It is not often that one is afforded the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt abroad, let alone with family.
As a mother fortunate enough to embark on this adventure alongside her son against the captivating backdrop of Penang, Malaysia, through the recent Miss SHOPhia Shopping Hunt 5.0, it’s a chapter worth savouring and celebrating.
This exhilarating scavenger hunt, now in its fifth edition since its inception by Tourism Malaysia (TM), holds a special place for me as it marks my second participation. The first one took place in Kuala Lumpur before the onset of the global pandemic.
The allure of joining this hunt once again was primarily fuelled by the relocation of the event to the captivating city of Penang. This afforded participants the unique opportunity to explore the vibrant heart of the city, widely acclaimed as a food haven and steeped in cultural heritage.
Coincidentally, a close friend of mine found herself in need of two additional team members, and she proposed the idea of forming a team comprising mothers and sons to represent Brunei alongside another team.
Intrigued by the prospect, we embraced the suggestion and joined forces to participate in the scavenger hunt.
THE HUNT BEGINS
Our day commenced with the requisite registrations and a comprehensive briefing on the shopping hunt’s ins and outs. The event organisers distributed clues and outlined tasks at the Top Penang, designated as the starting point for the thrilling race.
Following this, teams gathered for a group photo, and the excitement reached its peak as the Deputy Director of Tourism Malaysia Datok Musa Haji Yusof, and other officials flagged off the eager teams.
Despite being on a smaller scale compared to previous editions in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, the event retained its charm and allure, ensuring a day filled with enjoyment and excitement.
Unlike previous editions confined to shopping malls, this iteration of the scavenger hunt was expanded to encompass the entire city, encouraging participants, particularly international teams, to immerse themselves in the myriad charms the city had to offer.
Incorporating our boys into this enjoyable event proved effortless, as both were enthusiastic participants.
Their presence significantly aided us, especially in solving clues and navigating to designated locations. Meanwhile, we mothers willingly took on the simpler tasks, posing for photo shoots and creating videos.
Speaking of videos, the two boys surprisingly showcased their acting skills right from the moment they met before our journey to Penang.
It turns out they share a common passion and love for cars and sports – a classic case of boys being boys.
This year’s event placed a special emphasis on sustainable travel options, encouraging participants to utilise public transportation and e-hailing services while promoting eco-conscious exploration. As for our team, we opted for a combination of walking and e-hailing.
One location that stood out for me as the easiest and most enjoyable was Armenian Street, renowned for its unique and beautiful murals perfect for selfies, photos, and videos.
Other challenges involved teams purchasing food, drinks, and souvenirs, including the iconic Ais Tingkap, which has been in operation for over a century and proved to be a refreshing treat for the participants.
Another gastronomic adventure included buying and savouring one of the best and renowned Mee Sotong at a local food court, among other delightful experiences.
Among the historic locations we had the privilege to visit and undertake tasks were the Central Fire Station – Malaysia’s oldest surviving fire station – and the Penang City Hall, a shooting location for Anna and the King.
The grand ballroom was notably used to film a scene depicting the Royal Court Room.
Also part of the agenda was the “Permainan Kampung @ Koh Seang Tat Fountain Garden” – a challenge involving 10 consecutive jumps on a skipping rope, a task we gladly delegated to the two boys.
Our hunt also led us to a shop renowned for crafting custom-made traditional songkoks. Each songkok was unique, and their clientele included prominent figures such as the former governor of Penang, Tun Dato’ Seri Utama (Dr) Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas, and former Malaysian prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Another intriguing location was a building that had earned two Malaysia Book of Records distinctions for its remarkable facilities – an automated car park and a cantilevered acrylic bottom swimming pool.
In addition to the photo and video shoots posted on our social media platforms with relevant event tags, each team was equipped with a passport that required stamping upon completion of tasks.
Stamping stations were strategically placed at various checkpoints, prompting us to efficiently tackle tasks before seeking out a station to mark our progress.
THE GRAND FINALE
As we joined the other competing teams for the grand finale of the Miss SHOPhia Shopping Hunt 5.0 at Gurney Paragon Mall, I found myself completely drained, stifling yawns intermittently despite the lively stage performances. After more than five hours of running around, tackling hunting tasks, deciphering clues, and strategically planning our route, the exhaustion had taken a toll on us – both physically and mentally.
Then, the much-anticipated moment arrived as the emcee began announcing the winners across various categories.
When my team was declared the third prize winner, it was as if a sudden burst of energy surged through me and my teammates.
Without realising it, I let out an exuberant “YESSSS!!” The sheer joy of hearing our team of mothers and sons being recognised among the top three momentarily erased the fatigue that had consumed us.
The invested hours of running, striking poses, and capturing short videos against the backdrop of renowned tourist spots and delectable culinary delights proved to be a rewarding experience for the two teams representing Brunei, with the other team – comprising Bruneian personalities – securing the second spot.
Following a lengthy day for the four of us, despite our boys not being inclined to watch Malaysia’s Rock Queen Ella, coincidentally performing her Jilid Akhir Concert Tour in Penang, the mothers, despite our tired legs, managed to attend the concert.
This surprise advance birthday gift from a dear friend added a special touch to our day.
Setting the concert aside, both teams representing Brunei had a memorable and enjoyable stay in Penang.
Not only did we explore the city’s heritage sites and buildings, but we also indulged in the many delicious and diverse culinary delights it had to offer. – Lyna Mohamad