Thursday, August 09, 2007

NSN Fusion Day and U-nite: Of Pirates and Zombies

What better way to build camaraderie among employees of a Finnish mobile company and a German conglomerate by having a costume party and two days of team-building. In past company outings, we would take a coach to the site, then do our team-building activities there. This year, we did it Amazing-Style race with puzzles and challenges and multiple pit stops along the way.

Everyone congregated at Refinery Park, and teams were formed. First challenge is to devise a four-line chant. Then we were given a character-substitution puzzle with the cipher key given. Being one of only two locals in our team, I quickly guessed Tumbalong Park as the next pit stop, even though we only partially solved the puzzle. We were first to move out towards Darling Harbour, yet we got there almost last. I figured everyone else just followed in the general direction. Unfortunately, a few our my teammates announced that they don't feel comfortable running.

At Tumbalong Park, we were asked to draw portraits of two team members and make a presentation of it. We got the portraits, but the presentation didn't happen as were running short of time already. We were told to head for Dixon Street in Chinatown, take some tea, and sample the weirdest food we can find. For A round of (service) tea and a takeaway box of seafood, the restaurant charged us $40. They must've thought we're the real deal. We didn't get the chance to sample the food because our coordinator was rushing us to the station to catch the 11:03 train. In our haste to get to Central, we forgot to get the next clue. So we were standing in line to buy the tickets, yet we have no idea where we're going. The guy in front of me said it's Parramatta. And I go, yeah right. Just goes to show watching Amazing Race does make you lose faith in your fellowman. Turns out we ARE going to Paramatta.

For our next challenge, (while on the train) we have to go to (the event organizer's website), and identify some Sydney landmarks. Isn't technology amazing. A few years ago, who would've imagined that using your mobile phone, you can connect to the Internet and browse any website in full color? Upon reaching Parramatta, we ran all the way to the next pit stop, St. John's Cathedral.

After some drinks and fruits and muesli bars, we were given a Detour: recreate a 16x16 matrix from memory, or re-arrange 7 tangram pieces into a square. As as admission of our age, the team opted to solve the puzzle. Our next clue is in the form of another puzzle, which we deduced to be an Irish pub in Emu Plains. O'Donoghue's is the best pit stop of all because this is where we had our lunch - finger foods and drinks. No rest for the wicked, though. While waiting for the food to come out, another Detour: the team has a choice of either telling two jokes, or doing a karaoke number. I wanted to tell the joke about the similarity between women's breasts and a PS2, but the team decided to maintain its wholesome image. So I went for the vampire and the dentist. All thanks to the jokes section of GQ on Mobizines.

After the light lunch, we're off to Katoomba. During the 1.5-hour journey, we were asked to fashion a train out of ice cream sticks and rubber banks and Scotch tape. Took us the whole journey to do it. Little did we know that the other teams made use of additional materials like water bottles, which saved them heaps of time and effort. From Katoomba, another puzzle led us to Echo Point where we are supposed to should out our (former) company names. Yeah, great way to build morale. For our last challenge, we have to solve another character-substitution puzzle to get to the final pitstop. I managed to solve it, but doesn't really matter because the mini-bus took us straight to Peppers Fairmont Resort in Leura. Before letting us off to our rooms, we had to go through an aboriginal performance, then everyone has to imitate animals like kangaroos, dingoes, etc. What a way to end the day.

The costume party starts at 7:30pm, and the theme is Pirates of the Caribbean. Most guys don't really care because by 7pm, they're still either at the bar, at the sauna or playing pool or tennis. Instead of a swashbuckling pirate, I chose to be a music pirate (see previous post), but nobody seemed to notice. Place is too dark anyway. Only a couple of people asked, and I had to show them my shirt and how I'm supposed to be a music pirate. Cheeky, they said.

I stayed around for the food, but left the moment people stood up to dance. I really can't take strobing lights and thumping beats and senseless gyrations. Went back to my room and watched British cult comedy Nighty Night and a zombie movie called Severed: Forest of the Dead on SBS. Pretty engrossing. It's about lumberjacks becoming zombies when they come in contact with sap from genetically-modified trees in the forest.

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