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Race To Mystery - Chapter 3

On the way home and most of the next week, Brett and Chris were constantly discussing the show. “First thing we should work out is what to take with us” said Chris.

“Yeah I have been thinking about that too. Now it is going to be spring or summer in the northern hemisphere, so we won't need too many heavy clothes. It may get cold in places like Moscow though, so throw in a jacket at least”

“You are right. We don't want to waste money by having to buy clothes. We will take our phones and a laptop each. That way we have ways to book our flights and what not. I will grab some power adaptors from work for each place. I think most of Europe is universal, so maybe we will need half a dozen”

“Good thinking. We should also take spare passport photos, it will save delays should we lose them”

“Absolutely. Don't forget your toiletries either. Take enough for at least a month. We will get everything together and then weigh our bags to be sure”

They spend the next week collecting odds and ends which they thought that they may need. They weighed their bags and both came in under twenty kilograms. “I reckon throw in an extra pair of sneakers each” said Brett. “We may do a fair bit of walking”

“Cool. So how should we approach this mate? Do we just spend and try and get through most of the cities and see if it is enough? Or do we spend a bit longer and try to get back to Sydney?” asked Chris.

“I have been thinking. Maybe do a mixture of both, I mean we can weigh up the advantages and disadvantages. Although we can't book our next leg until we are at the prior destination, we can maybe do some forward research. For example there is no point travelling to a city early and paying too much for a ticket and having to wait there an extra day or so if there is nothing else available to the next city. Does that kinda make sense?”

“Yeah I know what you mean. We can forward plan and then weigh up the pros and cons. For example accommodation may be cheaper in Bangkok. No use spending more time than necessary in an expensive city like Tokyo”

“Spot on mate. I think we may go well in this race”

“My career as a celebrity depends on it” said Chris with a wink.

They spent the remaining days planning and going over their strategies. Three days before the competition started they headed to the bank to pick up their prepaid credit card. After signing the required documents, they were all set to go. The network had booked their flights to Sydney on a late flight for the 13th of June. They had been informed that the network was paying for their hotel on the nights of the 13th and 14th, but as from 6am on the 15th they were on their own. They needed to convene at the same board room on the 14th so they could meet their designated cameraman and referee and start to book their flights for the next day.

Pretty soon the day to leave was upon them. Chris had checked his suitcase for the tenth time that day. They both went to visit their families to say goodbye, and as before headed to the airport.

“Mate we will have a good feed when we get to Sydney. We are going to have to have slim pickings for the next few weeks”

“Not to worry. We can still eat pretty well on a budget. Just need to be a little bit smarter, that's all” replied Chris.

“True. We don't want to eat too little either, it will leave us open to getting sick and fatigued. Do you have any ideas about how you want to do the booking tomorrow?”

“I'm not sure to tell you the truth. I had a quick browse around and there are quite a few flights to Singapore tomorrow from Sydney, but they were pretty expensive. Upwards of 450 dollars each. Have you had a look?” asked Chris.

“I think I may have something up my sleeve. I will tell you about it tomorrow morning. I just hope any none of the other teams think of it too”

“Ok, fair enough”

It was nearly eight in the evening when they arrived at Sydney airport. There was no limousine this time, instead there was a silver service taxi. They hopped in and were taken to the same hotel they stayed at previously. They were to be picked up by a bus at 5.30am the next morning to go to the network. They put their luggage in their rooms and headed down to the restaurant for a meal before it shut. The two friends from Tasmania were leaving the restaurant as they entered.

“Hey boys, how's it going?” Chris asked.

“Great mate. You all pumped for tomorrow?”

“How long do you reckon we will be in the morning?” asked Brett.

“No idea. I think we go there and start to do our bookings and stuff. Maybe they will do some filming”

“Hmm, you are probably right. See you guys in the morning”

“No worries, see you mate”

They ate their dinner quickly, and for a change Chris was really quiet. Brett could tell he was a little nervous about the next day. “What you want to do mate? Go for a beer? Or you want to hit the sack?”

“Probably go straight up to bed. It's going to be another long day tomorrow”

They woke up early the next morning and went down for breakfast. Most of the teams were there, and after the mandatory greetings, they sat down and ate. It was a cold morning in Sydney and there was a breeze blowing as they stood and waited for the bus. It arrived and they all shuffled on. No doubt excited about the upcoming day. When they arrived at the studio, Michael and his two assistants were there already. “Morning folks, hope we are all well. So just to clarify what we are doing today, you can start booking your trips from six am, which is in about ten minutes. As you can see we have a camera crew who will do some intermittent filming. At some stage in the morning your cameramen will arrive and you can meet them. So you should be out of here by ten at the latest”

“Thank god for that” Brett whispered.

“Ok folks, here we go. It's six am, away you go”

Brett fired up his laptop and soon was able to connect to the network's wifi. They moved to the corner of the boardroom and Brett nodded at the screen. “This is what we are doing” he said in a low voice. First flight to Singapore from Sydney is at 8.15 am, but its 479 each”.

“Bit steep” replied Chris.

“Ok, then there is one with Qantas at 10.30. That's 519”

“So what do we do”

“We don't fly from here”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember when I said my parents went to Singapore earlier this year? Well they flew with that budget airline Scoot from the Gold Coast” said Brett.

“Yeah I remember you telling me”

“Look. Scoot flying to Singapore tomorrow, 9 am from the Gold Coast. 249 each, plus 20 for luggage. That's 269. There's a flight from here to the Gold Coast tomorrow morning at 6.15 am for 59 each. That gives us just under 320. Plus we get there at roughly the same time as the first flight from here. What do you reckon?”

“Mate you are a genius. Luckily I have the looks in this team”

“Hehe. Let's book these, then we will look at some accommodation”

Brett was completing the bookings when a short, chubby man approached them. “Chris and Brett?” he asked.

“Yeah mate?”

“Hi fellas. Im Dean, I will be your cameraman”

“Hi Dean” they each said, shaking hands.

“Nice to meet you guys. So have you booked your flights yet? I need to know the flight numbers so I can book them also”

“Sure mate. Here they are” said Brett, scribbling them down on a piece of paper. “We are just about to do the accommodation now”

Brett started to peruse the various web sites, and narrowed it down to about four places. “There's this place, the Fragrance Hotel, 58 a night, that's Singapore dollars. Then there's hotel 81 Orchid, which is 75. But that has breakfast included, and it's closer to the airport”

“So that's about 60 dollars dollars Australian? Go with that I reckon. This first leg is pretty cheap. What is the landmark where he have to get a photo taken?”

“Yeah I reckon that's the best option too. The Merlion, apparently it's like a huge lion statue according to the net. Just outside of the central business district. We can get to it by train, then it's a short walk”

“Sweet. All good then”

They wrote down the hotel name and found Dean in the kitchen drinking coffee. After giving it him, they chatted for a while. Dean told them that he used to be a news cameraman, and has been around most of the conflict zones of the last 20 years. He took this job because he was sick of dodging bullets and kidnappings. Brett and Chris were both agreed that they are lucky that they have him as a cameraman, his experience might come in handy.

It was around lunchtime when Chris and Brett returned to their hotel. It was raining now, and a bit of a cool southerly was blowing.

“Well, I am going to relax in here, maybe look up some accommodation options in the other cities and bookmark them, that way if we have limited internet it saves all the dicking around later”

“Good call. I will do that same. See you downstairs for dinner at say 7?”

“Yeah no worries mate”

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