The day began without many prospects for an adventure. Lazily rising on Sunday morning to find gray skies and no solid pending plan made for an imminent useless day in bed or on the couch. After a hearty breakfast and fascinating conversation likening cities in the world to relationships; ie. NYC is that hot girl you date and is great to you once in a blue moon but most of the time she’s just a huge bitch. Seattle is that fantastic woman where the relationship is great but she’s just not that pretty. Or the best, London is the girl you have a long term relationship with and marry. You don’t just casually date London. She would trample all over you for it. I proceeded to go home and contemplate my plan of action.
A majority of the time, when I don’t have the mental energy to go for a run, I try to work myself up for it in pieces. I change into my running gear slowly and let myself mull about for a bit. Snack on something with sugar or carbs to convince myself my energy levels are heightened. Tell myself I’ll just do a short run which typically turns into something longer once I get out on the road and my legs start moving. This time I changed and ended up back in bed for a nap. My coworker and I had planned to meet for this “Hash Harriers” running group shindig but it was so gloomy out I was contemplating skipping it. Finally I woke up and decided not to be a complete waste of space and go to the meet-up.
A small group of about 5 quickly turned into 40-50 rather confused looking expats wandering around the front of the train station in Phnom Penh. A number of Khmer toddlers ran about while the virgin hashers looked quizzically from one to another hoping to find a leader with direction. 15 minutes into our forced mingling, we were literally herded onto the back of a truck to be taken to the riverside. Where are we going? What are we doing? What is going on? These were all valid questions that no one seemed to ask if not for the sheer excitement in the adventure, then for the fear of what the answer would bring.
Once on the river, we were handed large boxes of beer and water to transport from the trucks to the boats. We paid the compulsory $5 and filed onto the boat secretly praying we’re not in the midst of a “Hostel” remake. The boat ride was filled with chatter and young expat kids playing around while we enjoyed the scenery. I met people from all over with fantastic stories of their adventures to, in, and from Cambodia.
We arrive at our destination and realize we are at a remote island off the coast of Phnom Penh’s Mekong River. We are herded off the boat, at which point about 100+ excited and energetic expats and locals had accumulated. Everyone is pumped to get their Sunday exercise in as well as go on a scavenger hunt. The way the Hash Harriers works is a couple people go out to the selected spot earlier in the day and mark out a route that forks in different spots along the way. The trick is to determine which way to go at each fork in the road. One hasher carries a horn to signal the rest of the group which direction is correct. The front runners end up running much more because they’ve done all the scavenging and mistake making. The rest of us blindly follow the pack trying to keep up and not pass out from exhaustion and dehydration.
The run was amazing. We ran through the villagers’ town waving “Hello!” to all the children whose boundless smiles, despite their meager living shelters, warmed my heart to the core. We passed grazing cattle and stray dogs, through old sugar cane fields, near huts and tree houses, alongside the riverbank, through mushy quicksand-like mud patches, and orange clad humorous Buddhist monks, blowing the hasher horn the entire way. We arrived back at ground zero as the sun set to find a huge barbecue stocked with cases of Anchor Beer, baguettes, and Pringles.
We spent the next hour hanging out next to the river, singing, chanting, naming, chugging, and mingling. I arrived back home 5 and a half hours from take off. I ended up meeting some great people who will be running the Angkor Wat Half Marathon next Sunday with me!
My lazy useless Sunday somehow turned into a phenomenal adventure! I hope to become a true Hasher in the coming months. Maybe I’ll get a supercool Hasher name like “lovebite” or “tripgirlie.”
P.S. Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! 33 years together. I have no idea how you still put up with each other. I can only hope I make it to year 3 with my husband! (The eversolucky guy that he is) 😛