Ubon Ratchathani Hash House Harriers

After 14 months of existence for the Ubon Ratchathani Chapter of Hash House Harriers I decided it was time for me to experience what HHH is all about. I live in Ubon, I write about Ubon so maybe I have an obligation to find out for myself about this organization.

What is Hash House Harriers? Somewhere in my life I has heard the term. I think maybe it was while being posted in close proximity to British military in, what at the time  was, West Berlin, West Germany. It seemed to be an activity that allowed soldiers to blow off steam from training.

After leaving Berlin I never heard of Hash House Harriers again until last year at Trond’s Suan Loong Daeng Christmas Eve dinner. I discovered Ubon Ratchathani had a chapter and the participants seemed to love it and have a good time participating. I considered going some time but for whatever reason I always found an excuse for abstaining.

Separately the 3 H’s have meaning to me. Hash, could be hash browns or another dish with fried and diced potatoes and beef. It could also be something some people have been known to smoke. I saw a lot of people doing that in bars alone the canals in Amsterdam. House is a place to live or rent. Harriers to me was a vertical take-off/landing jet built by the British and used by their military and also U.S. Marine Corps.

You put all those words together, though, and you have something completely different. Hash House Harriers is, what I found out yesterday, an organization that has international chapters around the globe. I thought it was exclusively and British creation. The logo for Hash House Harriers is, “an organization of beer drinkers who have a running problem”.

I arrived at the designated starting point for the 14th event of Ubon Ratchathani Hash House Harriers . This time it was the parking lot at the north end of Huai Wang Nong. I thought I might be late but when I arrived the majority of hashers were still enroute. Looking up to the north there were ominous black clouds lurking. Would they come into play during the Hash?

It was my first Hash, so I was tagged a “virgin”. Learning some of the rituals, ceremonies and traditions I was wondering what was in store for me when it came time to be recognized for completing my first hash. While waiting for the group to arrive I was proudly informed that in the short history of Ubon Ratchathan Hash House Harriers , rain had never fallen on the hashers.

Finally, the main body of hashers arrived and after a few moments of greetings and paying of fees we were given the pre-hash briefing. It seemed simple enough. The hash trails are marked but you can also be mislead and need to find markers to confirm you are following the right path. There are 2 distances to choose from, the short, 3km  and the long, 7km. Since it was my first I chose to follow the short path.

We were off. I think we didn’t get 500 meters before mother nature opened the heavens and let the water fall on us. Walking in the rain and mud I got flashbacks to my days in uniform. But this time it was for fun and no heavy ruck hanging on my back. The great thing is at the end a cold beer or other drink awaits you. That never happend while I was a soldier.

The time passed quickly even though the rain only got harder. Before I knew it the finish line was in sight. During the hash there was some good conversation and a bit of fun searching for the proper markers. The biggest challenge today was making out the meaning of markers that had been partial washed away by the heavy torrent of rain. But the hashers prevailed, drove on and successfully completed the course.

Upon completion we sought out shelter from the storm. We, luckily, found an awning that might have been a bus stop of some sort. It was large enough for about 6 people but not for the entire group. Some place out of the rain was needed to conduct post-hash celebration, rituals and ceremonies.

Someone spotted what looked like an abandoned bamboo hut across the road from the Huai Wang Nong parking lot that served as the start/stop point. A sign identified it as a karaoke bar that is open 10:00 to midnight. It was well past 10am and not yet midnight so it must not be active anymore.

It had a covered porch that would provide enough space for everyone to get in out of the rain. We migrated there and the cold beer, soft drinks and water were brought out and we all grab our choice. This is the time for tales of the hash to be told.

Not long after we occupied the shelter a motorcycle pulled up on the road in front. Two raincoat dressed riders peered at the crowd and then drove off into the sunset. Maybe just curious as to who we were. A short time later the motorcycle and riders returned and drove straight at us, very brave souls indeed. The group of wet, tired, thirsty hashers parted like the Red Sea to make room for the newcomers.

Often in the midst of an adventure other adventures and experiences materialize unplanned. This might be just such an occasion. The riders were in fact the attendants of the bamboo shack karaoke we were using. We thought maybe we would have to relocate but were quickly told, “mai pen rai”. Not only did they not send us away but we were invited inside after the door was opened. Amazing.

We moved the festivities inside and shortly two more  bamboo shack karaoke employees arrived and even a customer. The head hasher announced it was time for ceremonies and have the order to circle up. First up was recognition of the “virgins”. Originally 5 people were called out but 3 were eliminated because the had participated in Hashes elsewhere.

It was just me and one other person. We were instructed to stand in the middle of the circle, given a plastic cup of beer and told we had to drink while the others sang, finish before the song ended and place the empty cup upside down on our head. So I had lost my virginity, again.

I joined the circle and was more just an observer than a participant. I didn’t know the words to the songs yes so had to just hummm. I noticed the employees were staring with their mouths open. Maybe they were wondering what this group of crazy farangs and Thais were up to. I was maybe experiencing the same feelings.

I was startled to hear some English from outside the circle. I was asked, “Do you understand?”. One of the attendants was asking me if I understood what the customer was saying. The customer, who was holding up his phone so whoever he was talking to could hear the hash group was Asian but obviously not Thai. He was maybe Malay or Indian.

We continued the post-hash activities, and in a not too long time, the owner showed up. The attendant who could speak English went out to meet him and talk, then assured us everything was okay. Knowing we were intruding on a business we offered up a gratuity to cover the time we were there.

I had to smile at the thought that out here in almost the middle of nowhere there exists this bamboo karaoke shack. Not only is is here but it has 4 or more employees and at least one of them speaks fairly good English.

The group of Ubon Hash House Harriers were mostly strangers to me. I had personally met maybe 4 of them before this. But I soon learned that many of the group, “knew” me. One member came up and said “oh you are the website buy, WeLoveUbon“.  A local tour guide told me she visits my site often to help her in her work.

There was an American said he had contacted me through my website inquiring as to the availability of houses to buy or rent in Ubon. Another man told me he saw Wrong Way Cafe and N-Joy on my site and made many new friends because of this. I was feeling happy that my project had helped all these people and thankful for them sharing with me.

I am happy I finally got off my lazy butt and went to a hash. I had a good time and hopefully made some new friends. I was also a part of Ubon Hash House Harriers history and had a good experience and adventure. I want to thank the organizers and participants for the new memories.

Many of the hashers had plans to continue in other locations. I was invited but I was driving a motorcycle and given the conditions decided best to wait til next time. I do plan to be a regular participant in future Hashes.

I have often heard, “There is nothing to do in Ubon Ratchathani.” It might be true that there are not an infinite number of things to do but there are an infinite number of things to experience. Ubon Hash House Harriers is one thing to do and experience. If you keep your eyes and mind open that one thing can also lead to other things happening that weren’t planned.

If you feel you might be interested in maybe experiencing Ubon Hash House Harriers you can visit their site at UbonHash for updates and announcements. Happy Hashing in Ubon Ratchathani.

P.S.

No photos because in a contest between my camera and the elements, mother nature would win everytime. If you want a visual why not just join the hash next time.

Comments

  1. Very well written Darwin.
    Glad you enjoyed the Hash – so did I, and it’s all about having fun, exploring and meeting people!

  2. Trond,

    Thanks for the comment. You are right about that. Those things make the world go round.

  3. Gary (the American) says:

    Good to finally meet you Darwin. Good write up about Saturday’s Hash run. Glad to hear you’re planning on coming to more.

    As we say in the Hash… On On

  4. Gary,

    Good to see you here and thanks for this comment.

  5. So there I was, 25km out past Warin for 2 months.
    I do not know my way around Ubon, since I last lived there in 1972. My Thai relatives do not know anything related to farang, So there I was, the only excitment was a weekly trip to Big C. I’ll definitely be looking up the HHH when I return!!

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