So today I go back and fill in some of the blanks from the previous posts. Ill start with our trip to SZ and GZ. I arrived at Uwe's on the Wednesday afternoon full of excitement to see old friends again. I was eagerly looking forward to this part of the journey for months. Oskar and Jose are phenomenal planners and I knew about every step we would take.
The first hiccup in the plan came when we had to meet the driver to go to the first factory. He was only about 2 hours late. You can't do Anything but laugh. We ended up postponing the first factory to till Friday which was good because it gave us more time at each factory than we expected to have.
Friday was a blast because I'd never been to this factory before. It's a big one! Again, I can't tell the name, but we saw puzzles and games from many companies here. I was impressed, and sort of surprised to see that competing companies produce their products in the same factory. That hadn't occurred to me before. Of course photos are out of the question because of confidentiality issues.
We finished our visit around 1 and headed for the SZ train station. I'd never been to this one before so I was a bit confused. The driver couldn't find the entrance either, and Jose questioned his ability to read. BINGO! I don't think he could. I gave turns and directions in Cantonese once we saw the signs, but even then we walked a bit to find the entrance. First stop was buying tickets. As it turned out we were in the wrong line so we had to queue up and start over again. We managed to get our tickets, but for the later train. Nothing for it but to eat at the train station.
We arrived in GZ and Ming was waiting as always. He's my angel! From there we jumped a cab to the witeden offices, had dinner and watched Oskar sign a few cubes. Separate hotels for us at the end of the night made for an early wakeup.
Fast forward to the Saturday night dinner because I've written all I can about the day. Dinner had around 35 people there. As usual, we were ourselves. Boys and toys and beer. As I said, Oskar was the star of the show. There were people from all over china that came in to see him. I think he enjoyed it, but Jose I worried about. She was the official photographer, and not being a puzzler, I could empathize. My first few trips with the language barrier were hard on me so I can only imagine what it felt like for her.
Monday saw us in the way to Tokyo. And over the next two days I was hunting puzzles in Disney. Sadly I found none. Not even a rubics cube! Doesn't matter, we had a blast riding rides and just talking.
As I said, on Thursday we went to tribox and hanayama. After we went to the Tokyo sky tree and when we came down I looked again for puzzles. I knew hanayama had a crystal puzzle of the sky tree and Oskar managed to get one for us from hanayama as awe couldn't find any in the shops. It's good to have friends with connections.
Saturday was the exchange day and this year bug took photos of all exchanges for me. Now I can put a face and hopefully a name to each of the puzzles. It was a short one this year because of lack of participants. Which I really don't quite understand...
In the evening we had the TP puzzle meetup after the banquet. I thought I got everyone but somehow I missed Carl. My sincere apologies. The meet up lasted past my 1 am bedtime. But until then, I had loads of fun!
Sunday was the puzzle party, and I really was looking forward to it. This year though, I got very little for myself. I'm pleased with my purchases though and made a few trades as well. The biggest hit from me were the mini dball puzzles I picked up. I managed to get rid of all of them which meant less weight to bring back home. Again I stayed in the lobby puzzling for a while before heading off to bed.
On Monday Dave, Bob, George and I headed off to torito. A must for any puzzle trip to Japan. While there, I spent a good chunk of change, but again most of it was for my friends. I picked up the rubics brand bandaged cube, a new card case and key holder along with a wooden puzzle or two and a new puzzle ring. The others bought a few things as well. Even George picked up a puzzle! We went for quick bite to eat before heading back to the hotel to repack our bags, change clothes and head home. We all said good bye to Nick and jumped a bus for the airport.
At the airport hugs and kisses were given out and we made a promise of "same time next year, different city". No tears were shed because this type of friendship extends all year long through email and forum. The reunion next summer will be all the more sweet for the absence of friends in between.
I took a few puzzles for the flight, but managed none of them. I was dead! The guys really wore me out this year (again, not getting older!) When the stew came around with a toy for bug to play with I made her get mom the JAL 15 puzzle! Mind, the girl gave bug a notebook as well. Nice lady.
Once again I feel blessed to have such great people in my life. My husband who lets me go off for these weekends without worry, my bug who has turned out to be quite the little lady, and finally all the puzzlers who have allowed me to enter their lives one weekend a year. I love you all and can't wait till the next one!