Sunday, September 4, 2011


GAMBANG, 13 Aug 2011: You can consider the Hungry Ghosts Festival to be the Chinese version of Halloween. But unlike Halloween, the Hungry Ghosts Festival is a month long celebration during the seventh moon of the lunar calendar. With the opening of hell's gate on the first day, literally all hell breaks loose and these once imprisoned ghosts escape to earth for a month long vacation. The Chinese believe that these ghosts bring misfortune or bad luck and should be avoided. This is the main reason some Chinese play safe by avoiding this period when scheduling holidays and significant events like weddings, moving into a new house or even starting a new business, to refrain from bumping into these creatures.

This year the Atmah Charity Hunt fell smack right in the middle of the Hungry Ghosts Festival. Understandably since our luck gauge is not expected to be at an all time high this month, it appeared unlikely that this would be the year we would break the Curse of Atmah. And from the way the 8 hour hunt had begun for us, it was evident that we had not done enough to appease the ghosts.

The Atmah crowd prior to the flag-off @ PJ Civic Center.

I truly can't remember the last time we failed to find a single answer on our first pass-through of a sector with a number of questions bunched together. And today this happened to us not once but several times during the first half of the hunt. We failed miserably in our maiden attempt in Taman Petaling Utama where 6 questions were bunched together. It happened again in a very long Old Klang Road where there were 3 and 4 questions bunched up respectively in two separate sectors (though the latter could be attributed to our mistake due to a misinterpretation of the tulips). And again during the final 3 questions just before the mid-point in Bentong. Though eventually we were able to find most of them it was at the expense of time, barely making the 12:30pm cut-off.

Arriving in Temerloh an hour later it dawned upon us that we may have to scramble for time. With three hours of the clock remaining and all of the remaining journey on the trunk road and with 20 questions still unanswered, it did not look rosy. Things became a whole lot worse in Maran with 40 minutes to disqualification and 40 km from the end point at Gambang Resort and with 6 questions still unanswered. The darkening sky was a perfect reflection of our gloomy situation. At this point, avoiding disqualification was the priority and understandably we dropped all but one of the last 6 questions. Even the one we had sucessfully answered was through sheer luck, from Yoong Leong's memory of the shop he had already sped past.

In the end, we made the end point but only by the skins of our teeth though many were not as lucky, including 4 other regular teams. Thinking back, we were rather fortunate. Had we been held up by a trailer in the last 40 km or had the skies opened up, there was no way we could have avoided disqualification. And though we weren't really troubled by the treasures (or so we thought), had Pava not distributed them earlier, the additional time needed to search for them in today's circumstances would have made us odds-on favourite for disqualification!

Will a similar T evolve for Treasure Hunts? Only time will tell.

Treasure hunt briefing sessions nowadays have become so mundane that many of us choose to skip. But for the Atmah Charity Treasure Hunt, these sessions are always a guaranteed full house, and this year's briefing was no different. "There isn't any lavish buffet spread. Neither are there any lucky draws to be given away. So, what is Pava's secret?", those of you attending the Atmah briefing for the very first time may ask. Simply put, the treasure riddles are given out on briefing night. So essentially for Atmah, the hunt begins as soon as the briefing ends.

This year there were six treasure riddles to decipher with each correctly answered treasure riddle worth 10 points. With its superheavyweight status, the treasure riddles overshadowed the route questions, worth a mere 1 point each. Not surprisingly this promoted a debate amongst teams who could not break all 6 treasures before the onset of the hunt, if it was even worth going for the hunt. I can understand their contention as playing catch-up to 10 route questions would have been a big ask.

Without doubt, T1 and T5 were the 2 treasure riddles that had troubled most teams.

Of the two, it was clear that T1 would be the kingmaker while T5 could play the role of spoiler. Most regular teams would not have been elated with the variant having the "E" which was more readily available, since it did not quite match up to the riddle, though knowing very well it would not matter to the COC because of this piece of history.

T5: This treasure is a hit during the festivities,
So I shall not indulge into the brand formalities,
Cougar's star may help with these sweeties,
Just bring in as many to complete your duties.

Ans: A pack of Caster Sugar.

It did not take us long to derive a solution for T1 which we felt was worth a shout. We settled for Lux since it was clear to us that the COC did not want Fab. Our explanation being:

High-end = Deluxe
Last letter from the words "band please relate" = dee
Delete the letters "dee" from "deluxe" to yield Lux.
And to play safe we went for the Lux Soft Touch variant to fit "not hard" in Line 3.

T1: For the first treasure a cleaner you must target,
Add a high-end minus the last word from a band, please relate,
Browse the beginnings nothing great, the treasure's not hard for you to break.

Ans: A pack of Breeze detergent (powder/liquid).

To our dismay, the COC had a diffierent solution in mind. His explanation being:

High-end = h (one end of the word High)
Last word = in (latest in fashion)
Band = cincin
Replace "in" in cincin with "h" to yield Cinch.
Then relate Breeze to Cinch.

Comparing with the COC's rather complex explanation leading to the solution, I kind of like our answer better (hee hee).

In the end, T5 was not solved and break the curse we did!

With Thanks, from one VK to another!

Perhaps there are some good ghosts out there after all and one of them must have hitched a ride in our car the entire journey!

Atmah Charity Treasure Hunt
Maximum Score: 100

1st: Sin Yoong Leong, Chai Koh Khai, Chong Voon Kiat, Margaret Sha (82)
2nd: Lim Soo Khian, Claire Chin, Goh Teck Koon, Julie Tan (81)
3rd: Peh Kok Hun, Loh Chee Kwan, Tommy Ng, Lim Say Chye (80)
4th: Simon Matthew, Venkateswaran Nagappan, Buvanes Tharmalingam, Eeswaran Kanesalingam (80)
5th: Teng Wei Chiat, Chan Chung Wei, Yeoh Ban Lye, Cecilia Yew (78)
6th: Liew Kok Seng, Teoh Cheow Teong, Chong Foo Seong, Lim Kong Yew (77)
7th: Leslie Kwong, Shirley Hoe, Lim Ming Yang, Loo Wern Ching (76)


2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

I was fortunate to share a table with an experience COC for dinner. We discussed ala post mortem the reason the bulk of teams could not avoid disqualification.

We came to the agreement that perhaps the COC had created a false sense of security by setting-up "mid-point" at Bentong. Here "mid-point" did not mean mid journey, and leaving 4 hours for the drive east to Gambang (from Bentong) and mainly on trunk roads with 20 questions to decipher, a task more difficult than most could handle!

Perhaps a lesson to learn for other COCs.

Len1 said...

Congrats for breaking the curse, HRU!

In relation to Treasure 1, think the COC's explanation was "Last Word = In"

last word
n. 3. Informal The newest or most fashionable example of its kind; the latest thing: a food processor that is the last word in kitchen equipment (The American Heritage® Dictionary)

Our team considered Lux as well based on the same reasoning but somehow dismissed it and it was a toss up between Breeze and Fab. As it turned out, it was probably a blessing that we opted for FAB, or else we would be kicking ourselves in the rear for indignantly attempting to solve the last few questions when we knew we were running out of time!

DQ obtained and lesson learnt...hopefully.

2 Romans 1 Impostor said...

Len1: good catch (my blooper). Thanks.

Well, treasure hunts are supposed to be fun first and foremost! I felt the "oversight" made it a bit of a mad dash for most. Hope other cocs pick up a thing or two.

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