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BIG MOUNTAIN - Three trails, a bugle and a "changing of the guard"!
We headed off from Offshore Bar 1 under a bright, sunny sky - fortunately not too hot, but a few degrees warmer than the cool weather we've enjoyed lately. We made a right turn at the SOS clinic and continued to the residential steps at Hem 89.
Up the steps for our first "breather" stop and to make sure we hadn't lost anyone on the way. Then on down Vi Ba - past the Venus 2 nightclub and up a winding side-road to the famous Thang Hoa pagoda - where Terminator's "muscle shirt" was deemed unsuitable for entry. After another headcount, we grouped together and skirted the left side of the pagoda grounds very quietly and respectfully until we emerged on the other side - and it was here that seasoned Hasher Terminator found us. He'd skirted around the other side of the pagoda and either by luck or good judgement arrived at the same spot as everyone else!
From here, it was straight up the mountainside under the power lines for the "difficult trail" (almost, but not quite a vertical climb over many boulders); or, for the not-so-difficult trail, down then around the mountainside in parallel with but on a lower level than the more difficult trail.
Both trails posed challenges along the way, as well as good views of Vung Tau City - and they eventually joined again at the grassy, open "crossroads" area known by many veteran Hashers. Then it was Down Down the hillside over lots of small rocks ("no dancing shoes, please!") until we emerged on Vi Ba, a little higher than where we'd emerged from the residential steps and stopped for a breather earlier in the day.
Left turn for 200 metres, then down to the residential steps and right turn then left to eventually gather at the twin goldfish in the park between Le Loi and Front Beach.
The eskies had been transported from Offshore Bar 1 by the first Hashers to finish the trail and, by the time most of the pack arrived, they were well and truly "open for business" - quickly followed by snacks and vodka courtesy Terminator and Tiny Tim, plus a loaf of bread that Ice Water brought along "for emergencies"!
The Circle was eventually called, and Titanic and Basil awarded the difficult and easier trails the impressive scores of 10/10 and 8/10 respectively (Titanic's score was based on the "difficult" trail actually being difficult!). But that wasn't all! Anti was called into the Circle to evaluate "her" trail - the extra distance she'd lured several Hashers along by following her instincts and memory of previous Hashes instead of the red eco-markers! Unbowed, Anti explained that they had enjoyed "her" trail and awarded it 10/10 - for a total of 28/30, which is a pretty formidable score by anyone's reckoning!
Hash Virgin Phi Vu was introduced and will more than likely become known as "the handsome dentist" when he qualifies for a Hashtag (he's a dentist and gave part of his reason for joining the Hash as being "...and because I'm handsome"!). His girlfriend Chuong was also introduced because she didn't arrive in time for today's run but plans to join us next week.
Returnees D&G and Ice Water were welcomed back; then Terminator and Tiny Tim were brought into the Circle to be thanked for providing snacks and (more) vodka - but things went awry at this point because it seems that it was (or will soon be) their birthdays, so Rowdy Water's youngest daughter Haley was also invited into the Circle so we could sing "Happy Birthday" to all three (it will be Haley's 9th birthday later this month).
And then the highlight of the Circle arrived with the introduction of the "official, new mismanagement team" of Basil and Ice Water - complete with a symbolic handover of the revered Hash Bugle. Basil and IW have actually been looking after VTH3 affairs for some time already, but now it's "official" with a Hash Cash and assets handover because Uncle & Anti are heading back to Australia for several months. Importantly, we need more Hares to set trails - and there is plenty of information on this website to help any would-be Hares, including explicit details of dozens of earlier trails that can be copied and/or improved upon.
In all the excitement of the handover, a call for Hares to set next Sunday's trail was forgotten - so Uncle has volunteered to "right his wrong" by setting a trail before he and Anti depart this week.
STOP PRESS (Wednesday): Uncle and Basil have combined to set a "combo" trail on Small Mountain for Sunday - a combination of two existing trails with a new "dismount" (or "mount", depending which way we go). Sound intriguing? It is! Join us on Sunday to enjoy for yourself...
We'll meet as usual in the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden at 2 pm for 2.30 pm start.
Hares: Basil, Uncle.
Hash Flash: Uncle. Circle photos: Anti, Ice Water. Additional photos: Tiny Tim, Flying Finn