24 September 2008
Johor Baru , Malaysia
1°27'32.59"N 103°45'55.63"E


Back on familiar ground in Seremban, and with too many drinking partners to fit into a short time, we decided to change our plans again and stay for a week.

Praba and a lot of his friends are members of a local Hash House Harriers club - in my experience a band of drunken reprobates where running is just an excuse, and, Peter spent most of our first day in Seremban telling me he was super fit and was going to go for a run with them. He had no intention of doing so of course, but he kept at it for just a bit too long. When we met up with Praba, one of the first things I asked him was whether there was going to be a run at the weekend. There is? That's good because Peter wants to come along. I could see him out of the corner of my eye pulling 'shut up' faces, but, well - it's his own fault, isn't it?

Of course it wasn't without incident. These things never are when Peter is involved. More than 4 weeks after picking up a horrible cold on the ferry to Tioman I was finally starting to shake it. The day before the run, Peter started to come down with the flu. Have you ever noticed that men never get a cold - always the flu? He knew if he claimed illness he would be seen as whimping out, so for that day he took it easy and didn't drink TOO much at Alfie and Roshan's BBQ. For most of the next day he stayed in bed, slept and took lots of cold and flu tablets so at least he wouldn't die in the heat and humidity of the jungle.

As it turned out, the Hare had been kind to everybody and laid a fairly easy track, and the Hashers jogged and walked between spurts of running. However........

When laying the paper trail, the Hare had obviously not come across any beasties. Bulls in particular.

As the boys ran through a flat area, there was a small herd of bulls. Not ordinary bulls. Angry bulls. I'm not sure which is the funniest - the thought of them being stuck and having to get past a herd of angry bulls, or the finger 'horns', angry face and pawing of the ground visual effects Peter does when telling the tale.

Salvation was on hand though, in the shape of a car coming down the dirt track. Thinking on their feet, they decided to switch sides of the track and run alongside the slow moving car which would shield them from the bulls. Imagine it. Driving, alone, down a dirt track, in the dark, minding your own business and all of a sudden there are half a dozen sweaty panting men running alongside the drivers door. What would you do?

Peter was quite miffed that she'd put her foot down and zoomed off (spooking the angry bulls as well as leaving our likely lads exposed). It didn't occur to him that she was probably terrified at what was unfolding around her. They bolted to safety and lost the trail, but eventually found it again and got back to the carpark.

But here's the thing. About 50 meters before they got there, loads of other runners appeared out of nowhere all finishing at the same time. And getting into the beer.

The true joy of Hash House Harrier life. I've heard of a club in Brunei (which is a dry country) who meets each Thursday and trots a very short distance over the border into Sarawak, has a good drink and then trots back.

On Sunday we went one better than the Curry Leaf - Indra and Texan invited us for lunch and as we all know, home cooked is much better than restaurant cooked, and restaurants don't have the amazing garden, which has changed quite a bit since we were there last year, including some beautiful passion fruits - I've never had one straight from the vine and thought they had to be all wrinkled and black before you could eat them.

Lunch actually lasted until 7pm, thanks to a steady flow of beer for the boys, and Indra had me eating and drinking things that I probably would have pulled my nose up at but were beautiful. Texan even got the motorbike out and got me even more things to try when the Ramadan Bazaar opened. The rising cost of petrol means the car is not moving much, and as well as inviting us to stay with them next time we're in Malaysia - both of their boys have left home - Texan said we could have the car for as long as we want. I still can't quite believe how generous people are in Malaysia, but I'm sure that they're not all quite as generous as Praba and his family and friends.

So, here we are in JB, waiting to cross into Singapore to pick up our flight to Melbourne. Note - to Melbourne, not home. We were only going to stay for a couple of weeks, enough time for Peter to go to the motorbike racing and for me to sort out the tax returns, but we found incredibly cheap fares on Air Asia to KL - the only bad thing about it is that it's the first flight on the route and on 12 November so we'll be in Australia longer than intended, but I suppose we won't be so rushed catching up with everybody.

And finally, as they say on the news, an absolute pearl to finish on. We all know what it's like walking down anywhere they get tourists - non-stop hassles for you to buy DVD, t-shirt, watch, porn, whatever. Peter must be looking his age as he got a first yesterday.