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TCG Goes To Bukit Gambang!

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TCG, Pava's Hunts, MPH, Bukit Gambang Resort.

And Eat White Pepper Crabs In Kuantan

How on earth did we end up participating in a treasure hunt, you ask?

Okay, the story starts like this: we got a call from our editor, Oon Yeoh, informing us that MPH has got tickets for a treasure hunt. Since we were the only band of carnuts in the entire organization, the opportunity has been bequeathed upon us to get some!… field work done…

Frankly, we were pretty excited about the treasure hunt, since most of us never participated in one before, and it was also a very good opportunity to get together as TCG and have some fun. As the date of the hunt drew closer, we suddenly realized that we did not possess a travel-worthy car; Jack’s was a guzzler, Andrew’s was falling off piece by piece, Vernon’s had no trunk function, and Oon’s was far too delicate to handle long-distance courses. It then suddenly dawned upon us that we were able to ask some of our favourite car manufacturers for help. A loaned car would not only be good for their marketing, but also provide a great way to REALLY test the car out.

[Treasure Hunt minus 2 days]

We contacted Volkswagen to see if we were able to procure the new Eos 2.0-litre cabriolet, since there were four of us, and it would’ve have made us look good driving it all the way to Bukit Gambang. Volkswagen informed us that they would be using most, if not all, of their review cars for another event, and would not be able to loan the Eos to us.

[Insert sad face here] 🙁

All is not lost, however, since we had also approached another car manufacturer about helping us out; Honda. We were planning to get one of the test MPV’s from the Japanese manufacturer; the Honda Stream. It would’ve been a good opportunity to test the Stream’s capability in handling constant stop-starts, hill-climbs, and also urban and highway frugality.

[Treasure Hunt minus 1 day]

We were informed by Honda that they couldn’t get the Stream ready in time, due to the sudden nature of our request, but they were somehow able to procure another MPV for us; the new Freed.

Thank You, Honda!

Now, to be honest, the Freed is not the most appealing vehicle to have for a cross-country treasure hunt marathon. Specifically targeted at urban-dwellers, the Freed’s 1.5 SOHC VTEC powerplant is made for short runs around town, with a small turning radius, drive-by-wire, forward-tilting hinge front doors, and a low tailgate opening. We were a bit worried that the snug little baby would not be able to handle the more… precarious nature of our (edit : Andrew’s) driving.

However, now that we had a vehicle to use for the hunt, we turned our attention to more pressing matters; logistics preparation and erm… waking up the next day.

For the duration of the hunt, Andrew has got the task of driving the Freed, while Vernon would be the navigator. Jack is in charge of getting all other matters smoothened out while Oon will deservedly lounge around and have fun.

[Treasure Hunt Day]

The day started out at 0600, when Oon was the first to reach the default TCG rendezvous point (aka Andrew’s house). Apparently Oon did not sleep much the previous night due to pressing due dates, and was practically zombiefied.

Next, Jack and Vernon reached the rendezvous point in quick succession, and other than Jack, who was the perennial 9-5 workaholic, all of us were suffering from chronic sleep deprivation.

We quickly loaded our travel luggage onto the Freed, and headed to the briefing area for the hunt, which was at a school called SK Seri Setia along Jalan Kuchai Lama.

We reached the SK Seri Setia at the break of dawn, and registered ourselves with the hunt authority.

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Sun rose early that day... either that or we were late.

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Vernon and Jack adding the bling to the sponsored Honda Freed.

After a short briefing, we grouped around to have our photographs taken before the hunt. It was a huge group, and the hunt is far larger than we anticipated. If our chances of winning were slim prior to this, it would now be about as miniscule as us building a space shuttle, from pieces of Elton John’s used undergarments.

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Mr. Pava from Pava's Hunts telling us we don't stand a chance.

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Team TCG all ready... to pose for the camera.

Still, we had our hopes up, and if anybody with half a brain can figure out the clues given, it would be us! Thus, we held a stoic outlook, and with a heave of morale-boosting laughter, we went to our Freed with virgin-like enthusiasm.

We stayed behind a bit for the official flag-off, and then we were off!

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Vernon thought it would be good to delay the participants by jumping in front of them after flag-off. He retained the use of both legs after reconstructive surgery.

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All participants excited to get out of school. How Malaysian.

To the nearest dim sum restaurant for breakfast.

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Needless to say, we were very enthusiastic about the hunt. Really...

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What? Don't judge us, 'kay. We needed sustenance.

After gulping down some rather delicious calories, we headed down to the first part of the hunt, Telawi Bangsar. This was where the first part of the clues were scattered.

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Ahh, Bangsar Telawi. I wish we could come here more often.

We were particularly prepared with two-way radios for communication, and set a two-man team when rounding up the answers for the clues. Despite the preparations and ease of communication, we were soon faced with some dauntingly difficult clues, some which perplexed us and irritatingly confounded Andrew.

We had some easy ones, like “aka North American Football”, the answer to which was Gridiron.

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Gridiron

But we also had weirdly nonsensical ones like “first the killers are out for the way to wipe out”. We later found that the answer was Jalan Terasek. Well, this was where our amateurish treasure hunting skills bogged us down. We later also discovered that many experienced treasure hunters got the answer to this clue correctly.

Drat.

At that point in time, the treasure hunt authorities told us that we had less than an hour to finish the first leg of the treasure hunt, failing which would mean that we will be disqualified from the next leg. Horrified at the prospect of losing so early in the game, we decided to give one final try at the clues in Bangsar.

Subsequently, in the true spirit of TCG, we decided to give up cracking the remaining clues, and headed towards the next clue location; the Desa Sri Hartamas area. We picked up a few points while looking for the answers to the clues here, and headed opposite to Hartamas for the last few clues before passing the answer sheet to the hunt authorities.

Upon passing the answers over, we then proceeded to head off to the highway towards Kuantan.

It was a particularly uneventful drive from Hartamas over to the next clue location, Karak, other than the screeching sounds of the Freed’s tires struggling to keep the vehicle on track on the Karak highway. Andrew was pushing the Freed on the highway, Vernon was used to Andrew cursing the other slowpoke motorists on the road, Jack was too excited about the trip to worry about crashing, and Oon was snoring.

Although we were not exactly looking forward to having the Freed as our hunt car, our lack of options gave us some time to let the vehicle’s advantages simmer in. And simmer in it did! All four chairs were comfortable, even good enough for a prolonged drive, and highway cruising was surprisingly quiet. Cabin noise intrusion is what to be expected of a Honda; minimal with periodical tyre noise. Driving position is pretty good, without making the vehicle feel like a van or lorry. Trunk space is adequate for four people on a long journey, as the rear seats need to be folded up in order to provide any significant amount of luggage space. The rigidity of recent Honda chassis’ are no doubt stiffer than many of its contemporaries, and it shows in the Freed. Bumps were evened out rather well, and with 4 adults in the car plus luggage, the ride was even more comfortable than some luxury brands.

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Also, we have really come to love the Freed’s automatic sliding doors

This is not to say that the Freed is a runaway success. Its exterior design leaves a lot to be desired, although one can concede that Honda’s designers have made a reputable effort in smoothing out the boxy nature of the Freed. Additionally, its 1.5-litre SOHC engine only punches after VTEC kicks in, and at that point, one can forget about fuel frugality. Highway overtaking is stress-inducing, especially from Andrew’s point of view. Admittedly, the 5-speed auto tranny is pretty slick at choosing the correct gears, accurately predicting when the driver wants to overtake (i.e. stepping the foot down, way down).

Coming back to the hunt, our next clue location was Kampung Baru Karak, about 4 klicks off Exit 813B. This time, the clues were laced along the route towards Mentakab. We stopped over at Lee Hon Supermarket and an Esso petrol station. We had little difficulties getting the answers for the clues this time, since we were getting used to the style of the clues.

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Lee Hon Supermarket; the only supermarket out in the middle of nowhere. Some general knowledge for you.

At this point in time, the sun was bearing down rather harshly on us, and we were starting to get dazed. This was where the Freed’s air-conditioning unit made life much easier for us.

Our next clue location was in the town of Mentakab. We got some of the clues there, the most memorable of which was the only answer we were all confident in, Alicia Keys’ “No One”.

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I was concentrating on the McDonald's behind him.

Another answer that was particularly easy was D&A, but that was it. We were unable to decipher the rest of the cryptic messages the treasure hunt threw at us.

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D&A, most likely the names of two lovebirds who founded the bookstore.

So we did what any normal person would do in this situation; we broke for lunch.

Sad to say, our hunt went downhill after lunch, with all of us being bogged down by the enormous portions we had earlier.

We headed eastwards and into a town called Temerloh, finished up a few clues, but were stuck there for some time. Eventually we gave up and headed towards Bukit Gambang. By that time, we were already pushing past 1630, and we were told that the hunt ends at 1730. The Gophers GPS that we had indicated that it will take us about 1 and a half hours to reach Bukit Gambang, so we stopped over at a 7-Eleven and bought ourselves some ice-cream.

We leisurely drove towards Bukit Gambang Resort City, and since the highway would have been the farther route, we opted to take the trunk road.

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Beautiful weather, but blazing sun. Freed's air conditioning now struggling to keep up with us pampered brats.

By the time we reached, we realized that we were the last treasure hunters to reach the finish line. A lot of the other treasure hunters already had their cars parked and have already checked themselves into the hotel rooms.

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At least we got to our destination, right?

Thus, with great pride, we would like to announce that we finished the Bukit Gambang Resort City Treasure Hunt, basically in last place, yeah!

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Actually, we took this shot the day after... I forgot to shoot it when we reached. We were hungry, 'kay.

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Bukit Gambang Resort? Check. Pava's Hunts? Check. All TCG members in the car? Check. Time to unpack.

We were so late we had trouble checking into the hotel because the organizers were getting ready to leave the hotel lobby. Luckily, we were able to collect our keycards and room numbers from a sweet girl who waited patiently for the stragglers (us). After that, we went into our rooms to freshen up before dinner.

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The enthusiasm and excitement felt by Vernon and Jack was overwhelming. Turn up the volume to hear Oon snoring in the bedroom.

Despite feeling exhausted at the end of the day, we were still motivated to head for dinner, primarily to learn the intimate secrets of the treasure hunt clues. We were curious as to how the answers would fit the clues given. Some of the answers were pretty acceptable, while others were simply beyond us.

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Dinner is set at the resort's ballroom.

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Captured this photograph while the guests were busy munching chow.

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The resort's ballroom. Pretty nice, no?

What surprised us the most were the fact that the top three participants in the treasure hunt scored upwards from 90% correct, including the bonus clues! That was definitely not what we were expecting our competition to be. Therefore, as a symbol of our sporting nature, we would like to say to the winners:

We don’t like you very much.

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Third placing in the hunt; 90% score. RM1.5k wealthier than TCG.

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Second placing. 92% score. RM2.5k wealthier than TCG.

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First placing. 94% score. RM4k for a day's work. Congratulations!

After a significant amount of sulking, we lounged around in the arcade after dinner, and somehow found ourselves playing Sega Rally Championship (on an ancient device many refer to as the arcade simulator).

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Team TCG, meet hotel lobby.

Once we finished the games, we headed back to the room and called it a day well spent.

[Treasure Hunt Day plus 1]

Early the next day, Andrew headed out to the café to have breakfast while the rest were still sleeping. He was able to have a conversation with the organizer of the hunt, Mr. Pava himself. Apparently the clues were made to be as nonsensical and as challenging as possible because, as shown by the hunt’s winners, the clues were actually rather easy for seasoned treasure hunters. He went on to state that he is faced with a dilemma on all treasure hunt preparations; tweaking the hunt for amateurs might make it enjoyable for the masses, but will inevitably saturate the scores at the top (with a lot of teams getting maximum points).

When the rest of the guys woke up, they complained that they were hungry. Of course, by that time, the complimentary breakfast had already expired. With hunger as their primary motivation, they decided to really make use of the Gophers GPS unit that was graciously loaned to us.

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Our first lunch; at a curry noodle shop in Telok Cempedak.

Our previous outing to Kuantan (Vernon and Andrew; check Cars.My Nov, 2010) was to shoot a metallic pink Suzuki Alto, a beauty queen and Swiss Garden Resort. Although the shoot went rather well, our most vivid experience was the succulent white pepper crab at a restaurant in Beserah in Kuantan.

Since we were only an hour’s drive away from Beserah, we promptly decided to head there to allow Jack and Oon to sample that little bit of heaven.

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Second lunch at the picturesque setting of Kampung Bahagia Beserah, Pahang.

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Writing about this makes us want to return there. Gotta get ourselves a review car, stat!

Sure enough, the crabs did not disappoint. Jack and Oon were left licking their fingers after the second helping.

Vernon was left totally dumbfounded after his final crab. It was that delicious.

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Explosive flavour may have resulted in some neural damage. Vernon now drives 15% faster on average, but takes 10% more time in the toilet.

We made our journey back to KL city after the delicious meal, and the Freed, as usual, gave us no problems on our cruise on the highway (~110km/h *ahem*). On a side note, the build quality of the Honda Freed is mighty fine, being able to propel the four of us, plus luggage beyond the car’s speed limit. The downside to all this is the fuel consumption (it practically gave us 5km/l), but we do not foresee the Freed getting this kinds of speeds from an average driver.

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Team TCG, post-cibus.

We were rather sad that the outing was fast reaching the end, but we will keep all the joy, laughter, and experiences in our hearts, confident that the next one will be just as enjoyable, if not better.

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Lovely outing. Memorable trip. We'll most likely remember this for the rest of our lives.

TCG would like to thank:
  • Bukit Gambang Resort City (for the stay),
  • MPH (for the opportunity to go there for the stay),
  • Pava’s Hunts (for the enjoyment and experience in going to the stay),
  • Honda Malaysia (for the mode of transport in getting us there for the stay), and
  • Gophers GPS (for getting us wherever we needed to go),
for their priceless contributions, providing the opportunity for us to have a fun and a most memorable outing
TCG will be going on another treasure hunt in the near future. Details are sketchy now, but please do keep yourselves updated on our next getaway. Hopefully we’ll win something this time
Please view the gallery for the complete list of photographs taken during the hunt!

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About Andrew Lee

Andrew is a commercial photographer by day and speed demon by night. Don't let his pleasant, approachable demeanour fool you, as he's an incredible fast driver on the circuit! Andrew is a man of many talents (some hidden). He often baffles many with his uncanny ability to stay awake for an inhuman number of days, then disappears. For hours. TCG labels him “Comatose Man” for his nocturnal endeavours and sleep super powers.

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