25 FEB 2019
NUI DINH - "The Up, Up, Up, Down, and Up Again Trail"
Hares: Flying Finn, Slipper
Hash Flasher: Secs
Report: Chom Chom
It was looking like an unusually quiet Sunday away trail as the online registrations were slow to be made. After a lot of last-minute clickthrough’s, a total of 55 Hashers made their way to our registration desk at Uno Coffee to participate in run 878.
Whilst Hashers were being registered and fees being collected, in the background eskies were being filled with our allocation of San Miguel beers and soft drinks, soon to be chilled with the addition of crushed ice brought by Mr. T.
All done and now ready, the eskies were loaded onto our usual Tuan Thang “CSVC” coach. Hashers mounted and did their best to find some comfort on the once again crowded, overfilled vehicle. Off we go and for the second week, we make a stop at the most inconvenient ice shop in town to top-up our ice supply. Job done we at last proceed towards our starting location, passing through Ba Ria as usual.
We get dropped off on a major new road construction project. Hashers dismount the rather cramped coach and await the introduction from Flying Finn explaining a few details about the trail ahead of us. Within a few minutes we are on-on our way.
The trail starts easily enough walking along the sandy desert construction path, passing various plant vehicles and building materials and in parts resembling a quarry. The sun is beating down on us as there was no shade at this part making the sandy ground shiny and golden.
A left turn was made onto a more natural sandy path and our Hashers progressed in the direction of the mountain. Things started well as the incline up was rather mild. As we proceeded along the gentle meandering path through the continuous bamboo terrain, we manoeuvred our way as best as we could through this peril of a plant, left and right, over and under.
Things were to change as the ascendance was about to change. The climb was to get steeper, much steeper in fact as we hit what was going to be the toughest part of todays trail. Flying Finn had explained to us that there was a shorter trail and we should make a left turn at the first coffee shop we see. This was where we were now, but it hadn’t even been a kilometre, so we all clambered on, not knowing how much tougher things were to get.
Whilst we progressed on our journey, we made strides around the perimeter of the mountain on this narrow, dry, leafy path, offering some great scenic photo opportunities of the surrounding landscape. It was a hot clear day so some of the views were simply spectacular. We struggled, we sweated, we execrated as we climbed up, up, up for a good 1.5 kilometres in the scorching dry heat. Eventually the path disappeared, and it felt as though we were in no-mans land and left wandering around in search of red tape.
At the top, our warn-out Hashers met a large rock as we continued to the right along the peak of the mountain in parallel to a power line. It was an opportunity to get a bit of breath back as this was now on a much more level terrain. Our descent was soon to come and whilst it was initially reassuring, there was a lot more to come. The terrain had also changed, and we were now on a traditional woodland path, covered with twigs and dry leaves – far easier than contending with the bamboo earlier. Even a brief breeze was felt making this part almost enjoyable! Unfortunately these pleasantries were soon to be a thing of the past as a steep rocky path confronted us. Whilst it was rocky, it was abrupt and tough. It resembled a dry waterfall and it just kept on going.
Eventually after a very tiring and taxing climb, we all hit a large rocky road. This is the first part of the trail where confusion sat in. Do we turn left? Do we turn right? Or as it’s a Flying Finn and Slipper trail, do we proceed further into no-mans land ahead? The correct choice was left and those choosing this way were finally reassured of their fortuitous decision by the joy of some red tape somewhat further than the usual separation distance. The road continued down mildly and after about a kilometre we were met by the main Nui Dinh road. Knowing where we were now, a left turn was made and we strolled along the road for a couple of kilometres passing the Chua Dieu Linh Buddhist temple on the right, towards our Down Down location of Quan Dung (Suoi Da) coffee shop. The trail was about 4.5 kilometres in total and took on average 1 hour 45 minutes to complete.
Our hashers rejoiced at finally being able to relax, take a seat and have a chat accompanied by a super chilled San Miguel Light or Pilsner (or a soft drink of course – please drink responsibly!) Banh mi was also served together with some mango and Boozers legendary Western style sarnies.
After our team photo, the circle was prepared. Some of our younger members got a brief reprimand for mixing the drinks! We assembled around the circle and we met our two hares, Flying Finn and Slipper. The trail was rated 13 this week from our wide selection of nations. We then met our seven virgins who were: Gam, Ngoc, Linh and Mi from Vung Tau, Hieu and Tiny from Ho Chi Minh City and Geoff from Australia. Poor Miss Tiny had the pleasure to experience the tube of doom.
There were three returnees this week – Mr Romania had been working, Anton had also been busy working offshore and Mr Versace had been entertaining himself doing water sports (reminds me of an Alan Partridge sketch).
We had two sinners this week, although I think they were only sinners as they claimed to be single. These were Tiny again (she loved the circle) and Moonlight. Here Moonlight received the tube of doom.
A local trail will be set for next week. We remounted the bus and departed back to Vung Tau at 6pm.
VTH3 #878 PHOTO GALLERY
17 FEB 2019
LONG SON ISLAND
Hares: Flying Finn, Mr. T, Mountain Shrimp
Hash Flashers: Kojak
The Hashmobile is packed beyond capacity again as we leave Coffee Uno enroute for Long Hai Mountains, stopping briefly to collect ice for the eskies, we soon disembark at the our starting point - the Buddhist temple Chùa Khỉ.
We muster around our Hare, Flying Finn, for instructions - a simple trail, just climb the steps to our left and continue up, and up, and up following the red ribbons until we get to the top where the path will flatten out and ultimately take us to the down-down spot at the familiar Minh Dam car park.
So off we trot, on-onwards and tentatively upwards we go. Brilliant sunshine beats down on our heads and we begin the climb up the rocky steps carved out of the hillside. Thankfully, as we trek deeper in to the jungle, the canopy above provides some welcome shade. It is a pretty and picturesque trail culminating at a colourful, quirky little pagoda embedded in the massive boulders this mountain is known for. The pagoda’s position perched on the mountainside provides some spectacular views across the coastline looking back towards Vung Tau. Many obligatory selfies later we continue on, pleased to find that the trails flattens out as promised and we spill out in the car park where the sight of the our famous eskies welcomes us with the promise of Ice Cold San Miguel Beer.
As we sate ourselves with San Miguel, soft drinks and Banh Mi we are entertained by the resident verminous, barrel of monkeys that reside in the surrounding treetops, until our diligent Hash Flasher, Kojak, assembles us for the team photo. Photo done, Boozer pulls out his whistle and blows hard to assemble this week’s circle.
Flying Finn is first in the circle to as we rate the trail, our other Hares, Mr. T and Mountain Shrimp were unable to be here today. A curious rating of 17.23234 out of 10 and Flying Finn accepts his reward with a down, down, down, down.
Next up we welcome a couple of Virgins and four Returnees before our selfie princesses, Aqua and Golden Fish are charged by Boozer as sinners of the highest order by committing the heinous crime of shopping whilst hashing. Somewhere in their busy selfie schedule they found time to acquire some traditional gingham shawls.
We close the circle, pack up the eskies, board the bus and head back to Coffee Uno - another lovely day out in countryside.
VTH3 #877 PHOTO GALLERY
10 FEB 2019
Hares: Flying Finn, Slipper
Hash Flashers: Kojak
This week about 50 eager Hashers meet at Uno Coffee for a local run on Small Mountain. We gather around our Hare, Flying Finn, as he delivers the chalk-talk - turn left out of Uno Coffee, follow the red ribbons through the forest, get on to a dirt road, follow it until it becomes an asphalt road, walk across the mountain top road, look for the red ribbons to turn left again, back in to the forest until exit on to Hai Dang Road, follow the road down to the bottom but instead of turning right to Mr. Ket’s Coffee Shop we are to bear left onto another path that will take us back up the mountain until red ribbons will indicate a right turn in to a temple, which will take back down to Ha Long Road and finally back to Uno Coffee.
Phew! A lot to remember.
And it’s On-On! With a spring in our step we head off up the narrow Hem next to Uno Coffee. After a short but steep climb up some steps we find ourselves queued up single file, as we enter the forest. The dry dirt underfoot makes the going slippery but one by one we pull ourselves up and scramble to the top.
Once on top of the mountain we can take time to enjoy the fantastic temperate weather, fresh gusts of wind from the sea cool us, as we enjoy the awesome views accentuated by the crystal clear, cloudless sky.
We see the red ribbons taking us back in to the forest and we turn right, and are immediately confronted with an abandoned, dilapidated military bunker. We tentatively make our way down some precarious steps and continue to follow the ribbons until we emerge from the jungle at Cafe 1975 on Hai Dang Road.
It’s a short stroll to the bottom of Hai Dang and some Hashers have to be reminded not to turn right but to continue straight on back up the mountain. It’s a picturesque path flanked with seasonal flowers and quaint mountain temples. The ubiquitous red ribbons soon tell us to turn off to the right. A long set of stone steps leads us down to the magnificent Hai Van Buddhist Temple and then to Ha Long Road and it’s a short walk back to Uno Coffee.
The usual delights await us at Uno Coffee - Ice Cold San Miguel Beer and delicious Banh Mi and the socialising begins. Once everyone is replete it’s time for the group photo followed by a boisterous Circle lead by the prodigious Boozer.
Aaaaannnnd…. In this Circle we have Africans, Americans, Armenians, Botswanans, Canadians, Danish……..
Oh wait, no. Actually in this Circle we have; two Finnish Hares, Slipper and Flying Finn; seven Virgins, all from Vietnam with the exception of one Englishman; two Returnees from Vietnam, Noo and Lan - who’d been busy working; two young Sinners who went the wrong way - also from Vietnam; Pekka Jr. from Finland was baptized with a Hash Name and finally the jolly Malaysian Snake Charmer was bid adieu as she returns to Penang.
And thus ends another run report.
VTH3 #876 PHOTO GALLERY
3 FEB 2019
LONG HAI / MINH DAM
Hares: Secs, Snail, Double Two
Hash Flashers: Kojak
Report: Chom Chom
This week we had forty-four Hashers assemble at our now familiar registration spot at Uno Coffee – surprisingly high considering the proximity to the Tet celebrations. The soft and not so soft drinks were carefully placed in their snow filled eskies, together with fruit, sandwiches and the habitual banh mi and were loaded on to our regular coach.
Once we all mounted the coach we took a brief detour into downtown Vung Tau along the beach road to stop at the Circle K convenience store for some non-eco-friendly plastic cups. We proceeded along Truong Cong Dinh to get back on our route to Long Hai. The bus stopped at the Minh Dam carpark, a popular place for previous Down-Downs so things were starting to look familiar already.
We assembled together and the bus departed on its way to our final Down-Down location. Secs gave us the brief overview of the trail, essentially it was 5km and to keep an eye for the distinct red flags.
The trail began and we all set up in line walking up a newly installed concrete path, that ordinarily we would have walked down. After a reasonable climb, we arrived at the first pagoda which also offered a rocky peak offering some great views over the area. From here, we progressed down the mountain through a meandering leafy forest path, a bit slippy in places due to the lack of moisture so treading with caution was a must. After a kilometre or so things got easier as we hit a flat track where we turned left. This again would have been a familiar path for many. After a short distance, and for those watching out for red tape, a right turn was made into a newly burnt forest path. This presented us with a range of challenges from trees and plants to trip over as well as grovelling through the tunnels of bamboo. Things were then to get worse – a steep rocky mountain was ahead. At this stage some of us were getting a bit knackered and in urgent need of a snow-chilled San Miguel, so this was not a welcome obstruction. With frequent checks to determine how much further the trail was, the peak was finally reached and another pagoda with awesome photo opportunities confronted us.
The final stage of the trail was a lot more relaxing, concrete and rock steps took us down to a path, and although it was a fair slog of a distance, we finally made it to our destination of the Long Hai eco-village, one of the more sumptuous locations for our Down-Down.
The chilled San Miguels and various soft drinks were unloaded from the bus and we setup our spot in this somewhat deserted place. A fair bit of disappointment was experienced when it was discovered that there had been some “stock-control” issues with the San Miguel Gold and that today only Light was available. This wasn’t a big deal, as a bottle of Vodka had been also smuggled into an Eskie – some enjoyed more than others!
After feasting on the banh mi and the other great foody supplied delights and swigging a fair few thirst quenching San Miguels, panic was to prevail. Chippy had some concerning, distressing news… “Where’s Ice Water? Who left her behind? Who’s going to go back and find her?” After a bit of a calming down session and a few unsuccessful phone calls, it was decided we wait a while in the hope she would make her way back on trail. Luckily enough it wasn’t long until she arrived with us, much to everyone’s relief. The circle was then assembled and called. Boozer set up his collection of beer and waters, together with his public address system. Other than meeting our hares (Snail, Double 2 and Secs) we had some returnees, we had some sinners and no doubt we had some virgins, but I don’t recall who they were. Must remember to write down these details and not get too involved in the beer drinking and chin wagging distractions!
Just as we thought things were drawing to a close and another joyful Sunday was descending into darkness, out came two plates of freshly cooked barbecued chicken. These went down in a couple of seconds (literally) and were a great additional to an already marvellous afternoon.
We eventually made it back onto the bus after a very long day in Long Hai and headed directly to Uno Coffee for our one (and only) stop. Our hashers made their ways home in the usual selection of ways and we all look forward to next weeks, local trail. On On and Happy New Year to all.
VTH3 #875 PHOTO GALLERY