Day 14: Floating in the Dead Sea

Day 14: Thursday, 25 April 2019 – Amman, Jordan (31.9454° N, 35.9284° E)

Good Morning from Amman…a place where fetching a taxi requires 6 conversations, 5 shoulder shrugs, 4 finger waves, 3 no’s, 2 I know a man’s and 1 final as you please.

Woke up this morning to the fishing boats heading out at dawn to get their daily catch from the Dead Sea. A gorgeous morning, quiet…only birds chirping, and Germans marking their coveted pool lounge chairs with their beach towels—they will return in hours after breakfast. Today, marks Holy Thursday in the Orthodox Christian world, and the Baptism site of Jesus a few clicks away is expected to do booming business today it is said. Lot’s Cave and Mose’s Nebo Mtn today, not so much.


Lazy Monday riding to Petra

Hanging @ a new 7 Wonder of the World

The Door of Mystery????

Lawyers without Borders on their beastie…but who’s was first?

Retired Traveling Chicks @ the seven pillars of wisdom in Wadi Rum

We are running out of days, so I am dumping three Pre-Event Global Literacy questions your way today (answers below and no cheating please…best informed guess):

5. There are 2 billion children in the world today, aged 0 to 15 years old. How many children will there be in 2100, according to UN population experts?
A – 4 Billion
B – 3 Billion
C – 2 Billion

6. The UN predicts that by 2100 the world population will increase by another 4 billion people. What is the main reason?
A – There will be more children (aged below 15)
B – There will be more adults (aged 15 to 74)
C – There will be more very old people (aged 75 and older)

7. How did the number of deaths per year from natural diasters change over the last 100 years?
A – More than double
B – Remained about the same
C – Decreased to less than half

We are meeting all the teams this evening at our 8:00PM at our Check-in Deadline with a few drinks and appies… before things start get real serious in the coming days ahead…3 legs to go with 9 first place points to be had. Stay tuned tomorrow from someplace else…where, oh where shall we go?!

Pre-Event Global Literacy answers:
5 – C…number of children in the world will remain about the same…(only 3 got that right – Chimps winning 5-0);
6 – B…a lot more adults (7 got that right….Chimps up 5-1);
7 – C…natural disaster deaths are way down due to science and technology and government regulations globally (as the insurance companies would require!) and only 1 got that right (Chimps up 6-1).
Crazy, right!

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Day 13: Looking for Indiana Jones…

Day 13: Wednesday, 24 April 2019 – Petra, Jordan (30.3285° N, 35.4444° E)

Petra…what does that word conjure in you? The exotic destination? An immovable object? Me, well thinking of home, my daughter’s name is Petra. And today, her namesake is everywhere. It subconsciously gnaws at me…a parent away from one of their children.  “I don’t know what’s worse: suffering from homesickness when traveling or from wanderlust when not?” – William D. Chalmers, circa 1989

And here we are wandering around Jordan today.


Better half of Order & Chaos on beastie


What are odds teams would all be at same truck stop at same time?

.
…we are all doing our part.


World’s smallest hotel…oh yes, a crusader castle atop that hill too.

And good night from the Dead Sea with Palestine/Israel in the background.

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Day 12: Historic Jordan

Day 12: Tuesday, 23 April 2019 – Amman, Jordan (31.9454° N, 35.9284° E)

“It’s alarming how much misinformation is out there. Travel is a powerful antidote. When people meet, share a coffee, and talk about their country or their experience, differences often melt away. Tourists are the best ambassadors for tolerance. Every holiday snap, every e-mail home, turns them into digital diplomats. There is no doubt in my mind that travel fosters tolerance, promotes knowledge, and encourages harmony between people of different cultures and religions.”Queen Rania of Jordan

Marhaban…and hello from Jordan! Hard to believe…but today is already the half-way point of the 2019 version of The Global Scavenger Hunt. And with Canada, Viet Nam, Myanmar, Thailand and United Arab Emirates behind us, we still have seven more destinations to test the travel skill sets of our competitors over the final 12 days.

Busy day for us and a lot to report…photos and videos too.


We moved from there…to here.

NEXUS having desert fun…

A group selfie sans Transformed Travel Goddesses


Airport debriefings…

Waiting to board AUH-AMM Flight

We are sad to farewell and good bye to The Fillies (Barbara & Sally)…who we left behind this morning at AUH who have left us and are headed back to the USA. (FYI: It was pre-arranged; so no issues there.)

Almost One-Minute Interview with Retired Traveling Chicks

One-Minute event update from Pamela in AUH

Old Business:  We have gone over all the peer reviewed AUH Leg (Par 2) scores…(Scavenges completed & strategic Bonuses)
6th – Transformed Travel Goddesses
5th – The Fillies who did 10 scavenges for 425 points
4th – Lawyers without Borders completed 17 scavenges for 680 points
3rd – SLO Folks did 18 scavenges for 690 points
2nd – Order & Chaos who emerged from the dead and completed 18 scavenges for 705 points
1st – went to Lazy Monday who won both Team Challenges (visiting the highest spot in Abu Dhabi and mounting a 4-legged beastie too) along with 21 other scavenges for 965 points!

Congrats all on finishing the fifth leg…

Overall leaders after Five completed legs (par 12 of 25 completed)…the overall top 4 teams are:
4. SLO Folks = 50
3. Order & Chaos = 45
2. Lazy Monday = 22
1. Lawyers without Borders = 21

Three-Things I Learned from the AUH Leg: Ladies and gentlemen we have a serious competition on our hands at the half way mark—a veteran team against a first time team—both are great travelers!; we lost a few more competitive teams who elected to throw in the towel while finding their own happiness quotient; and we are finally out of the heat!

New Business: For the next three days we have put together a fun but tricky Par 4 leg due to the many Bonus options available to our travelers. This leg is all about choices and Bonuses–all 13 of them! A great destination with historic and mythical biblical destinations, great Roman ruins and other cultural highlights, along with Jordan’s not-to-vast and accessible stunning natural beauty. Have I even mention the ancient Nabatean city Petra yet?! (Well…I have pissed off daughter today back in LA who’s name is Petra!)


5 Sample Jordanian Scavenges:
-Visit Lawrence’s infamous “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” and quench your thirst at Ain Shalaaleh…
-Retrace Moses’ footsteps and climb to the top of Mount Nebo…
-Visit the lowest point on Earth and float in the Dead Sea…
-Locate an oryx in the Mujib Biosphere Reserve…
-Hang with some locals sucking a shisha and talking about life…


Jordan is target rich!


But maybe a tad confusing…

Retired Traveling Chicks & Team Ying 2.0 perform at Roman Amphitheater in Amman.

We try not to hit our readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes, but this annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers). Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families.

So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week in order to make a small secure PayPal GreatEscape Foundation donation during the course of the 2019 event, we know a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we’ll thank you too…with a tax receipt. Thank you!

We will report next from either Petra or the Dead Sea…wish you were here!

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Day 11: The Middle East Pivot

Day 11: Monday, 22 April 2019 – Abu Dhabi, UAE (24.4539° N, 54.3773° E)

Ahlan wa sahlan…Welcome to the consumer wonderland known as Abu Dhabi; the place were trophy building developments occur before the actual need for them—if you build it they will come philosophy. Cool when you have deep oil-rev pockets and only 12% of population are people that actually matter. But I regress… We were last here officially in 2015, although we know all the nooks and crannies of the AUH international airport…as it has served for years as our useful Middle Eastern pivot for us either heading to Europe, Africa or South Asia.

Today we are holed up for two nights at the wonderful St. Regis Abu Dhabi beachside of the Persian Gulf.


The bus they sent to transfer 23 passengers from the airport…seems they forgot about where to put our luggage!

This mornings opulent breakfast salved everyone from an arduous day yesterday and everyone is ready to go…

Quick Thought…Was thinking…ten places that didn’t exist not so many years ago…let’s say since the 70’s…Incheon, South Korea, an airport city of 3million+…every major development in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar…Brasilia, Brazil…and then thinking what will surive us in 3000 years…only things in the dry deserts…so Vegas, Dubai, etc…

Old Business:  The Road Officials have had time to go over all the peer reviewed hot & nasty 8-Hour Layover Challenge Leg (Par 1) in Bangkok scores…

7th Place = Transformed Travel Goddesses with 145 points

6th Place = SLO Folks with 235 points

Three-way tie for 3rd Place = Team Ying 2.0, The Fillies & Order & Chaos with 265 points each

Tie for 1st Place = Lawyers without Borders & Lazy Monday (who lost their book before leaving the airport…but recovered in time to find a real live elephant) with 270 points each

Congrats all on finishing the fourth leg…

Overall leaders after four completed legs (par 11 of 25 completed)…the overall top 3 teams on the 2019 – Leader Board 2 are:

The Elephant Shot that won the Team Challenge (again by Lazy Mondays…beginning to think it’s their thing.)

Three-Things I Learned from the RGN & BKK Legs: More is not our goal or our spirit…Quality matters over quantity…teams need to slow down and enjoy the experiences (between themselves and the places they are visiting), learn from the people the meet about what they are seeing and doing; experiences matter more than points. All good life lessons. We have 5 legs still worth 15 Par…so this is still anyone’s event to win.

Having fun with the Global Literacy Test…Question 4 a simple one: What is the average life expectancy of the world today?
A – 50 Years
B – 60 Years
C – 70 Years (No cheating…answer below)

New Business: Having arrived last night after a three country sprint from Yangon and Bangkok, we are really only in operation here for one full day, today. So we have put together a relatively easy nouveau riche Middle East urban adventure Par 2…with our check-in deadline tonight at 10:00 pm here in the hotel lobby.

5 Sample Abu Dhabi Scavenges:
-Ride the world’s fastest rollercoaster…
-Visit the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital and handle one…
-Kayak the mangroves of Abu Dhabi…
Visit the Louvre Abu Dhabi and find the world’s most expensive painting… 
Visit a Western fast food establishment (Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc.), but eat something not on the normal American menu…

One Minute Interview with Barbara & Sally of The Fillies.

FYI…enjoy some of our 2019 team blogs, and social media posts:
Lawyers without Borders (blog) –
Order & Chaos (blog) –
Transformed Goddesses (blog) FB & Instagram links –
MargoPolos –  
Twitter fed – Margo’s (blog) Karen’s (blog)
The FILLIES (blog) FB + FB & Instagram links –
NEXUS (blog) –
Team Ying 2.0 (blog) –


An eerily beautiful phenomena of winter is the morning fog playing with the buildings


The amazing, Taj-like,  Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque


They put gold leaf in coffees here…for a price.


Time for lunch…

Again…we try not to hit our readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes, but this annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers). Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families.

So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week in order to make a small secure PayPal GreatEscape Foundation donation during the course of the 2019 event, we know a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we’ll thank you too…with a tax receipt. Thank you…shukran jazilann too!

The answer to question 4 of our Global Literacy is C – 70 years! There has been amazing progress in this regard as infant deaths are drastically reduced. Only 2 of our travelers answered correctly…Chimps now up 4-0!

See you all tonight at our 10:00PM Deadline Checkin…

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Day 10: A Sultry Layover Challenge in Bangkok

Day 10: Sunday, 21 April 2019 – Bangkok, Thailand (13.7563° N, 100.5018° E)

You say layover, I say happy hour!” – William D. Chalmers, circa 1988

Sawasdee—Welcome to Thailand! BTW…Happy Easter everyone…

We took a rare backtrack today, because oddly, we had to fly slightly east to further our westward global trajectory…Myanmar is still hard to get into and out of with limited connections to mostly its regional neighbors…especially Bangkok and Singapore. Today we chose Bangkok as a more interesting layover in our exit strategy. Thus we a have fun 8-Hour Layover Challenge…but I am getting ahead of myself.

Old News First: We have gone over all the peer reviewed challenges of the Myanmar Leg (Par 5) scores…with Team Order & Chaos receiving a prorated average of 613 points that was the average score of the top 5 teams first 24 hours in Myanmar scores (throwing out the high and low) through no fault of their own due to not being allowed entry into Myanmar on a visas technicality. This was only fair.

#7 – The FILLIES did 32 scavenges in Yangon, Bagan & Mandalay (but elected to fly between the latter) earning 395 points after hefty penalty…but having a ball with no regrets.

#6 – Transformed Travel Goddesses did 20 scavenges in Yangon & Bagan earning 770 points

#5 – Order & Chaos in their abbreviated scavenging did 20 scavenges and after the prorated points earned 1,668 points.

#4 – Team Ying 2.0 were all over the place, from Yangon to Bagan and Mandalay…earning 1,935

#3 – Lazy Monday did 47 scavenges (the most in Yangon) along with some in Mandalay earning themselves 1,945 points (including winning the 4-Legged Beastie Challenge again!)

#2 – SLO Folks did 37 scavenges in Yangon, Bagan & the point rich area of Inle Lake for 2,055 points

#1 – Lawyers without Border completed 52 scavenges in Yangon, Bagan & Inle earning themselves 2,745 points

That said, the new overall leaders after three completed legs (par 9 of 25 completed) are:

3rd Place = Team Ying 2.0 @ 30
2nd Place = Lazy Mondays @ 19
1st Place = Lawyers without Borders @ 12

Three Things I Learned from the Myanmar Leg: Having a sound travel strategy is key and travel IQ still matters more than money; some teams are still moving way too fast—he who runs can still not walk with dignity; Myanmar was amazing—it always is. Oh, and Emory’s blog is too funny!

One-Minute Interview with Team NEXUS.

Onward…now about this Par 1 urban 8-Hour Layover Challenge!

lay•over  \ ‘lā-, ō-vәr \ noun (1873) – STOPOVER n (1885): a period spent by a passenger at an intermediate point in waiting for a transportation connection; a brief halt in a journey caused by scheduling in the course of a journey; a short stop in a long journey, especially one between airplane flights; free time between flights spent in an airport hub—and to be avoided like the plague.


5-Sample Bangkok Scavenges:
-pay homage to the Grand Palace…
-get a cool foot massage…
-utilize four different modes of public transportation…
-eat at one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite street food carts…
Team Challenge: Obtain a photo of a live elephant…

Do you stay at the airport trapped like a tourist in transit in the mall-like terminal? No you don’t
Do you find a floor, a quiet corner or bench, and attempt to catch a few zzzz’s. No you don’t…
Do you zone out talking with other travelers drinking beer watching CNN? No you don’t
Do you get an expensive spa treatment at the airport spa? No you don’t
Do you go to the airport fitness area or prayer room to work on your cardio, abs or soul? No you don’t
Do you hang out in a premium lounge and answer e-mails, play computer solitaire, or post a new Instagram photo? No you don’t…
Do you eat some notoriously bad generic airport food? No you don’t…
Do you go guilt shopping for duty-free? No you don’t…

-You escape the airport albeit for a short time with only one rule…don’t miss your flight!
…you embrace this short window of opportunity
…you take a mini-excursion…explore a neighborhood…see something you’ve always wanted to see
…you stretch your legs in an exotic location
…you go out and see and do as much as possible
…you maximize your exposure to a new place, a new culture
…you engage with real human beings
…you have a good time
…take a whirlwind hit n’ run no-time-to-waste tour
…but the clock is ticking— you have to be time sensitive
…you won’t turn into a pumpkin—but you will miss your flight!
…so efficiency matters…you have to know when to walk away—it’s just not working out
…forget lines and mass tourism spots
…our layover challenges test their Travel IQ…their situational awareness…
…but they have to be careful, be smart
…remember the vagaries of local logistics
…and the airport boogaloo awaiting them: check-in, security, customs & immigration queues…
Remember: don’t miss your flight!

 

On the other hand, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler—that if you’ve never missed a flight, you’ve probably spent way too much time in airports!

Here’s math professor Jordan Ellenberg getting his geek on for you with his three options:

“Option 1: arrive two hours before flight, miss flight two percent of the time
Option 2: arrive one and a half hours before flight, miss flight five percent of the time
Option 3: arrive one hour before flight, miss flight fifteen percent of the time

Using util values for time, you can figure out which scenario affords you the most positive utility. In the first scenario, two hours of your time equals -2 utils (negative because it’s a loss to be wasting time), but the chance of missing the flight two percent of the time has to be accounted for as well (-6 utils times the two percent chance of that happening). When the two are added together, the utility for the first scenario lands at -2.12 utils. For option two, your utility ends up being -1.8 (-1.5 utils plus -6 times five percent) and for option three, your utility is -1.9 utils. So from a mathematical standpoint, your best bet would be to arrive one and a half hours before your flight.” (Smithsonian, 23 June 2014)


Okay, that said…we are now en route to Abu Dhabi…martinis at midnight!

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Day 9: The Plains of Bagan

Day 9: Saturday, 20 April 2018 – Bagan, Myanmar (21.1717° N, 96.8585° E)

Good evening, or is it good morning…depends on your time zone…our’s is Good Evening.

Here’s all the news fit to print…by me not the New York Times, with my four fingers.

Bagan is Myanmar’s most visited spot. Marco Polo once called it the gilded city for its surfeit of Buddhist temples and pagodas. Today, many thousands still remain—2,200 at last census—and some real keepers too; a sunrise balloon ride over them is unforgettable. It’s a place where horse carriages, dusty bike paths, and building things just cause it makes you feel good still exist.

   

Question #3 of our Pre-Event Global Literacy Test:  Q) In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has…
A – Almost doubled
B – Remained more or less the same
C – Almost halved? (Answer below…no cheating what do you think?)
  
A few of the faces we’ve seen today…

Sunset fishing @ Inle Lake…

So, all the teams eventually arrived this evening for our 6:00PM Deadline check-in with beautific smiles on their faces…they have all seen and done a lot over the past three and half days. More than they thought they world. Myanmar is an amazing place. Everyone is safe and accounted for. After a quick change of clothes…we all met again for a fun hospitality dinner at Gekko…Japanese for all our friends!

All the teams in sorta action from somewhere?

 

 

 

When we returned to the hotel, teams were given their 4-Hour Notice…but in this case, it is a 8-Hour Notice…tomorrow will be an interesting travel day as we transition from here to there…breakfast in one country, lunch in another and cocktails in a third! Yep, only on The Global Scavenger Hunt can you do that kind of day. Stay tuned…

Question #3 answer is: C – Almost halved…and just 3 of our travelers answered correctly (Chimps now winning 3-0!)

Good till we touch base again tomorrow from Thailand.

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Day 8: On The Road to Mandalay

Day 8: Friday, 19 April 2018 – Mandalay, Myanmar (21.9588° N, 96.0891° E)

Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay: Can’t you ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay? On the road to Mandalay, Where the flyin’-fishes play, An’the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay!” – Rudyard Kipling


Surreal to think that we all met just a week ago…so much has happened…so many friendships made…so many sites seen and done…Vancouver, Saigon and today from Myanmar. A week goes by in a flash when traveling. You are just so much in the moment. Being. And with two weeks still to go before we drop anchor in New York City, we have a lot in front of us still…

Random thoughts of the day as the teams continue doing their site-doing scavenges all over Myanmar on Day 3. It’s like this…we see them a lot, then not at all for days on end.

Observation: 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?


From Inle Lake…a fire a little too close for us Californians…a controlled burn.

Field notes from the war between independent travelers and mass tourism. Mass tourism is winning, badly, making travel itself almost less than ethical it seems at times…full planes, airport malls, the photo ops, the selfies, the water bottles, the locust-like cruise ships passengers dropped into a place, the homogenization of food…sometimes I feel like we‘re visiting a zoo and all the locals are our visuals. Reading the hotel supplied list of Minister of Hotels & Tourism “Do’s & Don’ts for Tourists”…including: don’t take photos of people without asking; wear decent clothes; don’t expose your feet to the Buddha; don’t touch anyone’s head; learn basic words; no PDA’s; don’t cajole prayers; use sustainable traditional transportation; don’t use black market money changers  who give you a better rate; do not go where you are asked not to go;….yea, most tourists are listening. How do we exit this?


The hi-ways, by-ways & water-ways…


The amazing Kakku Pagodas…only 2,500 of them!

Was thinking how Orwell would do in the age of Twitter and thought about a few people from the past that I wished had a Twitter account: Dorothy Parker (can you imagine?), George Carlin, Ann Richards, Oscar Wilde, Gore Vidal, Lord Byron, Ambrose Bierce, Jesus (WTF Would he think they’ve done to his message of: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, having compassion for the poor, loving thy enemies…and  of course His Gospel of Prosperity!?)

Hope this isn’t the new leader board?

So, our check-in deadline is 6:00PM tomorrow (Saturday) in the lobby of our Sule Shangri-La Hotel. It is to be followed by a letting-off-some-steam hospitality event…followed eventually by a 4-Hour Notice to somewhere else…stay tuned. Wishing everyone luck and skill getting back to Yangon from Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake…you can do it!

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Day 7: The Temple of Temples

Day 7: Thursday, 18 April 2018 – Yangon, Myanmar (16.8661° N, 96.1951° E)

“This is what’s priceless about travel: It allows us to fill in the blanks, put names to faces, and make bits and pieces of the wide world, now and forever, part of our own worlds. And through it, we gain a better understanding of everything from the front-page news to our next-door neighbors.”Thomas Swick (travel writer)

Day Two in Myanmar…might be easier today considering life is back to normal following a week of serious holiday making…

My Early Morning Question of the Day (and I have a lot today):  What is it about shoes…every temple makes you take them off…do shoes impede spiritual progress?

Good Morning…

I love getting up before dawn refreshed and full of hope, anything seems possible; it seems to me that disappointment rarely ever shows its ugly face until before noon. Mornings when traveling is mine, all mine…Now, my family…well…it’s fifty-fifty!

So…yesterday we confronted, what I have referred to in years past as  the 3rd Day Syndrome…a little drama that plays itself out every year. It is normal for travelers with heightened emotions, jet lag, place lag, culture shock to go through…and it especially occurs on the 3rd day of our event when the results of the first international leg are revealed. Note that no drama occurs before the results are made public, only after!? So, I offer you my perspective on the sometimes dreaded 3rd Day Syndrome in a little YouTube video here.

To visit or not to visit? That is another question for us today here in Myanmar.  Should we even be in this country considering it’s repressive ways? Here is what I told our travelers yesterday, some of whom brought up the issue:

“Another aspect of this leg  is important for us to chat about…we want you all to know that you are serving as goodwill ambassadors here…on an informal diplomatic mission…a fact-finding operation. We want you to dare to understand! …Frankly, Myanmar is one of the most complicated and captivating destinations you’ll ever visit…with an equally spectacularly rich culture and amazingly beautiful people… BUT, and it is a big BUT… there can be no doubt that Myanmar, just emerging from decades in isolation…suffers tremendous problems… make no mistake about it, it is a troubled country with great suffering…and certainly we are aware of the human rights atrocities (yes, atrocities!) taking place here in the name of religion, nationalism and ethnicities…we are not tone-deaf! But we want you to get past the “official story” you may have heard…to experience it for yourself…to meet and engage as many locals as possible…to bear witness for yourself what’s really going on here…to play journalist…to be your own reporter and ask a lot of questions–difficult questions–and then to listen carefully and with great respect to what is said to you…to learn from what you have heard in order to gain an honest perspective…of course please offer support when appropriate. We have no illusions…there can be no doubt that parachuting into a place for a short time never allows one to mirabile dictu, to acquire instant expertise…that of course takes time…but we fundamentally believe that you can acquire a more accurate idea as to what local perceptions, and maybe even what the real facts on the ground here are…by seeing it with your own two eyes and asking questions…I want you to be able to say: Here’s what I found upon arrival from my own personal experience in Myanmar…to make your own decisions.” Nuff said…

More questions…Does a place become holy because holy people come there, or do holy people come there because the place is holy?

People always ask me, no really, they do because I am considered (wrongly) to be an expert on most things travel related especially obscure cultural nuances that Harvard PhD’s specialize in…What’s the difference between a pagoda, a temple and a stupa? I was confused once too by this distinction, but here’s what I know: A pagoda is a generic term for a stupa or a temple. Stupas are pagodas that you can go around but you generally can’t go into—Shwedagon Pagoda (below) is a good example of a stupa—the biggest baddest one in the world IMHO. Temples are pagodas that you can go inside and typically they have four entrances and exits located north, south, east and west with a Buddha awaiting you at each entrance.

Was interesting how few of our travelers had been here to Myanmar…it reminds me that we know more about our solar system than our oceans and that more people (530) have traveled to outer space than have have traveled to all countries (180)!

FYI…Although we have no idea where they get the time (or energy?); some of our 2019 teams are blogging, and open to social media interactions:
Lawyers without Borders (blog) –
Order & Chaos (blog) –
Transformed Goddesses (blog) FB & Instagram links –
MargoPolos –  Twitter fed – Margo’s (blog) Karen’s (blog)
The FILLIES (blog) FB + FB & Instagram links –
NEXUS (blog) –
Team Ying 2.0 (blog) –


We try not to hit our readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes, but this annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers). Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families.

So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week in order to make a small secure PayPal GreatEscape Foundation donation during the course of the 2019 event, we know a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we’ll thank you too…with a tax receipt.

Thank you, or should I say ce-zu-beh!

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Day 6: I Dream of Mandalay…

Day 6: Wednesday, 17 April 2019 – Yangon, Myanmar (aka Burma) (16.8661° N, 96.1951° E)

If you smile at me, I will understand. Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language.” – Wooden Ships lyrics from Crosby, Stills & Nash

Mingalar ba…Welcome to Myanmar!

We have successfully transitioned from Viet Nam to Myanmar on an early morning flight. Well, for the most part.

What do they say about foolish consistency? We ran into a bout of issues transitioning today from SGN to RGN via Vietnam Airlines. First, one agent wanted to know our onward flight from RGN four days from now? Hard to say why (Maybe the result of the old 60’s Hippies Rule when they didn’t want young people coming into their country without an onward tickets?), but it caught fire with the other agents as our group started checking in…hard to keep secrets in this world anymore and totally arbitrary as some teams just waltzed through without it being a concern. Next came a typo in an approved visa from Myanmar: all the data was correct save one passport date—that had already been approved by the Myanmar government. Not good enough for Vietnam Airlines though…the team (Order & Chaos) were kindly requested to apply online for another valid visa again…problem is that Immigration office closed until after the big holiday—tomorrow. Try as we might, they did not allow them to board the flight…they have since moved along to Bangkok and are booked on a flight to Yangon tomorrow assuming their visa comes through? Never a dull moment.

Anyway…We arrive at an auspicious time too…the last day of a loonnnng weekend celebration, the New Year “Thingyan Water Festival” holiday in Myanmar (13-17 April 2019), in which pretty much everything is closed…

Quick Observation: Oh, oh that smell…the olfactory memories we have: temple incense, cow dung, piss, cut flowers, traffic exhaust, baking bread, BO, curries… “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.”  (Rudyard Kipling) indeed, the list grows…vehicle exhaust, sewage, cooking meat, sweating bodies, urine, rain in the air, jet fuel, fermenting fruit…a cacophony of odors that plays on the mind.

We have birthdays…today is Barbara (The FILLIES) and tomorrow because we won’t see them is Eric’s (Lazy Mondays)…Happy Birthday folks…enjoy your gifts of extraordinary experiences!

Old News: We have gone over all the peer reviewed SGN Leg (Par 3) scores; checked scavenges completed & strategic Bonuses. And here’s what happened:
9th – with 16 completed scavenges earning 515 points – Team NEXUS
8th – Transformed Goddesses completed 1 bonus and 13 scavenges for 590 points
7th – SLO Folks doing 1 Bonus and 21 scavenges for 760 points
6th – Retired Traveling Chicks completed 1 Bonus and 19 scavenges for 785 points
4th – The Fillies who completed 19 scavenges for 805 points
4th – Order & Chaos who completed 25 scavenges for 805 points
3rd – Team Ying 2.0…1 Bonus & 19 scavenges for 865 points
2nd – Lawyers without Borders who completed 1 bonus and 24 scavenges for 1050 points
1st – and completing 1 Bonus and 26 scavenges in all (plus the Team Challenge) Lazy Monday with 1070 points
Congrats to all on finishing the second leg…

The photo that won them a 1st place finish with 55 points in SGN leg…fun and creative…and accurate.
 
It’s a live…it’s bigger than he…it has 4 legs…it looks like a beast too!

Three-Things I Learned from the short Viet Nam Leg: Teams should find their sweet spot ASAP; It was hot; the mirror of the competition is real.

The New News: So, here we go, moving on to the third of nine legs making up the 2019 world travel championship event. And it will be doozy; a four-day difficult Par 5 country-wide four-day leg that will have teams not only dealing with Yangon scavenges, but also scavenges in Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake too–all some distance away. It will be a difficult leg because there are a lot of options and movement involved–and of course some strategic choices to consider. They are not in Kansas anymore! Teams will also have options as to where they will be staying a night while they set out to discover  this amazing country. Today is Wednesday morning and we see our Teams again come Saturday at our 6:00pm check-in deadline. (Oh yea…the Heat Index here is 114 degrees! A dry heat when it’s not so wet out…)

5-Sample Myanmar Scavenges:
-take a pilgrimage to the Golden Rock pagoda…
-take the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River Express between Mandalay and the Bagan Plains…
-visit a zen meditation center to learn from a master…
-smoke a big fatty, a cheroot that is…
Team Challenge: How high can you get, vertically-speaking, in Myanmar…

And today the real travel test will begin. Our teams collective travel savvy and travel IQ will be tested here in Myanmar… in this daunting, breathtaking, frustrating, exhilarating haunting, sacred, dynamic, traditional, thrilling, rapidly changing (and I could go on and on) destination! It will be an interesting four days. Have fun and be safe folks.

SLO Folks working on their ground invasion strategy!

An Instant Observation: Coming from the scooter capital of the world to here is jarring because motorbikes are outlawed, which means you’re in a car, a bus, or on foot. Crazy visuals….

It is said that: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the places and moments that take our breath away.” And Myanmar will do that to you…if you let it.

Video of the day? Watch this on YouTube.

Stay tuned…the 3rd Day Syndrome is wreaking havoc on us…

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Day 5: The Mekong Delta

Day 5: Tuesday, 16 April 2019 – Cần Thơ (Mekong Delta), Viet Nam – 10.0634° N, 105.5943° E

Good afternoon from a special place…the Mekong Delta. Hard to imagine, difficult to describe, amazing in real life. I’ll try to refrain from using any of those tired-ass travel clichés to describe Viet Nam as “the hidden gem stone in Asia”…I’ll leave that for the other same-old, same-old travel bloggers. But within my POV I see what seems like chaos, beauty, green,  exotic, a bustling river life…I see  tradition. The way it is and always has been. Buying, selling, eating, laughing, coming and going. Young and old going about their daily routines. It is just another weekday afternoon after a long holiday weekend for them. For us, it is time out of mind; a mental place lag between our world and theirs. So for us it is unique, special, exotic, thrilling, and spectacularly appealing. For them it is 2:17pm on Tuesday.

Make things with rice…


River life…

169 km from HCM City to Cai Rang floating market…

Back in HCM City proper we have a different POV:


Lazy Monday enjoy a rooftop breakfast @ hotel

 
Art & History

 
The Old Guard & the new reality…


Crab, anyway you like it!


This is not your father’s Vietnam…


Did you have a sandwich today? Us too, #10!

Observation…growing like China circa 2007…double digit prosperity.

Question 2 of our Pre-Event Global Literacy Chimpanzee Test: Where does the majority of the world’s population live?
A – Low-income countries?
B – Middle-income countries?
C – High-income countries?
Answer below…no cheating!

FYI…Although we have no idea where they get the time (or energy); some of our 2019 teams are blogging, and open to social media interactions:
Lawyers without Borders (blog) –
Order & Chaos (blog) –
Transformed Goddesses (blog) FB & Instagram links –
MargoPolos –  Twitter fed – Margo’s (blog) Karen’s (blog)
The FILLIES (blog) FB + FB & Instagram links –
NEXUS (blog) –
Team Ying 2.0 (blog) –

The answer is B – Middle-income countries; and only 3 of our test-takers got that correct—again the monkeys guessed better than they answered! The moral of the story is that the global middle class is expanding by leaps and bounds—hence over-tourism—but great for humanity.

And so to close the loop on the day, we met all the travelers at 8:30PM for a beverage on the hotel’s rooftop bar and will set sail tomorrow in the AM for our next destination and close the books on our Par 3 Vietnam leg.

Of course, we like many others who love the city of Paris are sadden by the sudden blaze at Notre Dame…but we know the people and government of France will rebuild ASAP.

So good night from HCM City until we meet again…in Myanmar!

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