Backpacking On A Budget - Part 2
Hopefully you read the first part of this article about travelling on a budget, have got hold of all the necessary equipment and are ready for adventure. If you only have limited funds it’s important to work out the best route to the places you want to visit. Neopia is a big place and it can be very expensive to travel between different lands. Here I’m going to explain how to go about the first part of your journey in a way which is big on adventure but low on cost.
If you head out east from Neopia Central you can get to Roo Island in two days which is a nice gentle journey to get you started. If you are a strong swimmer you can swim across the bay to Roo Island. Just be sure to look at the tide tables so that you go across at low tide not high. Or, if you ask nicely, traders on the docks will sometimes offer you passage in return for helping them load and unload their wares. Along the sea front there is the Games Room arcade with hundreds of games to choose from, most of which are free to play and will keep you occupied for hours. From there you can wander down to the sandy beach to paddle along the shore, make sandcastles or go swimming. Then you can set up your tent on the grass under the seafront decking as the waves lull you to sleep.
If you wake up feeling hungry it’s worth making the trip across the archipelago to King Roo’s palace. This kindly monarch is well known for giving out leftover banquet food to those in need, especially if he has been winning in the Dice-A-Roo Tournament Hall. From there work your way back along the other islands exploring at your leisure. For a bit of culture a trip to the Art Gallery is highly recommended. Not only can you gaze at the works on display, or listen to winning entries in the Poetry Contest being read aloud you can also visit the How To Draw section and pick up some new skills all for free. Once you’ve thoroughly explored the islands, and have had enough of lazing on the beach, it’s time to head off to your next destination.
Head back across to the mainland and then follow the coastal footpath south. After a few days walking you’ll reach Kiko Lake. This is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon and a great camping spot for the night. The glass bottom boat tours are pricey but if you go out on the lake early morning or late evening (when the boats aren’t there) you can easily peer down to the depths yourself whilst the waters are still. You can have a go on at Kiko Pop but I warn against carrying any bulky prizes with you – leave room for more exciting souvenirs later on.
After leaving Kiko Lake carry on following the coast and after about a week you’ll reach Brightvale and beyond that Meridell. I’ve grouped these two lands together because whilst they are lovely places to visit there aren’t a great deal of free activities (unless you count avoiding pitchfork-wielding Gelerts whilst you wander the rolling hills). Brightvale contains some lovely shops but with the prices at the Glaziers even window shopping is out of the question for the budget traveler. However entry to the magnificent Castle is completely free and it’s well worth a look. The finest artisans in Neopia have worked on it over the years and it is a testament to their skills. Those towering turrets are a real feat of engineering. You can even visit the throne room and see if King Hagan is at home. With all the knowledge you had to remember for your exams still fresh in your mind why not try and impress him with your wisdom?
Once you’ve spent enough time exploring Brightvale head north and you’ll come to Meridell. This is a place well-known for its quaint, rural activities but unfortunately, due to the poor returns on farming, the locals do need to charge for most of these in order to make a living. But don’t write this delightful place off as there is still several things you can do. To start with you could challenge Sinsi to a few games of Shapeshifter or if you’re better with words than spatial puzzles you could have a look round the Castle and then try to cheer up King Skarl by telling him a joke. Of course you can’t go to Meridell and not watch the Neopia-famous Cheeserolling competition. It’s best to stay a spectator though as the cheese is pretty pricey and you’d have to be pretty hungry to want to eat it after rolling it down a hill. You can also gaze in wonder at the mighty Turmaculus (just don’t get too close when he’s awake). Meridell may seem like a place you won’t go hungry but, be warned, the farmers don’t take kindly to vegetable thieves. You could always offer to help in the fields in return for some produce and failing that you can pay a trip to the Rubbish Dump where you can find some food if your supplies are low. If you are planning to spend a year travelling you could stay working in the fields over harvest time to earn a few extra Neopoints.
The Darigan Citadel can be reached from here if you either have wings or a friend with wings. But I must warn you that this is advisable purely as a day trip as the residents don’t take kindly to campers. If you feel like risking it you can pay a visit to the famous dungeons and perhaps play a game or two of cellblock with the inmates and guards. You can also look around Lord Darigan’s chambers, although he will be far more welcoming if you fought on his side in the war, than otherwise.
From the coast of Meridell you can quite easily get to Terror Mountain as long as you are prepared to do some work. Both Brightvale and Meridell are big exporters to Terror Mountain as huge shipments of fruits and vegetable, as well as timber for firewood, are shipped across the ocean each week. If you are happy to work for your passage you can often find a captain willing to take you on board. Especially if you are willing to listen to all the old sea-lupe tales his crew is sick of hearing.
Once you’ve arrived Happy Valley is the best place to set up camp. It is surprisingly mild at this time of year and the valley itself is quite sheltered. Besides if you feel chilly you can always have a snowball fight to warm up. Whilst here you can have a go at ice skating or try on the local traditional costume at Merry Outfits. You can’t go to Terror Mountain without a visit to the world famous Ice Caves. It’s a long trek down to the glacier but the spectacle of the glittering caves is ample reward. Whilst here you can watch battles in the Ice Arena and if you are feeling especially brave, try to steal a piece of treasure form the Snowager’s cave. Be careful though – it’s a long journey to the Healing Springs if you are blasted.
If you would like to go skiing you need to take the lift up to the top of Terror Mountain. Here there are gentle slopes for the beginner as well as challenging peaks for the more experienced. If you plan on staying here a while to enjoy the slopes there are a couple of options. Mika and Carissa have been trying to sell their home for years without success. However they still keep finding plenty of junk to sell and whilst they are off viewing potential new Neohomes in sunnier climes they need someone to help out. You could also offer to help Donny at the Toy Repair Shop or Tarla at the Shop of Mystery. In return for a few hours of work they’ll let you camp inside the shop and then the rest of your time is free to explore the mountain.
If you’re not a fan of the cold you’ll be keen to move on to the next land. I certainly advise doing this before the end of the Month of Gathering– after this the mountain passes become treacherous and are not recommended for anyone but the experienced explorer. Travel east of the mountains and you’ll reach the Tyrannian Jungle. Take a few days to acclimatize to the heat and humidity as it will be a shock to the system after the cold of Terror Mountain. Once you’re ready to explore I recommend a trip to Tyrammet Village. The locals still mainly speak Tyrannian but are usually happy to see new faces and tell stories of how the Monoceraptor was defeated. The Cave Paintings are also well worth a look. You could easily spend a week here relaxing by the lake and marveling at the plants and animals which live here.
Once you are tired of being bitten by jungle bugs you can head north towards the Tyrannian Plateau. Just be on the lookout for Pterodactyls, Bargasauruses and Gargaraptors. The Plateau is the destination of choice for music-loving Neopians as it is the home of the Concert Hall, Neopia’s only live music venue. Tickets can be expensive but you can sometimes help out setting up the equipment in return for free entry. Besides if you find a camping spot nearby you’ll be able to hear the music anyway. Food won’t be an issue on the Plateau as giant omelettes regularly appear and there is plenty for everyone. Plateau Berries grow here too and with all the rocks around you’ll easily be able to crack open the hard shell to reveal the soft fruit inside. The newest attraction is the Mysterious Obelisk, which is still drawing crowds of tourists. It’s a long trek and will involve several nights camped out on the exposed plains before a long climb down to the floor of the excavation. The chance to see this mysterious structure up close will make it all worthwhile and who knows the Oracle might even tell you something which helps you decide what you want to do with your life.
If you are going on to study at Brightvale University you’ll probably need to head home now before term begins. Hopefully you’ve had an exciting trip, made some new friends and realised just how much you are capable of. I’m sure you’ll have far more exciting stories to tell compared to those who have been on an all-expenses paid trip. If you are taking a whole year out to explore there are still plenty of other Neopian lands to visit so look out for further articles about shoestring travelling.