Wednesday, March 23, 2011

week 26_My first HASH in Taipei

Now before you jump to any conclusions
- I know how that sounds, I had the same reaction -
What is a "HASH"???.......

A 'HASH' is an athletic/social gathering, most commonly in Asian countries, but apparently they happen worldwide if you know who to ask. The tradition was originally started by some expats living in Kuala Lumpur, but has now spread to include both expats and locals alike. The typical hash starts with a group run followed by beer drinking, and (in most circles) dinner. There's actually quite a few rules to the game. There is a designated leader for each hash; this person is called the "Hare". The hare runs ahead of the group and blazes the trail, leaving a trail of chalk, flour, or paper behind for the rest of the hashers to follow. In this way, the only person who knows the route is the "hare" and the rest of the group is on an adventure to follow the path. At different points on the trail a marking may indicate that you must make a turn, double back, etc. When the hashers come upon a bucket of beer, they will know they have finally reached the end of the trail! The routes and participants vary, but those are the things they pretty much always have in common.

In Taipei, there are many different hash groups... I was invited to join a group of women who go hashing in the mountains around Taipei once a month, and yes - I said mountains. Let's be honest, at first I thought:
A. I have lost my mind.
B. Is there a plan in place for if I can't make it?!
C. My lofty dreams of participating in the 101 stair climb are C-R-A-Z-Y!
(but that's another story...)

But once I had finished my 2 hour run/jog/walk up and down the beautiful mountainsides... Honestly? I just wished I was in better shape, so that I could do it again...! I know. I really have lost my mind. 

During the run I did not take my camera (obviously, because just dragging myself up and down that mountain was enough!), but we ran through clearings and woods, winding trails, stone steps. At one point the trail followed a stone staircase cut right through the mountainside into a cave. As we were jogging through the cave, you could hear only the echo of Chinese monks singing and your feet as they hit the ground. When we came out the other side of the cave, we were just next to a large Chinese temple looking out over the city below. It was totally awesome! So maybe you can see what I mean about wishing I were in better shape so that I can do this again... Some of the things you see on the hash trail, you may not have ever seen otherwise. 

At the end when it was finally time to rest. We headed back to one of the participants homes where ice cold drinks and a huge meal had been prepared for us. Usually the hashers go to a restaurant to end the day, but I guess on this occasion she had volunteer to cook - and I'm so glad she did! Even though I've been here for a few months (and most of the food in the little noodle shops or from vendors is basically homemade...) this was my first chance to eat in some one's home, and to have a family style meal cooked up from scratch. It was delicious. 

So now... all week, I have been feeling like maybe I should go running... maybe I should train a little bit more in between so that I can join the hashers again sometime! :)

Some more information about hashing:

And how to find a hash near you:
[disclaimer: If you go to the websites, be forewarned that hashers tend to adopt nicknames, and they often seem to be... PG13 and above. Not sure what that is about?]

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