Saturday, March 3, 2012

RAUB HUNT - FIRST HUNT OF YEAR

RAUB, 7 Jan 2012: Contrary to what most hunters would say, for me, the Sentul Rotary Treasure Hunt was not my first hunt of 2012! Rather it was the Raub hunt. Organized by Andre, the day's food hunt had been one I had been patiently anticipating. The town of Raub, I have heard had much to offer. Besides, the road less travelled between Bentong and Raub is without doubt refreshing.

The flag-off for the 7 hour hunt took place at the BHP Station just after the Gombak toll, an unorthodox choice of venue yet adequate, since there were only 4 participating cars. Teams were flagged-off when the last of the cars arrived shortly before 8:30am. Foo Seong's team appeared on paper to be the most experienced. And with 6 pax in his entourage, his team was the largest too clearly encouraged by the "as many as the car can fit" regulation. Alex's team with a pair of seasoned campaigners looked promising too.


The teams arrived at the first Pit stop, Kedai Kopi Tong Nam Bee (No.55, Jalan Tun Razak, Raub) after slightly over an hour. The first challenge I must say caught some of us off-guard for it wasn't exactly in the briefing notes text to me a day earlier. Fortunately we arrived hungry and no one was complaining as the breakfast WAS rather good.



As with most original Hainanese coffee joints, it had a modest appearance. But what it lacked in looks, it made up for with a delightful breakfast menu that reminded me of my childhood days spent in the then sleepy town of Kuantan. I opted for Roti Bakar served with heavenly kaya & butter and Telur Separuh Masak, accompanied by a strong cup of aromatic coffee, and wisely decided to leave the noodles for another occassion in anticipation of more Pit stops to come.


Next, our tulips guided us to the Raub Durian Orchard, which was less than 20 minutes away from our previous stop.  Covering approximately 10 acres in land area, it was certainly more than a durian orchard. Also spotted within its compound were passion fruit trees, mangosteen trees, pulasan trees, rambutan trees, banana trees, dukung trees and a home for swiftlets.


At last, after corresponding with Eddie over emails on a few occassions (while entertaining the idea of doing a real hunt ending at his orchard), I finally got to meet the man.

Eddie Yong entertaining the crowd with his invention, the "durian cracker".

Though there weren't as many varieties here as compared to my previous experience, the crowd pleasers were available, notably Musang King and Red Prawn. However the thorny variety that "caught my leg" or rather captured my heart was one named Thraka with its thick flesh and pleasant taste.

The famous Musang King.

The one that "caught my leg" was from this tree.

Beat that for freshness!

Then during a walk around the orchard, hunting for a variety of other fruits, we found this - meant to serve as a warning to trespassers perhaps.

A grim warning to trespassers.

It was past noon when everyone decided that they had had enough. So after a couple of customary group photos (for Eddie's blog collection) we bade him farewell.

The third Pit stop was a nearby Sempalit Ground Nut packaging factory. And look what we found after cracking open the shells - a very unique leopard skin ground nut all the way from Vietnam.

Shell-shocked to find this leopard skin ground nut.

A short drive later and we were back in Raub, stopping over at a seafood restaurant for a princely feast of Steamed Patin fish, Steamed river prawns amongst many other dishes. But the one dish that stood out for me was this simple yet delicious, petai stir-fried with fried anchovies and onion rings.


After we were done with lunch, we could barely lift our butts off the chairs. If not for Lily, we would have stayed on for a few more hours in the comfort of the air-condition restaurant reminiscing over past hunts. 

And just when I had made up my mind to skip dinner and the following day's breakfast, Andre exclaimed that we weren't done yet!

There was a final challenge waiting for us at Kow Pow Cafe in Bentong. Although I am a fan of cold desserts, I must readily admit that it was the most trying of all the challenges. It was an obvious struggle and in the end it required the collaboration of two teams of seven people to finish two puny bowls of ice-cream!


I am not sure if any of us scored maximum points. Yet, I think all of us enjoyed the outing very much, maybe a wee bit too much. So, when is the next one, Andre?

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