Hashing it Out

Saigon’s most bizarre and certainly most eclectic sport and social club

Text by Jonathan Rebours
Image by Wade Brackenbury

Created from a need by British officers to shake off the excesses of the weekend, hashing began in 1938 in Malaysia. Keeping the public school traditions of songs and nicknames alive, while also keeping fit, they would play harriers by chasing a paper trail on a cross country run before finally enjoying a drink at the end. Hashing has become a global phenomenon, with an estimated 2,000 groups worldwide.

The Saigon Hash House Harriers was started in 1990 by workers at the British Petroleum Plant in Ho Chi Minh City and has been going strong more or less ever since. Each Sunday a hash meets at 1:30pm outside the Caravelle where a bus awaits to whisk away harriers (no prior sign-up necessary) to the running area for the day. Dong Nai Province has been the main location and the ‘hares’ will have papered out the trail the day before, laying colored strips to be followed as you find your way around the course.

Problems have previously occurred where on the day of the hash the road has been bulldozed up, or the run has accidentally wandered through private property, or even well run routes have inexplicably transformed into barren swampland. Experience is on their side though and the club has always managed to have a good time, despite such occasional obstacles.

Around 50 hashers a week join the event, combining regular expats, locals and visiting hashers from around the world. “It truly is the most diverse social club in the city. We have anyone from company CEOs to teachers, students and NGO workers, you name it, they’ve probably hashed at some time or another,” says Julia Stanton, the Grand Mistress.

This mix is what makes hashing such a great thing to be part of, Julia is keen to stress. “There are no boundaries based on fitness level or occupation, but what you absolutely must have is a good sense of humor.”

After the final runner or walker has finished, the hash holds a ‘circle’. This is an important component of hashing worldwide, where new members are welcomed, songs are sung and, most alarmingly, people are ‘charged’. A charge can range from any offence, from using your mobile phone on the course, to being involved, however tenuously, with something in the news that week.

“At last week’s hash,” recalls Julia, “a British coffee dealer joined the hash, and in the Thai news there were reports of the mistreatment of elephants on coffee plantations, so the Brit in question was subsequently ‘iced’.” The man had to sit on a block of ice as penance for the crimes of his trade. Like Julia says, “you cannot take yourself too seriously.”

Every week also involves an ‘on-on,’ a post-hash dinner held somewhere in Saigon and a well-deserved drink after a tiring day.

To join, visit www.saigonhash.com.

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

Dubai Most Famous Places to Visit and Enjoy With Friends

In this article, we will explore the many exciting places located in Dubai. From its stunning beaches to the immense shopping malls and bustling souks, the city of Dubai offers something for everyone. From the top of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, to the historic Bastakiya district, Dubai is filled with unique and

Read More »

4 Tips To Prepare For Your 2023 Trip To Vietnam

Vietnam is a beautiful country with ancient cities, lush jungles, and stunning beaches. Traveling to this captivating nation in 2023 will be an unforgettable experience and one you should start preparing for now. Whether you’re planning a luxury holiday or an adventurous backpacking excursion, here are some tips, like using melatonin for jet lag, to

Read More »

Exploring the Unseen Vietnam: 5 Offbeat Destinations

Vietnam is among Asia’s most gorgeous destinations. The country’s lively towns, stunning golden sand beaches, and verdant highlands draw many travelers from around the globe. Unfortunately, this results in crowding at popular destinations and the loss of unspoiled beauty in some locations. However, travelers who explore beyond popular destinations will be delighted with hidden bays, scenic

Read More »

6 Places To Go in Las Vegas at Night

Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps. While there are plenty of things to do during the day, the nightlife in Las Vegas is second to none. People come from all over the world to experience the unique and exciting nightlife options in Sin City. The feel of the city changes at night as

Read More »

Traveling And Tourism Essential Hacks To Know For Parents

Are you planning to travel with your family for the first time? Well, to be honest, it is overwhelming. However, you may face a few challenges when you are doing it for the first or second time, and it will get easier and more comfortable by the time you travel with your kids. You should

Read More »