For the first time in human history 1 billion tourists travel the world -- that's one in seven of us! From 25 million just 60 years ago to 1 billion: Clearly the globalized world is being realized by those that travel.
So how to explain The Global Scavenger Hunt?
The Global Scavenger Hunt is simply an amazing once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure. It is an annual around the world competition that pits two-person teams against each other in a friendly international contest that tests their inter-cultural literacy, street smarts, endurance and Travel IQ, as they circumnavigate the globe over 23-days trusting strangers in strange lands.
The 2012 event, the eighth such travel competition, begins in San Francisco on April 13 and ends with the crowning of The World's Greatest Travelers on May 5 in Washington D.C.. In between, 10 teams from Canada, USA, New Zealand and Australia, will be taking what we call A Blind Date with the World in 10 super-secret nations, all while being tasked to complete a series of culturally-oriented and highly participatory sight-doing scavenges that earn them points.
The event has been called the Olympics of Travel. It has been described as a Magical Mystery Tour and one of the 50 Most Amazing Trips in the World. It has kindly been reviewed as "like Survivor, The Amazing Race and the Eco-Challenge all rolled into one except with much more cultural interaction."
Indeed, The Global Scavenger Hunt has become a type of annual performance art filled with exotic backdrops, great cuisine, awe-inspiring art, action and drama among the participants it draws from around the world.
"Strange travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." -- Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome to the 2012 edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition. My name is William Chalmers and I have been asked to provide some insider insight into how this annual event takes place; and I hope that over the next three weeks I can fulfill that mission in conjunction with my official daily duties as the Event Director of this event. I will be busy -- but not as busy as our competitors! By the way, some have unofficially labeled me as the ring master -- seeing that this event is a movable feast, a roving international circus of sorts full of clowns, animals and exotic food -- but I don't take that too seriously.
So fasten your seat belts and enjoy the trip, because over the next 10 blog entries, I will be reporting to you (sending you PostCARDS as it were) from 10 still top-secret countries, giving you color commentary about how the teams are holding up and how the event is progressing, along with some, hopefully witty albeit irreverent analysis into our world at large as we travel the world at large!
Over the next 23 days, the 2012 event will present over 650 possible scavenges in 10 different nations for our competitors to contemplate completing. Having so many scavenge options allows for our participants to maximize their freedom, flexibility and spontaneity. We like to think of the competition as a rally, rather than a race, because it is broken down into nine separate segments with various degrees of difficultly -- some lasting six hours, some five days! This event is not about doing things lickety-split and mindlessly fast, but more about local interaction and being in the moment as they attempt to complete their scavenges. (One of the events unofficial mottos is "He who runs cannot walk with dignity!")
The teams know they are in for an extraordinary marathon-like adventure, that will have to locate items, do things, try things and eat things. Teams will have to travel from Point A to Point B -- easy enough unless you are in a less-developed nation with no infrastructure in the throes of a national holiday, travel creatively from Point A to Point B but via Point D, K and Q -- all while utilizing alternative local modes of public transportation from donkey cart to bullet train and from felucca to hot air balloon. Teams will have their travel skill sets challenged in urban settings, rural settings and spaces in between. And over the course of the event we will have clear front runners leading the way ... and I suspect a few dark horses that stay close until the homestretch near the finish line.
Here is a sample of a few scavenges from last year's event:
- Visit and learn ancient meditation techniques from a (specific) yogi master in India.
- Visit and learn the art of making baklava in (a famous) Turkish bakery.
- Play Taxi Cab Roulette by eating your taxi-drivers favorite dish at his favorite hometown restaurant.
- Donate your time and energy helping out for a day at an orphanage in Cambodia.
- Learn the complete Cyrillic alphabet over a pint of beer with a new-found friend in Bulgaria.
- Play Bartender Roulette by drinking their favorite drink at their favorite local watering hole.
- Locate and re-enact a scene from the movie "Gladiator" at its Sahara desert location in Tunisia.
By the end of the event, participants will have become part cultural anthropologist, part historian, part sous chef, part transportation specialist, part currency trader, part art critic, part diplomat and global ambassador and a 100% true Indiana Jones-like adventurer. They will become adept at mingling with locals, crashing parties, enjoying exotic cuisines, exploring different cultures and getting from destination to destination seamlessly. They will have the confidence and travel chops to go anywhere anytime. We like to label The Global Scavenger Hunt as a Travel3 event that is all about partaking in an experience-filled travel adventure that includes: authenticity, challenge and participation. Mostly, our competitors will be truly alive and engaged in a travel rapture of sorts for the next three weeks.
The Global Scavenger Hunt is all about fun and engaging. It is about novelty -- day in and day out for 23 days as you circumnavigate the globe. It is about challenges, being creative, learning, being open and trusting strangers in strange lands because if there is anything we have learned doing seven previous events, it's that they will really need to
By the way, we haven't actually met all the 2012 participants yet. We have interviewed them all and have corresponded -- with some for years -- but when we all meet at a formal Rules n' Regulations meeting today in San Francisco, it will be our first meeting. It should be interesting. Demographically speaking, we have seven participants who have competed before and competitors ranging in age from 17 to 64. We have a sister team, two father-son teams, a team made up of two total strangers (but great travelers who have checked their egos at the door to compete together), along with the usual boyfriend-girlfriend and significant other teams. We also have our defending champions, Zoe and Rainey, who are tanned and rested from a cross the Malaysian Peninsula Tuk-Tuk rally -- ready, willing and able to take on all comers who hope to capture their crown and become The World's Greatest Travelers for 2012!
Okay, enough about the event set up. Over the coming posts we will introduce you to our competitors and the places we are visiting -- the good, the bad and the ugly. We will comment on the state of travel in the 21st century in the post 9/11 world as well as on the state of human nature within our Global Village. We will be posting video and photos along the way too. You will get the inside track straight from the horse's mouth -- me, the Event Director.