Me in my Balikpapan Hash shirt!
Me in my Balikpapan Hash shirt!

For the uninitiated, The Hash House Harriers (A/K/A “Hash”) is an international running group dating back to the late 1930’s when some rowdy British expats in Malaysia decided they needed a way to sweat off their hangovers.

Despite these beginnings (or perhaps, because of them), hashes are now going strong around the world, with over 2000 chapters spanning every continent (although it doesn’t appear that Antarctica’s is currently active). Today, there are hashes for every walk of life: family hashes, women’s hashes, men’s hashes, group hashes … you get the idea. And Balikpapan is a hasher’s paradise, with a hash going on somewhere in town at least three times a week!

What it is: The hash (commonly referred to as “On-on” in Indonesia), is typically a 5 or 10 kilometer route (depending on the hash group) marked by shredded bits of white paper sprinkled sporadically along the way through villages (“kampungs”), fields, jungle and bustling roads. You just show up at the starting place — which changes every week –, and then follow the paper! Running in most of the groups is optional; in fact, walking affords more opportunity to snap photos, laugh with the throngs of children who swarm around you for high-fives and “Hey-mister-what-is-your-name?” exchanges, and just stopping to enjoy the amazing views that you probably would never otherwise encounter if it were not for the awesome people who plan out these routes. At the end, you’ll find yourself back at the starting point where a truck full of cold drinks (including water and soft drinks), some tasty snacks and your fellow hashers await. In short, this is tons of fun!

So, in honor of the great hashes in Balikpapan, below is a mashup of hash scenes in Balikpapan, mostly courtesy of my (somewhat blurry) phone camera.

Starting out (I just learned this yesterday: if you are a walker in a running group, you should start out ahead of the official start time so everyone ends up at around the same time.
Starting out (I just learned this yesterday: if you are a walker in a running group, you should start out ahead of the official start time so everyone ends their hash at around the same time).
Route through a typical kampung.
Route through a typical kampung.
Harvesting Long-Beans ("Kacang Panjang")
Harvesting Long-Beans (“Kacang Panjang”)
Sometimes, the kids hang around and point the way for you. Especially helpful when the route involves bridges like this one!
Not for the depth-perception challenged. (But there is an easier way around, too, in case you forgot your glasses!)
Just Hanging Out
Just Hanging Out
Girl with Blue Tarp
Girl with Blue Tarp
Country Living
Country Living
Walking through someone's curtilage.
Walking through someone’s curtilage.

 

Misty Trails
Blurry Adventures

Kampong SceneKampung Scene

Warung selling snacks along the way.
Warung selling snacks along the way.
Woman making sate sticks
Woman making sate sticks (also known as “satay”)
Sorting Sate Sticks
Sorting Sate Sticks
Woman outside house making sate sticks
Woman outside house making sate sticks
Closeup showing blade and leather shield
Closeup showing blade and leather shield
School Boy next to Watertank
School Boy next to Watertank
Sidewalks, Balikpapan Style!
Sidewalks, Balikpapan Style!
Chicken Cages
Chicken Cages
A Room with a View
A Room with a View
Ayam Kampung
Ayam Kampung
This is our guide! (One time, we could not find the paper shreds and became completely lost. We wanted to cut through the fields and jungle, and this kind fellow was so concerned about us getting even more lost (and turns out, with good reason), that he showed us the way!
This is our guide! One time, we could not find the paper shreds and became completely lost. We wanted to cut through the fields and jungle to get back to the main road, and this kind fellow was so concerned about us getting even more lost (and turns out, with good reason), that he showed us the way!
Sam and I being guided through the jungle.
Sam and I being guided through the jungle. (It was Mo-Vember, hence the mustache.)
Mud Soccer, anyone?
Mud Soccer, anyone?
Wooden House in Corn Fields
Wooden House in Corn Fields
Typical greetings! It is so much fun to walk through the kampungs and interact with everyone -- some of the friendliest human beings on earth.
Typical greetings! It is so much fun to walk through the kampungs and interact with everyone — some of the friendliest human beings on earth.
The kids are always so cute and friendly ... but they never stay still long enough for a decent photo!
The kids are always so cute and friendly … but they never stay still long enough for a decent photo!

Moo!

And once, we even ended at the scene of a cock fight!
And once, we even ended at the scene of a cock fight … (yes, this still exists in some places).
Chicken Baskets!
Chicken Baskets!

Current Hash Schedule:

Men’s Hash: Mondays at 5 pm
Family Hash:Tuesdays at 5 pm
Women’s Hash: Thursdays at 5 pm (I think!)
Mixed Hash: Saturdays at 5 pm

As noted above, the hash location changes every week, so make sure you contact the hash leader or someone who is going to find the right locale!

What it Costs: 20,000 Rupiah per person (a little under 2 USD), which includes the hash run entry fee and two soft drinks or one beer at the end of the run.

Hash contact Info: The community in Balikpapan can be a transient one, so hash leaders that are here today may not be here next month or next year. If you are new to town, Indohash.com lists contacts, emails, facebook pages, etc., for various hashes in Indonesia, including Balikpapan’s. I’m not sure how updated this site is, however. Two other great resources for up-to-date information include the Balikpapan International Women’s Association (“BIWA”) at b-iwa.com and Balikpapan Expats at www.balikpapanexpats.com.

Or, drop a comment here and I’ll do my best to help you out!

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