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03 August 2014
ROWDY'S RIDGE - Falcon's farewell
Rainy season timing was on our side again today, with the gods kindly turning the taps off just in time for some 35 Hashers to register and pile into our taxi fleet for the short ride escorting the eskies to our beachside Down Down cafe at 83 Tran Phu.
A quick chalk talk and then it was "On On" for about 300 metres back to the large pagoda at 110 Tran Phu, into the grounds, around the side and there they were: the dreaded 600+ steps of our very own "stairway to heaven"! Not a single turn or deviation of route from bottom to top step - straight up the side of Big Mountain, finally ending near a small shrine at the top.
Time for a quick breather and then it was down and along a dirt and stony track for about 1 kilometre until the red markers showed the way into dense bush - almost too dark to see the markers guiding us inexorably up and around the mountain until we finally emerged into daylight at the beginning of Rowdy's Ridge, thanks in no small measure to the helpful cries of "On On" ringing around the mountainside, ably led by young Vladim showing off his English vocabulary! Time now to enjoy the scenery on all four sides of the mountain: Vung Tau Bay, Front Beach, Small Mountain, Vung Tau City and back to the shipyards - fantastic views all around and including a not-often-seen-from-ground-level life-size Jesus statue overlooking the Bay (see photo gallery below).
More trecking along the ridge, more of Vladim's "On On" guidance echo'd from seemingly several different parts of the mountain at the same time(!), until we began the very tricky descent - made even more trickier than usual by the earlier downpour!
Happily, most(!) of those who started the trail actually finished - although not everyone went the same way, we discovered later! And then it was time to relax on the deck chairs and/or in the sea before quaffing ice cold San Miguels and munching on bread, pork and pickles supplied once again by Ice Water - who also added some Vietnamese spring rolls this week for good measure!
The Circle was called before it got too dark for photos (it had been a long hike today - Falcon admitted later that he'd saved the hardest run for his last!). The trail was awarded an excellent and well-deserved 9.5/10 by Do 'em up Deb (Kho Samui Hash), who joined Hares Falcon and Rowdy Water in a congratulatory Down Down.
Only one Hash Virgin this week, but what was lacking in quantity was made up for in quality with her smiling introduction of "My name is Kim Pleased To Meet You" (which will no doubt be remembered when it comes time for her Hash monicker!).
We welcomed back KFC and Mapdraw, then bypassed the sinners to move straight onto the "John 'Falcon' Mills show". Falcon is heading back to Australia and was thanked by all and sundry for his valiant efforts in "steering the ship" over the past couple of years (from run 520 to today's 640) - during which time he's done it all: Ring Master, Hareraiser, Beermeister, Hash Cash, Hash Flash, Scribe, etc etc, and all with his same unassuming "just get on with it" approach that has impressed everyone.
Greetings were received from as far afield as Finland, Britain, Russia and Australia - and he was presented with an album of photos documenting his time with VTH3. A particularly useful, thoughtful and very welcome gift was a running belt-pouch complete with an embroidered VTH3 "circle" logo donated by Chris 'Panty' Evans, one of the few remaining Hashers from days of yore...
Falcon thanked several people - in particular those he's enjoyed setting trails with, including but not limited to Rowdy Water, SamSon, KFC and Ice Water - and presented Ice Water with a Hash t-shirt as thanks for her willingness to participate in any way she can, from setting trails to providing delicious snacks! In return, Ice Water gave Falcon a bottle of whiskey, which duly did the rounds of the entire Circle before proceedings were finally drawn to a close.
We also say a temporary goodbye this week to ever-present Stubble and his friends Marina and Vladim who will be returning to Russia (chilly Murmansk in Marina and Vladim's case) for what's left of the traditional Russian holiday season. We look forward to their return, as well as the remainder of our Russian contingent (maybe we're getting vodka withdrawal symptoms!).
In the meantime, Rowdy Water has teamed up with Ice Water (does that make 2H2O or H2O2?) to set a trail this week on Nui Dinh, our favourite "out of town" mountain about 5 km west of Ba Ria. By all reports it's a "pretty", mostly flat trail. Turn right at the bridge and continue to the lake (have a swim in the waterfall en route if you wish!), then left at the coffee shop and down to the bus.
We'll meet next Sunday as usual in the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden at 2 pm for 2.30 pm start.