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23 November 2014
NUI DINH - Temple to Temple: "A to A"
It was great to see so many former Hashers returning en masse from various work, holiday and other personal-related absences over the past several months.
Rallying to the call for "Many hands make light work", GPS volunteered to manage registration and showed off her impressive clerical skills - while Basil displayed his maths expertise by proving that 32 goes into 29(!).
A "tightly packed" crew disembarked on the higher reaches of Nui Dinh for a chalk talk by The Gardener which included a reminder of the need to pay close attention to markers when travelling through dense undergrowth such as we would encounter today.
The start point was about 1 km north of the bridge over Angel Stream, then left onto a dirt bike track. About 2 km along this trail was a fish pond and then a temple. It was here that the trail turned to the left, then left again past the monk's house. A number of Hashers climbed the temple stairs but were redirected onto the correct trail by Ms Banana and a barking guard dog!
From there, the trail passed a few ponds and became a downhill descent for a while, before taking a smaller uphill track - all the while taking us through swathes of lush, constantly changing vegetation that can be seen in the photo gallery below, thanks to the "good eye for a tree" of trainee Hash Flash Tiny Rabbit!
It was somewhere along here, deep inside the forest where no sun could reach, that we passed another temple with monks in meditation and the usual sound of "knocking" the Zen ball. The passing Hashers' shouts of "On On" were dutifully "barked away" by the ever-alert guard dogs!
After the uphill section, we followed a circular route back to the original (first) temple, and more barking; then down the moto track to the Circle location on the sealed road - out into "the open" at last! Hares The Gardener and Ms Banana were suitably impressed: "Everyone earned their beer today;" they smiled - "especially Terminator, who had finished the trail but backtracked, beer in hand, to greet Mother Teresa and daughter Superteen!"
After a suitable interlude for ice cold San Migs, softies and Russian bread with salted pork, Duty Ring Master Camel Bone managed to salvage the "official hat" from Oggy, who had already donned the "chain of office" in preparation for helping to run the Circle. He called on one of today's Hash Virgins to evaluate the trail (sorry, I can't even pronounce his name, let alone spell it!) - which, after various interjections was resolved by a vote from the Circle as a well-earned 9.9/10 ("well-earned" because exploring and marking this particular trail took the best part of two days, which is not unusual in the life of a Hare...). It takes a spirit of adventure and love of the countryside to be a Hare, but without such volunteers we would struggle to have a Hash that's anything more than a stroll around the local park - more volunteers are always welcome!
Hash Virgins and returnees were welcomed in style by RM Camel Bone and his able assistant Oggy - with Russian/English translations by Superteen; sinners were penalised for misdemeanours real and imagined (even K9 Hashputin copped a penalty!); Mountain Goat and Mother Teresa were thanked by acclamation for sharing their delicious snacks once again ("Welcome back, Mountain Goat and Hashputin!"); and then the Circle degenerated into some mild "water sloshing" under cover of the rapidly approaching darkness!
The trip back to Vung Tau was an extremely convivial one, with yet another chapter of the renowned "VTH3 international mobile song festival" mostly dominated by Russian folk songs and a rousing rendition of "Ho Chi Minh"!
And so ended an extremely satisfying and enjoyable day in the Ba Ria-Vung Tau countryside that tourists can only dream about!
STOP PRESS: The Gardener and Ms Banana marked a trail on Big Mountain earlier this week before returning to Bien Hoa, then SamSon and Basil finalised it yesterday by including a different route to a temple on the way back down the mountain - so we're calling it the "Long or Short" trail because you can decide whether to include the temple or bypass it, depending how you're feeling at the time. The Circle will be held in Lam Son Square!
Hares: The Gardener, Ms Banana
Hash Flash: Tiny Rabbit