I changed my flight because I didn't want to go all the way to Beijing for just one day. What a waste that would have been. I arrived Thursday night just before midnight and Otis was a prince. He picked me up and let me stay at his flat that first night. It seems the hotels in Beijing don't like late check-ins. He was even more of a prince when he let me sleep past 10:30. I've been exhausted lately and I guess I just needed the rest.
First stop was to go to the hotel and check me in. From there we had a bit of lunch and met Da Yan and his wife. They went off to visit an old school friend and Otis and I headed for the Great Wall. Can you believe, 20 years in Asia and I hadn't seen it yet! Shocking but true. In fact, this was my first trip to Beijing. As such, I wanted to see some touristy places while I was there.
From the wall we headed back into town to go to a speed cubers meet up. Now I'm not a speed cuber, but this didn't bother me too much. I just wanted to see what was happening with them. Otis told me I shouldn't miss it, and I'm glad I went. I met a couple of puzzle designers and a few of the organizers for the G4G. We later went to Mr. Yau's workshop and of course I had to buy some puzzles!
Otis and I headed back to the hotel for an 'early' night. We got in around 12. The next day we woke at 7:30 and headed to Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. (See, Touristy things) I wanted to see Mao's tomb, but as Otis said there were "too many bodies to see the body". The line snaked around the block and then some. We had to be back to the hotel around 11:30 to meet Nick and Wei-Hwa so we gave the viewing a miss. Maybe next trip. I enjoyed the outing very much. A friend of mine in the States said he wasn't overly impressed with it, but I've got to say, I was. The amount of labor needed to build those structures...astounding. I was also a bit overwhelmed by the amount of people I saw there.
It was a HK style restaurant, which kind of made me laugh because I went all the way to Beijing to eat home food. Anyway, we showed around a few puzzles, Nick figured out that DaYan was THE DaYan, he worked out Tom's puzzling secret and we just had good fun talking.
After lunch DaYan and Tom went off to the hotel, Otis went to his flat and Nick and Wei-Hwa and I went to a "locked room". They explained what it was on the way over, and I couldn't wait to start. To begin with, they told us to go to the bathroom because we would be locked in for an hour...and then they gave us a glass of water. How logical is that? We were blindfolded and brought into a room where we were told to count down and take off the blindfolds they had put us in. Click! I heard the door lock.
There was a video playing giving the back story of the room, and poor Wei-Hwa just couldn't keep up with the translation. Did I forget to mention it was all in Chinese? Well, we managed to solve the puzzle with Wei-Hwa as translator and won a prize for it as well. A glass Eiffel Tower figurine.
From there we headed out to dinner with the Beijing collectors group. I was in for a huge surprise! When I walked in, I saw friends from Shenzhen and Guangzhou. I didn't know they were coming. Hugs all around I tell you. What else would I do? As it turned out, it was one guys birthday. A food fight broke out with the birthday cake, and if truth be told, it was Tom who started it. There were puzzles a plenty. I brought the Angel Box, a Stickman, Jerry Loo's cylinders, 2 burrs from Derek Bosch and a few more. DaYan had some of his as did Tom. But I didn't manage to take a single puzzle photo. As Nick said later, I was too busy peopling to puzzle or photograph.
From dinner we headed out to karaoke. A staple of boys and toys. Well, guess who was good and plastered? Yep, your's truly. I don't really remember how I got back in my room. But I know we left quite early. My dear friend G. summed it up nicely...
The next morning Smaz called me around 10:30 the next morning, but I was still abed. I stayed in until lunch and then met up with Otis, Nick, and Wei-Hwa again. We had Beijing black noodles for lunch and headed over to G4G.
There were a number of speeches all in Mandarin so of course I didn't understand a single word of it. I stayed through Wei-Hwa's talk and Michael's as well, but then I needed to get up and stretch my legs. I felt bad leaving, but I just couldn't stay any longer. I was getting antsy.
There were a number of puzzles on display that I enjoyed looking at. There were also puzzles for sale, and of course I had to buy a number of them. I had to head back to the airport early because of Monday morning work.
As usual, it was hard saying good by to friends but I know I will see the guys from China again before years end, and I'll see Nick and Wei-Hwa next August. All in all, it was a great weekend. I'm glad I joined in the fun.