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16 November 2014
BIG MOUNTAIN - Plenty of "local colour"!
We all gathered at the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden for registration on what was to be an extremely interesting and pleasant day, albeit tinged with a little sadness to mark Ice Water's last run of the year.
A fleet of taxi's took most of us to the start point at 540 Tran Phu - at the end of the fishing village, almost where Big Mountain's fourth peak reaches sea level, some 6 km from the end of today's A-B trail at 111 Tran Phu. And that was why those in the taxi which went straight to the end point by mistake decided to take the driver's advice and ride on to the start point rather than walk!
Once we'd all arrived, it was time for a group photo and then The Gardener's Chalk Talk. It was a hot, sunny day as we passed through a local village where all the kids decided to practise their English, followed by howls of laughter!
Not quite so funny was the young soldier who happily posed for a photo but then noisily reloaded his AK-47 - which was our cue to keep moving...
We followed an old trail at first, but we soon found that nothing stands still for long in Vung Tau - someone had started laying a concrete bike path over the hill that definitely wasn't there five months ago!
It was easy enough to follow, but once we rounded the corner we realised that someone had either run out of concrete or time, or both - because the lovely new road came to a sudden stop in the middle of nowhere!
Which was as good a point as any for our trail markers to head off into the dense bamboo towards the mountain top (everything in VTH3 seems to revolve around mountain tops - but we must admit the views are often spectacular!).
GeoffK used his recently injured shoulder as an excuse for an "approved" short-cut - but he was spotted and quickly joined by Superteen and several other SCBs!
For the rest of us, it was "On On" through the bamboo and thick undergrowth - but the weather was extremely generous with frequent wind gusts bringing a cooling breeze to some very hot and grateful Hashers!
We continued on and eventually stumbled across a shrine which afforded the opportunity for selfies with "Uncle Ho"!
We were on the downhill stretch by now, and once we'd passed through the small village on the hillside (more happy kids!), we reached the former French artillery station which is now a place of historic interest for locals and tourists alike - and of course few can resist the lure of having a happy snap with a 5m long gun barrel!
And then we finally reached the bottom, to be welcomed by Camel Bone with his hands full of cold drinks to entice GPS into one last burst of speed as though she was in a baton-relay!
It was decided after much discussion(!) that Basil would be duty Ring Master today, ably supported by masters at arms Camel Bone and Hard Drive.
Mother Teresa and Superteen managed the Russian-English translations, which ended with what had been a superb trail by The Gardener and Ms Banana being awarded 10/10 - but minus 2 because Mother Teresa decided that crawling through all that bamboo was worth at least a couple of penalty points to bring the overall score down to 8/10!
The aforementioned SCBs were charged and Down Down'd accordingly (it was decided that GeoffK's shoulder injury was no excuse!). There was some discrepancy about one of the alleged SCBs, Ms Phuong, who enlisted Viking as a character witness - but that didn't wash either: Down Down she went!
Ms Banana was charged by Hard Drive for wearing new shoes (see photo gallery), and then Ice Water, Mother Teresa and Tiny Tim were brought into the Circle to be thanked for sharing their lovely food with us yet again!
Duty RM Basil and his masters at arms reminded everyone that today was Ice Water's last run for this year, so she was brought out yet again to be thanked for all her "backroom" work every week organising food, drinks, buses, taxi's, registration, Hash Cash - you name it, she's been doing it!
And so it was fitting that she ended the day as a cameo of herself, Ice Water, inside an eskie full of very cold ice and water! Good luck with your travels, IW - and hurry back soon, ya hear!
A very pleasant day ended with the Circle being invited to join Ice Water for a farewell party at the Summer Wine Bar last night - an "On On" worthy of a very popular and generous VTH3 stalwart who "stepped up to the plate" recently when four veterans headed overseas almost at the same time, leaving a big hole to be filled: which she has done admirably!
STOP PRESS: The Gardener and Ms Banana confirm they've marked the trail they recce'd on Nui Dinh - an A-A circular route that starts next to Angel Stream then runs past a temple and takes a clockwise loop through many criss-crossing jungle trails, so staying alert and watching for the red eco-markers will help save anyone getting lost and/or wasting "good drinking time" having to back-track!
Basil has volunteered to "steer the ship" in Ice Water's absence, so we'll meet for registration, as usual, in the Offshore Bar 1 beer garden next Sunday at 2 pm for 2.30 pm start. And please don't leave Basil having to do everything on his own - "Many hands make light work," so if you can turn up a few minutes before 2 pm to help load eskies, etc it will be much appreciated!
Hares: The Gardener, Ms Banana
Hash Flash: Hard Drive