Thursday, April 17 - late night edition from Seoul

Annyeonghaseyo to all our friends!

After successfully navigating Incheon International Airport’s (ICN) Fever Scanner Screening stations, we officially entered South Korea. Sadly, amidst a terrible ferry accident that has tragically taken the lives of too many South Korean teenagers. Our hearts are with South Korea today…a truly sad day here.

We are holed up the Grand Hyatt Seoul--trying hard not to be nickel and dimed to death—at the tail end of the now joyless Han River Yeouido Spring Flower Festival (aka the Cherry Blossom Festival). Currently as I look out the window into Yongsan district, it is drizzling mildly, but the city is humming—as it always does.

Here is all the evolving event-related news that I can convey…

Thank you Dan from Team Carry On for explaining that our event videos are being taken/saved in MTS format…and we are still trying to convert them into something uploadable. So they are saved, but currently unusable. (If anyone has any nifty suggestions we are all ears!)

We successfully repositioned today to South Korea after finishing leg one last night in Japan. Teams enjoyed their partial day off and everyone conducted their peer reviews explaining how they did what they say they did. After that the rally leg points were tallied and we have a new leader in the 2014 travel world championship!

It is always interesting to see which teams are competitors and which teams are travelers following the first leg—and I applaud whichever category they find themselves. Because after all, too thy own self be true, right. First off, the Osaka team challenge was won by the defending champion The Ogopogos. They won 100 points for documenting the most animal signs in downtown Osaka—28! First leg placing teams completed a lot of scavenges—between 34 to 51. That is impressive! Personally, I always like that there are a few teams, some repeats, which take pride in finishing last. That said, the top five place teams after the first leg are:

#5 - Heckarewee (Leslie & Dan) with 1,240 points earned;
#4 - Sister Act Two (Emily & Rainey Jr.) with 1,615 points;
#3 - The Ogopogos (Gerry & Phil) with 1,635 points;
#2 - Retired Traveling Chicks (Kim & Maria) with 1,880 points;
And the top finishing team after the first leg, are The Global Scavenger Hunt’s former three-peat champs Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey) with an impressive 2,045 points.  Great job Zoe and Rainey…and great job all our teams!

All the top three teams are seasoned travelers and veterans...no surprises here.

My take away is that Bonus points are really important as well as not doubling back between locations. Staying focused and being on the move—thinking and strategizing and adapting on the move while earning points is certainly the key to success—at least for the first leg. Here are the event results today.

Alea iacta est…the die has been cast, and we turn the page and move on to the more difficult second leg of the around the world travel adventure, a Par 4 leg here in Seoul, South Korea.

Teams were explained the new leg’s idiosyncrasies…three Bonus Scavenge limit, mandatory scavenges and a 10:00PM Saturday evening check-in time. They again have about 52 hours to be very busy here in South Korea—from the DMZ to Busan. Soon they too will understand Seoul’s efficiency, modernity and fast-paced life-style ala the now infamous Gangnam-style…enjoy yourself all!

Off to some serious Korean BBQ…a few beers, karoke and some late night revelry—or maybe not.

More later…

Be sure to follow some of the teams that 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!

We are repositioning again

Wednesday, April 16 (11:15PM (JST)

A busy day here in Japan: from morning fish market auctions and the ancient city of Nara or history of Hiroshima, to the dazzle of Osaka’s subterranean night life. Today was full of site-doing.

 And the first real leg of the 2014 travel world championship has come to a close. However, we will not have the official results until the peer reviews are completed and we have repositioned ourselves to our new international venue.

All the teams checked-in at 10:00PM in one piece…a tad worse for the last 72-hours of wear and tear physically and emotionally. We have entered Day Three on the road, and that means tomorrow we will be over the hump of shaking off both the lasting ill-effects of our long distance flight and 16-hour jet lag. Teams will, surely by tomorrow, have successfully made the difficult transition from everyday normal life to the devil-may-care hectic life of being on the road. From living with a fridge, closet and schedule…to none of the above. It is not as easy as it sounds and it does take three days to let go and accept that new reality. I know, our silly first world problems.

I would like to report more about the happenings of our teams over the last few days, but having just seen all the teams for the first time since Monday’s starting gate, it is hard to say anything.(And post photos and videos too...but technology issues remain.) I will say that the last couple of teams to return to the hotel were Vin & Michele, Gerry & Phil and Zoe & Rainey. That shows commitment until the whistle blows on their parts, but I think that is where my kneejerk analysis must end. A good night sleep and a 12:30PM flight tomorrow should give us the answers we are all looking for…maybe.

We will reconvene this madcap global adventure tomorrow afternoon in Seoul, South Korea.

Until then…

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!

 

Day Four: Japan

Kangei...Welcome to Japan.

Okay, recap and some tidbits.

We arrived in one piece—more or less—on Monday afternoon around 4PMish. Teams are being housed for three nights at the brand spanking new Osaka Marriott Miyako, which opened March 11th...and is nestled in the tallest building in Osaka, as well as the tallest building in Japan. It took a few special trips to the bathroom to figure things…as we all know the Japanese love their high-tech bathrooms. They are French bidets, not squared—but cubed. Only the Japanese could elevate going to the toilet to high art! Everyone is in reasonable shape…no complaints.
 
Teams were given their Kansai region easy Par 3 scavenger hunt lists at 6:30PM…and told to try and stay awake as late as possible to reset their circadian rhythms. They were told to give a Road Official a quick face time between 8:30-9:00AM Tuesday morning—they all did. And so they are off doing what they do best until our 10:00PM check in time on Wednesday night…so basically 52-hours to be busy proving their travel bona fides.

That said…we have some “one minute videos” with some team members taken over the last few days traveling—if we could only technologically find them?! Hopefully film at 11 very soon…

 

Okay some tidbits…

• All the teams are tied for first!

• I hope teams aren’t too put off by the multicolored, spaghetti junction-style train maps of the Kansai region—that by the way includes not only Osaka, but Nara, Kyoto and Kobe too that is home to over 17 million people —because everything works amazingly well here. In fact, the average train (aka Shinkansen) or subway route always runs on time; but when there are the inevitable delays, you just don't have to worry because those delays average only 18...wait for it...18 seconds! Take that BART, MTA and TTC. I will say though that Osaka has a way of turning the most sophisticated and confident traveler into an anxiety-ridden deaf-mute...good luck all!

• Most travelers’ first brush with Japan inevitably seems to be Tokyo…and this traveler thinks that is a big mistake, as the Kansai region is where it is at: ancient capitals, world heritage sites galore, better  food, more to see and do and thousands of Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Zen gardens, palaces and pagodas. There is a lot her e, from conveyor-belt sushi to ninjas, bowing, vending machines, ryokans, Haiku, ramen, karaoke, white-gloved taxi drivers, sumo, tea ceremonies, Yakuza, ancient ways and modern realities, only the Japanese could elevate going to the toilet as high art with their hi-tech toilets... It is a vastly underrated travel destination.

• I am hoping that if any one of our travelers feels inclined to buy a samurai sword—that they don't! Security will be hell for them for the next three weeks…but if they really need to that they have them shipped home!


• Did you know that Kansai International Airport (KIX), sits on the world’s largest artificially made island and is one of only two things visible from outer space...No, the other one is not the Great Wall of China, but in fact the greenhouses of Almería, Spain!

• Our teams will learn very quickly, that in the Japanese language/culture it is considered rude to say the word "no" directly...so they better think of a good strategy to get their questions answered correctly. Japanese culture itself is utterly perplexing...I always thoroughly enjoy being put on edge here floating somewhere in a place where traditions are infinitely rehearsed and refined smashed against unrivaled modernity.

• Green Tea Kit Kat, Strawberry Kit Kat, and Blueberry Cheesecake Kit Kat…what more can you say?

• Question of the day: Why when you go to grocery/pharmacy, do they sell more adult diapers than baby diapers?

So, we are off today to Osaka Castle, the wonderful Osaka Aquarium, to collect a picnic of take away food in the stalls beneath Osaka Station, and track down rare Pokémon cards. Later tonight we will be roaming the Namba and Dotombori areas playing Bartender Roulette, taste testing sake and performing karaoke…Teams? Well, they are off to Kyoto, Kobe and some Hiroshima. Heard someone was going to try and ski Fuji-san—we’ll see about that?!

What will happen? Well, as they say, you can't eavesdrop on the future...only time will tell. More tomorrow…

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!

Kangei from the Land of the Rising Sun

...and boy did dawn come early this morning!

Obviously, we are all tired and a tad jet-lagged after the hardest part of this event--getting across the Pacific Ocean to our first destination, Osaka, Japan. We are 16 hours ahead body clock-wise...and for some a difficult transition.

But we are here and all the teams checked in last nightat 6:30PM to be given their 1st offcial leg scavenger hunt booklets with the caveat of showing their face to a road official this morning (now Tuesday here) at 8:30AM. So they could plot and plan and research...but not really go anywhere but some local nocturnal scavenges. Most folks were catching much needed zzzz's by 10PM.

Look for another post later today as the day evolves...by the way...cultural nuance is everything here in the Fort Knowx of Manners I call Japan! Good luck teams...have fun.

Thank you's to Micheal & NIta, Wendy and Andy for donations today! And congrats to Rainey Jr for getting into the law school of his choice!

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!
 

Happy Birthday Pamela....

...a quick breakfast layover in Hong Kong then onward to sushi dinner in Osaka. 

So, Happy Birthday Pamela....you actually get a full days worth this year and in two countries too boot!



Love you, 

Bill, Lucca & Petra (and Barney too)