Rail Jerker’s Diary – - The province of Riau, in the center of Sumatra island, is one of the richest among the 33 provinces of Indonesia. Its wealth comes from its natural resources – palm oil, petroleum and timber pulp; the enterprising Chinese community; and the communal harmony between the Malays, Chinese and other smaller communities. Riau produces 75% of the oil and 25% of the palm oil of Indonesia. Besides mainland Riau, the province extends to over 3000 islands spread over more than 1000 kms. Pekanbaru is the provincial capital and the oil capital of Indonesia; its prosperity showing in the new airport terminal nearing completion; the three fly-overs also in the same stage; numerous luxury hotels and resorts, and about half a dozen more due to be completed by September 2012 for the Pan-Indo Games; the luxury cars on the road and in the show-rooms; the over-flowing coffee shops and restaurants, the golf clubs, the night clubs, etc. With a population of 900,000 it is rated among the cleanest cities in the country. There are twenty daily flights to and from Jakarta and more flights to other domestic and international destinations.
There are three hash chapters in Pekanbaru. While “a running club with a drinking problem”, or “a drinking club with a running problem” remains the overriding motto, each chapter has its own ways, customs and traditions.
RUMBAI HASH HOUSE HARRIERS, a mixed hash, is the oldest, founded in 1978 by the expatriates of Caltex and located in Rumbai, about 10 kms from the city. Chevron has replaced Caltex and it has its head office for Sumatra operations, residences, golf club and other facilities in Rumbai. The forests around the campus provide ideal hashing grounds. Most of the members are employees of Chevron. I have known the ex-GM, Derisman “Gembul” from various hash events in the region. Chevron has provided a house for the hash inside its campus, with a hall, showers, long tables and benches, freezer, cooker, etc. A 40-feet air-conditioned container is attached to it for magrib prayers. It is in a secluded area next to the security dog training center. I found the security lights on even during the day!
Rumbai H3 run twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays. The hash house is always the B Point. Cars are parked there, and at 4:30 PM two Chevron buses drop the assembled hashers to the pre-determined A Point, somewhere on the edge of the forest, from where they run/walk back to the B Point. This one-way trip saves the company from paying overtime to the drivers! I did not get an opportunity to join any Rumbai H3 run, but I did meet some of the members at an invitational run on Thursday and at the combined Sunday morning run.
LANCANG KUNING H3, meaning yellow flag, the colour of the Riau flag, founded in 1999, run twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, nay, thrice, counting the combined run hosted by them on Sundays. On the Thursday I arrived in Pekanbaru, my friend, Anton “Tembak Tiga” Basarah (Three Shots) was the “hare” and sponsor. He had arranged an invitational run with members from the other two chapters. LKH3 have a permanent A Point for all their runs. It is in a forest opening about 30 minutes drive from the city. The various well-trodden trails in the forest and combinations thereof for the short, medium and long runs are known to the members. So, there is no need for the hare to lay any paper or any checks or falsies. Hashers arrive at any time between 4 and 4:45 PM and do their own trail at their own pace, individually or in small groups, returning to the A Point at the same time. Accompanied by my host, I managed to do two hills in 45 minutes. Locals set up shop at the site selling green coconuts, papaya, nuts, etc. “Tembak Tiga” served the food in packets – rice, chicken, fish and veg. – to the 60-odd attendees, and enough beer to last till late in the evening. Almost everyone present was given a down-down for no apparent reason, but for being present, amidst much fun and frolic.
RIAU HH HAZARDS is a men’s hash, founded in 2006, running on Fridays, each week at a different site, with trails laid in advance. Runs tend to be long, as also the circles and the On On On! afterwards.
LCH3 SUNDAY COMBINED RUNS. Every Sunday, Lancing Kuning H3 arrange a mixed morning run in the country side, participated by hashers from the other two chapters. Runs start at 7 AM. On 3rd June 2012 the site was at a palm oil plantation about 20 kms from the city and the “hares” were Haji Maksum “Baleno” and Lauresius “Lau Lan”. They sponsored the food packets – chicken and egg curry, veg and rice – for the 68 hashers present. In practice, the short and long trails are laid by a trained professional trail-layer and his son, who are paid from hash funds for each run. They know how to lay the checks and falsies and I found this one to be a good trail. The same practice is followed at the Friday Hazards run. The circle was conducted by the GM with beer for breakfast.
Semarang is the capital of Central Java, nearly three hours by air from Pekanbaru with a change of planes in Jakarta. A port on the north coast of Java island, it is a beautiful city with the sea on one side and hills rising up to 2000 feet on the other; there is a breeze from the sea during the day and one from the hills in the evening. It is the only city in the country which retains a Dutch quarter with many historic colonial buildings in restored condition.
There are two hash chapters in Semarang: SEMARANG H3, a family hash founded in 1980, run on Saturdays; and SEMARANG SUNSET H3, a mixed hash founded in 1997, run on Mondays. My friend Susanto “Woof Woof”, the founder of SS H3, took me to a run on 28th May 2012. The site was up in the hills in a clove plantation, about an hour’s drive from the city and much cooler. The trail was laid by a professional trail-layer and went up and down the hills with the smell of clove floating in the air. There is no beer at SS H3; instead, there is plenty of fresh fruit juice and traditional snacks brought in by a contractor lady and paid for by the hash. It was guava juice day – from 22 kgs of guava for about 40 hashers. There is no circle after the run either, but it was as enjoyable as any other.
This trash will not be complete if I fail to mention the BOROBUDUR INTERHASH 2012, which was the main purpose of my visit to Indonesia. With 4,790 hashers from 50 countries registered, it was a very successful Interhash, acclaimed to be the best among the 18 Interhashes that have taken place since 1978. Hash history was made at 8 AM on Saturday 26th May 2012 when the President of the Republic and the First Lady joined over 1000 hashers in a festive atmosphere at a special 4.25 km Hash Walk at the famous 9th century Buddhist temple at Borobudur, near the city of Magelang in Central Java.
On On to Interhash 2014 at Hainan Island, the “Hawaii of the East”!
Juned “Rail Jerker” Choudhury