Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 2015. There is an international organisation called The Hash House Harriers, of "Hash" for short. It began in Singapore as a club for people who wanted to get together, have fun socialise and do a bit of exercise.
Hash is not to be confused with the Harriers clubs which are about serious going fast for a long time often up hard hills. We of the Hash believe ourselves a cut above. We're a "drinking club with a running problem" and alcohol has a lot to do with the rituals of this sport.
There's Hash clubs all over the world. All it takes for a grand evening out is to search the internet for a Facebook page or a web page to find a group of people who will welcome you into their fold.
Cambodia is no exception. Philly and I found our way to the banks of the Chao Phraya River down the road from the Royal Palace where the local Phnom Penh hashers were boarding a boat preparing to sail down river t the run start.
The runners boarded, dressed in their distinctive Hash Haberdashery (embellished with number of runs; symbol of club and the international two feet running sign accompanied by the words "On On" the universal greeting of hashers.
Then on came the beer. Carton after carton of it - red cans full of Angkor were dumped into eskies full of ice - large blocks of which had been carried down the slippery metal gangway from the top of the river dyke.
After every hash run there is a meal. So the food came on board: sausages - brotwurst from the German butcher, and baguettes from the French baker came next. These were the ingredients for the "barbecue" we were to have after our run; the meal after the exercise is as traditional as the beer.
After a leisurely trip up the river we arrived at Silk Island, where by complete coincidence Phil and I had spent the morning after being convinced by a local tuk tuk driver that we couldn't leave Phnom Penh without his "information" and parting with a lot of money.
The run (undertaken a running style that would be more familiar to readers as a "walk") was set by hasher Sucking Fag. So named because he can't give up smoking. His torturous route took us through corn fields, over river flats where docile zebu cattle grazed; through the silk island community village and it's centrally managed community facilities.
We made good time and actually managed at one stage to catch up with the real runners who had been lead down a false trail and were frantically trying to find the small dots of white paint that marked the route.
Given that it is the rainy season and it's stinking hot, we were lucky to have a force nine gale keeping us cool....our hare could have considered a water element we thought. But so far, so good the end point was in sight and the beer was cold. Six kilometres down, 300 metres to go.
The beer beckoned. Through one last corn field, across a small rivulet and up the side onto the bridge and we'd be back at the boat.
Splot. A scream erupted from the pack leader. "Snake?" we thought.
Nup. The farmer had irrigated his corn field. Our running shoes were sinking 12 inches into the deep mud. I was wearing open walking sandals and copped the worst, my shoes turning into roller skates on my feet as I lurched trying to negotiate the sodden sucking ground.
Nothing left to do but suck it up and keep going. One step forward, wobble, fall. Ooops Hash Crash.
We made it back to the boat. We drank beer and ate baguettes with German sausage. Then the Hash GM called us into the circle and made us drink a "down down" accusing us of "land grabbing valuable Cambodian soil!
We laughed. Hash is fun.
PICTURE: Phil gets "the sleeve" as a fine after our run with the Phnom Penh Hash House Harriers. Good thing it was on a boat, you could hear her laughing for miles. Bad thing there wasn't a towel on board - she poured it over me!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!