Sunday, April 26, 2009


Article contributed by our guest columnist, Claire Chin, with thanks.

17 April 2009:
Trees and buildings whizzed by as we traveled up north along the North-South Highway. We were heading for the Charis Hospice Hunt for Charity in Penang. This unique hunt was pioneered by the RoadRunners 7 years ago and marked its return on 18 April 2009, after several years of dormancy. While raising funds to support Charis Hospice in their noble work, this hunt brings us along the heritage trail of historical Penang, with no tulips, but only maps to guide our journey. As we approached Bukit Merah Lake Town, I began to wonder what was installed for us tomorrow…

18 April 2009:
Hunters gathered bright and early on the grounds of the St. George’s Church at Lebuh Farquhar. Several cameramen were seen snapping away, capturing the beautiful architecture of the old church, amidst merry chatters of eager hunters. St. George’s Church which was completed in the year 1818, is one of the Heritage sites on the island.

St. George’s Church (Lebuh Farquhar) standing majestically

At 7.45am, briefing commenced. After a quick briefing by the man himself, Mr. Jayaram of RoadRunners, we were “flagged off”. Normally we would see cars driving out one by one (or together) towards the question sectors upon flag off. But at 9am, an hour after flag off, many teams were still seen hanging around the church compound… including us! No, we didn’t get lost trying to look for the exit gate.

Eager hunters gathering for the briefing at St. George’s Church

The format of the questions were such that teams had to crack clues revealing the road names, then crack clues to find the intended heritage site along those roads, then crack more clues in relation to features found on the intended heritage site. The heritage site feature questions could be cryptic, straightforward observation questions, puzzles or taking photos. Sounds complicated? It’s not actually once you get the hang of it, and it’s riddled with lots of fun!

Here’s how the hunt format works:

The questions were broken down into:
13 clues to road names
24 heritage site questions
32 heritage site feature questions
6 picture questions
2 puzzler questions
2 map questions (this will be discussed later)
5 Charis Hospice questions

And that brings us to a total of… 84 questions! The most I’ve ever seen… so far. With no tulips and so many tasks to perform within 6 hours, preparations were aplenty. We were advised to plan our route prior to exiting the church compound and to try out the 2 map questions in order to avoid back-tracking. The Map Questions are independent of the heritage site questions. This is another one of Jay’s brainchild. A one-of-its-kind hand drawn map of Penang Island was given to each team. This map was used to search for the road names and to guide us to solve the 2 map questions, not for navigating.

In Map Question 1, there are 6 sites to be identified, which are found either on lines or circles drawn on the map. We had to fold the map to find clues leading to the category of the sites and the number of sites found on one of the circles drawn on the map. After folding here and there, we discovered 2 possible categories: memorials and temples. So which to choose? The instruction reveals that the correct folding will “cut and cross a long road”. We had a lively debate as to which road on the map is longer… but it was later revealed that “a long road” is Logan Road (anagram), not the longest road on the map!

Anti-War Memorial at Hill Railway Road

Map Question 2 went like this:
“This treasure was buried more than a century ago. However, it can be seen now. No one dug it up. What is the treasure? Its location is where four roads meet (as indicated on the map).”

See if you can decipher this treasure. The map may help to bring us to all cross junctions, but you can solve it without the map.

With 3 maps sprawled on my lap (proper maps of Penang), we left the church compound and headed to our first sector. To be honest, I felt a little ashamed for not knowing Penang roads well enough after living in Penang for 10 years! Anyway, we still managed our way around, navigating through the one-way streets, going in circles occasionally. The journey brought us to visit some very interesting places like Nin Yong Temple, Fort Cornwallis, P. Ramlee House, Syed Alatas Mansion, Sun Yat Sen’s Base in Penang, Weld Quay and other places. Most of these heritage sites are found in Georgetown, while a few others were situated further away, like in Air Itam.

Beautiful murals at Nin Yong Temple

Drinking tea with the ‘sifu’ at the background

Along the way, we stopped by a tea house and enjoyed a pot of freshly brewed Chinese tea for only RM1.20. At Syed Alatas Mansion, we spotted a picture of Pak Lah’s (our ex-PM) father, while at Sun Yat Sen’s Base in Penang, we discovered that the revolutionary leader’s organization operated under the cover name of Philomatic Union. P. Ramlee House is a typical Malay kampong house built on stilts. As I entered P. Ramlee’s house, the tune “Getaran Jiwa” started playing in my head. “Getaran Jiwa” is one of P. Ramlee’s popular songs suitable to be played on the violin.

Perhaps one of the highlights was visiting the Chew Clan at Chew Jetty along Weld Quay. The Chew Clan hails from the Fujian Province in mainland China. The only time I went to Weld Quay was to visit my family doctor. Wooden houses built on stilts are found along a wooden jetty. Most of the houses have an item place above their doors to ward off evil. These items include ‘pakua’, scissors, mirrors, sticks… but we did not see any with a pencil as we were searching for the answer to this question: “The address where evil is warded off with a pencil at house entrance”. We did stumble across the only house which has a Chinese calligraphy brush placed above its door, which later proved to be the answer! Besides the Chew Clan, there were 6 other pier groups along Weld Quay: Ong, Lim, Lee, Tan, Yeoh…and Mixed Surnames.

This was indeed an eye-opening experience for us, learning about history while admiring the ancient architecture and designs of the heritage sites. I felt humbled by this journey. Never in the many years living in Penang did I realize such rich heritage treasures Penang held. I even studied in 2 heritage sites: Convent Light Street and St Xavier’s Institution!

A big THANK YOU to Charis Hospice Penang for organizing this event, and a big THANK YOU to RoadRunnners for an out-of-this-world experience!

Below is a sample of the questions for the hunt:

Road Question: Men held by so-called “Master” race
Answer: Armenian Street

So on Armenian Street, we have 1 heritage site questions for example:

Element on top of local house
Answer: Syed Alatas Mansion

And then in Syed Alatas Mansion, we have another 2 heritage site features questions, for example:

Couple of weights at work.
Answer: Tongkat

(Explanation: At work = anagram indicator for TON + KG + AT)

What tool is made from buffalo horn and looks like a dart?
Answer: Fire Tool
(Observation question. Look for a tool that well…looks like a dart and read its description)

L-to-R: Chai Koh Khai, Margaret Sha, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Unknown Gentleman

Charis Hospice Hunt for Charity
(Full score 200 pts)

1st: Chai Koh Khai, Margaret Sha, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon (180)
2nd: Yeoh Ban Lye, Stephen Chin, Cecilia Yew, Chan Chung Wei (166)
3rd: Dr Ho Seng Hooi, Liong Chian Min, Sam Rahman, Emmalyn Tan (160)
4th: LS Poh, MT Yeoh, AL Yeoh, Krista Goon (157)
5th: LS H'ng, MM Lim, SH Cheah, SI Chew (157)
6th: BH Kwan, CC Lim, JL Chye, KL Yeoh (155)
7th: MM Khaw, Randeep Singh, Henry Teoh, SW Lai (154)
8th: YL Sin, WL Cheok, PL Khor, Elaine Cheong (152)
9th: Sabri, Noorida, PP Choo, Subashini (151)
10th: Sharon Tan, Terrance Jones, Elaine Chan, HH Tan (135)


Anonymous said...

Congrats Claire for your well written article. Also for your team’s first placing in this highly strategic hunt. It was my team’s first hunt and we realized the importance of preparation . We had our heritage books and our road maps ready. We found the hunt fascinating as we never realize that Penang got so many heritage places.This hunt opened up our eyes.Our team only concentrated on the easier questions because we are not so understand the cryptic style. But we tried a few and could get it.especially the road question.
We also realize how important it is to be systematic for this hunt.Team must work together, and we managed that quite ok. The 1st hour was most important and we used the checklist and given map to plot our road sequence.We decided to do air hitam first and that was a good move we realize later. Some friends left it for last and were caught in between traffic.
I love the hunt map.It is so simple and yet we failed to get the correct answer.aiyah!
This was our intro to treasure hunting and we will never forget it.
Gary Goh

Claire said...

Thanks, Gary! :) Welcome to the wonders of the treasure hunting world! You are right, this hunt especially required a lot of preparation and planning. Your team did well in deciding to cover Air Itam first... the traffic at the state mosque area is horrendous towards mid-day! A good strategic move!

Another unique thing about this hunt is the number of questions needed to be solved within 6 hours. A typical hunt of about 6 hours would involve say...35 questions and 4-6 treasures, with a given set of tulips to use for navigation. The best questions are those that we realize are so simple during the presentation, that we slap our foreheads and say, “Aiyah!!”. Join more hunts and in time, you will get the hang of solving cryptic questions. Blogs like this one discusses hunt questions as well, another way of accelerating the learning curve. You can also get updates on up-coming hunts from here.

Like you, I enjoyed this hunt very much. Hope to see you in future hunts ya! ;-)