Kerry Reed has sent in this fantastic and very interesting holiday report from Vietnam
Hashing in Vietnam!!
Deka and I have just returned from our trip to Vietnam. We were hoping to run while we were out there but having looked on YouTube before we went, there are almost 3 million motorbikes in Hanoi, the capital, and there are few traffic lights or road lanes. Walking across the road would prove difficult, never mind running. Anyway a bit more research online I came across the Hanoi Hash House Harriers. That sounded like fun I thought, the website refers to the club as a club for “drinkers with a running problem”. Deka would be in heaven then!!
The club meet on Saturday afternoon so we set off from our hotel donned with TBH vests and sparkling new Asics to the meeting place to see what the club had in store. Not knowing what to expect there was only a handful of people there at first, we spoke to an American expat, a 60 year bloke working in construction out there who reassured us it was just a 6 mile run. Off we went on an old bus from the centre off Hanoi heading to the country-side; there was a mixture of men and women with different nationalities – Vietnamese, Dutch, Germans, Americans, Canadians and us.
We arrived at the location an hour later, where we were met by a couple of sprightly looking Vietnamese lads. (The Hares). To explain about how it works for each hash meeting, the runners follow a trail laid on by one or two members (the Hares). The trail is marked out by circles of flour and false trails are laid so quicker runners arrive more or less at the same time as the slower runners. A different version of our Handicap system then!
So to the start of the run, everyone gathers in a circle. There was approx 20 of us. Deka and I, as the new comers, had to go in the middle of the circle introduce ourselves and explain why we had come. Understanding our Geordie twang proved a little tricky here. The leader, a Dutch bloke nicknamed Spandex (possibly because of his tight lycras) explained the route and off we went. It didn’t seem long till I was knee deep in clarts, (no wonder they were laughing at my trainers), trying to balance myself on narrow strips of grass between rice (paddy) fields and jumping over streams. I’m sure those who know me, know that X country is not my forte.
On to the country roads through some little villages, and a nice concrete section I thought, I found myself at the front but then realised the difficulty of the trail. Following the route, you have to constantly look for 3 circles at each cross-road. Racing ahead I discovered that the last circle marking was marked with a cross so I had taken everyone the wrong way, and found myself at the back again with people frantically looking down other roads for the flour circles. It can prove quite difficult as the circles are often quite spread out. Once you have found the right route i.e. 3 circles in a row, you shout “On, On”. And everyone carries on with the trail.
Half way through we stopped for a nice refreshment stop where we were met by a mini bus full of Tiger beer and then stopped a bit further on to try and help a farmer dig his tractor out of a ditch. An experience in itself!!
The circle flour trails led us up a huge hill, which makes Prudhoe look like a small incline which was challenging especially on the down-hill section, trying to avoid the bees nests and getting stuck in the numerous tea plants along the steep route back. Deka apparently through himself down there, I chose the easier option and went down on my back-side.
After the 10 k run or (hike) we all gathered in the same circle, where we all had another drink, and with us being the new members we both had to down 3 pints of beer to get our free T Shirt. It was quite an easy task for Deka, but not for me. No cider unfortunately. Deka then give a rendition of how much he had enjoyed the run and more drinks and some silly song singing, we piled back on the bus to more drinking, more singing until we arrived back to base.
A great experience, great way of getting to see a new country and a great way of meeting new people. For more info, check out the website at www.hanoih3.com
Having looked further into the Hash House Harriers – there seems to loads of these clubs all over the world, especially in Asia. So if anyone is planning a trip, it would definitely be worth checking out the Hash Club…… Not for the tee totallers among you though.