One very important skill which is required in treasure hunts is the ability to spot small signboards. Unlike doing crosswords, observation skill can make or break a treasure hunt team. In a typical hunt, there will be at least a few questions which will test the observation skill of the teams. No amount of analytical skills can help the teams if they are unable to spot the answers on the signboards.
Q36) What the ugly duckling grew up to be? Also tell me where the answer is found.
A very straightforward general knowledge question which requires no analysis at all! You either know it, or you don't. And even if you don't, it is so easy to google up the information or call your kids at home for the answer.
But can you spot the answer within the sector? That is the tricky part.
Such was what my team went through during the final leg of the Kiwanis Hunt last Saturday. Throughout the entire hunt, we were very careful with our time management. We adopted the strategy of dropping some of the "bolded questions" and concentrated only on the regular route questions. The reason we did this was because the "bolded questions" were mostly "impossible" to solve and they carried only 2 points each as opposed to 5 points each for the regular route questions.
Because of the above strategy in our time management, we arrived in Sitiawan, which was the last leg of the hunt, with more than 90 minutes to spare. Then we arrived at the sector meant for the above question. It was drizzling and we saw Alex Hoh of The Machines scanning that sector on foot. And immediately we knew that it would be a very tough answer to spot. We doubled back a few times and there was still no Swan in sight.
A few pictures of flamingos down the road were very tempting. It's amusing what desperation can do to people. Of course flamingos and swans are two different kinds of birds.
Our desperation did not end there. We searched the sector for other possibilities. Perhaps there're signboards where the name of the place, i.e. Sitiawan, might have worn out so that the letters "itia" are already missing, thus leaving only "S"..."wan".
Or perhaps that "Sitiawan" has been put on a folding door somewhere within that sector, and when that door is folded, one is only able to see "Swan".
How about double jeopardy? Say, Awns Construction Co.
Maybe that ugly duckling has a specific name; and it is that name that we're suppose to look for?
And so we had quite a lot of possibilities. But each time we come up with some new ideas, we inevitably came full circle to the word Swan.
Along that narrow lane in front of the temple, there were some cendol stalls. By then I felt I could use some cendol. But stopping to have refreshments and meals did not accord well with the perfect plan of "time management". It's just a little bit more to finish the hunt. We had plenty of time to come back later for the cendol. There was no time to relax, we had to work!
In spite of turning back several times within that sector, we never did find the elusive swan. But it was quite comforting to see some of the masters and grandmasters going back and forth on foot. So all we could hope for at that moment was for no one to spot the swan. That would even things up for eveyone!
Well, we continued with the rest of the hunt and then finally submitted out answers at the finish control. Then we went back to the stall for cendol just as we had planned to do during the hunt. Apparently this particular cendol stall we went to was very famous. I was told that even the Sultan goes there for cendol. There were many people queuing up. We spent a good 10 minutes or so waiting for our turn. I was amused by the fact that the cendol seller had a bow-tie on. He must be the one and only cendol seller with a bow on like that. Well, we had our cendol and then proceeded on to another shopping area to look for a proper meal.
The answer presentation was not until the following night, so we hunters were busying asking each other if anyone had actually found the swan. We were quite happy to have been told by all the teams we spoke to that none of them found the swan.
And then came the time everyone was waiting for during the presentation night. Turned out that the forsaken swan was to be found on the ice-shaving maching of the cendol seller! We were there queuing after the hunt and we didn't see it. But maybe that was because we were mesmerised by the bow-tie.
Here is a picture of the swan which I copied from Michael Pang's blog.
I felt it was very brave of the CoC to choose that swan as the answer because the cendol seller might just have decided to rest on that very day, and the stall wouldn't have been there. But when I spoke to the CoC on Monday morning, he said they went to the extent of ensuring the guy's timetable. He works everyday except on Tuesday!