17 March 2012
I've several cuts and scratches on my hands, patches of moist forest matter stuck to my ankles, a red patch on my left sock where I've bled into it, a rather muddy rear, and I ache all over.
An hour or so previously, I was munching on chicken curry and slurping on a couple of beers. And another hour or so before that, I was scrambling up a bejungled slope following a paper trail and some other nutters who had the same idea.
This is hash.
Founded by British expats in Kuala Lumpur in the late 30s, hashing was invented as a social event and exercise outing rolled into one. (One of the founding articles was that the exercise be for the purpose of hangover alleviation.) There are many flavours of hash, all based around the idea that a hare sets a trail, and the hounds follow the trail to its end. Generally, drinking then ensues.
I've done this once before, on a street trail in Kunming. This Penang outing was an entirely different ball game, with far fewer quirks to the trail, but with jungle and a steep climb thrown in instead.
I spent most of the ascent breathing heavily, soaked through, and with a drip of sweat hanging off the end of my nose. The descent I spent trying not to let gravity have it all its own way. The total distance covered was about four kilometres, but it felt much more.
Despite being a novice, the cycling has obviously helped me out, and I finish close to the front. It's not a race, but some participants take the speed aspect fairly seriously, it seems.
There's chatting over beers while the rest of the field comes in, then the curry. I head off at this point, as it's a ten kilometre ride back to my hotel and it's getting dark. Judging from the stack of crates of beer we were sat by, I'm pretty sure the evening moved on to silliness and more drinking, not necessarily in that order.
20km, 19.1km/h, 1hr04min, 7261km