Sunday, January 6, 2013

An internationally puzzling weekend

I have had the great pleasure these past few days to have puzzle visitors in town for the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair.

The first is none other than Wil Strijbos.  He's an amazing man who's just great fun.  The second is my brother at heart, Tom Sun.

Both gents arrived on Friday, and we've spent a great deal of time together since then.  I picked Wil up at the airport and we headed off to his hotel.  It was rather late, but then Tom and SmaZ came over.  Those two had been on a short trip to meet up with Leslie Li so they were dropping Tom's things at his hotel while I was getting Wil.  It was a very coordinated arrival and meet-up.  We chatted puzzles a bit then went out to a late dinner.  At around 1 we all parted company and made plans to meet the next day.

Saturday I met Tom and Wil at the hotel around 12:00 with a bug in tow and we headed off for my house.  Wil wrote to me earlier in the year that he wanted to see my puzzle collection and since I just love showing it to all who want to view it we decided Saturday was as good a day as any.  But first.  Lunch.  Dim Sum and other Chinese treats at a restaurant near my house. Mr. Man and Miss N. joined us and a couple of hours later we were back on the way to the house.

We started with the puzzle shelves above my desk (which by the way is a real tip because I've loads of puzzles there to photograph). Now you all have probably seen photos of it but I've added another here just as a reminder. I've hot to say these two showed a lot of restraint. Unlike others who have seen my toys the waited. They looked. Date I say it? They savored the moment of the initial grab.

They couldn't have been more different. Wil asked me for my favorite puzzle so I handed over tower of babylon and Tom grabbed the Topless Box.

The Topless Box is still unopened. That's one tricky mother. But given that we had 1000's more to look at we moved on.

Wil told me I was missing a 7 step aluminum burr and we had a laugh over my 2-sheep Jugo flower then moved on to the Karukuri boxes. Tom played with those while Wil grabbed the void Tutminx. Me? I watched on and smiled a lot. The underbed got opened and we puzzled on. Around 5 Wil asked to see the balcony puzzles so we moved outdoors. He laughed at the cabinets and Tom had to help me get the doors open. It seems that 12 years in the weather hasn't kept them well lubricated. We opened every box out there in the tall cabinet and Wil mentioned that he hadn't seen the old ones yet. I opened the last box and pulled out an unopened Japanese puzzle. I handed it to him and said I had no idea what it was. Both he and Tom had a good laugh at my expense. (and that's why all love Rox. I'm good for a laugh if nothing else.). Turns out that Wil made the puzzle years back. And here's his name written in English on the packaging. And here's Rox using the illiterate line. Some English instructor I am.

I pulled out some old columbus egg type puzzles and gave one to each. The material is so old and brittle I hope they make it home without breaking.

Around 7:00 we broke for dinner which bless the bug was a mix of German, Italian, and Chinese. She wanted everyone to feel at home.

After the brief respite we went back to puzzling. I closed down the bed without really having gone through it much and went back to the shelves. Over dinner we were discussing the value of puzzles and I mentioned the chi gung ball. This started a dig for puzzles that Wil may not have seen before. He mentioned the poor turning of a Meffert's puzzle but took it all back when I mentioned it was a first run sample. This of course led to the hunt for others of its type.

The hunting and twisting and dismantling went on for around four more hours until Mr Man mentioned that he had to work the next day. Tom and I took Wil back to his hotel and then the two of us made our way back to our own homes.

We all agreed to meet up Sunday around 12:30 to hit the street markets and do some puzzle/curio hunting. We started off with a quick bite to eat. Poor Wil was starving. Tom had already eaten and I was full up with chia. Lunch was a hoot because Wil ordered a rice dish that came with cold meat. Mine had an omelet attached that I wasn't expecting (I really should learn to read.). But it worked ok because Wil polished it right off.

Next stop was looking for a street filled with odds and ends. Unfortunately almost all the shops I wanted we're closed. We kept moving and ended up walking down a street filled with man tools and then one with lots of beefs and buttons and other girls things. Funny thing on this street. Both Wil and Tom bought "puzzling supplies" here while I watched on.

Back to the man tools street and what should we find but that the shops I was looking for had moved over three blocks. That's an oddity of HK, whole streets move when redevelopment is going on. It was all ok in the end though so I was happy. An hour or so rummaging through stalls and more curiosities were bought. We started looking in the man tool shops and Wil found a man tool that he instantly turned into a puzzle. It was such a hit that Tom and I both had to have one. The shop keeper was happy because between us we bought out all his stock! Wil's ability to turn something so simple into a puzzle astounded me and really made me realize why he's the dealer of the puzzle world.

Mr. Man and bug met us as we were hunting for a mini screw driver set that Wil wanted-he liked my set of man tools! We were able to find many versions of it around, but not the same one I had. In the end, I like the one he got better and may just end up going and getting one myself. His set has Allan wrenches in it, mine doesn't.

Mr. Man went off in search of his own needed tools while the rest of us carried on to my favorite wholesale street. We stopped for a rather interesting desert then headed out again in search of those hit and miss puzzles that I'm so fond of finding. I handed Wil a box that I bought the year the Olympics were in Beijing and haven't ever been able to open. When I told him my story he bought it right away. That puzzle was never put back into the bag and we all played it in an attempt to open it for the rest of the night.

We all ate dinner together and over dinner Wil even got Mr. Man puzzling for a bit. We parted company and I took the guys to the Temple Street night market. It was new to me as well because I haven't been there in 18 years! A bunch more curiosities were bought and by the time we headed back to Wil's hotel the bag must have weighed ten pounds.
We called it a night around ten because we all agreed to meet early for the fair. Me? I went into the office until 2 so I could be sure of having a full day with them on Monday.

I'm now blogging via phone for the next few days so all photos will be posted at the end. Sorry all. In all photos faces are purposely cut off I was asked to do this. Most of you already know what they look like anyway and for those that don't....I made a promise.















No comments:

Post a Comment