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Guild Wars 2006 World Championship
Gaile's Diary - Day Two - Of City Lights and Taipei Nights

6:28 p.m. – I finish the morning/afternoon report and press “Send” on the cover email as I scan the room for my shoes. Things seem to move around in this place. The sweater I left in a heap on my bed has folded itself and taken a position over on the chair, and my shoes are neatly lined up under the shelfing unit, rather than resting in the center of the floor, where I had left them earlier. “Gremlins?” I muse? “And very tidy gremlins at that?”

But of course it’s just the housekeeping staff slipping into the room when I’m away, turning down the bed, putting another bottle of water on the counter, leaving a mint on my pil…. Wait a second! I have not had a mint left on my pillow. Not in this hotel, not in any other. And they dare to call themselves the Grand Hyatt!? I shall speak with management! ;)

6:35 p.m. – I arrive at the banquet room, already filled with about 60 to 70 people. We have the guilds and their guests, of course, but also NCsoft staff members, some suspiciously lovely ladies I believe are members of the show model group, and ArenaNet staff, of course. We wander the room choosing delicacies from various tables. I’m invited to sit with iQ and I casually ask about their plans for tomorrow. One member starts to explain their “three-part plans” when he is resoundingly shushed by the others. The rest of the evening, they let various hints slip, but all I recall hearing is something about encouraging their opponent to engage in the consumption of excessive high-proof libations. Or something like that.

Speaking of libations, a few guild members are having difficulty standing, and I’m worried that others have “over-funned,” shall we say it, with matches at 10:00 tomorrow. But a studied scan of the room reveals that most would be capable of not seeing double when they look at their monitors.

7:40 p.m. – The three co-founders of ArenaNet—Patrick Wyatt, Jeff Strain, and Mike O’Brien—speak for a few moments, thanking all the guilds for coming to Taipei, and expressing appreciation for the excellent gameplay exhibited so far, and gratitude for the guilds’ support of the game.

7:45 p.m. – And now, Mike Gills has brought some fun for us. First a random drawing for an Ipod Nano and a digital camera. And then, an off-line, off-the-show-floor faceoff amongst one member from each guild. Six valiant combatants approach the dais and face off in “Don’t Break the Ice.” Recommended ages 3-6.

The valiant winner of the round-robin elimination (or was it Swiss? ;) ) is the guild leader from EViL, who takes home a 1 GB USB memory stick for each member of his team. The three boxes of Don’t Break the Ice are handed out, and somehow Jeff Strain ends up with one, upon which he starts challenging everyone in the room to “bring it!” Last I looked, Jeff was the undefeated champion.

9:45 p.m. – We meet in the lobby of The Grand Hyatt and get onto a tour bus for our first city tour, which takes us on a drive through downtown Taipei and to our ultimate destination, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. As we pull up, my breath is taken away by a neighboring building, the Taiwan Opera House. At last, the traditional Asian architecture that I have craved seeing since landing in Taipei! It is, in a word, glorious!

“And a special treat is in store for you,” says Alba, our tour leader, “because in the 15 days after the Lunar New Year, a very special event takes place—the Lantern Festival—and we can see the last night of this event tonight.” No one else in the bus reacts, at least as far as I can see. I’m bouncing in my seat, though, because long ago I read a novel set in 19th Century China in which the Lantern Festival played a pivotal role, and I am thrilled, perhaps more accurately honored, to be able to witness the event.

And it’s all that I thought it would be, perhaps more. Families strolling the grounds of the breathtaking Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial, little children atop their fathers’ shoulders. Couples walking hand in hand, stopping to take photos. Many reading the exhibit signs, and pointing out their favorites. All of us, dazzled by the lights and impressed by the beautiful work of the citizens of Taipei in creating this community festival. I spot Mike O’Brien, and knowing that he has that snazzy new digital camera, I ask if he would take a few photos for me. He obliges and the photos follows:


Oh, yes, and we have a bit to tell about this familiar face tomorrow.



Back to Day Two: Part One On to Day Three: Part One