Redemption run? Maybe it was for Luk Dim Boon after his Hong Lok Yuen Run 1777 debacle, but it was retribution for everybody else, with a runner crashing, others veering off course and three stooges out on the misty tops for three hours – and I’m not talking about an hour each!
To be fair, the hare set an interesting and very well marked trail on the slopes of Tiu Tang Lung, the biggish peak north-west of Wu Kau Tang. The GM, as is his wont, set the small pack off on the stroke of 7.30, just as Golden Balls arrived from his monster commute from his office at Mid Levels. By the time he’d changed he was five minutes behind the pack, a happenstance that was to have significant repercussions later on in the run.
Liberace was late and in a murderous mood as he’d asked us to wait for him, while Eunuch was absent sick, a victim of the mines on Saturday and hanging around in his wet clothes after the run when everybody else sensibly changed into their dries.
The run started with a couple of loops in the village before heading up the western flank of the mountain via a seldom-used track. Victim 1 was claimed here, with Gunpowder Plod wimping out to do his own thing. On up through forest and thicket as a thin drizzle started to fall and the tops were lost in cloud. Trail was very well marked – the hare had obviously made good on his promise to mark every 50 metres.
On up we went with Mango Groove and Vibrator leading the way while the scowling Liberace started picking off the backmarkers. When he got to the trig point at the top (400 metres) he checked left, right and centre before finding trail down – the very trail he’d just come up. Charging headlong downhill in an attempt to catch Mango and Vibrator, he was surprised to encounter One Eyed Jack, who he’d passed going uphill some time before. “Short-cutting bastard!” he exclaimed, a fair assumption given that OEJ is indeed the master of the canny cut. “You’re going the wrong way!” OEJ retorted, but Libs ignored him and continued his relentless pursuit – until he came upon Golden Jelly, also heading uphill. Just how this bumbling Clouseau ever became a crack member of Hong Kong’s Finest is a mystery. Victim 2.
Meanwhile, on the correct descent from the peak, Mango and Vibrator were on the steep, rugged and slippery south face, one of the most detestable descents in Hong Kong, bad enough in daylight but treacherous on a damp night. Mountaineer Vibrator kept pace with ace descender Mango – until Mango took a tumble. Victim 3.
Back on the western ramp backmarker Golden Balls had caught Geriatric, who was moving slowly. Then, as he approached the trig point he heard Serbian Bomber’s plaintive voice: “GB, tread carefully. a branch whipped my glasses off and I can’t see a thing. Can you help me find them?” Victim 4.
A fruitless search of the shiggy ensued on the misty top, aided a few minutes later by the arrival of Geriatric. Within two minutes his torch had died. Victim 5.
GB said, “We can’t waste battery power looking for your specs so we’ve got to start back,” but Serbian was not to be denied. “I’ve got spare batteries for my torch and a spare torch and spare batteries for the spare!” he pronounced, eager to get out his well-thumbed survival kit, the one he nicked from the South African SAS. So they carried on searching until even Serbian tired of it.
Under advice from GB, who knew and dreaded the descent, they went back down the way they came up, single file, GB in front, Serbian in the middle and Geriatric behind in close formation as GB described the trail to Serbian. “Rock on the left, step down, tree stump on the right, steepening, two big steps down…” This agonisingly slow descent continued for half an hour until GB announced a NO NO (reverse ON ON) ahead, indicating they were doing the trail in reverse as planned. But no! It was an ON ON. And in front of them the cloud-shrouded mass of Tiu Tang Lung reared up. “We’re going back up the mountain!” came GB’s desolate wail. Victim 6.
Three hours after they set off the three stooges returned to spirited abuse from the rest of the pack, who had drunk all the beer (almost), and in the ensuing carnage of the circle were characterized by Mango as “one without glasses, one without a torch and one without a brain!” – Golden Balls
The Mines of Ma-On-Shanria
With hare One Eyed Jack’s admonition to bring torch, gloves and a change of clothes for The Saturday Run No. 10, this trail had all the makings of a corker. Anticipation was fanned further when he delivered the briefing. “There are side passages in there, they haven’t been recced so don’t go in them. When you hit the water, keep to the centre or the right,” to which Anus The Horrible quipped “Just think Michael Heseltine.” An effective enough ploy as it turned out.
By now it was obvious we were going into the fabled Mines of Ma-On-Shanria. “It’s 5.5km, half of it underground,” was the hares parting shot as the 15-strong pack set off. “But I didn’t come here to run in the dark,” whinged Mango Groove. “I do that on Wednesday nights.”
Vibrator couldn’t stay away, despite having run Braemar Hill in the morning and having entered the full Lantau Mountain Marathon the next day. Ben had returned, having taken more than a year to work up the courage to run with us again after his last appearance, when he set a record of 5 hours on trail – lost in the dark on Pat Sin Leng. And he’d brought along a friend, Leo. Stunt Double turned up for the 3pm start, having just got off a plane from Korea at 1. Even Eunuch was there muttering about jumping sharks – and he proved to be supertoughdad by taking his son down the mines.
A jog up the road for a kilometre or so past a couple of desultory checks ended with an abrupt dive left onto a trail through bushland and forest, emerging eventually at the bloked-off 240m (elevation) mine portal looking like some sort of troll’s letter box. Even more surprising, One Eyed Jack was sitting there with a camera. One by one we hoisted and posted ourselves through the slot into the heart of darkness. I went last, not wanting to get stuck and hold everybody up. No, Liberace went last as co-hare and sweeper.
Torches on. Weird scenes inside the iron mine. A tunnel high enough to walk upright in, a shaft filled with water, then suddenly a long long gravelly ramp down into the bowels of the Earth, aided by a fixed rope. I quickly caught Luk Dim Boon and Ben, who were using a bizarre backward-descending technique. After an age we entered a short flat section, then another ramp down, this one lined with the rusting remains of a narrow-gauge railway track. There was a lot of water and some parts were slippery and waterfally. I was reduced to a crab-like descent between the rail tracks with my torch clenched in my teeth.
Thus we came to the 110m level, which started off fairly dry but by the end of it, about 2 kilometres on, was flooded to the bowl of fruit level. I passed G Spot taking a photo of something, then Stingray, then Eunuch and Travis. On, on in the darkness. Just think of Michael Heseltine. Don’t think Michael Foot, that’s far left. Jog. Wade. Splash. There’s Dingaling taking a picture of me. And there’s the light at the end of the tunnel.
Good that the hare resisted the temptation to put checks in the mines. Don’t want to fall down those shafts…
I emerged with Luk Dim Boon through the two low portals at the 110m level entrance. A short path out to Ma On Shan Tsuen Road, then the slog back up to the barbecue pits from whence we had come. Needless to say, everybody passed me on the ascent and I came in just about the backmarker.
Non-runners Antiseptic, Overdue and Electrolux very kindly cooked up a fine spread of meaty comestibles and One Eyed Jack provided some fine discounted cheese that went very well with BJ’s 33% extra! wine for a feast worthy of the ravenous troglodytes that we were. Eunuch ran the circle most excellently, but for some reason kept on about jumping a shark. And the only down down I can remember was the hobbit one for Stunt Double and Anus The Horrible.
An excellent effort by all, and an outstanding hash that will long be remembered.
ANTISEPTIC, OVERDUE, ELECTROLUX, ONE EYED JACK, LIBERACE, VIBRATOR, MANGO GROOVE, BJ, ANUS THE HORRIBLE, STUNT DOUBLE, PENILE DEMENTIA, DINGALING, GOLDEN BALLS, EUNUCH, TRAVIS, STINGRAY, G SPOT, LUK DIM BOON, BEN, LEO
PICTURES ONE EYED JACK, DINGALING, G SPOT
The Silent Hash
SSSSHHHH! Mango, bless him, had produced an ear-friendly rather than noisy run.
Starting at the quiet village at the end of Ping Pong Kong Road this was to be the Silent Hash. SSSHHHH.
Keep out of the village and find a nice quiet place to park. No need for a noisy briefing, the village security are already getting a bit twitchy, Liberace your van reversing warning sounds like late-night Miami Vice.
“When you see ‘Please be quiet’, be quiet.”… So we’re cutting across the golf course, we thought. “I’ve had a word with the beast handlers already.”… So we’re running through Beas River Stables.
SHHHH. On On … keep together and no shouting. Ping Kong Village and on to OnPo. Checks, paths, streams … Dogs, dogs … keep those dogs quiet, absolutely no barking.
Here’s a little old lady handing out sticks of Brighton Rock ???? SSSSHHHH. No calling, no screaming, we have animals … cattle, donkeys, paddocks … do not disturb. There can be no risk of a stampede.
There’s trail up the mountain. SSSHHH. On on quietly. On up silently.
No calling, the trees trembled in the cool breeze of the frosty winter’s night.
The pack spread far and wide over the ridge … no calls of on … no sound of checkbacks.
Chong Tsin Leng beckons … a world without sound where Silence is Golden … Balls charging down.
The Trail crossed to Ching Ho Estate, accross the rapids of the Wet Willy river. The water flowed silently, the pack ran without a murmer, only a carefully stifled “On…SSSSHHH…on” to be heard.
Back in the earie desolate Ping Pong village the pack starts to shuffle back in. Hash Cash whispers her demands. The Circle is hushed up … Mango is cut to pieces for his outrageous use of Hash time. Catch of Day sweeps the awards for Best and Worst Run of 2016 … and a struggling chicken swims slowly around in a Velcro Lipped curry sauce before being silently devoured by the silent masses of Hong Kong’s soundless Hash. – Stingray
MANGO GROOVE,LIBERACE, EUNUCH, GAELE SAYS NO, STINGRAY, DINGALING, GOLDEN BALLS, QT, VELCRO LIPS, GOLDEN JELLY, SERBIAN BOMBER, GERIATRIC, DRAM, BUNTER, CATCH OF THE DAY, LITTLE OLD LADY HANDING OUT STICKS OF BRIGHTON ROCK
Earth, Wind & Fire
Arriving early for the run I headed for the conveniences, where I was somewhat disarmed to see a sort of Patrick Stewart meets Alf Garnett vaguely hippyish gwailo cottager loitering around the cubicles. Even more disarming, I recognised him. “You’ve run with us before, haven’t you?” I ventured. “Vibrator?” he offered to my consternation, before I realised that was his name. “Golden Balls,” I returned. Thank god there was nobody around to witness this exchange.
It was cold and windy and the start of the run resembled a dogging venue, with steamed-up car windows galore, and indeed hare Serbian Bomber had ensconced himself in Catch Of The Day’s jalopy where he could be seen gesticulating wildly. Some fat bloke in a flash BMW turned up but nobody paid any attention because none of us can afford a BMW. Then QT got out, the only man in the hash under 30 – and apparently the wealthiest. Eunuch glided in serenely followed by the Liberace batmobile – and that was it.
Thus the GM/hare got the pack off on time at 7.30 after delivering a strange briefing. “It’s short and there’s lots of checks. NO SHIGGY! No wimps’ trail. Flour, chalk and toilet paper. Two marks and you’re on, except for paper, which is one and you’re on.”
Did I say he got the pack off on time? I lied. Expecting the usual faffing, I’d put off getting changed until the last moment; it was cold. So as the pack set off I was still changing. As I frantically slung my jacket into the car my iPhone described an aerial parabola from pocket to parking lot. When I rescued it from under the car beneath which it had slid I beheld a beautiful screen pattern of fractured glass. I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere.
I soon caught up with the pack, who seemed to be traipsing aimlessly back and forth through trackless forest yelling “Are you?” at one another. Bizarre. Then I found out why. The hare wasn’t lying when he said there were loads of checks. They were so thick on the ground you could trip over them. And they all had toilet paper trail heading off into the forest, and then…nothing. Round and round we went, solving and re-solving checks. The sound of cracking wood as we pushed into the impenetrable was accompanied by exclamations (mainly from QT) of “F*ck!”, “Sh*t!”, and “F*cking wanker!”
Things continued in this vein for about 20 minutes until we found trail heading north up a hill. Checks came thick and fast and toilet paper came thicker and faster. A descent through bamboo. A stream crossing. Up the hill again, where QT and I fell behind because QT, in his wisdom, and knowing the Northern NT’s penchant for proper shiggy, had decided to wear the smoothest-soled shoes in creation. Needless to say they were absolutely no bloody use on the steep, slippery terrain and he kept falling over and sliding backwards into me. More effing and blinding.
Quite soon we found the on home and were greeted by the sight of Eunuch, Vibrator and Liberace picking up wood. “Catch Of The Day’s started a fire,” they said, as if this explained their behaviour. And so it was. On crutches after ankle surgery, she’d elected not to run, and instead spent the time doing press-ups, sit-ups and arson. Serbian Bomber and Eunuch conducted a circle round the blazing pit. Highlights were the inevitable crutch jokes after COTD’s ankle surgery, the singing of the Quo song “Down Down” in memory of Rick Parfitt, and the display of the Liberace Christmas Day pranking photo.
Run over in less than an hour, really interesting trail, a fire and great craic – an excellent hash. – Golden Balls
SERBIAN BOMBER, CATCH OF THE DAY, VIBRATOR, GOLDEN BALLS, QT, EUNUCH, LIBERACE
The Un-Canny Scotchman
The shrivelled ranks of six diehards that couldn’t afford to go on holiday gathered at the usual park near Yoho on a dreary winter solstice made more miserable by unseasonal rain, but hare Dram was upbeat. “It shouldna tae ye moor than 45 minutes,” he scotched at us, “so we can finish early and go to the daipaidong. Trail’s marked in chalk, flour and a wee bit of paper. Awa wi ye!”
At this point Alen arrived with two virgins – no, not Hendrik and Regina but Paco and Nina, who looked on doubtfully as Dram repeated his briefing. Probably wondering what they’d got themselves into.
Trail dutifully headed north along the nullah before a bit of a steep mud traverse got us into the tunnel under the highway. So far so good. The pack was together, the virgins were getting the hang of it and the markings were plentiful. Then they disappeared, and we remembered the hare’s parting comment, a mumbled “There was a downpour just as I finished setting the run but if you buggers think I’m going out to set it again…”
Thus it was for the next hour we stumbled around the villages and tracks north of Yuen Long, for the main part lost in the dark but illuminated by the occasional siting of an arrow, something that might once have been flour, or a sodden bit of tissue wedged in chicken wire. Numerous false leads were counterbalanced by the uncanny trail-finding prowess of Golden Jelly and Alen, and we eventually emerged opposite Pok Oi Hospital for the long run in. The upside of the confusion was that it became a proper hash, with everybody getting back within five minutes of each other.
Eunuch conducted a brief hilarious circle, during which we learned that Nina is from Switzerland and is also Alen’s sister, and Paco studies philosophy but has never heard of Monty Python. The circle ended when the cans of beer ran out, as the canny scotchman had deliberately undersupplied in order to get us to the daipaidong in time. At least that’s his story.