Last weekend, as I wrote in the last post, we participated in the Alice in Wonderland Olympics. It was one of those experiences where, as it was happening, I thought, "I'm going to remember this for a long time." Well, that experience was less than half of the day. After we returned home and rested for a while, we went out and had another, "I'm going to remember this for a long time" experiences. The following is the story of....that.
Many months ago we were told about The Hash. In fact, it was highly recommended that we participate because, as I was told, we "would fit in well with them." You know whenever someone says that you remind them of someone, or you would really get along well with someone, you have to be a little suspicious. What quality is it that the person sees in you and the other person? Is it a quality that you wish to possess? Well, I let it go and didn't consider it too deeply. Jess and I intended to participate, but one thing always led to another and it just never worked out. But last Saturday the stars aligned and we got the whole family in the car to do The Hash.
So...what is The Hash? I've been procrastinating here, I confess. It's hard to explain and really do it justice. But here's the basic "run down." The Hash House Harriers are "a social drinking group with a running problem" according to their website. And come to think of it, that just about perfectly sums it up! HHH is a jolly group of people from around the world, who get together once a month and run or walk a 6 or 7 kilometer trail and then form a circle at the end to drink, sing songs, drink, tell jokes, and drink. Each time, the trail is set by someone designated "the hare". He or she gets to choose the location, the exact direction and length of the trail, and even set some false trails that are designed to slow down the FRBs (front running bastards). Some people run the whole trail, some walk the trail, and some do a mix of running and walking, but everyone has fun.
Arriving at the site of this month's Hash, we were a little apprehensive. It seemed to be a large group of friends, whose party we invited ourselves to. But very quickly we were welcomed and oriented by the organizers. The instructions were to follow the trail of paper. What that meant exactly, we didn't know, but we thought "screw it - let's just run and see what other people do here." After a few hundred meters, we saw a small pile of shredded white paper on the side of the trail. Aha! These are the trail markers. But a few meters further and we came to a crossroads that clearly had paper going in both directions. I chose one path while another "Hasher" went down the other. I came across a line of flour spilled across the trail, which indicates a false trail, so I turned around. Just as I did, I heard the shout, "On on!" This means someone has found the trail, so everyone followed the sound and we were on the right track. This kind of detective work continued for most of the 7 kilometers. At times we were all stumped as to where to go next. Once, we were all milling around the top of a hill, overlooking a pineapple field, searching for paper when someone yelled "on on!" at the bottom of the field. We got to the bottom only to be stumped again. So there we were, walking around the pineapple, looking for a trail and just about to walk back up the hill. I don't know how often you've walked through pineapple fields, but let me tell you, the plants look like aloe. They have spiky, cactus-like leaves that tear at your legs. Many of us, me included, were bleeding pretty well by the time someone found the trail and got us back on a dirt track.
One of the best things about doing The Hash is the scenery you take in along the way. The trails are set with the idea that you will get to see gorgeous views of hills, rivers, rice paddies, forests, and ponds - places that you would never go to otherwise. This trail was full of all of these things and more. The beauty of Thailand was on full display for the Hashers.
Somewhere along the way, I said to Radd, who was half walking/half running, "I bet you could win this race if you tried. There are only 3 people ahead of us." That was all he needed. We ran full speed for the last 3 kilometers or so. In the end, Radd finished 3rd and was gushed over by all the Hashers who couldn't believe that this 11 year old could run so far so fast. I was a proud papa. Jess and Suni came in about 10 minutes later, all smiles.
Check out their blog below for a better idea of how these guys and gals get down.
The Chiang Rai Hash