Pounding through the paddy fields – Cambodia nash hash 2014

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When I started hashing, someone told me “You’ll see a lot and travel if you get into hashing.”  Sure enough, few weeks later I was invited join a group of hashers travelling by bus from Pattaya to Siem Reap for Cambodia’s national hash weekend.  I had never been to Cambodia before, nor seen Angkor Wat, nor been to a national hash, so I signed up.

For those unaware, a national hash, or nash hash, is a weekend event for hashers from national and international hash clubs that want to run together. These events are usually organised by various countries and hash  clubs willing to host and run the events and they are generally very popular.  Phnom Penn and Siem Reap hash clubs jointly organised this weekend, which included three runs, a dinner and lunch, plus a full tour of Angkor Wat.  I was rather excited when I packed.

The journey there

Although it doesn’t look very far on a map, it was a long journey overland.  With stops, it was about five hours from Pattaya to the border crossing at Aranyprathet. Everyone then had to leave the coach with their bags and cross the border by foot…

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As there were no flights to catch, immigration formalities were not swift.  We all waited between 50 – 60 minutes in Thai immigration to officially exit Thailand.  After walking 500m or so though a casino infested no man’s land, we entered Cambodian immigration and then Poipet.  [NB Cambodian visa’s can be purchased on arrival or online for $20.  If purchasing on arrival, you can pay 1000 baht but it’s cheaper to use $USD]. There was a bit more waiting around for stragglers and then the Cambodian bus.  After two hours at the border crossing we were on our way again…

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On the road to Siem Reap, these were typical sights – all rather entertaining…

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After a lunch stop and another two hours on the road, we reached Siem Reap and our base for the weekend, the Velkommen Guesthouse. We were ready for Cambodia nash hash 2014.

Day 1 – the official temple tour and welcome reception

We spent the first full day in Siem Reap touring three of the main temples – The Bayon, Ta Prohm and of course the most famous, Angkor Wat.  More about the temples in my next blog post.  Meantime, here are some of the hashers enjoying a bit of ancient Khmer culture…

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Soon after returning from our temple tour, the weekend officially kicked off with a reception.  It soon became clear that hashers had travelled not just from Thailand but from elsewhere in Cambodia, Australia, The Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, UK, Germany, the USA – and probably other countries I am unaware of!  Many were old friends and regulars at these special weekends.  As you can see from the pictures, all were very happy…

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Not sure what this was about though…

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Day 2 – Cambodia nash hash run number 1 – the main event

The first run of the weekend was an afternoon run.  We met at 2pm and a little later three buses took 150 hashers to the start, about a 30 minute drive from Siem Reap.  Here is the “circle up” briefing…

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Soon we were on our way, heading out to the open countryside…

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Along the way, bemused locals watched and waved us on, occasionally shouting “hot” as we passed puffing and panting…

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As we navigated this small river crossing, the farmer offered a helping hand – or perhaps he was just watching the bridge load bearing capabilities…

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After an hour or so, we had a half-way “pit stop” of action snacks – mini meals on wheels…

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…and the all important hydration station, served by the most charming and polite Cambodian mother and daughter team…

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As well as nutrition and hydration, this stop was to allow the walkers to catch up with the runners, so it became a rather lengthy and sociable stop, complete with our own mobile Cambodian band…

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At this point, we left the open farmlands and mainly followed paths and tracks which led us into more rural villages and more bemused locals…

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Occasionally the Cambodian hashers would stop and chat to the farmers, like this husband and wife team harvesting some of their chilli crop…

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Our destination was a Khmer temple in the grounds of Angkor Wat.  We knew we were getting close when we started to pass other temple ruins…

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…and then we were there  – with a total distance covered of just under 12 km. As you can see, one of the last bus loads of tourists arrived at around the same time…

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Some of us climbed up to the top levels of the temple to enjoy the view…

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After enjoying the temple views, we headed to the “On end” where the circle was convened…

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After an hour or so, the circle was closed and we were transported back to Siem Reap to a Cambodian style BBQ restaurant for much appreciated food, beer and chatter…

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Day 3 – Cambodia nash hash run number 2

The second Cambodian nash hash 2014 run started earlier in the day.  Fewer in number, the hashers gathered at around 9.30 am and were whisked off to a site about 30 mins away. We “circled up” to receive our briefing…

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Then without further ado, we were off, initially traversing over narrow paddy field dykes…

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Aside from frisky cows and a couple of agitated water buffalo’s, going through the paddy fields was cool!  For those of you that are only used to seeing rice out of a packet or in takeaway meal, here is what it looks like when it is almost ready for harvesting – complete with lucky butterfly…

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There wasn’t a lot of shade on this run plus we were running closer to the heat of the mid day sun, so it was a lot hotter.  We did however find time to enjoy the other sights we passed – like this cute duck and her young family…

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The run was just over 8km so the nutrition and hydration stop was much shorter.  After an hour or so, we all started to arrive at the “On End”.  More bemused children and their grandmother came to see these funny foreign people running in the heat of the day.  I had a lot of fun playing peek-a-boo with them, much to their grandmothers amusement!  Cambodian children really are the cutest

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After a very relaxing recovery period, the circle was convened and various down downs were administered…

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At around 1.30pm we were transported back to Siem Reap to the lovely Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.  The rest of the afternoon we tucked into a traditional brunch of BBQ, seafood, salads and all the usual buffet stars, including desert. A very relaxing way to spend the rest of the day…

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Some hashers went out later to the famous “Pub Street” in Siem Reap, but my legs and tummy whispered loudly “no more – please!”

Day 4 – Cambodia nash hash run number 3

The third and final run of the Cambodian nash hash is what is commonly referred to as the hangover run. Many had already left earlier that morning so we were much reduced in numbers – around 25 or so.  I decided to stay a day later and accepted a lift from another hasher that travelled from Thailand independently, so that worked well.

At 9am we convened at the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa.  During the briefing circle I learnt that I would be running with “hot hares” – they would run ahead of us by 10 minutes or so, laying the trail for us to follow.  This is the traditional way of laying a hash trail and true to hashing roots.

As it turned out, it was a lovely run around Siem  Reap.  We crossed and followed the river, went through some back streets, passed a couple of temples, a school and a small village – where a chicken was trying to eat the flour trail! We then returned to the river, crossed back over and snaked towards the on out site, which was conveniently at the Velkommen Guesthouse…

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Of all the runs, this was surprisingly my favourite of the weekend – so was a bit ticked off I didn’t bother to take my camera!  It was just over 6km, was a mix of on and off-road and it was a nicely laid and interesting trail. After a brief and last circle  which was more of an L shape, we bid our final farewells and  the Cambodian nash hash 2014 was officially closed.  I had a great time both on and off the trails  – and I had the ever important t-shirt to show for it.  My first nash hash – done!

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Finally, a big thanks to the Cambodia hash community for laying on such a great and memorable weekend – and to the girls of the Velkommen Guesthouse for looking after us all so well…

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On on!

2 thoughts on “Pounding through the paddy fields – Cambodia nash hash 2014

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