Fwd: In the Spotlight – Cambodia

In the Spotlight – Cambodia
By Ed "Hazukashii" Howell
14 May 2020

Cambodia (a.k.a. Kampuchea) is officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia.  This wonderful country is full of many beautiful historic sites, with the most famous being the lost temple of Ankor Wat near Siem Reap.  Cambodia has vacillated between communism, authoritarianism, unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy, and various other forms of governing.  Unified under the Khmer Empire in 802 AD, the country flourished for over 600 years, followed by over 300 years of decline due to the rise of Thailand to the west, and Vietnam to the east.  In 1863, France claimed the lands as a protectorate, and it eventually became part of the greater French Indochina.  Gaining its independence from France in 1953, the country soon became a central part of the Vietnam War, with the Khmer Rouge taking power in 1970.  This eventually led to the mass genocide of the late 1970s under Pol Pot.  After the Cambodian – Vietnamese War, the country was under Vietnamese control for 10 years, until the United Nations interceded until 1993, when elections were held.  Cambodia is currently considered an elective constitutional monarchy under the Cambodian People's Party.

Due to the civil unrest in the area, Cambodia was late in relative terms, to be graced with the arrival of the Hash House Harriers.  Primarily located in 3 locations, that being the capital city of Phnom Penh, the coastal city of Preah Sihanouk (Sihanoukville), and the northern city of Siem Reap, the hash has seen many incarnations.  First arriving in the capital, the Phnom Penh H3 was founded on 23 August 1992 by Lorna "Job" Jacques, according to the hash genealogy.  A common warning was given in those early days, that hashers should not shortcuts as you could end up running over mines! 

The hash genealogy lists the UNCTAD H3 as the next iteration forming in February 1993.  After a bit of research, UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade And Development, which really does not make sense.  Tapping into my own military background (and a bit more research), my best guess would be that it is actually the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia), which sounds much more likely, as hashing has followed the military in numerous combat and peace keeping environments over its long and sordid history.  As an example, in 1993 I was able to run a hash in Somalia during UNOSOM (United Nations Operation in Somalia).  Much like this one-off hash, the UNTAC was probably a short-lived hashing experience while UN forces were deployed to Cambodia. 

The Sihanoukville H3 was founded by Colin "Mister Memory" Jerom in 1995, but was short lived.  Another iteration of a club in Sihanoukville was formed by John "Flasher" Critchley in late 2002, assisted by Peter "Miscarriage" Burke and Tim "Missing link" Salter.  This hash club was based at the Seabreeze Hotel, which was part owned by Missing Link's brother John "Colonel Klunt" Salter.  According to Flasher, the club ran a few times, and had even attracted a few locals to join, but abruptly ended when Colonel Klunt got called away for other career pursuits in Thailand.  Shortly afterwards the hotel closed.

In 1997, Don "Big Boy" Boring created the myth of the Phnom Penh Full Moon All-Lesbian Nude Bike H3 (P2FMALNBH3).  This is simply listed as the Phnom Penh Full Moon H3 in the hash genealogy, so I was first started looking into its origin.  In recent discussion with Big Boy, he reminded me this was only the gag shirt he created for Interhash 1998 in Kuala Lumpur.  A second shirt was printed as a tribute to his fellow members of the Seoul H3 on the occasion of our 1500th hash.  In an interesting twist of irony, I actually hared the Seoul H3 1500th hash up above Seoul (near the DMZ) on 12 February 2000.  This club (only commemorated by the two shirts), never ran a trail, never existed (same as the Bordighera H3), but you can see the second shirt in my museum on page 43 - http://gotothehash.net/t/hashshirts43.html - in the bottom right corner.       

The next hash club to form was the Angkor H3 in Siem Reap, founded by Franklin "Darjeeling" Pate in 2003.  Darjeeling had previously hashed in Sri Lanka, where he had founded the Colombo H3 back in 1980.  The original Ankor H3 was short lived, but in 2009, Hanno "Short Stump" Stamm restarted the club which had been dormant for a few years.  According to Short Stump, the Ankor H3 "was very successful with many runs having more than 100 runners.  We also organized the [Mekong Indochina Hash] in 2016."  Unfortunately, Short Stump departed Siem Reap in 2016, and the hash quickly faltered. 
The next noted club was the Gentlefolk Abroad Saturday H3, as a splinter group off the Phnom Penh H3. Founded by Richard "Chicken Shit" Pullen in 2005, as the name alludes to, this was likely a more social aspect of hashing that was also short lived. 

Outside of the three major locations previously listed, exists a hash club that is still clinging to life, but runs very sporadically.  The Stung Treng Evergreen H3 was founded by Barbara "Hand Job" Rochester, with the first run being held on 4 October 2011.  Only 13 trails have been set (the last one in 2016), but if you contact Hand Job, she can set you up with some locals in the area and potentially organize a hash for you.  Stung Treng is located in Northern Cambodia, south of the Laotian border.

I have had the pleasure to hash in Cambodia on a couple occasions.  The first was their 20th anniversary hash back in 2012, and the most recent being back in December of last year for their 1500th Hash.  On both occasions, we boarded a river boat along the Tonle Sap River, and steamed our way up to one of the islands in the middle of the Mekong River.  The 1500th was an excellent 12 Km trail on dirt tracks, through cow pastures, and along dusty backroads, that ended back along the river.  An excellent circle, with food and adult beverage accompanied an amazing sunset, followed by a return boat trip down the Mekong that lasted until well after dark.  Current GM, Flaccido Domingo, let me know that the first annual Cambodia Nash Hash took place in Kampong Cham in 2012.  This went on for four years until 2016, when they decided to host them every two years. 

Hashing in Cambodia is amazing, and tie that in with a couple days sightseeing in Siem Reap, and a couple days on the beach in Sihanoukville, you can easily fill up a week or two vacation.  So, when you get the chance to travel again, keep Cambodia in mind.  Just hit Cambodia on the links at http://gotothehash.net

For many more articles like this on the history of hashing, check out . . . http://gotothehash.net/history/inthespotlight.html \

On on!