Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thailand 2006 take six

Saturday 28th October and I'm now half way through my adventures. This Grandmother from the one of the numerous Hilltribes in Northern Thailand (Karen, I think) was on a street stall outside the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel selling lots of handcrafted goodies. I bought some beautiful embroidered purses for pressies to take home (haven't got room to carry much!). Grandmother posed with her grandson for me - isn't he just gorgeous?

A few of you Blog commenters have asked me what Hashing is. I did put a (admittedly obscure) link in Thailand take four... But from this site I quote: "Basically hashing is a form of non-competitive cross-country running with the main objective of working up a decent thirst. Great emphasis is placed on the social aspects - particularly the communal boozing session at the apr├ęs-hash. It's a fun activity and not be taken at all seriously.

Now that we've cleared that up, on with INTERHASH! After buying the aforementioned goodies, I stroll back to EagleHouse2 to collect some laundry, then drop in a nearby cafe for breakfast and internet thrown in for a couple of quid. Then I go to catch bus to the Stadium - only to find I've missed it! Reading the programme a bit more closely I notice the last one went at 11.30hrs and it's now midday. How stoopid is that. I find a Canadian Hasher and a couple of Aussie Hashers wondering around in a similar predicament - and we join forces to share a taxi for 70Baht each.

I get on the coach for Run number 20 descibed thus: "A-B run Country lanes thr0ugh orchard area into high hills, especially the medium run. wonderful views of rice paddies and orchard, and the villages below, spectacular steep finish from the temple and wade knee deep river to the circle".

This pic is of hashers piling off coach and listening (or not) to the Hares describe the route. There were a large number of Malaysian and Aussie hashers on this one. I made the mistake of going long when I should have gone short - Shade? What shade? There were two hills to climb in the heat and humidity - the hare at the back took pity on me (and a couple of others) and showed us a shortcut skirting the second hill - so I never reached the temple, which is just as well as there were over a 1000 steps up to it and I think I'd have died... don't know why they can't just arrange down hill hashes! Despite cheating, there were still some stupendous views...

Didn't bother with wading in the river on the way back to the circle - didn't know what might be lurking in there! The circle was great - not too long. There were lots of the feral Thai dogs wondering around looking hopefully at the sandwiches which had been provided. One particularly healthy looking young dog stole a young hasher's camera and ran amok with it! Sister Michael, a scothasher who I remember from Cardiff Interhash, was also on this hash and got a 'down down' for accidentally going long instead of short - he's the guy with the enormous beerbelly girth in the fluorescent yellow/green shirt kneeling with his fellow victims in the pic. He entertained us with an aria from his amazing repertoire of bawdy tunes.

Back at the stadium, I run into several hashers from the South West of England - but STILL no Bangkok and Ferret (who, if you recall, I'd entrusted my hash goodie bag to!). I go back to the hotel relatively early and am asleep by 10pm. Hatrack, by all accounts, didn't get back until 3am because he was sharing old navy/asian memories with ex-pat buddies. I sleep in to 8am.

Sunday 29th October - last day of Interhash.Slept in until 8am. Finally run in to Ferret and Bangkok at breakfast in the hotel and collect my goody bag - Tshirts, a towel, the Interhash survival guide etc etc - we don't know how we kept missing each other! That's the trouble with these daft names - I mean you can't exactly go up to reception and ask what room Bangkok is staying in, can you? Have noodles and enormous prawns for brunch and get on Coach E for run no 2 "Doi Wiang valley and dam is an incredibly beautiful valley with good easy running on small country paths and mostly shaded. There's a moderate climb up to the Stupa on the hill and great views, some interesting creek crossings and an interesting 'on-in'." Turns out there are an enormous number of us south west UK hashers on this particular run - see pic! What a motley crew. That's me on the left looking like I want a pee. Today I did the short: about 5.2 km. This hash was vastly superior to yesterdays - much more shady, running along jungle trails and a wonderful slither down between trees from the stupa on the hill where the Buddhas was all dressed in gold and saffron. We ran past some Thais preparing a float for the Loi Krathong Ceremony.The run yesterday was mostly along dirt tracks and began by circling around what appeared to be an industrial excavation site. Today's, in comparison, was beautiful, finishing at a Dam, where grass roofed houses littered the shore and young lads fished. I went swimming in the muddy water - blissfully cool and no leeches!

This was a picture of the scrawny chickens - not Fallen Woman!

The circle was OK start with, but then when on, and on and on - for over two hours! I'm used to circles that last all of

20minutes if that at my 'home hash' in Ashburton and I got a little bored.

Picture of several Thai lads bemused by the antics of the circle!

Buzby (a keen hasher from Exeter) was in his element and there was much foolishness and merrymaking.

We got back to the Stadium by 1900hrs - where I proceed to search buses. This morning I had purchased around 20 postcards and diligently stuck stamps on them all. I had put them tidily into a paperbag and left them on the bus! I never found them so I hope they went to a good home. After eating, I went off to watch the closing ceremony. It's a very odd thing that out of all the thousands of hashers present at this gathering, one should keep running into the same few people. It took me a few minutes to realise that I had once more met up with the Pussy Galore and Cumlord sat right next to me, that same couple who had fed me beers and sympathy the night I lost the bicycle key.

On November 5th the Thai people celebrate their 'Festival of Lights' or Loi Krathong.

"When the tide is high and rivers brim on the full moon in November, Thais pay
tribute to water. Held this year on November 5, the Loi Krathong festival sees
most of the population head to canals, streams or rivers like the Ping or Chao
Phraya to bless this element so central to their culture, and to seek
forgiveness for using and polluting it in the process. Thais say this thank you
with flowers. Only they don’t present bunches or even
garlands; they fit the plants architecturally into krathong —
elaborate natural rafts that they construct from materials found in the
traditional Thai garden or field. Most urbanites, however, buy ready-made
krathong from pierside stalls."

A miniature version of this ceremony, with processions by beautiful young men and women in full costume was put on for us now as part of the closing show. There is more information on Loi Krathong here. This year's Loi Krathong was to take place at the same time as the ROYAL FLORA RATCHAPHRUEK an International Horticultural Exposition as part of the celebrations of the 60th year of His Majesty the King of Thailand's ascendancy to the throne and to coincide with his birthday. Three million people were expected to descend on Chiang Mail and accommodation would be in short supply. Since I would be homeless the next morning I was mildly concerned - but I needn't have been. Another part of the Loi Krathong ceremony traditionally performed in Thailand is the sending up of huge paper lanterns into the sky: Several lanterns get stuck in trees and the Tourist Police had to run around with a long pole, dislodging them.The Kome Loy is a lantern that is similar to a hot-air-balloon. Because the air lantern must rise up to float in the air, it must be lightweight, therefore, it does not have a bamboo cylinder inside. In order to send the lantern into the air, it requires a method to heat the air. This is done by tying a small bowl underneath the open section of the lantern. Oil is then placed into the bowl along with a cotton cloth. As the oil catches fire and commences burning, the hot air quickly travels into the lantern and it soon rises into the air.
It is believed that by sending off these lanterns an individual can send one's sins and bad luck into the air. Usually before the lantern soars into the sky, an individual will pray that one's sin or bad luck will be transported on the lantern and floated away high into the sky. Sometimes an address is left inside. The purpose of this is when the lantern come back down to the ground, and individual can follow an address and seek for money from whomever wrote the address. Or even sometimes, the maker will put some money inside the lantern. The purpose of the hot air lantern is to worship and pay respect to the Phra Ged Kaew Ju La Manee. An old legend tells that during war, these lanterns were sent into enemy territory and exploded. The Interhash Mismanagement Committee had arranged for a thousand lanterns to be sent up into the sky - permission had to be obtained from the air traffic control so the timing of the release was crucial. The lanterns were beautiful - A spectacular finish to Interhash. Perth has won the vote for NEXT Interhash in two years time, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be going to Australia.

Back to the Imperial Mae Peng Hotel for the penultimate kip before I'm homeless.


Jo said...

Really enjoying the photos and story of your trip, thanks for filling me in on hashing, the hashing sounds fun, maybe I should brush off my trainers, why won't you be going to Oz?

TutleyMutley said...

Oh you should get out hashing, Jo it's such a lot of fun - but check out your local hash group - some hashers are bawdier or more serious than others - they all have different characters.
I (probably) won't be going to Oz because I can't afford it and DH wants to go self employed ('course - you never know, he might even do well!) and I try to limit the long (and short) haul flights to cut down my carbon footprint. God that sounds sanctimonious.

Rain said...

This all sounds very energetic. I think I prefer the idea of a massage and a cocktail.