Sunday, May 17, 2009


MALACCA 16 May 09: Flash back to three weeks ago, I had these thoughts then ......

A storm is imminent. The signs are evident. 2 of my regular compatriots will be hors de combat on the day of the Lions Club of PJ City hunt. Nevertheless, I am quite determined to join this hunt. Call it a hunter's itch if you must but public hunts by Michael Pang are few and far between, and the last one that I was privilleged enough to be a part of was his Bandar Bukit Puchong hunt back in Jan 2007. Michael had clerked maybe a couple more between then and now, but due to reasons I now cannot remember, I had to give those a miss.

For those who are not familiar, Michael did his break out hunt back in January of 2005 - a noble cause to collect funds for the Tsunami victims from the Boxing Day disaster of 2004. Initially, most hunters struggled somewhat to adapt to this New Kid on the Block's style (which was a bit of a fresh air) - with his trademark frugal treasure riddles and penchant for taking advantage of the fact that common everyday words had not-so-common alternative meanings. Most agreed that his questions were very challenging but fair and tight. And soon after, people started to crave for more.

Now back to the present ......

Margaret and I formed a scratch team with Alex for today's hunt. Quite a Dream Pairing that I am fortunate to be a part of, as my team mates are arguably the top two hunters in the sport. Still, I had an uneasy feeling that we would struggle today running on 3 (which incidentally is not by choice but by circumstance as Alex's regular team mates were also not available). And sure enough, struggle we did!

The much anticipated storm ended up being whole lot worse - rather, a violent hurricane.

A total of 27 teams were present at the flag-off at Jaya One in Petaling Jaya, but only 26 teams finished the hunt at Grand Continental Hotel in Malacca, we were told. There was a fair amount of work to be achieved on the day - 40 questions to be answered and 5 treasures to be solved. During the final briefing, Michael warned about possible rain clouds looming in the Klang Valley.

Somehow our team survived the first 7 questions in OUG unscathed. Next stop, Malacca - the rest of the questions were littered all over the historical city.

We had zero inkling on all 5 treasures leaving the Klang Valley. The one and a half hours straight drive to Malacca was truly a blessing-in-disguise for our team as it gave us uninterrupted attention to work on the treasures.

One doesn't get a whole lot of clues from one-line treasures. Solving one-liners needed a whole lot of patience and brainstorming. Our first breakthrough came when Margaret coughed out the Payer-Payee possibility. "Quite absurd", the rest of us thought. But we did have a good laugh over it and accepted it as "CoC's humour". After that initial success and through sheer persistance, we started to see some light at the end of the tunnel for the rest of the treasures and solved them all (or so we thought) before we arrived at the Alor Gajah exit.

However, things stopped being rosy from then on. Cheng was the start of our nightmare stretch. First we started to drop two questions in one sector. Next three. Following that, all hell broke loose and we started dropping every other question.

Even with seven and a half hours hunting time, we arrived at the finish control late by 2 minutes. It was partly my fault that we had arrived late. I misled the team into accepting for T4, "Madrid", a Real drink which coincidentally had become obsolete in the last few months. My explanation: mad = reversal of dam (mother) and free = rid. So we wasted quite a bit of time here, going in and out of the many 7 Eleven outlets along the journey. I later found out that the drink was actually known as RealPower and not Madrid (sorry guys!)

T4: Mother returns free drink.
Ans: Malta

Michael's explanation for T4 was: ma = mother, free = at large = atl. Reversing atl will yield lta. Then put ma and lta together for Malta.

There were some other avoidable factors that had contributed to the hurricane.

Personally, I do not mind questions that are of a higher level of difficulty. However, with the higher level of difficulty, I am of the opinion that a CoC has to exercise sound judgement when planning the hunting route.

If today's CoC has a Suggestion Box hanging in front of his office, I would slip in the following recommendations:

a. Do select sectors that are hunter-friendly for your future projects.
Hunting along main roads is not much fun (Traffic is heavy. Stationary lorries are obstructing signages. Hunters may hold up traffic). Neither is hunting on narrow one-way streets (Again hunters may hold up traffic. Definitely more challenging to look up at signs).

b. Do select larger signages for those very long sectors loaded with signages.
Being able to scan all signages, large and small, in a very long sector requires a superhuman effort. Exercise sound judgement by crafting questions using the larger signages. Or if it is a must-have small sign for a tough question, try sandwiching it between easier ones to help hunters narrow down the search.

c. Do introduce new tricks but try to play by the rules.

I enjoyed this ......

Boy: Knock knock.
Girl: Who's there?
Boy: Ya.
Girl: .......................
Ans: Yahoo.

I was recently pondering about introducing a similar category (humour) when I bumped into this sign during a recent walk hunt. You can say that Michael beat me to it.

Q: Why did the golfer wear two pants to the golf course? Just in case he had a .............
Ans: O-IN-ONE.

...... but not this.

Q33: Female doctor consumed some Nestea and sounded as if she is suffering.
Ans: De-stress.

Michael's explanation for Q33 was: Following the waiter-waitress concept, a female doctor = dr-ess??! Some Nestea = est (some letters from Nestea). Consumed is the container key where est is contained in dr-ess ie. d-est-ress or De-stress. And De-stress sounds like Distress.

Neither did I enjoy this one (which was along the same lines).

T1: A drink when you are being coughed at! (A ready-to-drink type)
Ans: Coffee drink (any brand)

Michael's explanation for T1 was: cougher = person coughing, coughee = person being coughed at??! And since coughee is an invalid word, a sounds like key was not required.

After the hunt, I felt that we had not done enough to win. But in the end, we did survive the storm, but just barely.

L-to-R: Two Lions with the winners, Alex Hoh, Chong Voon Kiat and Margaret Sha.

Lions Club of PJ City Treasure Hunt Results:
(Full score: 100 pts)

1st: Alexander Hoh, Margaret Sha, Chong Voon Kiat (62)
2nd: Ramesh Rajaratnam, Liew Kok Seng, Lim Kong Yew, Chong Foo Seong (60)
3rd: Wong Chiang Chuen, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Julie Tan (42)


Alex said...

"trademark frugal treasure riddles" ha ha!

My team mates were fantastic in solving the treasures, unlike me who only managed to make good impressions of Edvard Munch's The Scream everytime I read the one liners.

Cornelius said...

Maybe it was a blessing-in-disguise that I was unable to make this hunt. I wouldn't have been able to achieve anywhere near the passing score! Not with invalid words, e.g. COUGHEE.

The CoC in this case has beaten Jayaram's record of failing the hunters. I remember suffering badly in the one and only hunt of Jay's that I joined some time ago. I found Jay's questions really tough, and he used rare words such as MOBIUS and HOKUM, to name a few. BUT! valid words all the same! Also not easy to find any fault in grammatical sense too. I'm therefore willing to admit defeat to Master Jay's hunt.

It's a different story with the word COUGHEE. Firstly, it is not even a valid word. Hunters are required to "invent" a word from the clue. Assuming that the hunter is able to guess the word COUGHEE as "one who's being coughed at", that is still not the solution. He has to guess again that the solution is an item which sounds like COUGHEE. I say "guess" because there's no sounds like indicator in the clue.

I do not agree with the CoC that because COUGHEE is not a valid word, there is therefore no need for a sounds like indicator. How so?

Valid/invalid words vs homophone riddles are not connected. They are 2 different kinds of riddles and each one requires an indicator. In some special circumstances, indicators are omitted from clues. But I think the omission of the sounds like indicator on account of an invalid word was a bad call on the part of the CoC.

Is a "fruit cocktail" supposed to be in sliced and diced fruits only, or does it also include juices? It has been suggested that "fruit cocktail" can only take the form of sliced and diced fruits only - not juices. I think it's possible to mean fruit juices too. But since the CoC has opened to door to force the hunters to be inventive with COUGHEE, he can't suddenly become rigid with the interpretation of "fruit cocktail". That inventiveness should prevail throughout his hunt.

On the whole, I'm convinced that many hunters, especially the regular ones, don't mind the challenge of a very tough hunt. And it's for this reason that new twists in the clues are most welcomed. However, I'm not too sure about DOCTRESS (DRESS) and COUGHEE.

Whenever I set a hunt, I try to introduce at least a few new twists. But I doubt that I will ever come up with anything like COUGHEE.