If fresh air and exercise is your thing and you also have a taste for drinking, consider exploring Bali off the beaten track, literally: group running through rice fields, along the creeks, and subaks (the leveled rice fields).
But perhaps the best part of this “hashing” (no, there’s no connection to hashish) is the reward at the finish line: a beer truck awaits those that didn’t get lost–loaded with ice-cold beer and some less relevant non-alcoholic beverages. It doesn’t matter when one arrives, but the sooner the more beer.
These organized lovers of outdoor wellness and exercise are a part of Hash House Harriers—an international trend that happens to have several chapters in Bali. They proudly refer to themselves as running clubs, or drinking clubs with a running problem.
How did hashing kick off?
A group of British soldiers apparently got awfully bored in Malaysia in the 1930s and thought up a healthy way to explore nature, have fun, and cure their hangovers. It is connected to an old school racing game called “Hare and Hounds” or “Paper Chase” played in English schools. The clubs got mighty popular and eventually spread all over the world in the past century. At present, there are almost two thousand chapters in all parts of the world. Find more about clubs in Indonesia here.
Key hashing vocabulary
Hashing has totally given birth to its own vocab.
While hash is the actual run, hare refers to the member who lays the paper running trail. Meanwhile, the people following the hare are called the hounds.
On-on is the call to others on the hash not to get lost. Down-down (probably our favorite hash term), is an order to chug your beer, while standing with the group in the circle. The circle is the gathering after the run led by the hash master where runners sing, drink beer, and individuals are randomly called to stand in the middle of the circle and do something embarrassing (our least favorite part).
The newbies are called virgins and they get properly christened in the circle (but don’t worry, it’s not a sexual thing as the name would suggest). Anyone that attends the hash in one club more than six times gets their own notorious hash name. Don’t think the names can be that bad? Here are some real life Bali examples worth mentioning: Night Jar, Dancing Queen, Disco Wanker, Muddy Man, Chicken Shit, Gizzard, Labia, Screaming Lord… Need we go on?
Enveloped in pristine nature
Besides the socializing and of course the fun, the run is meant to recharge your body and spirit. Feast your eyes on the green rice fields, let your lungs appreciate the clean air, and get some direct contact with the locals to expand the mind—those sorts of things.
The chase itself is great fun – crossing the creeks, climbing the hills, and running amongst the rice fields. It is a remarkable experience in Bali, as the trekking paths used by the hash groups are not marked on maps and in guide books and it is generally not so safe to explore this sort of nature in Bali if you’re an amateur. (If you decide to go it alone, it’s advisable to hire a local guide).
And oh, the cultural delights you will encounter during the hash: local kids pointing the way to go (and sometimes asking for money); locals buck naked bathing in the creeks (for lack of running water in their houses); farmers in pointy straw hats tending the rice fields, the list goes on. The runs are in the most beautiful natural surroundings, away from the mainstream hyper-Instagram’d tourist destinations, traffic, and the throbbing development of the south. The paths are chosen for those of average physical proves and targeted for all generations
One special moment I’ve been fortunate enough to get from the hash, worth savoring no doubt, includes watching the white herons fly up from rice fields, flapping their large white wings against the green rice background—an authentic view found nowhere else in the world.
Hashing is also a great way to network and meet new people.
By joining a hash run you will meet the local lovers of hash, pillars of the Bali community, owners of businesses, expats, and locals that call Bali their home.
Just as well, because of the large and connected hash community from all around the world, many tourists and travelers from other clubs hash clubs join the Bali runs. You might come across a Texan, a German or Swedish hasher visiting Bali during the run.
Three main Bali chapters
There are three established chapters of hashing groups in Bali (along with others that do not meet as regularly) that attract local population and expats alike: Hash House Harriers, Hash House Harriers 2, and Hash House Harriers 1.
Hash House Harriers (HHH) and Hash House Harriers 2 (HHH2) were founded in 1977 by the legendary (and still living) Mr. Victor Mason aka Night Jar, who served in the British forces during the war in Malaysia.
HHH organizes runs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays at 4:30 pm. sharp. Everyone is invited, with motto “be early or be left behind”! Fees are Rp 35,000 for members and Rp 100,000 for visitors. Each running event is announced in advance on their website. Get hashing with HHH here.
HHH2 organizes runs on Saturdays, at 4:30 pm and I personally have been regularly hashing with them. The runs are held all over Bali, from Sanur to Mengwi, in the vicinity of Ubud and Goa Gajah temple, so I would recommend this group for those that want to explore the luscious natural scenery of Bali and the uncensored hash experience.
They usually offer two options, a shorter and longer trail never longer than two and a half hours of walking or running. HHH2 hosts a very lively circle after the run, and it is a special treat to be a part of for the singing, drinking, and making fun of new members. The group is usually very large, with up to 150 people. It’s also very well organized (no jam karet here) so one can often catch a ride with the members that rarely miss a run. The fee for participation and free flow of beer or soft drinks after the run is Rp 120,000. Here’s a detailed map of the next run, blog description of last run and more fun facts about the “mismanagement” of the club.
Bali to host 2016 Interhash
Shout out to our gorgeous island! Bali won the bid for hosting 2016 Interhash.
Some 6000 participants from all over the world are expected to participate at this funky event. The schedule is out, including six days of hashing, dinner parties, and the infamous Red Dress Run, taking place May 17-22. The sign up has already started.