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29 June 2005

The Great City Maze / Labyrinth Challenge


The Great City Maze /
Labyrinth Challenge


1. Go to a city you've never been to before. The city must have a subway or elevated train system you've never used before.

2. The city must speak a language which is not your native language. You can know this language not at all, slightly, or well, but the less you understand this language, the better the challenge.

3. DO NOT consult web maps or any other reference of the subway system in advance. All you can know before entering the subway system is the name of your FINISH station. You may use any wall maps. Once inside the System, you may ask a human for a System Map without penalty.

4. Rules and scoring are the same whether travelling alone or with another person or in a small group -- but no one can be fluent in city's language, or have previously used the subway system.

5. From the subway station where you START, you want to get to another subway station, the FINISH. For example, from your hotel, you wish to get to a particular museum in a distant part of the city.

6. Pick a FINISH which does not lie on the same Line as the START; i.e., your journey should require at least two transfers to other Lines.

7. If the subway system has instructions and maps posted in your native language, the more you ignore these aids, the better the challenge. Best challenge: No signs in your language, all signs in the unfamiliar language and in symbols.

8. A perfect score from START to FINISH is 1000 points. If the trip requires returning to START again, 2000 points.

9. Each time you ask a human being for help, deduct 500 points.

10. Each time you read instructions in your own language, deduct 250 points.

11. Failure to reach your FINISH earns a score of 0 points.

12. For each train you discover is heading in the wrong direction or up the wrong Line -- for each train mistake which requires doubling back -- deduct 200 points.

13. For each walking mistake in a station which requires doubling back -- deduct 100 points.

14. Panic, frustration, weeping, screaming "I'm lost! O God I'm lost! What will become of me?" -- no penalty, if you eventually collect yourself and continue.

15.
Start your trip with lots of small bills and coins which are machine-friendly. Whenever possible, pay all fares and buy all tickets/tokens from a machine. Each time you could have used a machine, but bought from a human being, deduct 50 points. No penalty for buying from a human in a station that has no machines. Needing to get change is no excuse for dealing with a human when the station has machines.

16. Bailing out of the subway and taking a taxi: Deduct 750 points. Bailing to take a bus (unless bus absolutely necessary to reach destination): Deduct 450 points.

17. Eating lunch in a subway station en route: Add 100 points.

18. Successful encounter with panhandler in subway system (pay or not pay, but doesn't delay your progress more than one minute): Add 100 points (but panhandler must initiate the encounter). Delayed from one to two minutes: Deduct 100 points.
Delayed more than two minutes: Deduct 200 points.

BOB'S EXCELLENT EXAMPLE

CITY: Berlin
SUBWAY SYSTEM: U-Bahn
START: Zoostation (station nearest hotel)
FINISH: Wedding (neighborhood where friend's restaurant is)
ONE-WAY SCORE: 1000 (went wrong way on new Line, had to get off train, cross platform, board opposite train)
FLUENCY IN GERMAN: Crude, poor
AVAILABLE ENGLISH SIGNS: None
LUNCH: Subway station Wurst at Zoostation
PANHANDLER: Gave him some coins, he realized I spoke English, he spoke excellent English

6 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Olson said...

ooh. LOVE this game.

I've done this in London (doesn't really count since its all in English...), Paris, Prague and Sydney Australia. (Also doesn't count, but who knew Sydney had a transit system that complex)

Do you get extra points if you regularly travel through the Boston MBTA Red Line South Station where its been under construction since 1987, and the stairways move like they do at Hogwarts?

00:25  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Any unfamiliar subway system will do, even if its native lingo is your native lingo. My adventures on the London Underground have been plenty challenging.

I just think the Foreign Lingo Subway Game is double-screwy. You get this double sense of accomplishment and pride when you get to where you're going (and you didn't have to ask anybody for help in any lingo).

01:02  
Blogger pat's pub said...

Cool game. I'll try that the next time I'm in Hong Kong. Some friendly chinese Policeman is giving you directions and making gestures but you don't understand a word because he speaks cantonese..

I just love it when a desperate tourist who walked around the block 3 times is asking me for help. I usually give him the wrong direction.

Speaking of Labyrinths: Has anyone answered your q bout the Prohibition of Labyrinths after the French Revolution yet ?

12:54  
Anonymous Jim Olson said...

Leaving for Atlanta tomorrow morning early for the United Church of Christ General Synod...going to attempt to get from Hartsfield Airport to the Omni at CNN Center on public transportation. The Husband tells me it is possible.

00:05  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

Never ridden MARTA, but my research tells me it's ultra-modern, Nu Age streamlined rider-friendly system. Do you speak Georgian, y'all?

01:24  
Blogger Bob Merkin said...

whoops ... no, haven't heard from anybody or found anything yet on the Web about why the French authorities (I think it was before the Revolution) banned and eradicated Cathedral Chartres-style Labyrinths.

05:31  

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