Sunday, 22 April 2007

Canon fodder

Went to get an extra battery for my new baby today. Instead of getting an original NB-2LH battery that costs more than RM200, I opted for a 3rd party compatible battery by Keep.



Interestingly, the 3rd part battery has a higher energy capacity than the original: 740 mAh versus 720mAh. I wonder what did the 3rd party battery manufacturer did to squeeze in another 20mAh.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Tax time

Today I went to the Lembaga Hasil dalam Negeri (Inland Revenue Board) to fill up my tax returns for the first time.



I reached their spanking new building near Sacred Heart Cathedral in the afternoon, with a hint of rain starting to appear. Went into the parking inside the LHDN compound because there was not many cars around. Usually the place will be packed with cars all around if you come on a weekday.



Anyway, parked the car and headed inside the building. The ground floor was deserted except for a guard or two. OK, that means I have to go upstairs to the customer service area. It was quite empty . So I ambled up to the ticket counter and got my ticket, and 10 seconds later my number was called. Talk about a slow afternoon for them.



I explained to the officer who attended to me that this was my first time filling up the tax form, so she was kind enough to walk me through the whole process. The for was all online, since they rolled out the "e-failing" last year.



All in all it was quite a painless process, plus I get a nice printout of what was entered in my tax form. I would estimate ingress and egress from the building took about 30 minutes.



Death and taxes...

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Sutera Harbour treasure hunt

Last Sunday, I took part in a treasure hunt organised by Sutera Harbour. The hunt goes something like the Da Vinci code where you have to solve riddles but instead of digging out buried treasure, you had to jot down road signs as well as shop signs.

The riddles were a convoluted lot, and I can say my team only managed to get four correct, out of a total of 39. There were supposed to be 40 questions, but at the last minute, the organisers cut one question out because the sign that was the answer for the question was removed.

The night before the hunt, we had a meeting to brief those people who did not attend the briefing during the afternoon (that includes me), and pick a car to be plastered with the sponsors' stickers as part of the conditions of the hunt. This would be the official car that we would use for the hunt. Another thing that we had to bring along during the hunt was a police permit, stating that we were part of the hunt, in case of any incident that requires the intervention of the law.

The hunt goes like this: the participants would be given a road guide to show them where to go, a riddle sheet and a treasure list. The road guide has a few landmarks on it and the distance that the participants would need to travel in order to get to the hunting zone. When they reached the hunting zone, they would have to figure out what to look for from the riddle sheet. Once they found a road sign or a shop plaque that matches the answer, the participants need to write down the answer and the source of the answer, e.g. if the answer was "Bonus", they need to write down Bonus @ BonusLife Sdn. Bhd. or something to that effect. The treasures were small things that you can buy from shops, but they are not very expensive, mostly keropok or tidbits. But figuring out what to buy is another problem :D

OK, so on the day of the competition (Sunday) I had a really simple breakfast (milo and koko crunch). We gathered at the predetermined location and headed out to Sutera Harbour at around 6:10 a.m. We wanted to be early because the early teams get to park at the head of the lineup so flag-off would be earlier. When we reached the Marina area of Sutera Harbour (the starting point), there were around 10-15 teams already assembled.

We parked the car and walked around the area, trying to stay awake (since I think I slept only 3-4 hours the night before - it was blardy hot!) I had by new toy to play with: my Canon 400D with a pretty good zoom and I tried shooting anything that looked interesting (sniper mode ON!) Some of our team members went off to do their "business" before the event started.

Anyway, here's a shot of some of the people trickling in at around 6:55 a.m.


This was the person who created the puzzles for the hunt. I can't recall his name, but I think it started with a C.
Update: OK, this is Mr. Cornelius Koh, thanks to UgLy AdOrAbLe a.k.a.



At around 7:15 a.m. the briefing started, with an announcement on some changes to the questions.



The participants listening in on the briefing:


The timekeepers waiting for the flag-off:


After the final briefing, participants getting into their cars:


Any normal car can be used in the treasure hunt, and this is our ride:


A closer look:



And before we know it, we were off, the race had begun! We had to drive up to the time keepers and receive a punch card, along with the envelope containing the riddles, treasure list and road guide.

Here's a shot of my group members trying to look for the answer in front of Wisma Merdeka.



This is an example of one of the answers. The riddle went: "Burma without a leader".



The hunt took us all over Kota Kinabalu,as well as the outskirts. We traveled to Donggongon, Beverly Hills, Lintas Square, Sadong Jaya, Likas, pretty much all over the place. Here's a random shot of other participants:



The pictures taken during the hunt are pretty much useless, since I was shooting the wrong signboards (sheesh...) and they belong in another category of pictures, so I'm gonna post them in another posting later.

To continue, the hunt (for us anyway) was a bust, since we only got 4 correct, and we only managed to find 2 of the 4 treasures, I guess we were lumped into the n00bs category as far as treasure hunters go. We managed to get back to the finish line (Magellan side of Sutera Harbour) with about 20 minutes to spare (we were given 6 hours to hunt), and we spent the last 10 minutes writing our pitiful answers and handing it in. Then we had another stroke of bad luck. The lucky draw tickets that were supplied to us the day before was still in someone's house, so we did not get any chance at all of even a lucky draw. Darn!



At around 2:30 p.m. we went to have light refreshments because the food was ready, but the food disappeared really fast on account of the hungry horde that had gathered back at the hotel. I think the hotel replenished the food twice, and even then everything was picked clean.



After "lunch", if you can call that lunch, the organisers had a session where they revealed the answers to the questions. There was a lot of clapping, and groaning and some booing at one point, because the participants felt the question was a little too hard, or the sign that we were supposed to look for was too small. Well, the crowd vented their frustrations at him , but it was all in good spirit. After that was the prize giving ceremony. They started off with the novelty prizes:


  • First to register (team No. 1)

  • First to make it back to the finish line

  • Second last team (in terms of points)



I can't remember if that was all the novelty prizes that were given. Then later, they gave out the prizes for the lucky draws, and one lucky person managed to win 4 tyres and other stuff courtesy of Angkatan Hebat. They even rolled the tyres onto the stage!


Then they gave out prizes for the closed category (maybe its for those elite hunters). After dispensing with that, they gave out prizes for 10th placing until 4th placing. These winners received prizes in the form of car service vouchers and stuff which I can't remember right now. Then comes the 2nd runner up, where this is where the prizes included some cash in it.


The 1st runner up:



And the grand prize winner:


When they started taking group photos, most of the crowd started to leave. It was already close to 4:30 p.m. and everyone was tired after a day of running around and squinting.

So in the end we ended up with nothing except a lesson on how that treasure hunt organiser's brain works, plus some dehydration. There is another hunt sometime in August, so if anyone is interested, just keep a lookout for any ads in the newspapers.