bonus scavenges with the top two finishers a bonus scavenge away from each other.
In first place for the third leg in a row were the Sydney Sisters who amassed an incredible 2,490 points by completing 50 scavenges in 3 days, including three highly strategic Bonus scavenges. They were followed by Bird & Buns who completed 47 scavenges, but only 2 Bonus scavenges. In 3rd place were the defending champions Lawyers without Borders who also completed 2 Bonus scavenges. In fourth place with a gutsy performance were the Savvy Scavengers who completed 36 scavenges total—but only one Bonus. They were followed in order by: Hello World 5th, Tatakau Brothers 6th, NOLA Second Line 7th and Captain Marvel and PI Baby 8th.
Truly a good job by all, but special credit should be given to the top four finishers in the difficult, arduous and challenging Indonesia Par 5 leg…good job all.
So the Official Leader Board now looks like this: Sydney Sisters #1, Birds & Buns #2 and Lawyers without Borders #3…
As to the next set of scavenges they had to perform in Malaysia…as we mentioned yesterday we held an abbreviated 5-Hour Layover Challenge in Kuala Lumpur. Six teams participated and all performed their key tasks earning 1 point each. The big positive was that no team cut it so close as to miss their seven hour flight here to Abu Dhabi—meaning they could have maybe done more (note to self)!
So…here we are in Abu Dhabi for 2 days and 3 nights. A city (emirate, state or province really) of about
1.5 million. Abu Dhabi being the capital of UAE is the headquarters of numerous oil companies and embassies. But of those 1.5 million residents, there are only about 420,000 real citizens in the entire emirate—(and get this) each has an average net worth of 17 million dollars! Yes, I said that correctly!? Indeed, Abu Dhabi is the little fishing-village-that-could…Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies had nothing on these guys. Abu Dhabi is reborn, relentless and over the top—but a tad more sedate than sister Emirates up the Persian Gulf coast Dubai. It is a case of the haves and have yachts. (When booking hotels here I was quoted over $1,500 a night for a simple hotel room many times!)
It does remind me a lot of Las Vegas, especially with the dry heat (the sun shines here for 350+ days a year and they get less than 20cm of rain per year) and high rises next to empty parcels of desert sand. It is truly a testament to capital formation that you can build anything if you have enough money—and they do!
Later…but here are some photos:
The Booklet...circa 2015.
Hello All -
Good afternoon from a nondescript airport lounge at KLIA--Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL). I am using the business center computer as we have yet to replace ours. Soon though...
We arrived here a few hours ago from Bali, Indonesia following a crazy three day leg on the exotic island. Teams checked in last evening (Sunday) at 6:00PM and we had a fun hospitality dinner event to let folks blow off some steam after a hard few days of site-doing...in which they touched every corner of the island and were equally touched by the Balinese spirit. We will have the Peer Review scorce for that dificult Par 5 leg as soon as possible...at least before our arrival in our next destinattion this evening (Monday).
My guess is a few teams went for it hard thinking that there were a lot of points on the table and that doing the Bonus scavenges would give them an edge on their competitors. The results will be interesting.
That said, teams are currently participating in a fun 5-Hour Layover Challenge here in Malaysia. They have less than five hours to complete a series of scavenges--and most importantly, not miss their 8:05PM flight. Layover Challenges are fun because for those of us who travel a lot interntionally, we inevitably end up stranded at the airport in between connecting flights. I think I speak for many when I say that just killing time in the aiports (cum shopping malls) of the world is a bit of a bore. As well as a missed chance to see something new and exciting..or just have a great meal in a global hot spot. So whether you have an hour or six, getting out of the airport and into a new international environment is always a welcomed relief. And with all the new hubs popping up around the world that connect us all--you can be anywhere in the world in 24-hours on a well-planned itinerary--it offers a great chance to see and do new things. In the past years we have had Layover Challenges in Singapore, Bangkok, Dubia, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and now Kuala Lumpur.
Good luck to all...
Oh yes...I forgot...we are en route to Abu Dhabi, UAE, and a few nights at the Jumeriah Hotel at Eithad Tower along the stunning gulf corniche.
Hard to believe that we are just one week and two days into our 23-day around the world event...four countries down and six more to do scavenges in. It has been a fun but busy week--Fiji, Melbourne, Bali and now Malaysia. Teams have had fun and worked hard too. Yesterday we had a twisted ankl occur during a morning trek up a volcano to enjoy a magnifiecnt sunrise. (She is fine and doing well...) We also had a case of either electrolite deficeny or Bali Belly.. (He too is doing fine today after seeing a doc yesterday for some advice.) Wounded in action is a part of travel...because missing the action is a poor alterantive. Travel is a contact sport and this event, the world travel championship truly brings that reality home during the course of this 23-day marathon-like competition. But all the teams are up for anything and game for the thrill and fun they are all enjoying.
Pamela here...Bill has decided to stop hogging the blog. My first time in Bali. Sadly my first reactions weren't positive, but though I left poorer, I was richer in experiences. The people were so warm and friendly and very generous with their smiles. I continue to love monkeys, especially when they hold my hand. The Indian Ocean is warm and inviting with its black sands and plethora of shells to scavenge for. The food...so delicious! And who knew dragon fruit was more magenta than the most vibrant beet. The smell of incense was intoxicating and I became drunk on the Balinese experience. Someday I hope to return....(Yes she will!)
So...until we get to Abu Dhabi...good morning and and know we are asafe and happy!