Shot #11: Bandung, Indonesia

June 11-13, 2010

 (Hares : Patrick & Ilona Russell with Carlo Pangrazio, Barry Dawe n Dave Wilson)

What was to be an exciting SHOT trip with a scuba theme vanished with the sudden cancellation of Air Asia’s Manado sector, putting us into a tricky quandary. Instead of the allure of the azure waters of North Sulawesi, we were thrust into a blank screen with few options in the limited time available, having covered most of Air Asia’s major destinations, anticipation of diving in the world-renowned hot spots of Bunaken and Lembeh Straight turning into vamoosed mirages. With the dates for the SHOT looming near, we scrambled for an alternative venue, with Kanchanburi and Chieng Mai being touted as possibilities, but quickly discarded due to lack of enthusiasm from the local hashes to assist with ground arrangements. 

One smart alec came up with the idea: if we can’t go below the surface, why not go up to the hills? Why not, indeed! Smart alec was asked to ‘volunteer’, and he gamely took up the challenge, and we have a destination to go for our summer solstice. The coaxed hare, Patrick Russell, has the advantage of having started his hashing career some 3 decades ago in Bandung, and we knew he could pull it off, albeit with some armchair assistance from Midget Molester. 

Bandung, the mountain retreat of the well-heeled of Jakarta, has quite a reputation in different ways. On the political scene, it is best known for hosting the Bandung Conference in 1955, an effort by Indonesia’s founding President Sukarno to thwart the Cold War by its declaration on world peace and cooperation, amalgamating the nations of Asia and Africa into a non-partisan alignment. The spirit and credo of this intergovernmental movement was to be a precursor and an inspiration to the later founding of the Non-Aligned Movement, which was to prove a modifying influence to the antagonism between the Western Block and countries of the Iron Curtain. In recent years, Bandung has also acquired a reputation for bargain shopping of supposedly rejected branded products, especially clothing. In hashing, Bandung has the distinguished reputation of having the biggest hash chapter in all of hashdom, with well over 500 regulars at their weekly runs! 

Hotel Concordia, the main hotel and venue for the SHOT weekend, is located in a quiet suburb north of the city center, with a vast ground complete with a pool, tennis courts, a concourse, and a stand of shady trees, lending it great ambience for our events. As usual, we turned up for the registration party on the evening of June 11 that was held at the concourse, which later in the evening was ‘converted’ into an outdoor movie theater for the opening game of the Football World Cup, a special arrangement to satiate the diehard soccer fans among us. 

As it was the rainy season and in view of the already cool mountain air, we were advised to bring along plastic ponchos for the main run on Saturday afternoon, make-shift or otherwise! The more imaginative ones made do with the on-the-spot ‘tailored’ thrash bags that came with our freebies! 

The starting points of both the middle and long runs were well chosen for their unique attractions to us visiting hashers. While the shorter run started from the shadow of a waterfall in the national park, the long runners were ferried up a ridge line to the top of a mountain, affording fantastic views all around of terraced and well-tended vegetable farms, a veritable feast for the eyes. 

The trails took us along the maze of paths interlinking the farms, sometimes passing through some kampungs, mostly going downhill. At certain stretches, particularly the cemented and steep pathways, the going became quite treacherous due to the wet and mossy grounds, but thankfully nothing untoward happened to us, save for some bruises. There was a surprise of sorts, too, when we were taken down a heavily forested hill, where the precipitous and soggy slope had us slip-sliding our way down, eventually emerging onto a power-station by a raging river. It turned out that we were in the national park, where the 2 trails of the middle and long runs coalesced on the other side of the river. The FROPs finally arrived back at the Concordia Hotel after 2 hours on trail. 

The Sunday ‘hangover’ run/walk started from the hotel, taking just over an hour for the walkers, ending up at the Waroeng Ethnik for a scrumptious meal and more amber fluids to douse our thirst. 

While some left for home after the conclusion of the official SHOT events, the more intrepid ones ventured off to savor the local volcanoes and hot springs. In the aftermath, we received the good news of Air Asia’s launching of its new destination to Yangon, Myammar. Yangon beckons, SHOTers pursue! June, 2011, surely?