SHOT # 12 Run Report,  10-12 Dec. 2010 

Kandy, Sri Lanka 

(Hares: Dave and Ben Settergren)

The recent conclusive culmination of the internecine ethnic war between the main population divide of this Jewel of the Indian Ocean has truly opened up a Pandora’s Box for travelers into Sri Lanka. This aptly bestowed nomenclature reflects not just the uniquely-shaped land, nor its world-renowned reputation for its myriad precious and semi-precious stones: from earliest antiquity, Sri Lanka has attracted a constant stream of wayfarers, traders, conquerors, and religious pilgrims from near and far for its spices, ports, strategic location, religious artifacts and edifices, and natural wonders. After a quarter century of forbidding access, legions of would-be visitors are literally knocking on the door, as the record 200-plus SHOT participants who flew in by Air Asia surely attests…

Understandably, infrastructural development in the country, especially outside of the capital city of Colombo, was held at bay, for the better part of 30 years, and is just now stirring from its enforced crawl. The contrast can be quite abysmal, especially for those of us who are used to the trappings of a more affluent way of life; we could count ourselves privileged hailing from places with better amenities and services. Travels along its single-carriageways can be excruciatingly pedestrian, as we found out when we hopscotched and lumbered around the multitude of famed tourist spots, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which dotted the landscape.

Corollary, for the discerning ones, there are gems to savor, like a very laid-back attitude towards life and living, tree-lined highways that gives a rural and rustic feel, un-spoilt panoramas with jungle-clad hills, meadows and parks inhabited with wildlife of various descriptions, a near-complete lack – blessedly – of wholesale development that often cast a pall on the horizon. Many of its ruins rival the better known Angkor Wat and Borobudor in architectural designs, grandeur, and the attendant bas-reliefs, even if they lacked similarly colossal and monumental edifices. And, as yet, the throngs of tourists have not descended onto this jewel en masse, so we literally have a free rein!

The venue for the Registration Party at the Senani Restaurant on Friday, December 10, was well placed, sited on the slope of a hill overlooking Kandy Lake and the sacred Temple Of The Tooth, affording a magnificent nighttime vista of this hilltop enclave of a by-gone British era. The cool and crisp mountain air lends a suitably invigorating ambience to the weekend’s initiation. The scrumptiously spicy spreads were culinary delights, fully agreeable to our Malaysian palate. Hmmm, a great nightlight would have been the perfect complement to the evening!

As the SHOT events in Kandy were joint affairs with the 2 Colombo hashes making this their annual Joint outstation Christmas Run, a 40-strong troupe made their way up to join us on the runs, making it a 250-strong SHOT! In fact, some of them – Spiderman– helped recce and hare the runs and Bootlegger, the Colombo H3’s GM along with several CH3 members were instrumental in perfecting the logistics. Together with our GM/hare, Kamikaze, ensuring all the events went like clockwork and proceeded almost seamlessly. Some local hashers were so exuberant in getting to participate in this the largest hash event ever held in the land, that in their euphoria, they succumbed to the golden nectar while en route, rendering them prematurely inebriated, and a few were observed to drop like ten-pins during the circle and at the On On! Some of ours were similarly inebriated, although in less public surrounds and therefore saving themselves the blushes!

Both the runs on Saturday and Sunday were within the confines and periphery of the city, the first taking us through the botanical gardens and then through the suburbia hills, and the second was a city tour of sorts, with a few beer stops along the way, going partially round the lake before snaking back to the city center and finishing at the Senani Restaurant. The jointly convened circles were hash classics, with the able contributions of various individuals that made the affairs truly uproariously hilarious and memorable. Two of the hashers – our very own SHOT in-house entertainer Jon ‘In & Out’ Button and Colombo H3’s Featherlite, (along with a great Trio performance who unfortunately can’t be named in this document!) – came out with some sparklingly inimitable renditions of very animated and participative hash songs that almost brought the house down!

Upon the completion of the ‘official’ SHOT weekend, we bid each other adieu with the launching of the adoptive hash anthem, SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT. There were bouts of last minute banter and farewells and promises of reciprocal visits or expression of intent in joining future SHOT runs.

We parted ways, those sub-groups with post-SHOT sightseeing itineraries eager to commence their own separate journeys of discovery in this land with such a vaunted past, and a promising future. The main party wound its way up north to Sigiriya, then down again to Nuwara Eliya and thence to the southeastern regions to experience Sri Lanka’s very own safari at the Yalla National Park. On the penultimate day of the tour at Hikkaduwa, some lucky ones amongst us were fortunate enough to witness first-hand a ½ km long religious procession that was wholly dedicated to the season’s first harvest of the cinnamon - an economic lifeline of the area – accompanied by elephants majestically caparisoned in their festive fineries, drummers and dancers appropriately garbed for the occasion. It almost felt like a sublime bidding of farewell after our 10 days’ sojourn…

Upon return to Colombo, we were once again met by many of the Colombo Hashers, which came to understand the ease and economic benefits of traveling with AirAsia, are now all reared up and ready to go to future SHOT events in China and Myanmar.

Many thanks to our main Sponsor AirAsia for supporting us over the last 12 runs and to the Colombo Hashes that helped to make this event a success.

ON ON to Zhang Jia Jei