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Backpacking On A Budget - Part 5

by equinewhispers


We’ve reached the final part of this series and so have now covered the basics of backpacking on a budget as well as a suggested route around the various realms of Neopia. There are just three lands left to cover – Faerieland, the Lost Desert and the Haunted Woods. I’m sure you understand my reasons for leaving Kreludor and the Virtupets Space Station out of a guide to budget travel.

As the last article ended in Krawk Island the next land I recommend you visit is Faerieland. Since it fell from the sky it is far more accessible to those of us without wings and there is more trade than you would think between the Faeries and the pirates. From looking at their teeth you can tell that most pirates enjoy a Faerie Cake or two but it turns out Faeries are actually quite keen on the food and drink served at the Golden Dubloon and vast quantities are regularly shipped to the nearest port and then taken by caravan to Faerie City. It’s a long journey over the ocean to the continent where Faerieland can now be found and most pirate captains will be glad to have you on board so they can hear all your stories and vice a versa. The fact that you are now an experienced sailor will certainly help your cause as well. Once you reach shore you can either join up with one of the trade caravans (I’m sure the captain will put in a good word for you) or make your own way along the well-worn paths to the crater where Faerieland now rests.

Famous for its many shops there are still options in Faerieland for the more fiscally-challenged Neopian. First why not pay a visit to the Healing Springs, here you can ask Marina the resident Faerie to cure any ailments you may have picked up on your way and then relax for a few hours soaking away the aches and pains of your long journey, leaving you refreshed and ready to explore.

Just opposite the Healing Springs is the Rainbow Fountain and even if you haven’t been lucky enough to receive and successfully complete a Fountain Faerie Quest you can still watch as others go through magical transformations. Just don’t get too close to the waters – there are the remnants of all kinds of paint swilling around in there and you could end up with some funny looking splotches if you aren’t careful.

Your next stop will probably be Faerie City itself, home to shops selling a wide range of Faerie goods. Your small budget will likely limit you to window-shopping but the delightful architecture, although not quite the same since the fall, is a draw in itself. There are some free activities, namely taking the Personality Quiz to see which type of Faerie you are like and playing a few games of the very addictive Faerie Bubbles. It might also be worth popping into the Employment Agency and introducing yourself – this could help improve your chances later on when you are looking for work. You could also try to find the Hidden Tower, rumoured to be in one of the castle turrets. Here you will find an array of rare and expensive goods. Sure they may be way beyond your budget but it doesn’t hurt to look! Whilst you are in the Book Shop you might find the Library Faerie struggling with her crossword. With your first-hand knowledge of Neopia you should have no problem helping her out and in return she’ll offer you some spending money.

As the shops start to close why not head out of the city to the Poogle Races stadium. This always draws big crowds and the atmosphere is such that you’ll find yourself caught up in the action even if you aren’t able to afford a bet. When you’re ready to turn in I recommend heading to the trees near the Wheel of Excitement. Here you will find The Discarded Magical Blue Grundo Plushie of Prosperity. This lonely little fellow will appreciate a hug and although the effect on your happiness and hunger levels won’t always be positive, toys and random piles of Neopoints have been known to appear near him. You can even be awarded an avatar just for talking to him. The comfy moss under these trees is a lovely place to camp – near enough to the twinkling lights of Faerie City but far enough out for a little peace and quiet apart from the gentle burble of the Healing Springs and the occasional creak as someone spins the Wheel of Excitement.

There are two more places to visit in Faerieland, if you dare. The first is the Faerie Caverns, which are on the way to the Poogle Races stadium. If you are willing to part with some of your reward from the Library Faerie you can try your luck at finding some Faerie treasure in the dark maze of caves. If you can hold your nerve long enough that is. The final place you could visit is Jhudora’s Bluff which overlooks the city from the North West. With your limited funds I wouldn’t advise volunteering for one of her Quests but whilst she’s distracted receiving items and sending others out on quests you can have a look around her realm.

After Faerieland I recommend heading south to the Lost Desert. It’s a straightforward route – just follow the coast until you reach the desert and then head west and you’ll soon see the huge Gebmids on the horizon. Ideally you want to wait until the month of Gathering before arriving in the Lost Desert or it is too hot to do anything during the day. Food is scarce in the desert so I advise stocking up on supplies before you enter the sands. There will be plenty of wild fruit in season at that time of year which you can dry out in strips on your backpack as you walk in the sunshine.

The main attraction everyone comes to see in the Lost Desert are the magnificent Gebmids I mentioned earlier. These huge, ancient structures are a reminder of the lost civilisation of Gebs which once lived here, ruled by Sutek. They are also thought to be responsible for the mysterious Sphinx. The game Sutek’s Tomb is named in honour of the largest of these Gebmids and will keep you occupied inside during the hottest part of the day. A later addition to the Lost Desert architecture was Coltzan’s Shrine. Built by Princess Vyssa in honour of her father King Coltzan III his spirit has remained in the vicinity and will often reward you with Neopoints, an item, a stat increase or some healing which will certainly be useful.

For a real Lost Desert adventure you could set off with some would-be treasure hunters into the vast expanse of sand to the south to see whether you can unearth one of the numerous lost temples and make your fortune. In case you do find something it is worth brushing up on your Lost Desert hieroglyphs first. There are two written languages: Sahkmetian and Qasalan, each with 12 basic symbols that you can find all over the Lost Desert.

The two languages developed in the two major cities of the Lost Desert – Qasala and Sakhmet. There are plenty of places to pitch your tent in the Lost Desert but if you don’t want to be finding sand in various nooks and crannies for the next few months I advise pitching up in a corner of the Qasalan Marketplace. This area is sheltered from all but the worst sandstorms by a high wall, which will help keep you warm during the cold desert nights as well. This is the main marketplace for the Lost Desert and a whole host of goods are on display. Once you’ve finished browsing you can head over the river to the City of Sakhmet. On your way you can watch one of the Tug-O-War contests which take place just up from the bridge. As well as visiting Sakhmet Palace there is plenty to do just in the courtyard. You can wander from tent to tent marvelling at the items for sale and watching experts play the likes of Scarab 21. You can also spin the Fruit Machine in the hopes of winning Neopoints or an item such as some much-needed food. It can be hard to find both employment and food in the desert so unless you have been lucky enough to find treasure it will have to be a fairly short visit to this wonderful land.

From the Lost Desert head north towards the Haunted Woods. Should you become lost follow the damp, murky smell and you’ll be going in the right direction. The residents of the Haunted Woods are friendlier than many give them credit. Or perhaps it is just that most folk tend to meet them when they are in character for Halloween. With little in the way of exports (no-one else has really developed a taste for Spooky Foods) apart from the products of the Neovian Mine the Haunted Woods is another destination that is heavily reliant on tourism. Therefore it can seem tricky to find activities if you are on a tight budget. But there is more to this place that it would first appear and there are actually several interesting places to visit. If you can stay in the Haunted Woods until the end of the month of Collecting it is well worth it for the experience of celebrating Halloween in its spiritual home. They really know how to do it with style and absolutely everyone gets into the spirit.

Within the main clearing of the Haunted Woods you can visit the phenomena that are the Brain Tree and the Esophagor. There is the Castle of Eliv Thade which is definitely worth a visit as long as you are good at anagrams so Eliv Thade’s ghost will let you leave. If you’d rather not risk it you could visit the Haunted House instead where you can create your own adventure, before marvelling at the exterior of Edna’s Tower. Don’t hang around too long though as she doesn’t appreciate visitors. Whilst you can play current games such as Fetch! and Magax Destroyer II here my absolute favourite place is the Game Graveyard. You might not earn Neopoints but I can spend hours playing some of my old favourites which are now, sadly, only available here in the graveyard. A trip to the Deserted Fairground is always fun, although unless you’re good at Carnival of Terror you’re more likely to lose Neopoints than make them as the games are rigged require a fair bit of skill. If you follow the path north out of the fairground you’ll reach the splendid Castle Nox. Since Hubrid Nox’s unfortunate demise at the hands of Xandra it is now his ghost which resides in the castle. He is quite indifferent about visitors so feel free to wander around, admiring the chandeliers and portraits.

The Haunted Woods is always dark and the frequent thunderstorms create a lot of fog. Therefore I would recommend trying to make friends at the Gypsy Camp where there is always a warm fire and space for an extra tent. If you follow the path leading away from the camp you’ll soon reach Neovia. This is a little more upmarket than the Haunted Woods with cobbled streets so you don’t get mud and slime everywhere as you browse the local shops. Neovia was built on a confluence of ley lines and there have been many reports of strange goings on over the years. If you happened to bring your petpet with you, or have won one on your travels, you could send them into Grave Danger. This takes place deep below Neovia in what were once the treasure vaults for the huge mansion which used to stand in this spot. Nowadays the rooms are used by residents for a variety of purposes and petpets can often find something of value down there in the dark.

Outside of the main areas of habitation there are several places to visit. If you journey to the west you will find the large expanse of swamp where Sophie the Swamp Witch, Ilere and Gorunda the Wise all ply their trade. From Neovia you can follow the path to the Neovian Mine. There is currently a dispute over ownership of one of the shafts and so it can be dangerous to approach when they are flinging dynamite at each other. However if you visit on one of the days when they have run out of both dynamite and insults you can usually find someone to give you a tour of the mine workings. You might even see some of the fantastic gems that are cut out of the rock face.

After that it is probably time back to return to Neopia Central to begin your journey to wherever you call home. On the way I heartily recommend a visit to Berkshire Glen which borders the woods on their eastern edge. The Glen is famous for Jumbleberry Pies and the friendly residents are always happy to share a slice with a new friend. From there just keep heading due North (follow the Warf Star if you’re worried about getting lost) and you’ll soon be back on the familiar streets of Neopia Central. By now you are probably itching to be home and to sleep in your own bed. If you can manage it try to have at least a few days off before starting on your next adventure, whether that is a new job or a course at Brightvale University. You will be far more exhausted than you realise and it won’t be until you are home that you can finally truly relax.

As well as being a lot of fun I hope your travels have shown you just how much you are capable of doing when you put your mind to it. Perhaps you have even discovered a new talent or career path you are keen to pursue. You will certainly have plenty of stories to tell people after all your adventures.

Don’t worry if you didn’t have time to explore all the lands mentioned in this series. There will be time later on and if you have a few more Neopoints in your pocket after working for a few years it might be a more comfortable journey the next time around. It’s only once you’ve slept down in the bowels of a pirate ship amongst the barrels of fish that you truly appreciate how nice it is to travel in a cabin on a nice passenger ship.

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