Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Just been to our company's treasure hunt last weekend to Penang and now I am in New Delhi, India supporting a project here.

I have to freeze my leave and will spend at least 10 days including Christmas in India. I am already missing my family.

This is my first time in India and I am sure I will share some interesting photos and stories later. There are also some topics/ideas I wish to write about, but I have to wait until later.

Oh..yeah, in case you are curious about the hunt that I went last weekend, it had a Christmas theme "Jingle All the Way". And Dominic mentioned that because of the theme and the fact that we won theSun hunt, he had set a higher level of difficulty. I think some first-time hunters must be blaming us for the difficult hunt. Perhaps I can share some questions later. But first, teasers here:

Hopefully can get some of you thinking along the theme for the Charity Xmas Hunt on 29/12/08. I will not able to make it for this hunt although I wanted to earlier.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where you can have intercourse and not feel bad

Q. Where you can have intercourse and not feel bad.

You maybe excited to find out the answer. Mmmmm........intercourse, not feel bad. Where? Well, you have to wait awhile.

First consider this question from the recent theSun Motor hunt, in the open category.

Q31. What a dog and cow have in common?

A31. Centre Circle @ Centre Circle Galeri Audio & Visual

I shot this photo when I was near the sector with my camera phone.

For the explanation, if you read the question literally you will think of answers like "animal", "four-legged" etc. I showed this question to a non-hunter, and the answers are the ones stated earlier. But experienced treasure hunters are trained to think laterally first, then literal. In fact, this way of thinking has been a norm for many regulars.

Thinking laterally, the common thing about the word "dog" and "cow" is the letter "o" in the middle. So scanning the sector, you will find the signboard above, Centre Circle Galeri Audio & Visual. Note that an "o" is a "circle" also (although for most handwritten "o" are not exactly like a circle shape).

So, if we remember this (unwritten) rule, most treasure hunt questions are designed to trap hunters who tend to read it literally or take its surface/obvious/common meaning. When CoC (Clerk-of-Course) set the questions, they did not indicate what their intended meaning was. Therefore you cannot tell which is the right line of thinking. Actually, I should not say right, but the intended line of thinking of the CoC.

But if the surface meaning is too common and general such as this Q31, the danger is that, there could be alternative answers out there, besides the intended one. If there is an alternate answer to the literal meaning of the question, can it be accepted?

I was near the sector of Q31 a few hours ago, and I captured this photo here.

This signboard was found within the same sector for Q31 & before Q32.

Now, consider this literal answer:

A31. Haiwan @ Kedai Haiwan Peliharaan Puppy Cottage Sdn Bhd

The words "Kedai Haiwan Peliharaan" are found on the top left side of the sign. The keyword here is "haiwan", the Malay word for animal. It fits perfectly for the literal meaning of the question.

So the question now is, what is there to say the alternate answer above is wrong, or not accepted? Is it because there is an unwritten rule for the hunters to laterally first? Or is it the lateral answer is more sophisticated than the literal answer? Or simply put it, it is not the intended answer of the CoC, period.

Now, back to the original question I have posted at the top.

Q. Where you can have intercourse and not feel bad.

The question above is a classic question for a hunt that I joined many years ago.

Now, let's apply the lateral thinking first. Wordplay, umm.... the keyword or indicator here is "bad", definitely an indicator for anagram. So "not feel" bad, go look for anagram of "not feel" and in that sector, you may find this common sign below.

A. Telefon

An "intercourse" can mean a conversation, communication. So the answer is definitely fitting.

Now, consider these alternative answers:

Hotel Gembira

Rumah Tumpangan Ceria

Of course, the intercourse that normally takes place in hotels and rumah tumpangan can be of a different kind, e.g. between a couple. I remember we have a good laugh for one or two minutes when the "interesting" answers were shared to all by the CoC.

Back to the lateral versus literal issue again, what is stopping the alternative answers above as a valid and correct answer to the question?

While the lateral side of the question forms a good anagram clue, the literal side of the question was vulnerable. Overall, this question/clue was not tight enough. In this case, perhaps the CoC should cross-check thoroughly and make sure there is no literal and valid alternate answers available within the sector.

Similar (I say, similar) issue came to light during the recent virtual hunt organised by a well-known critic. I followed that posting and I applauded the way that the master handled the issue. The master acknowledged the blunder for leaving room for alternative answers, then listened to the alternative answers and explanation, seek advice from peers (masters), followed the rule of cryptic clueing, his principle and being fair when he made his decision in the end.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Holiday in Cameron

I have been busy lately. But I'd planned a holiday with my family long ago. And it was a holiday that I looked forward to for a long long time.

We went to Cameron Highlands and stayed in an apartment during last weekend. It was our first time staying in such an accommodation in Cameron. It turned out to be a good choice as we could cook while it was raining every night we were there.

Ashley and Ashton enjoyed the outing as we visited tea farm, strawberry farm, butterfly garden, and cactus farm.

Anyway, apart from a good holiday with family, here are two photos to share:

Crystal Guava

Crystal Guava, the outer layer is a semi-transparent layer, inner core looks similar to that of a normal guava. The taste is sweet. I have yet to research more about this fruit.

Another one here, the first time I see a big pumpkin with my own eyes. This one must be over 10kg. It measures about 2 feet in diameter.

Big pumpkin

Treasure Hunt for Olympics?

Treasure Hunt to be an event for Olympics Games.

Some may say it's crazy. Some may say it's impossible.

I'm dreaming for that.

Treasure hunt has grown to a popular recreation sports for some Malaysians. Gone were the days when treasure hunt is part of the British army's pastime. No more counting of coconut trees and lamp pole in Jalan Bangsar. Treasure hunt in Malaysia today is an intellectual challenge, where teams work and compete to decipher cryptic clues.

Well, in this posting, I am not going to talk about the history or the cryptic clueing of treasure hunt. Rather, I will write about the treasure ecosystem today and maybe ways to take the sports forward (hopefully).

I have tried to put into a simple ecosystem diagram of treasure hunt here.

Simple diagram of treasure hunt ecosystem.

In this diagram above, we can see that there are many parties involved in the ecosystem. I will try to explain the roles played by each party here.

1. The community. The community here refers to the context of the treasure hunt event itself. The community can be the general public for a open hunt. It can be staff of a company for a company event. It can also be the target marketing segment of the organiser of the hunt. The community can be beneficiaries of a charity hunt.

2. Treasure hunters. These are the people who take part in the treasure hunts. They may be first-timers, regulars, masters and CoC. The hunters may take part for many reasons e.g. for fun, to win something, as team/relationship-building, for charity, etc. Some hunters with very good command of the language with strong cryptic-solving skills are called masters (note that the definition of a master is debatable to some). I would like to think of the masters as mentors. Those who with great skills but also can see the win-win paradigm are the ones who knows that by sharing knowledge/know-how and making others better does not make them less competitive. But rather, it will increase the size of the pie and good for the sports in the longer-term. Some hunters are more passionate than others and they join many hunts and we may call them regulars. Some regulars eventually learned through many mistakes and experiences to become masters. Some treasure hunters also became Clerk-of-Course (CoC). CoCs are the question-setter and the event manager of the hunt.

3. Organisers. Organiser can be a company, a society, a school etc. The purpose maybe to reach out to the community for a commercial/marketing, social, or charity cause. The organiser may need the support of sponsors and media to make the event more successful.

4. Sponsors. Sponsors are important to the treasure hunts. Most hunters now are likely to be attracted by cash or good prizes. Of course, sponsors will get the attention and marketing reach from the community and hunters alike with the support of the media and Internet.

5. Media and Internet. Media and the Internet are the important means to reach out to the community and form a bridge between the other parties in the ecosystem to the community due to its extensive reach and connection.

So there you have it, a simple model of the treasure hunt ecosystem. I may be missing something, please comment then.

Is there anything we can add to this? Maybe a governing body for the treasure hunt sport? What is required to take the sport to a higher level? Sort of like an association to look after the hunters, the CoC, ensure the growth of the sport?

I think there are pros and cons about it. Some may agree, some may not. Those who agree may want a body to regulate/govern treasure hunts in Malaysia. Those who against may have reservation and feel that there is nothing immediate or urgent that requires such a governing body now (since treasure hunt has grown to what it is today without it).

Of course, there must be a charter and purpose for this body. Rather than inventing that purpose, it must be discovered. If there is a need for a body for a long-term good of the sport, I think it will be found. Hopefully, it can be a tiny step towards treasure hunt for Olympics.