HASHING, also known as a club for “drinkers with a running problem” is one of my favorite things to do when I find myself in a new city. It is the perfect way to walk into a crazy group of strangers, spend the afternoon running, singing, and drinking in various copious amounts, and then stumble away at the end of the night with a bunch of new expat and local friends and stories.
Hashing? What is that, you ask? Something you smoke?
Why no my friend. Hashing is an international meet-up basically for people who;
- Like having fun
- Like getting a little bit of exercise
- Like drinking beverages
- Are not easily offended
There are hashes in cities all over the world (I have been lucky enough to join hashes in Arusha, Banjul, Beijing, Calgary, Hanoi, Kampala, Kathmandu, Nairobi, Shenzhen, and Toronto during my travels), and they are generally the same but always a little different each place you go.
Most of the time you will meet at a set location in town, where the hash will start, or where the bus will pick you up to get you to the hash if it is out of town. The exercise portion of the hash (running and/or walking) is one of the most ingenious ways for keeping a group of people of all fitness levels together, so you don’t have to worry about being too fast or too slow. Basically, there will be markings (chalk or flour) on the road to show the running/walking route, prepared beforehand by the hares for the week. The faster runners will sprint ahead and go down the trick routes (marked by YBF – You’ve been fucked), which gives the slower runners and walkers plenty of time to catch up for whatever songs and beer stops may be along the way.
At the end of the run/walk, is the circle, with various “down-downs”, (crude?) songs, and lots of beer chugging. I won’t go into much detail about this sacred part of the hash because you really just have to experience it yourself to truly understand it. The night sometimes ends with a meal, sometimes with more drinks until early in the morning, and always with a lot of new, crazy stories to tell.
Now, that I’ve explained that, I’ll get to the main point of this blog:
A Few Good Reasons To Try Hashing When You Travel
- It is a great way to meet people (whether they are locals or expats) in a non-touristy setting
- You’ll end up running, walking, and exploring places that you would never have checked out if you were to go out on your own. From the rice paddy fields outside Hanoi (hot!), to the back alleys of Beijing (stinky!), to the suburbs of Calgary (expanding!) hashing has always taken me somewhere unexpected
- They make for some of the best drinking nights out
- It is super cheap. Usually $1-$7 (depending on currency and location), for an afternoon of running, sometimes the transport, and a varying range of drinks depending on how many times you get called into the circle
- It’s safe. You are with a group of people that are all watching out for eachother
- It changes up your routine. Whether you are hiking all the time, doing cultural/food tours, or just relaxing, hashing likely is a nice change in pace from your usual travel activities
- It is hilarious. At some point in the night you’ll likely have a side cramp – not from running, but from the ridiculous antics of seasoned hashers, the confused faces of the “virgins”, or from watching someone chug beer out of their recently used running shoe (better hope it’s not you!).
So yes, hashing is a bit of a cult/underground meet-up group, but I highly recommend you step out of your comfort zone (or into your comfort zone depending on your personality type I guess), and give it a go.
The next time you head to a new city, google “city name + hash house harriers” to figure out the hash date, time, and location.
Better yet, look up your current city to see if there is a nearby hash and give it a go – it will most definitely take you somewhere new!
Goodluck and let me know how it goes if you do end up trying your first hash!
As the hashers say, ON ON my friends!