Our much delayed and postponed honeymoon; Hive tags along
Keng Leong Yeo
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小富靠勤,中富靠智,大富靠德。
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My Significant Other and I got married (legally) in July 2007, but did not go on our honeymoon immediately after as we had not gone through the customary Chinese wedding yet. To the elderly Chinese, one needs to go through a customary Chinese wedding ceremony to be considered married.

But before that could happen, we had to track down an apartment (known as HDB flat in Singapore) and renovate it. That took up most of the next two years! gulp

With our home nicely done up (with our very own board gaming room cool), we got down to preparing for our customary Chinese wedding. That eventually took place in January 2010.

The original plan was to go for our honeymoon in May 2010, but the renovations, wedding preparations, work etc. meant we had insufficient time to do our research for the trip. So we pencilled in May 2011 instead. We've always enjoyed Japanese food and culture, so it was not surprisingly that a long Tokyo trip was planned for.

In early March 2011, we booked our hotel and tickets and were all ready to make the trip two months later. However, one week after our bookings, the unfortunate Tohoku earthquake and tsunami took place. With all the uncertainty surrounding it, and all the harping from our respective sets of parents, we reluctantly cancelled the trip. soblue Despite that setback, we promised ourselves we will hang onto our much-researched itinerary and make the trip the following year.

And that's what we are doing! Fast forward to May 2012, and we are ready to embark on our much delayed, much postponed honeymoon tomorrow! zombie

Our planned trip will be from 14th to 28th May. Boardgaming will naturally play an important part in our trip. We are big Hive fans and with Hive being the most portable board game we own, we are most definitely bringing our copy along.

Which brings me to the purpose of this geeklist. Our planned itinerary is very loose (a lot of friends asked us what we are planning to do in Tokyo that can keep us occupied for two whole weeks ) and affords us much time to relax at the places we plan to visit. It is highly likely that we will play more than a few games of Hive throughout the trip. This geeklist will serve to keep a record of all the places we visited and "Hived" at. Where possible, pictures will be included.

1 For those not in the know, this is my Significant Other:
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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2 We do not own a laptop, but our hotel purportedly has PCs with internet access for guests' use. If everything works out well, you will see daily updates to this geeklist, with accompanying pics, for the next two weeks. If not, then you will see one big update at the end of our trip.

3 I am making this open to public additions. This is to enable my Significant Other to add geeklist items, so that this geeklist is our joint effort. Other BGG-ers, please refrain from adding any items or I will delete them.

4 After returning home and sorting through the pictures she took during the trip, which took quite some time, we added a number of non-Hive pictures to make the geeklist more complete.

5 Last but not least, we condensed the the Hive game shown below into a session video. Here is the link to it.
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1. Board Game: Pick & Pack [Average Rating:6.49 Overall Rank:3141]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 0

Finally got the packing done today. Whilst doing so, we got a Hive game underway.

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2. Board Game: A Flight Round the World [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 1

After one long day of hard thinking, we make our next moves whilst waiting for our plane:


Hive is better entertainment than the inflight entertainment system , as we make our next moves:

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3. Board Game: Royal Palace [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1239]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 2

The very first destination of our honeymoon is the Imperial Palace.

We continued our game at the moat outside the Imperial Palace, with company from some graceful swans:


Strolling in, we come to the magnificant and well-maintained Imperial Palace. In particular, the tranquility and beauty of the Nijubashi really shines through:


We hopped over to the man-made island of Tsukishima in the afternoon. Our Monjayaki dinner there gave us sufficient energy and brainpower for more Hive. Pardon her hand :
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4. Board Game: Destination Animation [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 3

Today is one of the highlights of our trip: Studio Ghibli museum. Both of us are big fans of Miyazaki's animation, so today felt like a pilgrimage of sorts.

One of the museum's icons is the large statue of the robot from Laputa:


We ponder our next moves over lunch:


After leaving the museum, we wondered into the nearby Inokashira park. Tucked in one of its corners was this rustic udon shop. We treated ourselves to a second lunch there zombie:
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5. Board Game: Sumo Arena [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 4

We visited the Edo-Tokyo museum in the morning. This is next to the Kokugikan Arena, where we planned on watching some sumo in the afternoon.

The Edo-Tokyo museum gave intriguing insights into life during the Edo period as well as modern Tokyo. Amongst other things, we spotted a giant Guan Yu statue and found out that he is also much admired in Japan. Note that his face is not red in Japan as a red face in Japan signifies that the person is evil, which is the opposite of how the Chinese interprets it:


We watched our first "live" sumo matches in the afternoon at the Kokugikan Arena. We quickly realised that the matches were usually over in seconds but the ceremonies performed by the wrestlers can take minutes. We made use of those intervals for more Hive:


The most exciting match of the day saw two sumo wrestlers falling to the ground together, resulting in the umpires having to consult each other in the ring:


Eventually, a rematch was called. This was greeted with loud cheers from the crowd.
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6. Board Game: Festival [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:14840]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 5

We visited Kappabashi today. Kappabashi is THE district for everything kitchenware and cooking. You know you have reached the entrance end of Kappabashi when you see the distinctive giant chef from afar:


There, we bought a few more fake sushis to add to our current collection, which currently looks like this:


We then hopped over to nearby Asakusa for the Sanja Festival. We were wowed by the lines of novelty shops there. The festival's parade followed. It certainly was colourful and crowded:


When that ended, we rested our tired legs on the steps behind the Sensoji temple and resumed our Hive game:

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7. Board Game: Return of the Heroes [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:1950] [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 6

We visited Ueno Park this morning. To be honest, there wasn't much to see, but we could visualise how stunning it would be when the cherry blossoms are in season. We did find a nice vantage point to rest up and Hive:


We left the park early and continued on to the nearby Ameyoko area. There, we discovered the food was not only excellent, but was considerably cheaper as well.

With a lot more time in the afternoon due to our shortened Ueno Park visit, we decided to head back to Asakusa for the second and more exciting day of the Sanja Matsuri.

Coming out from the train station, we bumped into a mini-mikoshi or mini-float almost straightaway. It was carried by children and we followed it for the next 2 hours:


There were of course adults around to help (with the carrying, clearing of traffic etc.), as well as parents of the children all prepared with food, drinks, umbrellas, fans etc. There were frequent breaks and it was funny to see the parents descend on their children with the "supplies" as soon as the whistle goes for the break, whilst the tourists closed in to gawk and take photos:


We also went back to the Sensoji temple to see the real sized mikoshi. Those were huge and were carried by quite a large number of burly men. What was surprising was a number of women was spotted squeezed in between these men, looking decidedly tired and gasping for air.
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8. Board Game: Edo [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:1214]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 7

We visited the Nihon Minka-en or Japan Open Air Folk House Museum in the morning. This museum has painstakingly moved old architecture, mostly of the Edo period, from different parts of Japan to the museum's location to preserve them.

The thick and neat reed/straw thatched roofs were really a sight to behold (and reminded us of Agricola ):


There were numerous resting points in the museum, which gave us a chance for some Hiving:


Right at the heart of the museum was a soba shop, housed in another of the preserved houses. On the second floor were some exhibits of old household items. There was a cozy corner for resting, with a view and the scent of soba soup below zombie :


We're headed for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku later this evening.
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9. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 4 – The Tower [Average Rating:6.56 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.56 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 8

The day started excitingly enough, as there was an eclipse occurring in Tokyo at approximately 7:32a.m. We made sure we were up by then to see the sky darken.

We visited quite a number of places today. Started off with the Tsukiji Fish Market, though we only reached it at 9 plus instead of the 5a.m. required for watching the fish auctions. It certainly was huge and still quite busy despite the late hour:


After wondering around the huge market, we ended up at a unagi(eel) restaurant ran by a certain Mr. Yonehara, who was really friendly and chatty. He recommended the sashimi set lunch to us and the botan ebi was heavenly:


Next, we made a quick visit to the Tokyo Pokemon Centre to get a pokemon for my niece. It was a special request from her when we told her we were coming to Tokyo.

Our next destination was Odaiba. It certainly was a touristy location, with a nice beach, numerous shopping centres and museums. We took a break at the beach, with a tremendous view of the Rainbow Bridge:


We proceeded to the Fuji Television studio, as we read that there was supposed to be an exhibition open for the public on the making of TV serials. Unfortunately for us, we found it closed:


Leaving the studio, we found ourselves at a broadwalk. We were surprised to find a replica of the Statue of Liberty staring at us. With some time on our hands due to the studio's closure, we took another break:


Our last destination for today was Tokyo Tower. We reached it with time to spare (wanted to wait for night to see its lights, and started wondering the four bottom floors open to the public. The 4th floor, for some reason was quite deserted, except for a children's playground with no patrons, and a neat replica of the Tokyo Tower:


We also walked to a nearby park to take some pictures of the iconic tower:


Incidentally, the replacement for the Tokyo Tower (for broadcasting), the Tokyo Skytree, officially opens tomorrow.
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10. Board Game: It's Raining [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 9

It rained the whole day today. Having heard the rainy weather forecast last night, we decided to postpone our itinerary for today till tomorrow and visited Shibuya instead.

One of the first things we saw after leaving the train station was the Hachiko statue. That's the loyal dog that spawned the movies:


The idea was to stay indoors most of the time and escape the rain and low temperature. We reached Shibuya at 9:15a.m. and found out that the museums and shops do not open until 10! It was too cold and wet for windowshopping, and we slipped into a fast food restaurant for some hot tea. While waiting for 10a.m., we hived:


We visited the Tobacco and Salt Museum before lunch:


After that, we found a really neat 8 floor department store known as Tokyu Hands. It is very well-stocked and is particularly suited for DIY and hobbyists. We did not intend to buy anything when we stepped in, but still ended up browsing for 3 hours or so and purchasing three items! Here's one of the intricate miniatures we spotted at the store:
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11. Board Game: Volcano [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:3413]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 10

Today was my most anticipated day of the trip: Hakone. It was postponed from yesterday due to poor weather. That turned out to be the correct decision as today was such a fine day!

First stop was an onsen (hot spring) at Hakone. It was my first time in an onsen too:

Edit: The black grasshopper next to the black queen bee shouldn't be there. We were trying out different moves and forgot to remove it before taking the picture.

We then took a round trip around Lake Ashi:


We took the ropeway to Owakudani and from there, got what I thought was the best view of Mount Fuji today:


The two pics below reflect the same Hive moves. One has Mount Fuji in the background, and the other shows the volcanic activity of the mountain we were on:
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12. Board Game: Old Town [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:4435]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 11

We revisited the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building this morning. Partly because it is near our hotel, partly because our previous visit to it was at night and only the North Observatory is open at night. We were curious at what we could see from the South Observatory.

Suffice it to say that the night view was much better. We did manage to get a spot of Hive in though:


We hopped over to Jizo dori at Sugamo next. Jizo dori is supposedly the Shibuya equivalent for the elderly. In particular, there are several shops there selling bright red underpants and undergarments. From what we observed and what little Japanese we know, they are for good luck, .


We certainly saw a lot of the Japanese elderly there. My Significant Other said he felt like a giant here (he is 1.86m tall and the elderly are mostly around 1.5m).

We had a lot of time left and decided to visit the Currency Museum and Nihon Bashi (Tokyo Bridge) in the late afternoon. We found out how the shogunate messed up the currency system from the 1600s to the 1800s before turning it over to the new government in 1868. The modern day Nihon Bashi is no where as charming as that of the Edo period. We saw a long painting of the Edo period Nihon Bashi and its surroundings at the Nihombashi train station:


It was only early evening when we left. Recalling the yummy unagi rice we had at Ueno and having failed to locate a certain departmental store (recommendation from Japanese friend) when we were there the last time, we decided to give it another try.

This time, we managed to find it. Its name is Takeya and we were not too impressed by it when we entered it. It was made up of two adjacent 8 storey buildings, but each floor's area was rather limited. We did note that each floor specialised in only one or two types of goods, e.g. clocks and watches.

It was only when we were leaving the place that we noticed a map. It showed the different buildings in the general Ueno area belonging to Takeya. Each building's goods had a broad theme, e.g. lady's goods. We counted and there were probably ten such buildings belonging to Takeya.

We were amazed! We did not attempt to visit all of them.
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13. Board Game: Movie Star [Average Rating:6.75 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 12

We reserved the whole of today for a quaint little town known as Shibamata. It is famous for the actor, Kiyoshi Atsumi and its dango desserts. Indeed, the first thing we see after leaving the train station is a statue of Tora-san, the character made famous by Kiyoshi Atsumi:


It is not surprising that we seeked out the dango dessert soon after leaving the train station zombie:


There are also many buddhist temples in Shibamata. The most famous of them is Taishakuten, due to its extensive collection of wood carvings. They were certainly impressive as was the tranquility and beauty of its back gardens, where we rested and Hived:


There is also a house by the name of the Yamamoto-tei in Shibamata. It was the home of a wealthy family built maybe a century or so ago. It has since been donated to the state and is now open for viewing by the public. We were allowed into its rooms and to sit on its tatami floor, whilst enjoying its equally stunning gardens. We also took the opportunity for more dessert and Hive:


Kiyoshi Atsumi is more commonly known as Tora-san in a very long running series of movies by the name of Otoko wa tsurai yo. It ran for over 25 years, from 1969 to 1995, and there were 48 films in the series! The series ended only on the death of the lead actor.

The Shibamata area owes much of its fame to Tora-san, as much of the series is filmed in the area. We visited the Tora-san museum (yes, there is a museum just about him!) and found out that the director handpicked this area for the series due to its rustic feel and beauty. Here is a miniature mockup of the area where the film series was based on:
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14. Board Game: Temple [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Christina Ng
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 13

We visited the Yanaka area today. It is known for its temples and shrines as well as Shitamachi feel (lower social class).

And temples we saw! There were such a high concentration of temples and shrines in that area. One of the most famous is the Tennoji temple. Its Buddha statue is quite well-known in Tokyo:


We also visited the Yanaka Cemetary, which also holds the remains of the Tokugawa shogun family. They are surprisingly humble unlike the flashy ones of other territories' rulers and such.

In the middle of the cemetary lies the remains of the Five-Storied Pagoda. It used to be the symbol of the cemetary until it was burned down in 1957. We later found out that there was a double suicide and arson story behind it. Two lovers having an affair wanted to burn themselves to atone for their sin and chose the pagoda for doing so. What a pity! The pagoda was a national treasure and the pictures we saw of it did show off its magnificance.

It took us quite a while to locate the remains of the pagoda, but it proved to be a good spot to rest our legs. Next to the remains is a playground and police post. Which is a rather strange location for both facilities, since the remains are right in the middle of the cemetary. Anyway, we did hive a little as we rested:


The rest of the day was spent visiting shrines and temples, and the famous Yanaka Ginza street. The latter is a street of shops that retained its old and lower class feel. Quite charming:
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15. Board Game: Emperor's Garden [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Christina Ng
Singapore
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 14

Today is the last day of our honeymoon and we fly home tomorrow.

We intentionally kept a Sunday free for visiting Harajuku, as we read that the girls in cosplay wear appear in the Harajuku area only on Sundays.

Our first stop, however, was the Meiji Shrine. It was a huge shrine and surrounding garden built to commemorate Emperor Meiji, who passed away in 1912. Even the Torii or Shinto gates leading to it were huge:


The shrine was probably only second in size in the Tokyo area to the Sensoji temple we visited earlier in our trip. It was impressive nonetheless, and we also got to see several traditional Japanese weddings taking place on its grounds.

We hived along one of its long back corridors:


We then hopped over to the neighbouring Yoyogi Park. It was one of the biggest parks we have been to and the crowds were out in full force:


Finally, we joined the huge crowds in the Harajuku shopping district. It was jam-packed with people and we even saw a protest against nuclear power there. The strangest sight of all was of course the girls in cosplay wear. Some were really outlandish and we tried not to gawk too much at them. :
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16. Board Game: Snoopy Come Home [Average Rating:4.68 Unranked]
Christina Ng
Singapore
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Day 15

The Narita airport was a natural place to hive at, as we had nothing else to do whilst waiting to board our flight home:
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17. Board Game: Home Sweet Home [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:9773]
Christina Ng
Singapore
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说了又不听,听了又不懂,不懂又不问,问了又不做,做了又做错,错了又不认,认了又不改,改了又不服,不服又不说,那你要我怎麽办?
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Epilogue

Unpacking our stash from the trip, whilst making our final moves for the long drawn Hive game:


After much discussion, we decided it is a draw.

And that is the end of our Hive session report during our Tokyo honeymoon. We hope you enjoyed the geeklist.
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