We are at the fun stage of planning our 2018 event, the 14th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt–the travel world championship.
To date, The Global Scavenger Hunt has visited 76 countries, from tiny Andorra to gigantic Russia, and from the island of Fiji to the islands of Colombia. As it looks right now, we may be visiting 7 or 8 new ones in 2018–and new destinations in places we have previously visited (Some countries beg for more than one visit!).
Now I’m not telling and I would never tip my hand, but look at the map and marvel at the opportunities before us. Blue been there/Gray what’s next.
Forget Letterman’s old Top 10 lists…too short.
Forget Jay Z’s 99 Problems…way too long–and no problems here.
Here’s our Goldilocks-inspired just right list as collated by our crack staff and fellow and former participants:
60 of the BEST reasons to say YES! to participating in The Global Scavenger Hunt: Because it is like playing spin-the-globe.
Because reality can exceed expectations.
Because magic still exists.
Because adventure still exists.
Because when was the last time you did something for the first time?
Because you deserve some me time.
Because it will shake up your world.
Because there is joy in sharing an adventure.
Because it will challenge you like nothing before.
Because deep down you want to take a blind date with the world.
Because you will realize you had skills you didn’t know you had.
Because you will break bread with strangers.
Because it will make you feel small.
Because there is nothing grander than feeling small.
Because you will give back and make the world a better place.
Because it will make you feel big.
Because it will make laugh, and cry.
Because it will bring you closer to beauty.
Because there is always something new to taste.
Because regular travel is not as adventurous as it once was.
Because trusting strangers in strange lands is absolutely exhilarating.
Because it will increase your connectivity with the world…and everything in it.
Because you will realize that there are no real boundaries between we the people.
Because you will exit your comfort zone.
Because it makes you happy to be alive.
Because ogling natural wonders feels really good.
Because several appetizers are sometimes better than one main course.
Because seeing it for yourself is like being in a postcard—only better.
Because you will be introduced to pre-industrial modes of transport.
Because it is not about sightseeing—but site-doing.
Because you will need to pack your daring, creativity, resourcefulness and spontaneity.
Because you will know the color Aegean blue does exist.
Because sometimes the destination is not the ends—only the means of greater discovery.
Because in our view people don’t take trips…trips take people.
Because it is the ultimate piece of performance art filled with exotic backdrops, action and drama.
Because it ends up being a transformative journey.
Because the awe factor is high and the wows many.
Because this is the adventure you find out who you are.
Because it will benefit your travel self-confidence.
Because bliss is awaiting you on the other side of your fears.
Because it will make your relationship with your partner stronger.
Because there can be authentic travel in the age of reality TV.
Because you shouldn’t wait till next year for life to happen.
Because circling the globe has always been your dream.
Because you will be tested.
Because you will pass the test.
Because it is an authentic 21st century adventure.
Because you will become a Thrillionaire.
Because it will make you a more interesting person.
Because it is the world travel championship.
Because it cures the seen-it-all blues.
Because you will make new friends.
Because it will have something amazing to look forward to in 2018.
Because you will achieve travel rapture.
Because it is indeed life-changing.
Because you will never feel so alive for 23 days straight.
Because dreams do come true.
Because when was the last time you surprised yourself?
…And because it is just plain fun!
What are your reasons for taking the leap? We want to know…
Saturday, 6 May 2017 – Day 23: New York City, USA (40.7128° N, 74.0059° W)
“Don’t tell me how educated you are-tell me how much you have traveled.” – Mohammed
“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” – Chinese proverb
The Lotte Palace New York
I’m in a New York state of mind.” – Billy Joel
Welcome to New York…a modern day 309-square mile traffic jam.
Old Business…the easy-peasy Par 2 Islandic leg results are in following Peer Review assessments and official “honor system” scoring…remember teams could rent a car and do unlimted teaming up (so these scorces are interesting):
In 8th place, two teams that hooked up and traveled Iceland together, Long Gone & NOLA 2nd Line at 585 points.
In 7th place, earning 675 points on the the leg, Thundersnow.
In 6th place, coasting in Iceland, TSA Precheck who did 17 scavenges (maybe the Blue Lagoon a tad too long) and earned 825 points. (And a great bottle of French Champagne upon arrival in NYC for their cheapest hotel room reciept on the Euro leg, cheers!)
In 5th place, ever consistent Flying Snitches completing 21 scavenges and earning 940.
In 4th place, and unfamiliar leader board territory, The Traveling Bohemians who teamed up withy Team Ying, at 1190 points.
In 2nd place, a team that team upped and had a ball together, completing 32 scavenges and earning 1,205 points together: SLO Folks and YOLOGoNow. And in 1st place, congratulations to The Yings who somehow out earned their 24-hour teammates by 40 points on the Par 2 leg with 1,230 points completing 26 scavenges.
That means that after seven completed legs (par 26 of 27 completed)…the overall top 3 teams are:
3. SLO Folks with 79
2. TSA Precheck Yourself with 73, and
1. Team Ying with 43.
Again, congrats to all and you can click here to view the updated Official Leader Board.
That of course means that there is a fight for 2nd place and those two teams need to finish strong to keep their spots.
So, while in New York City on this cloudy gray day (with a 30% chance of showers by 3PM) we have a short n’ sweet one last little 8-hour urban scavenger hunt here in New York City before we crown The World’s Greatest Travelers this afternoon at 4:00PM…A quick 8-hour Par 1 scavenger hunt…a few bonuses and 30 other optional scavenges…finish strong and have fun everyone!
Big Apple Scavenges:
-take in a Mets game or a Broadway show
-Enjoy one of the following: a New York bagel, a New York hot dog, a New York deli sandwich, a slice of New York pizza, New York cheesecake, a New York egg cream, or an old-fashion Manhattan!
-locate five pieces from five nations you just visited in the Met
-Visit Strawberry Fields, pay John Lennon tribute
-do one scavenge in each of the five boroughs of New York City
Winner, winner, chicken dinner (10:20am), Team Thundersnow!
It really has been a great group this year, and as the Event Director I am thrilled that so many have really embraced the spirit of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition, and our unofficial motto of trusting strangers in strange lands. Karma has prevailed and those that give–got; those that smiled–got smiled upon; those that were open to others–were allowed into their worlds. It is a great feeling knowing how much fun people had on this 13th event we have conducted. I am thrilled to have them all back safely and to have shared vicariously in so many wonderful heart-warming stories, yet again!
So, many Teams are now out doing their last days’ worth of fun sight-doing here in the Big Apple. We have a 4:00PM – Check-in and crowing of The World’s Greatest Travelers and winner of the free trip around the world next year to defend their championship, trophy and title! And then we have a wonderful Winners Gala dinner planned this evening, albeit an early one because of everyone’s internal clocks. Our Winners Gala dinner will be held at a nearby Greek) : Ammos Estiatorio at 52 Vanderbilt, between 45th & 46th on Grand Central.
We will check-in later with the final event results, additional photos and ruminations. Thank you all.
Friday, 5 May 2017 – Day 22: Reykjavik, ISLAND (64.1265° N, 21.8174° W)
Good afternoon from Iceland…since leaving the teams to fend for themselves using their wile, Travel IQ and event acquired travel confidence, we have seen all the teams, except for one: the Flying Snitches. But we know they are out there somewhere…
Funny bumping into teams here and, mostly there in Iceland; from Gullfoss, to Geysir, and from Thingville to busy Laugavegur street. And then milling about pubs too…
YOLOGoNow + SLO Folks caught…
On arrival at FEF…almost home!
So, just a few more hours until we board our final event flight back to JFK, a few final days in New York City and the crowning of The World’s Greatest Travelers.
But, old business, we have to close the books on the difficult long Par 6 Euro-leg. Scorces have been reviewed, the math added and re-checked, hotel bills reviewed, search histories scanned, drive-by’s deducted, hotel receipts calculated and GreatEscape Foundation receipts tallied:
Tied for 8th place with no scorce sheets handed in are: NOLA 2nd Line and Long Gone.
In 7th place were the Traveling Bohemians.
In 6th place, enjoying Amsterdam and London a little too much were the Flying Snitches.
In 5th place, completing 5 Bonuses and almost 60 Euro scavenges were Thundersnow.
In a 4th place comeback, working the terrian strategically completing 6 Bonuses and almost 70 scavenges, YOLOGoNow.
In 3rd place, always consistent, always fun, completing 6 Bonuses and just over 80 Scavenges and earning over 4,400 points are SLO Folks,
In 2nd place, completing 6 BIG point-ladden Bosnues and almost 90 scavenges earning 4,900 points are TSA Precheck Yourself.
And that means, in 1st place, and the hallmark of consistency, completing over 100 scavenges in four days across four countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Ireland), Team Ying earning over 5,400 points.
Congrats to all, and that means:
In third place are SLO Folks,
In 2nd place is TSA Precheck Yourself.
and in 1st Place heading to New York City’s finish line are Team Ying.
See you all again in New York…we have the Blue Lagoon to visit.
Saturday, 29 April 2017 – Day 16: Brussels, BELGIUM (50.8503° N, 4.3517° E)
We arrived at Brussels International Airport (BRU) this afternoon around 3PM following our 4:50-hour flight that took us from North Africa to Europe. The local immigration authorities ceded additional powers to the Ringmaster at the airport–thumbs up or thumbs down to visa applicants.
Our hotel in Brussels just a few steps away from the Grote Market.
We held a fun 6:00PM hospo drink session to let off some steam before we began our next leg. (We love Belgian beers!) But first the Old Business…the Egyptian Par 4 leg results are in following Peer Review assessments and Road Official score adjustments for a few issues. As Lawyers without Borders have left the event, we now have 9 competing teams:
In 8th place, we have a tie between YOLOGoNow and Traveling Bohemians.
In 7th place, is NOLA 2nd Line.
In 6th place, is Long Gone.
In 5th place, earning 1040 points: Flying Snitches
In 4th place, earning 1315 points: Thundersnow
In 3rd place, earning 1685 points: SLO Folks
In 2nd place, earning 1737 points: Team Ying And in 1st place, congratulations to TSA Precheck Yourself who earned 1897 points completing 47 scavenges on the second Par 4 Egypt leg.
That means that after six completed legs (par 18/27 completed)…the overall top 3 teams are:
3. SLO Folks (57)
2. TSA Precheck Yourself (49)
1. Team Ying (35)
Again, congrats to all and you can click here to view the updated Official Leader Board. There are 9 points left on the table… This is the event’s first time in Brussels, and the teams will have seven other potential European countries to do scavenges in before meeting in Dublin in 4 nights on Wednesday, May 3rd (Luxembourg, France, the Netherlands, England, Wales and Isle of Man) making this leg truly frenetic with crazy risk-reward travel decisions to make. We will find out who’s greedy here…who is willing to take some risks to move up the leader board.
It will be a Hard Par 6, 2017 European edition with a lot of moving parts: over 200 scavenges and a mad fun dash to Dublin. There are 2 Mandatory, one here in Brussels and the other in Cambridge, England.
Check-in Deadline & Meeting Place: 10:00PM, Wednesday, 3 May in Dublin, Ireland.
Among some of their scavenges is:
-Travel the length of the world’s longest unbroken tramway in Belgium between France and The Netherlands.
-Taste Test Time—Belgium Beer Edition
-Price out loose diamonds in Antwerp
-Cycle to the famous Dutch tulip fields
-Go punting with a picnic in Cambridge
-Ferry Cross the Mersey in Liverpool
-Take in an Irish Parliament session
Friday, 28 April 2017 – Day 15: Alexandria, EGYPT (31.2001° N, 29.9187° E)
Hello on day three in Egypt…
Pope Francis is here in Cairo reaching out to the lottery-picked pope, Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The two churches parted ways in a dispute about the nature of Christ in the fifth century, kind of like the Shia and Sunni split in the Muslim world. Security is extremely tight here in the city of one thousand and one minarets.
Teams have been busy we think as some beastie photos reveal:
The Road Officals finally having fun doing scavenges…
1/2 of Traveling Bohemians with Napoleon’s target range…
TSA Precheck at Pyramid of Djoser (Aka Step Pyramid…the first pyramid)
1/2 of Flying Snitches trying on hats…
Having a conversation with Cairo’s bright simmering youth.
Either going to stud, or to the butcher? Pick’em?
Magnificent Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria
The mystical magical Sufi dancers…
The infamous fabulous bazzar of Cairo cafe…
Teeing up at the pyrimds…a lot of sand shots!
All the teams checked in safe and sound, albeit a tad Egypt weary from their thrilling 54-hours in one of the ancient capitals of the world.
Thoughts of the day: One wonders what the idealistic Egyptian activists of the 2011 Arab Spring in Tahir Square and throughout Egypt are thinking these days? They mobilized and protested under the cry of “bread, freedom & dignity”;
239 of them are martyred for their cause of freedom and democracy; repressive 30-year ruling Pharaoh, err, President Mubarak, propped up by American billions in annual military aid is popularly pushed out of office and charged for the killing of those protestors; Egypt holds free and fair elections for the first time in history; Mohamed Morsi Muslim Brotherhood Party wins the June 2012 election in a landslide; within a year military strongman General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seizes power in a coup (“meet the new boss, same as the old boss”); his regime brutally kills over 800 who protest his coup; Morsi is now serving life in jail and Mubarak is out on bail frequenting Cairo cafes. What must they think? Do they have hope? Who do they blame? (Ditto the freedom loving people of the Philippines and Turkey!)… The 2011 Egyptian revolution began on January 25th when Egyptian protestors focused on lack of free speech and free elections, police brutality, government corruption, high unemployment, inflation, and continued use of emergency law…it sparked other revolutions in Yemen, Syria, Jordan, Libya, and Bahrain. Well, they kept their bread anyway!
Now I know that conventional wisdom suggests that I not interject politics into our event’s blog, or our travels in general. Of course, that is naïve hogwash. Whether we know it or not, everything we do involves politics in some way. Everything. And traveling the world is no different. Traveling allows us to better understand what is actually going on in the world through personal experience and the personal encounters we have along the way. Traveling allows us to get out of our comfort zones and societally imposed default positions; we get out of the hermetically-sealed tourist bubbles and go out into the streets to eat, play and talk with local people. We ask questions. We are curious. We learn what is really going on in their daily lives and their society. We gleam both context and insights—sometimes provocative ones—about how the other 96% of humanity lives, works and prays. Our shared humanity is ultimately a natural bonding experience between all peoples.
What artificially separates us is politics: how they make a living; what they eat and where it comes from; whether their society is rich or poor and getting better or not; whether they have a hopeful or pessimistic view of their futures; and whether their sons and daughters are healthy or not, getting an education or not and exposed to random or organized violence or not—these are all political issues. Don’t fool yourself; how we organize our lives, what we believe and what we consume—are all political acts. And besides that, asking me to refrain from stating any political belief is like me asking you to keep your opinions to yourself—and I would never do that!
We are off at 10:00am tomorrow to somewhere new for The Global Scavenger Hunt, hard to believe in 12 previous events we have never visited three of our next four countries. Stay tuned…
Thursday, 27 April 2017 – Day 14: Cairo, EGYPT (30.0444° N, 31.2357° E)
Good day from Cairo…where that old French saying maintains its truth: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
The view from our hotel pool…
We had to say goodbye today to Zoe & Rainey (Team Lawyers without Borders) who had to quickly answer to an antsy judge beckoning them. You will be missed…
That said, some teams are already smellin blood and the chance to move up in the standings in their absence!
The teams have been out and about since yesterday at 4PM local time…they have been given a Par 4 set of scavenges here in lower Egypt: the greater Cairo area, Suez and Alexandria. There are 4 Bonuses and over 60 scavenges to contemplate. But Egypt will be challenging for them…challenging because dealing with the constant local methods of haggling about anything and everything sometimes puts people in strange moods. Time will tell who reacts well and can function efficiently in a notoriously inefficient country. Scavenges include:
-Visit the Pyramid Trifecta: Khufu (Giza), Djoser (Step), Dahshur (Bent)
-take our Egyptian Museum of Archeology mini-scavenger hunt
-Bargain for items in the fabulous bazaar of Cairo
-attend the Friday morning camel auction at Souq al-Gamaal
-Take a lazy float down the Nile in a traditional felucca
Our check-in at 9:30PM Friday night… A Cautionary Tale: Security is very tight everywhere in the city during these uncertain geopolitical times with the continuing conflict next-door between Palestine and Israel continuing to cause distress throughout the region; threats of ISIL-inspired terrorism (against local Copts), and that old self-induced paranoid authoritarianism fear–destabilization. But that is what our global cultural immersion is all about, dip out toes in insteresting places and trying to understand other people’s lives, issues and concerns, while enjoying their hospitality and unique customs. Our governments may disagree, but the Egyptian people are always open to visitors (for 5,000 years in a row!) and to their special historic country. We all feel especially safe because our visit here coincides with the Pope’s when he arrives tomorrow…the whole country is on alert.
Khan el-Khalili bread sellor
Wissa Wassef weaver
How not to mount a camel…no names!
The Spice Market
New friends at Mohammed Ali Mosque
Flying Snitches at El Fishawy Cafe
The better half of SLO Folks in Alexandria
Flying Snitches at opera…
The face of the day…Arak (age 41)
Question of the day? What is worse living in a war zone as a result of a sudden violent crisis or in a war zone caused by decades of systemic neglect, corruption and willful decay?
Tuesday, 25 April 2017 – Day 12: Colombo, SRI LANKA (6.9271° N, 79.8612° E)
We have reached the halfway point of the 2017 edition of the world travel championship The Global Scavenger Hunt. Hard to believe…San Francisco, Hong Kong, Macau, Hanoi, Colombo, Kandy, Galle and more…so much more.
Slowly but surely, the teams began re-appearing one-by-one starting last night here at the hotel. Emails with photos and Facebook posts began to pop up again after being off-the-grid for a few blessed days.
All the teams reported in safely at the 3PM check-in deadline here at the Galle Face heritage hotel (a 19th century Grande Damme once considered the best hotel East of the Suez Canal.) The beautific smiles they wore expressing the emotions of all they had seen and done since we last meet on Saturday afternoon were easy to see. Tonight we will blow off a littel steam at Semondu, a fusion restaurant in the recently renovated old Dutch Hospital complex. And then…
The elephants of Yala National Park.
Flying Snitches on pilgrimage…lot’s of steps included!
The Tea plantations of Nuwara Eilya.
A Dozen things you might not have known about Sri Lanka:
-estimated 21 million citizens and is a merging amalgam of Sinhalese (70% Buddhist), Tamil (12% Hindu) and 9% Muslim cultures…a small remenat of Christianity from the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonial days still exists (about 5%)…
-Ceylon changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972
-Sri Lanka literally mean “Resplendent Island” in Sanskrit. Sri Lankas name in Sinhalese is “Shri Lanka Prajatantrika Samajavadi Janarajaya/Ilankai Jananayaka Choshalichak Kutiyarachu”
-Sri Lanka is slightly bigger in geographic size than West Virginia, albeit with 13640 kilometers of coast line
- Sri Lanka’s per capita income is $3,800 (USA = $56,000)
-Sri Lanka’s flag (which I love and have one at home) contains a golden lion, surrounded by four golden leaves at four corners which represents Buddhism; with the green and orange strips representing Islam and Hinduism respectively
-Although cricket is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, the national sport of the country is, in fact, volleyball.
-The spice cinnamon originated in Sri Lanka and was discovered by the Egyptians
-at 92%, Sri Lanka boasts the highest literacy rate in the whole of South Asia
-Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth (where the relic of the tooth of Buddha is housed), is the most sacred Buddhist site in the world
-Sri Lanka was the first country in the world to democratically elect a woman as the head of state (3 times): Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike (1960–65, 1970–77 and 1994–2000)
-the capital of Sri Lanka has moved around: Anuradhapura, to Polonnaruwa…but is today in Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte, not Colombo.
Thought of the Day: It seems to me the person who coined the bumper sticker phrase: “No Pain, No Gain” has obviously never been to the Third World. Life is short and hard here. Especially when you have the all too often modern-day Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (circa 2017): 1) Globalization and all its discontents culturally and socially speaking (rising expectations); 2) Ecological disaster waiting around the corner (the weather on our adventures over the years just keeps getting hotter and hotter during so-called “shoulder season” spring/fall; 3) Religious intolerance simmering silently (global middle-class educated secularist versus fundamnetalists who don’t like change or challenges to the status quo); and finally, 4) pervasive unofficial official corruption (and we see it here as the Chinese have their way with the Sri Lankan governemnt offering grand development schemes in exchange for naval bases and cheap resources…but a single pearl in its strategic string of pearls in its imporatnt south asian geo-political strategy). BTW: The original Four Horsemen were piker’s…just: War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. Stilt fishermen on southern coast near Welligama.
Employing an oruwas.
Lawyers w/o Borders saw monkeys…
1/2 of Thundersnow on a horse…
Thundersnow making new friends…
We try not to hit readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt event’s cause-related, charitable purposes—our method of doing and giving is anonymous and are considered unattached gifts—but, aside from a portion of the event’s annual proceeds going to the GreatEscape Foundation, other good things are happening too, so let me just let you know: some of the teams are raising funds for the GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: of building co-ed elementary schools in developing nations (and a Tuareg Nomadic clinic in Niger too!), and distributing no-fee, interest-free micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs. Both methods are designed to help others in their great escape from the cycle of poverty.
So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small secure online PayPal donationduring the course of the 2017 event, we know that a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we will thank you too…with a tax receipt. Thank you!
Team sightings have become illusive…YOLOGoNow, NOLA 2nd Line, Long Gone, Flying Snitches, Traveling Bohemians…all gone now. Basically, no news from teams…now all scattered somewhere in Sri Lanka.
In lieu of event news, here is a random stream of consciousness and photos from Afar…
The amazing frescos of Sigiriya.
Observations from a foreigner, me: For some reason, I am supremely aware of whiteness today. Local villagers treat me at first like they treat all fellow travelers—as a walking ATM where they just have to push the right buttons (guilt or want) on me and sooner or later money will come out. I just love the bright white-teethed smiles of the cinnamon-colored Sri Lankan women. The only security issue I have seen so far was pickpockets…of the monkey kind, not people.
Train ride to Galle…
I was told today there are 84,000 Hindi gods…I can’t think of 84,000 things to think about let alone pray to…one seems too many! (Okay, just me.)
Saw an article in today’s paper about Sri Lankan’s 86,000 strong police force reforms…they are stressed on the job; so after a study they have instituted the 3553 plan: 3 minutes of briefing before patrol assignments, followed by 5 minutes of meditation and then 5 minutes of relaxed focused breathing, ending with 3 more minutes of shift briefing…hmm.
Our hotel employs a full-time anti-crow slingshot armed man…who means business; as well as, a bug zapper who walks around the lobby and common areas zapping bugs with an electrified tennis racket-like thingy…
Saw a billboard ad today on a drive sorth to Hikkaduwa fishing village…it was a laxative ad whose tag line was, “Get ready to shake things up!” Indeed.
Although illegal, still around…
After dinner at Mango Tree, I resigned myself to the Traveller’s Bar. Well. Someone at the bar asked what it was like being a professional traveler…I thought for a second and replied, “Well, I have been felt up more by airport security personal than the happy hooker!”
SLO Folks on a beastie…
Lawyers w/o Borders standing on trian for 4+ hours to Anuradhappura…
(Committed to seeing and doing something amazing!)
A buck a tuna… The face of the day (67 years old)
Galle Mosque (circa 1770)
Love that flag…and them too!
Tomorrow we are grabbing a 7AM train down east to a city called Kandy. Temple of the Buddha’s Tooth to behold… Thought/Question of the Day: I visited a Hindu temple today and began to wonder…Is it just me, or does the spiritual idea of reincarnation remind you of being held back in third grade? Okay, enough of this…good night from half a world away, until tomorrow!
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