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27 July 2014
LONG HAI MOUNTAINS - Minh Dam Secret Zone
Phew! What a trail that was...
Some 30 or so Hashers (including FB's "Irish fusiliers") boarded the chariot for Long Hai and disembarked half an hour later at Bo Bo's cafe, outside Long Hai township.
A quick chalk talk and then it was "On On" for about 1 km or so along a dirt road that soon narrowed into the more familiar dirt track, winding its way through a few local residences before reaching an open area that allowed time to regroup for what was to be a fairly tortuous climb ahead (well it was for yours truly, anyway!).
The first set of several hundred steps wasn't too bad, but that was only the beginning! After a short level stretch of paved track, we were off again up many, many more steps (how on earth do they build them all?).
The second lot of steps were very deceiving. They suddenly ended on another flat piece of track but, just as we all started to relax, "Oh no, more steps"!
They finally ended at a small pagoda, which signalled the beginning of a fairly long but not too arduous trek through the bush - soft underfoot, but lots of foliage and many rocks to catch the unwary.
What seemed like ages later, we emerged into a garden area full of monks, with many shrines dotted about the hilltop - for we had indeed climbed the mountain! A quick climb up a few more steps and we were on the splendid "lookout rocks" - with panoramic views over the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province and East Sea.
Many, many photos later, we left the monks to their chanting and headed downhill (yay!) to the Minh Dam* Secret Zone (historical area) car park.
*This week's local trivia: there's no Dam at Minh Dam - Minh and Dam were two wartime VC generals.
The sight of four bright red eskies filled with ice cold San Miguels, water and softies was enough to make the long trek worthwhile! Especially when Ice Water unpacked her now legendary bread, port and pickles to complement Chippie's chippies(!) - yum yum!
After much libation and fellowship, the Circle was called - with not one, not two, but FOUR Hares all present and correct! Rowdy Water, Ice Water, Falcon and SamSon were awarded a "perfect score": 10/10 by returnee Kojak (we think he's been away too long, mumble, mumble...). Kojak praised the length of the trail (subsequently shown on Viking's GPS to be more than 4 km uphill, to 292 metres above sea level at an average climb rate of 22 mins per km! - see route map in photo gallery below); and also the local "colour" including residents, pagodas, monks, shrines, historical artefacts and, of course, the wonderful scenery from the top - indeed an interesting trail, albeit very hard going at times!
And then the numbers started getting even bigger, with 7 Hash Virgins (mostly but not all the aforementioned "Irish fusiliers"), visitor "Do 'em up Deb from Koh Samui Hash, returnees Kojak, No Name Bob, SamSon, Faulty Brakes and Chippie - and then so many Sinners that they had to form a line to go and collect their own drinks for the Down Down!
The Circle was eventually abandoned to widespread anarchy as various participants began their own icing competitions and the remainder did their best to empty the eskies before we headed back into town on what was an extremely pleasant, rowdy at times, but thoroughly enjoyable bus ride that mirrored the whole day!
STOP PRESS: Rowdy Water and Falcon have laid a "challenging but extremely photogenic" trail on Big Mountain, starting at the infamous '600 steps', across Rowdy's Ridge (great views!), and finishing at the beachside cafe Down Down with shelter in case of rain. This will be VTH3 stalwart Falcon's final run before heading off to Australia, so it's an opportunity for everyone to come along and say "Thanks" for all his work on our behalf over the past couple of years!
We'll meet as usual on Sunday in the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden at 2 pm for 2.30 pm start.
Hares: Falcon, Rowdy Water, SamSon, Ice Water
Hash Flash: Uncle. Circle photos: SamSon, Viking, Rowdy Water (see also Viking's GPS plot and 'lookout rocks' photos near end of photo gallery)
VTH3 #639 PHOTO GALLERY>>>>>>>
VIKING'S GPS PLOT (LEFT) AND "LOOKOUT ROCKS" PHOTOS
AND ONE FOR OUR MAJOR SPONSOR, SAN MIGUEL - WITHOUT WHOM WE'D BE VERY THIRSTY!