Hashing in Bangkok

Yesterday was my virgin run with the Bangkok Hash House Harriers. For those of you who are unaware of the Hash House Harriers, or Hashing, in short it’s a group of people who get together for a run and some socialising on a regular basis. There are groups all around the world, and in Bangkok, the BH3 run every Saturday – men only. There are a few other Bangkok groups running other days, for families, women only etc.

After getting in touch with the organisers during the week, the day started with getting a taxi to the run site in Bang Yai. Tumbon Bang Yai (ตําบลบางใหญ่) is about 16km (as the bird flies) north-west of central Bangkok, across the Chao Phra Ya River in the province of Nonthaburi. Its about 30km south-west of Thammasat Rangsit Campus. The run started at 4:30pm, so I had given myself plenty of time and got a taxi from Thammasat at 3pm. Luckily I have a good electronic map of Bangkok from MapMagic, and had a printout of the area between Thammasat and Bang Yai – in both English and Thai! So taxi driver seemed to understand Bang Yai and headed in the right direction based on what I could follow from the map. He started looking at the map I had after we got on a main freeway heading south. I think this was my mistake. We were going ok with him driving and me double-checking where we were on the map. But when he got the map (in Thai) he rotated it 360 degrees about 5 times trying to work out where we were. After a while I started to get confused too. Well it turned out ok – we turned left instead of right once and headed 10 minutes the wrong way towards central Bangkok – after stopping and asking a local tuk-tuk driver, we finally got to the run site dead on 4:30pm. A 1.5 hour, 50+km taxi ride for 400 Baht ($AU15).

The run started from a Wat Pikul Ngueng in Bang Yai, with most of the people arriving after me, we took off at about 5pm. How it works is that there is a Hare (or two, as was the case on this occasion) who decides on the track, usually about 7-10km. The Hare lays some paper on the trail and a few key markings for the runners to follow. It doesn’t have to be a run – many people walk – and it turned out even if you wanted to run all the way, it wasn’t possible on this Hash. With it being the end of the wet season and the floods being the worst for years, most of the track was 10 to 30cm under water. At one point where a walkway had collapsed we had to wade a couple of metres hip-deep.

I followed those that ran a bit, and after about 30 minutes we caught the Hare laying his markings. Apparently we had missed a turn somewhere and skipped a major loop. Anyway, after a lot of complaining we continued on, getting back to the Wat around 6pm. Those that walked and found the main loop made their way in by 7pm.

Despite being rather short (and not much exercise), it was a great time. We made our way through a local village, probably seeing parts of Bangkok that some people that have lived here for years have never seen. Unfortunately I have no photos!

A big part of H3 is the socialising after the Hash. Before we started the run there were doubts about this though. In the past week there had been complaints from the Queen in Thailand about scantily clad women dancing and alcohol consumption at Wats. So there was a crackdown on these activities by Thai authorities, and no alcohol was allowed at the Wat. Our second option at a nearby square was thwarted by the Loi Kratong celebrations (see another post). Luckily, one of the few Thais on the run (there about 30 people in total, most expats 40 years or older) had a chat to the local monk and get the ok for booze at the Wat. So the beer flowed for a couple of hours (no scantily clad women - darn!), then we made our way to a local restaurant for a meal and more drinks – including a couple of casks of Australian wine (one was Banrock Station).

It was a good afternoon and night, and will certainly have another Hash soon. Maybe try one of the other groups. Someone gave me a lift half way to Pathumthani, dropping me at an intersection of several freeways. It was then I realised I was reasonably drunk, had know idea where I was and was praying for a taxi to come along. It seem like an eternity (probably 5 minutes), but a taxi did come and got me home before midnight. On, on!