On a day when Bob chose to meet his friend, Alice, at her house, Alice decided to go a trip! Picking up his phone, Bob tried calling Alice, but no one answered. As Bob turned to leave the front door, he saw a note on a piece of paper on the second step down.

Here's what the note said:


Bob ran home, deciphered the message, packed his bags, hailed a cab and headed to a transportation place (if I tell you this, it might give extra hints to the answer), all in 2 hours.

Where was Bob going to?


One character acts as a separator.

According to @Deusovi's recommendations, I have added a place to start this puzzle with...

Where do you see the note?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your code looks very similar to the one in Code Puzzles: What not to do? on meta. Please read that before creating any more ciphers, $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean the code "fw8904730983kf89023ncweamnfiope20tmi9b6m89ny327nery895mbi9tm0ei09x2e1m3y8n2"? (the one on the meta) $\endgroup$
    – mbjb
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ This isn't really an issue with PSE, but with puzzles as a whole. When you design a puzzle, you are setting up a battle of wits. You've got that part down. But it's not just any battle of wits: it's a battle of wits that you, the creator, set yourself up to lose. A puzzle that doesn't have that - a puzzle where the maker wins - simply isn't fun. Imagine going into the final boss of a video game and getting destroyed within seconds unless you flipped your controller upside down and entered a 20-button code. That's what these codes feel like: you 'win' not by a logical path but by... $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ ...trying things until something happens to work. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 13:11
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    $\begingroup$ @mestackoverflow I think the imporant thing is to add something, which makes it fun to work at your puzzle, otherwise, why should one bother? I think, that is what Deusovi also tried to say. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


I think I'm sort of on the right track so I'm going to take a shot at it and say the answer is


Deciphering the first part of the note.

Considering the following decryption method:

(i) Let each of the letters in the word 'CHINA' be an alphabet fixed point, i.e, each of those letters maps to itself in the decryption
(ii) For each letter that is not a fixed point, map it to the previous letter in the alphabet that is not a fixed point. So, Z $\rightarrow$ Y, P $\rightarrow$ O but D $\rightarrow$ B as C is a fixed point and B $\rightarrow$ Z as A is a fixed point. Most importantly, note that J $\rightarrow$ G (NB "step down")
(iii) The number 2 acts as a separator and can be mapped to a space character.

With this convention the decrypted note reads


Now, the second part of this message is still undeciphered using the 'China' method and it's quite possible that we don't use it on this part of the puzzle, so it possibly should be left as is with 2 still replacing the space character.

Remember G.N.

I think the second half of the note must refer to some musical phrase perhaps referencing a song giving Alice's location (most of it is from the start of the alphabet with additional characters perhaps represting flats and sharps). The purposeful emboldening of note and piece also suggest a musical connection.

As far as musicians with the initials G.N. go, one that springs to mind is Gary Numan who happens to have a song entitled "Slow Car to China". It's possible that the transportation place that Bob has headed to is a garage housing "slow cars" and such a revelation would be a dead giveaway for this puzzle, as suggested by the asker. I reckon that the second part of the note turns out to be a musical phrase from a song such as this (with a title containing the name of a place) although I don't know of an efficient way of working this out.


Obviously, the note does not decipher perfectly. The beginning is "IF COU" instead of "IF YOU" which is where my comment comes from. I have not yet had an answer from the asker to confirm or deny that there is a typo. If somebody has another suggestion, please do share.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "Second step down" sounds like moving down a musical scale. From where though? G.N. could indicate G natural, meaning second step down is Eb. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3, 2016 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ The place is correct! You are also correct about the musical connection, but G.N. is a different thing/person/something else. $\endgroup$
    – mbjb
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure if the "COU" part was a typo, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't have been any clue. $\endgroup$
    – mbjb
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 10:37

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