Are You?… On, On

It’s a Wednesday evening and out of the thick dense jungle comes a strange call, “Are You?”  In the distance, an answer to the question rings out, “On, On!”  Runners are pushing ahead quickly for it is getting late and dark!  The trail that I have been following for the past hour and a half is barely visible now!  Feeling like a deranged Gretel who has lost the breadcrumbs, my headlamp searches desperately for a paper with the familiar H.H.H. printed on it.  Visions of cobras dance through my head for we are on the edge of a Palm Oil Plantation!    My headlamp picks up a glare and I know I am “on paper” again. 

My friends and I traipse it back to where our cars are parked and there is a party going on at the edge of the rain forest.  People are sitting in camp chairs and on the hoods of cars.  Music is playing and children are running around. A man is handing out beer and fruit, an odd but most welcoming combination!  Clothes are changed, camp showers set up, and people are scrubbing dirt and leeches off their weary bodies. Men and women of all ages and nationalities are laughing and joking about who messed up or fell behind and they are ribbing the people who lead us on this wild run!  These are Hash House Harriers and Harriettes and this is a Hash Run. 

The Hash House Harriers (HHH) began right here in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1938. A few British expats started a paper chase run around KL to wear off the effects of weekend drinking benders.  The expats lived at the barracks of the Royal Selangor Club, which they nicknamed, “The Hash House” because of the dreadful food.  I know what some of you were thinking!  Now the HHH is an international club with thousands of chapters all over the world. 
Each run ends at an On-After or On, On, On to eat and have some drinks and a few good laughs.  There is much beer consumption, rude drinking songs, awards such as “wanker of the week” and pure fun!  It brings me back to college during my sorority days.   

It is great to be outdoors running and walking through the rain forests, plantations, and hills of Malaysia.  I am addicted now and I look forward to each Wednesday because I never know what to expect from the run. I have been out in the pitch dark listening to strange jungle animals, slid down enormous mud hills, ran down and through rivers, fallen flat on my back almost into a water buffalo patty, gotten lost and  been bitten by a leech. These mishaps only add to the adventure of a hash run. The peacefulness and beauty of the rain forest and the camaraderie of the hashers will keep me coming back each week. 

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