The Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers (HHH) Chapter was founded as a counter to point to the Langkawi HHH Chapter, based in Kuah, that had become extremely grueling and competitive. The Langkawi Beach HHH was inaugurated on 13 June 1994. It was founded by Chiah Swiah Jin aka ‘Pak Guru’, Bob Woods aka ‘Imperial Finger’ and ‘Tiger Show’ the former MAS manager from Medan.
The current Hash Club House is located in Kuala Teriang at the end of the beach running west from the fishing harbor. The Langkawi Beach HHH is definitely a Hash chapter for everyone, from kids and grannies to the serious runner. Competition is secondary to the amazing camaraderie and incredible trails. A run may consist of a trail across the paddy fields and through small kampungs or up steep slopes and across rivers. It is one of the best ways explore all parts of the island.
At a Hash, one or more members (the hares) lay a trail, which is then followed by the remainder of the group (the pack or hounds). The trail periodically ends at a check which is indicated by a circle drawn in flour and the pack must find which way the true trail lays; as often there are false trails running in different directions from the check. These features are designed to keep the pack together regardless of fitness level or running speed, as front-runners are forced to slow down to find the ‘true’ trail, allowing stragglers to catch up.
The members often describe the Langkawi Beach HHH as “a drinking club with a running problem,” indicating that the social element of an event is as important, if not more so, than any athleticism involved. Beer is an integral part of the Hash, though the balance between running and drinking differs between members to be sure.
At the end of the Hash run there is a group gathering known as ‘the Circle’. Led by the ‘Grand Master’, the Circle provides a time to socialize, sing drinking songs, recognize individuals, formally name members, or inform the group of pertinent news or upcoming events. And of course there is punishment for egregious offences.
What’s a Down-Down?
A down-down is a means of punishing, rewarding, or merely recognizing an individual for any action or behavior according to the customs or whims of the group. Generally, the individual in question is asked to consume without pause the contents of his or her drinking vessel whilst the Hash song is sung and the ‘executioner’ douses them with freezing cold water.
If an individual can consume his or her libation and place the upturned drinking vessel on ones head in time, they may be saved from execution. Of course I say “may be”. Punishment can be for misdemeanors real, imagined, or blatantly made up. Such transgressions may include: short cutting, improper attire, talking in the circle etc.
Hashers who wear new shoes to a hash will be required to drink from that shoe. This is done at the circle before the run so it can mean a squishy experience. Sounds fun, huh?
Getting Your Hash Name
The use of real names during an event is discouraged. Members are typically given a ‘hash name’, usually in deference to a particularly notorious escapade, a personality trait, or their physical appearance. A visitor must complete 3 runs before he or she is eligible for a hash name.
Hashers are not permitted to give themselves nicknames due to the obvious conflict of interest. Similarly, hashers who do get named and don’t like their name may end up being renamed by their chapter, the members of whom may strive to give the complaining hasher an even more offensive or inappropriate name.
As the circle ceremony draws to an end the Hash group moves onto a local restaurant for a great meal and, well, more beer! It often last late into the night as everyone socializes and drinks, well, more beer!
A Brief History
Hashing originated in December 1938 in Kuala Lumpur, then in the Federated Malay States (now Malaysia), when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or “Hare and Hounds”, to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend (AKA a hangover). The original members included, Albert Stephen (A.S.) Ignatius “G” Gispert, Cecil Lee, Frederick “Horse” Thomson, Ronald “Torch” Bennett and John Woodrow.
After meeting for some months, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a ‘group’ they would require a constitution and an official name. A. S. Gispert suggested the name Hash House Harriers after the Selangor Club Annex, where the men were billeted, known as the ‘Hash House’ for its notoriously monotonous food (HASH). Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would be rewarded with beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.
“G” was killed during the Japanese invasion of the Malay Peninsula. His surviving hash hash buddies carried on the tradition.
Hashing died out during World War II after the invasion of Malaya, but was re-started after the war by most of the original group. Growth of Hashing remained small until 1962, when Ian Cumming founded a chapter in Singapore. The idea then spread through the Far East, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and North America, booming in popularity during the mid-1970s. Currently there are more than 2,000 chapters in 185 countries , including Malaysia. Each chapter has its own variations on Hash traditions.
The Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers run every other Friday. Meeting at 5:30 pm in the summer months and 5:00 pm in the winter months. The directions to each Hash can be found on their website. The directions are posted no later than the Tuesday before the next Hash run. And the evening meal? Usually kept a secret until the end of the circle.
Langkawi HHH Club House ‘building’ is no longer associated with Langkawi Beach Hash House Harriers: Updated Jan 2018