Day 6: Agra, India

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 – Day 6: Agra, India (27.1767° N, 78.0081° E)

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away.”

And India will do that to you…if you let it. India is a real test for our travelers, no, all travelers: daunting, breathtaking, frustrating, exhilarating haunting, sacred, dynamic, traditional, thrilling…I could go on and on…India!

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!”

The turret gates of Mahal…

Gandhi’s gnat…a pilgrimage spot for many…

Shopping for colors…

Morning school bus…

Hawa Mahal palace in Jaipur…

Hindu’s largest temple: Akshardham Temple



Art fir the wall…

Question of the day? Have selfies become the leading killer of tourists? Well, globally, selfie deaths exceed/outnumber shark deaths by 5:1. India is responsible for the vast majority of selfie related deaths 42…be careful out there folks.

Teams are still out and about…we will see everyone tomorrow night at our India leg’s 9:00PM check-in. What I understand is that most teams headed south to Agra via trian and car…but a few went to Jaipur. It will be interesting.

A sad day in our household, the 2012 & 2014 Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings will not raise the cup this year.

Good night (or is it good morning?) from India…

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Day 5: Delhi, India

Tuesday, 17 April 2018 – Day 5: Delhi, India (28.7041° N, 77.1025° E)

Swaagat and Namaste…hello from New Delhi the capital of India.

It has been a long morning/afternoon repositioning ourselves from Taiwan to India, doing a lot of airport line dancing and gaining two-and-a-half hours as we did in the process. Later earlier. And yes, I said two-and-a-half—they do things differently here in India—as any one who has been here can attest.

The regal grande dame of Delhi – The Imperial. They do colonial well here…

Old Business: We have gone over all the peer reviewed TPE Leg (Par 3) scores…(Scavenges completed & strategic Bonuses) and here are the results:
6th – The Buckeye Terriers
5th – NOLA Second Line
4th – Team Tuna
3rd – Leo & The Crab
2nd – Sonoma County Strong
1st – SLO Folks (who kicked butt doing 2 BIG Bonus scavenges) 
-congrats all on finishing the 1st leg…you now know how the game is played!

New Business:

Three-Things I Learned from the Taiwan Leg: 1) People like surprise; 2) People are really nice to other people when strangers are trusted and asked with a smile; 3) SLO Folks are on a mission. Is the 3rd time their charm?

Teams are out and about on a 2.5-day scavenger hunt here in the Triangle area of Delhi-Agra-Jaipur. It will be a mildly difficult Par 4…because after all it is India and things won’t be as efficient as urban Taipei was. Patience will be the key word here; that and water and sunblock-it is 100 out! …we are certainly not in Kansas anymore!

Teams have 5-Bonuses to choose from (Taj Mahal, Jaipur), a couple all-or-nothing Team Challenge, and more than 70 items on the India list, including…
-Taking a 4-hour Indian cooking class
-Practice morning yoga with a yogi master
-Crashing an Indian wedding
-Attending a Hindu cremation ceremony
-Visit the busy & crazy Chandi Chowk market

Indian humanity abounds…

The ten-headed Ravana Vahana…

India is not just a place. India is an altered state…for those open to it; and not all are. India is a drug that pulls you back in, again and again. I, myself, am an India junkie; because, India is equally irresistible and repugnant simultaneously. Travelers can easily develop a love/hate relationship quickly. I am in love; and when I leave India, withdrawal symptoms eventually 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. Life and death, poverty and wealth, sacred and secular, peace and violence, traditional and modern, heaven and hell, are all always seemingly within every sight-line. It defies logic. 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, it is the largest buyer of gold in the world…and there are as many Muslims in India as in Pakistan…and of course, India is the world’s largest democracy–and my personal favorite: home to over 40-varieties of mangoes! But make no mistake, India is so very much more than just the old cliche land of turbans, monsoons, mustaches, palaces, flying toilets, mountains, blinding-colored saris, bougainvillea, lumbering cows, and marigolds…India cannot be described–it can only be experienced.

India can inspire, horrify, enlighten and astonish you; it 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. You cannot fight India and expect to win. All you can do, as conquers and travelers before us have done for centuries since Alexander the Great, is ultimately just embrace India. I suspect this will be a life-changing experience for some of our travelers…it always is.

But most of all, India is personal, real personal; 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 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 of emotions India evokes. But until you experience India personally, face-to-face, you don’t know India. And even when you have visited many times as I luckily have…you still don’t know India. That is why I keep coming back here, over a dozen times to date!

So, today and over the next few days, we will all be trying to get to know India a little better. Good luck…you’ll need it!

We will see the teams again on Thursday night at our 9:00PM leg check-in time…

I am out on a art hunt…

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Day 4: Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Monday, 16 April 2018 – Day 4: Kaohsiung, Taiwan (22.6273° N, 120.3014° E)

Whoosh…I love fast trains. Really fast trains…amazing technology and seamless efficient affordable travel from city-center to city-center. They might be on to something here…

They run at daily operating speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph)!

Ci-en Pagoda at Sun Moon Lake.

The night market last evening…

The wonders of Taroko Gorge…

Over the last two days I have seen: SLO Folks looking lost, Team Tuna drinking adult beverages, Sonoma County Strong plotting and planning, and Leo & the Crab indulging…it seems all good.

SLO Folks, not being slow.

I’ll try not to use any of those tired-ass travel clichés to describe Taipei as “the hidden gem stone in Asia”, I’ll leave that for the newspaper travel sections!—but, along with the other seven million residents in this city, a few of my favorite things to do here in Taiwan are eat, eat, and then eat some more! Did I mention the food!? 24/7 day or night, the time is always right for a few bites of what the Taiwanese call xiao chi—small eats. There’s Cantonese dim sum, hot pot, fresh seafood, congee, Shanghai noodles, sea eel rice, Beijing dumplings, sushi, snake, curls of pig intestine topped with sprigs of cilantro, chopped garlic and chili sauce…scrumdiddlyumtious one and all! Nuff said. It is one of those special eating Mecca’s of the world for travelers who subscribe to the culinary gods—and we do!
Seafood riches…and a line for braised pork rice…she does one thing very very well says the line.
Noodle dishes come in all shapes and sizes…

Taipei is a vibrant, busy city. Locals have a name for this seductive street bustle they live amidst, it is called renao. It is their urban beat, the city’s siren song of the artificial…and all too real. And it really comes out at night…high heels, business suits, neon signs, restaurants, coffee shops, the color red is ubiquitious, shopping, movement to and fro…

This event has many aspects…trusting strangers in strange lands; sight-doing (authentic, challenging and participatory scavenges)…but it also is all about Global Grazing. Face it, this event allows for a lot of things, but lingering in one place watching rice grow is not one of them. (Although that was a meditative scavenge once in the hills of Ubud on Bali a few years ago.) Using the culinary metaphor, this is a dinner of several tasty, light and oh so memorable appetizers—versus just having one main course and knowing immediately that you made the wrong choice and it is just not going to hit your sweet spot darn…you can’t return a vacation can you! Nope, this is Global Grazing…a little San Francisco, a little China, and so far a little Asia…what’s the next hors d’oeuvre coming our way?

Observation funny of the day: I was perusing a  glossy travel magazine in the lobby of the lux hotel we are staying in earlier this morning–my daily fix of travel porn really. I came across an ad for an exclusive all-inclusive island resort that will go nameless because they haven’t paid me to plug it…they charge $4,000 a night (in a country whose per capita GDP is half that–which is another obscenity really, but I regress)…it read:  “…you literally can be on that island, with the whole place to yourself, and have 400 staff taking care of you.” Just imagining myself there, alone for a second, and fending off the 400 staff members constantly asking me, “Is there anything you desire, sir?” Fun times I am sure; a circle of hell for me.

Okay…going to meet the teams for the 8:30PM Day Two check-in and let them know where we are headed to next…should be exciting! Stay tuned.

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Day 3: Taipei, Taiwan

Sunday, 15 April 2018 – Day 3: Taipei, Taiwan (25.0330° N, 121.5654° E)

Nihao…A BIG wet windy welcome from Taipei, Taiwan the Republic of China (ROC)–where everything used to be made.

Day 3 report…but what happened to Day 2 you ask? Well, we were surfing earth’s time-space continuum for thirteen plus hours aboard a China Airlines 767 from SFO, which thankfully, safely alighted us here in Taipei. Missed my wife Pamela’s birthday altogether—sorry honey, maybe next year!

We have established our home base at the Palais de Chine Hotel in Taipei, a traditional Chinese establishment centrally located near Taipei’s major logistical hubs in the heart of a rather dynamic city. It could be worse…but our travelers are smiling though a tad discombobulated…they just traveled 16-hours ahead in time to a strange culture…We should all shake off the effects of our trans-Pacific flight in no time, although I highly discourage napping today.

Teams quickly refreshed and were sent out for a moderately easy and introductory two-day urban Par 3 Scavenger Hunt in one of the safest and easiest-to-navigate public transport network that links this cosmopolitan capital with a bounty of natural and man-made wonders. High-speed rail, subways, buses…use them all!

Our 2018 tribe at San Francisco Bon Voyage dinner sans two teams…

We will see our teams again tomorrow evening (Monday night) at 8:30PM.

Teams have 5-Bonus Scavenges to choose from and 40+ regular site-doing scavenges, including:
-Making paper, making lanterns, making noodles…
-Visiting a Zen meditation center to get Zen
-Attend a Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) game
-Take a dip in a communal hot spring
-Play board games with locals

It is said that traveling is like flirting with life—go flirt folks…have fun and have a great day!

I am on a noodle scavenger hunt myself…then…

Off to fish market…

Visiting  Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall…

Locating surprises that await in the night market…

Our Taipei home away from home, the logistically located: Palais de Chine Hotel

A few knee-jerk observations from Taipei…Taiwan is not part of China. I know this because unlike China, Taiwan is a democratic country—and it shows with their President only having a 50% approval rating (No his name is not Trump, it is Tsia Ing-wen, and he is a she: Madam President Tsia Ing-wen!)…as the economy is not growing as much as her voters would like it to, but her rapid empathetic response to a recent earthquake here, helped show off her obvious skills. Taiwan is slightly bigger than Belgium and about the size of Massachusetts for our friends who don’t know a solitary geographical thing about Belgium. Taiwan is of course China’s contrarian runaway bride–and they want the renegade province (sic) back despite not ruling the island since 1895, then called Formosa.

Oddities: Taiwan has the highest density of convenience stores in the world—snacks and beverages on the go-go…Get this: Most Taiwanese don’t like the rain; and it rains often here as it was on our arrival…yet, walking in it, even in a bit of rain, is a no-no. Why? I think this has to do with pollution and fears of acid rain falling on their skin?! Maybe not… Taiwan also has one of the highest recycling rates in the world—no trash anywhere here and easy places to discard stuff…Taiwan also currently has the lowest birthrate in the world—don’t see a lot of babies here, but a lot of twenty-somethings on phones—so you never know!?…but Taiwan is home to 23.5 million folks that call this island their home—making Taiwan one of the most densely populated places in the world…Metro Taipei has 7-million residents (about the size of Houston)…Taipei is a very livable city–calm and clean with free nation-wide Wi-Fi…and one of the lowest poverty rates in the world (although homeless can be seen near the train stations) and one of the safest cities you’ll probably ever visit…the subways work well and are cheap—about .35 cents a ride…and folks here wear surgical masks not out of fear of catching someone elses infectious disease—but as a courtesy to others because they feel sick! Think about that…

So that is all news I have…till tomorrow.


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Day 2: Inter-Continental Bepopping

Saturday, 14 April 2018 – Day 2: On our way…

Took Magellan months…us, thirteen hours! We are here.

Happy Birthday Pamela…

The Guess the Countries we are going to visit? Pool looks sad….that’s all I am saying. Even Mickey only got one of eleven!

Any guesses? In fact, whoever can name 10 of our 11 pending countries–you already know Taiwan—and get your guesses to us here on the blog before we leave for our next destination (Tuesday), the winner (the one with the most right guesses) will win an official T-shirt!

More later….

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Day 1: San Francisco, USA

Friday, 13 April 2018 – Day 1: San Francisco, USA (37.7749° N, 122.4194° W)

Buenas tardes… misa’ il khayr…Guadn åmd…or wǔ’ān…good afternoon and hello everybody. Thank you for coming to our 2018 event blog called PostCARDS. My name is William Chalmers (please call me Bill if you comment)…I am the Event Director, the (CEO)–Chief Experience Office, and some call me the The Ringmaster. I will be the chief blog poster over the next 23-days.

The World’s Greatest Travelers™ trophy

I want to welcome you all to the greatest show on earth…the 2018 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt, the travel world championships…our 14th event!

Here are the members of our competing 2018 tribe, those hardy, adventurous and curious global travelers that have joined us for the a quick lap around the world. They are all taking a giant leap of faith…because they don’t know where or what they will be doing over the next three weeks while taking A Blind Date with the World. All they know is that they will be visiting 10+ countries spread across 4 continents. Which countries on which continents, well soon be revealed–albeit very slowly. Enjoy the ride…

Jim & Betty, back for the 4th time as NOLA Second Line

Tom & Paula–is their third time the charm?–as SLO Folks

Bill & Anahi, returning from our 2013 event, as The Buckeye Terriers

The legendary Lawyers without Borders, Rainey & Zoe

1st-time teammates, 2nd-time travelers, Greg & Marnie, ATX Traveling Bohemians

Greenhorns Rusty & Donna, Team Tuna

Newbies Gil & Kim known as Leo & the Crab

Rookie gal pals Pamela & Denise of Team Sonoma Strong

That’s the field…they all share a strong passion for travel, to see and experience the world like few ever get a chance to. They are seizing that opportunity. They have an explorers curiosity and desire to engage and learn from the other people of the world. They are positive, hopeful and willing to trust strangers in strange lands. They prefer to do stuff, to enjoy experiences and bank those memories than just acquire more stuff. They are willing to unplug from their social media for 23-days and be truly social mano-a-mano. They are willing to leave their expectations unpacked in the closet back home and thrust themselves and their egos into the world. They are ready to have fun playing a global game that will encourage them to live, be, and act in the moment for the next 23-days that will test their stamina, their travel savvy, their acquired Travel IQ and their resourcefulness.

There will be eight unique  legs in the 2018 round the world event that will take us to nine new countries: The legs will be divided into: 2 Par 1’s, 1 Par 2, 2 Par 3’s, 1 Par 4, and 2 Par 5’s . The lowest possible score for the event is 24. My guess is that won’t happen–the Sydney Sisters are not joining us this year! So, good luck to all…

We are off to dinner and then…All our bags are packed and we’re ready to go!

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Where are we going in 2018?

Better yet, where are you going in 2018?

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.

The mind reels…happily! Excited? So are we.

Red been there/Gray what’s next.

So…what do you say?

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Reasons to take the leap and participate in The Global Scavenger Hunt

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…

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The World’s Greatest Travelers™…and so much more

In November 2007, there was a news piece about The Global Scavenger Hunt in the travel section (remember those?) of USA Today. It got a lot of traction, and we received hundreds of applications from the piece.

Two wannabe travelers that introduced themselves to us at that time are Zoe & Rainey, team Lawyers without Borders. We remember interviewing them; they were: passionate, determined, curious, honest and gung-ho travelers. We eagerly accepted them and they became 2008 event newbies. Not only did they single-handedly help us raise funds for our event co-star, the GreatEscape Foundation, that later directly funded the building of coed elementary schools and a medical clinic (still in use serving as a midwives training center in Niger), they came in second in 2008. We were thrilled in 2009, when they fairly and rightfully claimed the title of The World’s Greatest Travelers in…and for the next three years too.

Since 2008, they have participated in all nine events that have taken place; winning now five times—including last year in 2016, and they have showed in 3rd place on two other occasions. Only once in 2013 did they not win, place or show. They have proven and gracious winners who have worn their crown well and have wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of the event as we conceived it back in 2000.

Zoe and Rainey have also been passionate evangelists of the event, spreading the word about what we know is truly the greatest travel adventure on the planet. They not only share our vision of travel, but our deep desire to give back to those communities less fortunate than us in the world–the other 99% of humanity. They schedule their busy year around participating in the annual event and have also brought along their sons and daughters, sisters and parents, friends and neighbors to join in our extraordinary event. They have changed the lives of many because of both their generous nature and passionate participatory travels. They are simply wonderful people.

We thought it would be fun to share a few photos over the years from Lawyers without Borders who have so far visited 59 countries with us–with more new one’s to come this year! Please enjoy.
GE2008 (1263)
2008…a plane ride to the roof of the world
GE2009 (355)
2009…blind taste tests (Rainey is the designated eater/drinker)

GE2009 (422)
2009…4 Generations in Iceland (Ben, where did you go?)
RCB as Indiana Jones
2010…Rainey’s publicity shot!
2010…up the Mekong without a paddle
2011…kids at home, learn from Aunt Zoe–NEVER do this! (Stinks for a week)
2011…celebrating another win with family & friends
2012…busking for points somewhere in Europe (Keep your day job!)
2012…Zoe naturally doing something unnatural
Zoe Rainey Cambodia 925
2013…southeast asia
2013…chef Rainey, hmmm.
2014 ipad 019
2014…another case of ethnic costume dementia
2014 ipad 079
2014…cycling in Denmark
gsh 2015 ipad 1661
2015…down n’ dirty in Fiji
gsh 2015 ipad 1751
2015…in Bali
2016…ballooning over Africa
2016…always negotiating
The World’s Greatest Travelers: Zoe & Rainey

They are now part of or family and we are honored to call them friends. We look forward to another great showing in 2017, Zoe & Rainey’s 10th anniversary of participating in The Global Scavenger Hunt. Good luck and thank you both.

Pamela + Bill

P.S. Is it just me, or, does Rainey have only three black shirts–a tank, a t and a long-sleeve? 🙂

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