Pattaya Jungle H3 Australia Day Hash January 2014

When I considered moving to Thailand, one of the things I researched was the running clubs in my area. I discovered there was a very active Hash House Harriers community of four chapters (clubs/meets) not too far away.   The most convenient to me was Pattaya Jungle Hash House Harriers (H3), which meets every fortnight on a Sunday afternoon.

I had previously heard about hashing – it is usually described as a drinking club with a running problem. The real deal is a non-competitive running club following different trails each week then afterwards focuses equally on social elements.  Somewhat different to the Abu Dhabi Striders that got me back into running, where weekly predictor runs and regular competitions were order of the day.  Running around my area is a solitary affair with only traffic and vicious, semi wild soi (street) dogs, making dangerous and hostile company.  So last year four weeks after arriving,  I started to run with the Pattaya Jungle H3.

For those unfamiliar with hashing, there is a lot of mystique associated with it.  Hashing started in Kuala Lumpar in 1938 when some British expats simply wanted to do a bit of paper trail cross country running followed by drinking a few sociable beers.  Hashing is now an informal worldwide movement, but the main thing to understand is there are no rules nor structure.  There are however several key components to a hash and hashing culture…

  • A running trail marked with paper or flour, laid by two hares
  • A hash horn sounded during the run, so runners have some audio guidance in addition to the paper/flour
  • Beer
  • Food
  • Hash names – you never use your real name when hashing, so a unique name is given to you, reflecting you or a story you are associated with.  Expletives and innuendo are common in hash names.
  • Hash rags – hash t-shirts, badges and other running paraphernalia
  • The circle – an area where the post run socialising takes place
  • Down downs – reward or penalty drinks given to selected runners during the circle
  • The ice chair (which I suspect is only found in warmer climes)

Hashing isn’t for everyone, but it is a community of people from all backgrounds, professions and nationalities that you can run and then socialise with.  It is generally popular with expats due to its global reach, is an easy way to make new friends and a good way to keep running when you move somewhere new.  It is also an excellent way to meet up with people if you are travelling or want to travel.

So on to the Australia Day hash, which is one of the biggest hashes in the Pattaya Jungle H3 diary.  It was also my first “mother hash” run with my new name – BOSNIA – a reference to my Navy days and time served in Sarajevo.  As with many hashes, the Pattaya Jungle H3 is a multi-national affair, with members representing around 30 countries. This membership diversity in hash communities gives hash chapters plenty of national day celebratory runs.  In fact my first Pattaya Jungle H3 run was to celebrate Philippines Independence Day, and my first “away” run celebrated Malaysia National Day with Petaling Hash in Kuala Lumpar.

For the Australia Day hash there were seven hares. Normally there are only two, so this was a further indication it was going to be a good hash, evidenced by the preparations that were well underway when we arrived.  As with all hashes, the industrial sized cool boxes were filled with beer, drinks and water before the run, and for this hash, the essential Australian barbie was fired up…

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The Hash Rags table was also set up by Banka Blower.  With his assistant, they stood ready to do brisk business, as well as showing off the Australia Day freebies ready to be handed to hashers at the end…

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Most hashers unsurprisingly come from Pattaya, so the hash lays  on transportation.  For this particular hash, four song taews – a pick up truck converted into a shared taxi – relayed approx 60 runners.  It is always quite funny watching them get out as there is a mad dash to the sign up desk….

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Each Pattaya Jungle H3 hash costs 300 baht (150 baht for ladies) and this covers beer and food. Of course, a number of hashers travel independently and get there early.  This is Pussy Galore, named as she has fourteen cats – and obviously three dogs.  She is Russian and always gets into the spirit of each event.  In honour of her Australian hashers, she came with suitably adorned headgear…

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Soon it was time to start the run.  The Grand Master (head of hash) welcomed the virgins – those that had never been to a hash before…

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The hares then briefed the hashers on the routes.  For this hash, there were 3 routes – a long 8 -9 km, a medium 6-ish km and a short 4 km walk.  Plus false trails and back checks. We were then off, soon criss-crossing tapioca and banana fields and getting some brief shade under coconut trees…

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All routes were extremely easy to follow, with clear tailor made paper marks on the trails.  Normally we don’t get named pieces of paper, but this was so we wouldn’t get confused with markings from another run in the same area a few weeks before…

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What is great about the Pattaya Jungle H3 hashes is you really get to see the lovely Thai countryside, as well as what the farmers grow.  Pineapples are a big crop in this area and this lot is almost ready for picking …

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I decided to do the middle distance run/walk, which involved a couple of hill scrambles – distance isn’t everything when it comes to hashing – for me hills are a new challenge as it is something I didn’t get to experience much in Abu Dhabi.  For a good proportion of the run, I was with two other hashers. Here we are slowing the pace to a brisk walk and passing another fruity staple – bananas….

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After just over an hour, we were back and base and all hashers claimed and inspected their Australia Day hash back pack.   Here are the virgins – clearly delighted with theirs…

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For reasons unknown to me, many hashers were wearing their “badge” jackets that proudly show all the places they have attended runs.  Here modelling theirs are Lord Lucan, the Pattaya Jungle H3 founder, and Crazy German, a regular visitor.  And don’t they look dapper in their amazing techni-colour hash-coats….

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Soon it was time to eat, which was a nice Australian BBQ of hot dogs, chicken satay, Thai rice and fruit…

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The circle was then convened.  The best way to describe the circle is that it is a forum during which both thanks and penalties are administered for good and less good deeds alike.  These are all dispensed with good humour in a style akin to parlour games, with a heavy hint of overgrown school boy/adult humour.  What goes on in the circle stays in the circle, but it always kicks off with a thanks to the hares, who are invited to sit on the ice chair…

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During the circle down downs, or drinks, are handed out to those called to the ice chair.  These are drunk to hash songs  before the Grand Master invites them to leave.  Here is loyal hare Menstrual Disorder at the down down bar…

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As well as providing light-hearted entertainment, the circle also acts to include all hashers in the community.  There are many reasons you can be called into the circle – but all are in pursuit of harmless fun with hashers getting an award, sharing a funny joke or extending an amusing anecdote with other fellow hashers.  On other occasions, hashers can be picked on – in this case, all those that wore their badge coats.  As you can see, women are not immune, as Cabbage Flaps experiences the wit and wisdom of the Grand Master…

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…and she clearly doesn’t care either!

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After an hour or so, circle proceedings drew to a close.  It was a great hash, and despite some sadness at not being in Australia, I did enjoy myself with my new Australia hat won in the raffle.  So cheers and Happy Australia Day 2014 everyone – On On!

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One thought on “Pattaya Jungle H3 Australia Day Hash January 2014

  1. Pingback: 2014 summary in pictures | The Coconut Times

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