Bangkok Men's Hash House Harriers

[Editors Note: The history below was written by the actual founder, William "Tumblin Bill" Panton.]


by Bill Panton

Just why Bangkok didn't have a Hash until 1977, when every other large city in Southeast Asia had one for years before, is a source of continual speculation.

Rumour has it that the Royal Bangkok Sports Club RBSC Jogging Section resulted from an unsuccessful attempt to start a Hash several years ago. Apparently the sponsors of this earlier effort had selected Monday evening as BH3 Hash night, in common with most other Hash clubs in this region, without anticipating the difficulties of getting to the start and completing a run before dark in the face of Bangkok traffic. The fact that they didn't think about changing to a weekend when the traffic is lighter, suggests that these earlier sponsors were either great traditionalists, or very dim or possibly a bit of both. Which, come to think of it, probably meant they were pretty typical Hashmen, who just had difficulty picking up the right trail.

What we now come to believe was the second, and first successful, attempt to found a Hash in Bangkok started when Jim Stewart of the Honkers and Shankers was posted from Hong Kong to Bangkok. Lacking contact with a kindred soul the idea lay dormant in Jim's mind until I appeared on the scene at the end of 1976. It was not until March or April '77 that I made contact with Jim after receiving a much delayed letter from the On Sec of the Hong Kong Hash House Harriers, via my old Washington D.C. address, telling me that Jim had now transferred to Bangkok, where he shared my interest in getting a kennel started.

We met over a beer. We talked things through. We had heard about the earlier attempt to start a Hash and Jim knew of one or two ex-Hashmen from other kennels living in Bangkok. These could be expected to turn out if someone got things going. We recognized the problems presented by the Bangkok metropolitan area traffic snarls, big city sprawl with a marked absence of parks, and that we, mistakenly as it turned out, took to be monotonous flat land all around. Flat it might be, but monotonous it most certainly is not !

Nevertheless, we felt a recce or two was worth a try, and the following weekends saw us scouting the Bangkok suburbs by car, 1:20,000 scale maps in hand. After an initial check of the maps we settled for the Bangkapi area. We took a leisurely jog to the northwest from Ramkamhaeng University through to Lard Prao. While the countryside wasn't exactly rural, we felt it was open and interesting enough for a trial run. It was certainly quite close to the city, which we felt was an important plus in attracting our nucleus Hash body. The area we checked out on that first full-scale reconnaissance was later used for Run No.2.

Our second recce took us into the padi fields north of New Petchburi Road near the Bangkok Hospital. We were not too happy about this area, which was very moist, open, and because it was hemmed in by a couple of large khlongs without bridge crossings, did not seem to offer much opportunity to maneuver. We have since had several runs in this general area, but none of them stand out as particularly great. At least one of them will come near the bottom of most Hashmens' lists because of the long stretches of railroad running to which the pack was subjected.

Our third general recce started near the Hua Mark Golf Course, and when we had finished it we were extremely happy. This was in fact the turning point. Our remaining doubts were dispelled. We found a good rendezvous (at the corner of Patanakarn Road and what is now the Ring Road, but that was then a cart track leading to a waste paper dump). The first run was announced with a notice to the British Club and by word of mouth.

Incidentally, John Davis, the Manager of the British Club at that time and an ex-Hashman from one of the Cyprus Hashes, was extremely helpful in giving us promotional publicity, via the notice board and through the monthly club news sheet. Unfortunately his weekend club duties never permitted him to join any of our runs.

In the days before the first run we were a little nervous. Our initial publicity led to much talk around town about some bloody fools being stupid enough to try starting a Hash. Both of us had tales to tell about complete strangers whom we had overheard pouring scorn on the idea of running around the streets of Bangkok for fun.

Nothing daunted, I carried out a final recce. We invested in a few kilos of tapioca flour and three dozen large Amarit beers, and the great day (June 11, 1977) dawned bright and clear. I laid the trail while Jim stood by at the start to welcome the hoards of eager joggers thirsting for something new.

The first pack numbered ten, including myself, who had slipped in from the trail end a few minutes before the start without letting anyone know I had been the about-to-be-chased hare. Our first run would be classed as little on the short side by present standards, but was more than enough for most of us, including Jim and myself, neither of whom had been Hashing for several months. From what I remember, the best runners were Don Martinusen, one of the Weird Bank colleagues who was a regular early morning jogger. Ed Nichol, a keen soccer player from Cathay Pacific Airways was there. Howard Taylor, who left us after about a year to found the Cambridge Hash. Also Guy Ravenscroft who left a few months later and founded the Abidjan Hash at a mining camp in Sierra Leone. These were some of the pioneers. Phil Bulmer ran a few times and then he too disappeared. Only one of the originals, a guy named Johnathan Mills, dropped out after the first run. Three years later only Dave Boskett, Arthur Phillips (ex-Kuala Lumpur H3) and myself remained with BH3 from the original ten, Jim having moved back to Hong Kong in late 1978.

When we had our second run two weeks later, several more boots appeared. By Run No. 3 we had over twenty Hashmen on our register. It was then that we went to weekly runs. The pioneering days were over. Another Hash had been established for what we fondly hope will be forever and a day.

THE TEN FOUNDING HASHMEN WERE: Bill Panton; Jim Stewart; Dave Boskett; Phil Bulmer; Ed Nichol; Arthur Phillips; Guy Ravenscroft; Howard Tayor; Don Martinusen; Jonathan Mills


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