Normally when I travel I like to have an adventure or two – but my biggest adventure this trip may have been to a mall at the other end of town, where I learned the art of book binding for free from some very cute Thai art students. (I bought 10 bookbinding kits to bring home and to share at a meetup sometime in the near adventure. I hope my crafty mom friends think that sounds fun!)
On the other hand Songbae and Joss have had some real adventures.
Have you heard of the Hash Run Harriers?
None of us had.
Songbae had heard only that they were a running club that liked to drink afterwards and his running buddy in San Francisco had recommended he look up a club when he got to Bangkok. Apparently, she had done it in Uganda, and recommended it as a way to keep running while abroad.
So he looked one up in Bangkok and invited Joss along. They left here around 5pm on a Monday to take a taxi to some godforsaken meeting place an hour outside of Bangkok. It sounded interesting.
After a number of garbled phone conversations, (“THIS IS INSANE! I CAN’T EXPLAIN! THIS IS INSANE!) they came home stumbling blind drunk at about 2 am in the morning. Sue and I were up. Not quite as toasted as they were. But buzzed and knitting probably, because that’s what we’ve done for fun a few times when the babies have gone to bed.
What the hell, right?
So, according to Songbae and Joss:
They showed up to the meeting spot late and there was nobody there, except two overweight white guys smoking cigarettes. Songbae and Joss leapt out of the car and asked if they knew anything about the hash run. Between slow puffs, the guys casually pointed down a road and said they would not have a problem catching up. They said, “Follow the paper.”
With no understanding of what the guys meant, Songbae and Joss started running. They were after all, there to run. They did wonder briefly who those guys were: If they knew about the run, why weren’t they running? And what the hell does it mean to “follow the paper”???
They got to an T-intersection: to the left was a dirt road leading into the jungle and to the right the pavement continued. Naturally, they continued on to the right. Twenty minutes went by. They had seen no other runners.
Songbae was beat. It was hot (it’s always hot here) and since they had turned right whenever there had been an intersection, they were now nearly back to where the taxi had dropped them off in a golf club parking lot. Songbae and Joss agreed to turn back and call it quits when suddenly
they saw two other runners up ahead. They sprinted up and joined them. Sure enough it was a group of hash harrier runners.
Relieved, Songbae and Joss fell in with them.
To discover that that the group was following a path that had been marked earlier by intermittent piles of shredded paper. And strangely the run seemed to have no logic at all; in fact, it seemed entirely insane and it was not easy to follow the paper.
These small piles of paper would sometimes end in an “X” pile at which point, one runner in the group would shout out, “FAN OUT! FAN OUT!” because an “X” meant that the trail could go in ANY direction and the runners had work together to find the next pile. It got stranger still.
Sometimes the paper trail went through jungle and the runners were leaping over roots and clawing tree branches out of their faces. Other times they were bursting out onto town streets or running through private backyards or running alongside rice paddies. One time they ran through the middle of a Buddhist temple (a “wat”) and another time they had to crawl over BARBED WIRE (Joss came home with the marks to prove it).
Sometimes the trail just dead-ended and was discovered to be a false trail, at which point the group had to backtrack until they found the trail again.
This was clearly no typical jog through Golden Gate Park, but rather some psychopathic bootcamp survival game. CLEARLY.
Songbae and Joss stuck with it for 1 1/2 hours.
1 1/2 HOURS THEY RAN FOLLOWING LITTLE PILES OF PAPER WITH A GROUP OF STRANGERS.
Until there was no more paper to be found or until it got too dark. There the story gets muddled. In any case, they tramped back to the golf club parking lot, where they proceeded to guzzle and guzzle alike with the other runners with beer that had been stashed in the trunk of the cars. A tailgate party of sorts.
It gets stranger still.
Did you see the last movie Tom Cruise made with his first wife, Nicole Kidman: Eyes Wide Shut? What Songbae and Joss described about the next bit sounded something bizarre like that, but frat house-style. (You can take a minute here and check it out on wikipedia – the guy in charge is called a “kennel grandmaster” or “religious advisor” and the management of a has group is generally referred to as “MisManagement.” Are you getting creeped out? Be forewarned: the next section contains a description of the misuse of a dildo.)
Perhaps a comparison to Eyes Wide Shut is a stretch. There was no sex involved, just sex toys.
In any case, the guy who seemed in charge starting clapping his hands and shouting out, “Let’s get started!” and people started to circle up around the barker and a small table filled with glasses of beer. Something like toasts started. The leader would begin a toast, usually filled with foul language and inappropriate epithets and the group would end by singing some kind of theme song. The person thusly toasted would then come up and chug a beer.
From there, all the new people were invited forward. I imagine that they might have been hesitant. After being asked a couple of yelled questions from the audience, seemingly innocent questions, like “Where are you from?!” and answering “San Francisco,” the inevitable happened. Songbae and Joss were dubbed “The Gay Twins of San Francisco.” Fortunately this was not an official naming, as there is a ceremony for official names (and keep in mind that if you complain about a name you are likely to be renamed something even more offensive), but “The Gay Twins of San Francisco” it was for the rest of the night (and for the rest of the vacation!)
This went on, getting more raucous and politically incorrect, until they got to the the Prick of the Week Award. At this point in the story, every time Songbae tells this story, he says with a deep sigh, “I am SO GLAD we didn’t get Prick of the Week.”
He says that people were randomly nominated for the Prick of the Week Award and that if your name was called you had to go up and join the other nominees at the center of the circle.
Again, he says, “I am SO GLAD we didn’t win.”
After a few choice things were said about each nominee, then the votes were cast via clapping, hooting, and hollering, when the leader held his hand over the nominees’ head. The Gay Twins of San Francisco got a lot of applause. In fact, so much so that the leader called for a tie-breaker. Mind you, the last time Songbae was in this position, winning by mob appeal, he was in a dancing contest on a cruise ship – and he went home with the first place trophy!
The Gay Twins of San Francisco lost by a decibel of a handclap.
The winner of the Prick of the Week Award had the dubious honor of strapping a dildo on over his forehead, another one, this one with buttocks, around his waist, and then chugging a beer in a glass that looked suspiciously like it was ALSO in the shape of a dildo while the crowd chanted and sang the hasher’s theme song. (I can’t really imagine how that song would go…)