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Minh Dam Secret Zone - a very nice blend of trails
We had a wild, tropical downpour at lunchtime, but it vanished as quickly as it had arrived - leaving us with a lovely overcast, cool day for Hashing in the countryside. Overall numbers were down this week, but double figures of returning Russians made up for it!
We disembarked in the familiar Minh Dam car park for a chalk talk by Rowdy Water - and then it was "On On" into the mountains, dotted with dozens of religious, topographical and cultural artefacts which make the area so popular with tourists and trekkers alike!
After some 400 metres and a friendly exchange of greetings with "roadside" workers, we veered to the left and began the uphill assault in earnest - a reasonable dirt track, but with a few boulders and slippery mud because of the rains. There are many different trails in the "secret zone" area, as seasoned Hashers know very well, so it was important to keep looking for the trail markers...
Most of the pack managed to stay together, which was just as well because there were a few "wrong turns" after we'd reached the massive lookout rock on top of the mountain! Unfortunately, Hash Flash was carrying an injury and never made it to the top - so we've included some nice "on top of the world" images from Ciprian after the main photo gallery below: just keep scrolling down.
And then it was "Down Down" through the lush vegetation and boulder-strewn track - quite steep in parts, and shared on this day with several groups of locals visiting the many pagodas, temples and shrines.
The main pack made it safely back to the car park (a classic A-A trail), albeit via a different track than the one we'd started on - and settled down to snack (feast!) on various combinations of bread, pate, pork, pickles and fruit that had been so kindly provided by Ice Water, Anti and Mother Teresa, not to mention the ice-cold silver and gold San Miguels, softies and water!
It was around this time when we realised a popular VTH3 veteran was missing, so we delayed the Circle pending what we confidently thought would be his imminent arrival.
After what seemed like a long time later and still no sign of him, we were about to send out the search parties when Titanic finally made contact (there are very few mobile phone towers in the Long Hai Mountains). Our wayward 'veteran' had successfully made it back to ground level - but he was at "monkey pagoda", about 3 km away!
It was getting dark by now, so we decided to pick him up and relocate the Circle to monkey pagoda, which we did. Mowgli rated the trail "very good, but slippery in places", so deducted 1 point and awarded Hares Rowdy Water and Ice Water a very commendable 9/10.
We welcomed back returnees Private Business, Titanic, D&G, Superteen, Mother Teresa and Mike. Hospitality sales & marketing guru Hieu was awarded the Hash monicker "Basil Fawlty", and then Stubble was charged for so many sins it was decided that he should just get "both barrels".
Unfortunately, it was so dark by then that we can't share the hilarious sight of Stubble pouring beer all over his face because a rigid pvc pipe on each arm meant he couldn't bend his elbows! However, we can share his now-famous parting words before heading off on his lone odyssey into the mountains: "Don't worry, I know this area very well"!!!
Our trip back to town included distribution of song sheets, promo flyers and business cards - all designed to help with ongoing recruitment. And an invitation for anyone who might be willing to help volunteers Ice Water and Basil Fawlty organise things each week following the recent departure of VTH3 stalwart Falcon (return date unknown), and imminent departures of fellow-stalwarts Uncle & Anti (end of year return) and Rowdy Water (the next run, #647, will be his last...).
Come one, come all - everyone is welcome: "Many hands make light work!" Absolutely NO prior experience is necessary! If you would like to help Ice Water and Basil Fawlty keep the Hash "ticking over", please email email@example.com or use the "Contact VTH3" page on this website.
STOP PRESS: Rowdy Water and Ice Water have set a trail on Big Mountain for this Sunday (21 Sept). Meet at the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden, as always - 2 pm for 2.30 pm start. Don't miss Rowdy Water's last run!
Hares: Rowdy Water, Ice Water
Hash Flash: Uncle. Circle photos: Anti. Additional photos: Ciprian
(HE'S THE GOOD-LOOKING GUY IN THE ORANGE T-SHIRT ABOVE)