Place: Koh PhanganTime: September 1993
GETTING TO 'THE BEACH'Traveling in Thailand at that time was compared to nowadays ancient. I had arrived with the train in Surat Thani. This was before the Lompraya Speed Boats that are leaving nowadays from Chumphorn. I was on the Songserm super ferry departing from Surat Thani. The ferries were massively huge but there were surprisingly not many people on the deck. The boat was full of cars and I had expected to see more passengers. The ship steered calmly through the waves. Most Thai people sat inside and enjoyed the air conditioning. This was much too cold for me. I was among a group of younger people enjoying the sun and the breeze in broad daylight. Around lunch time it became much too hot. I spent half of the time inside of the ferry. As it was just too cold, I went out for some smoke breaks. It was not possible to go on direct way to Koh Phangan. There was the option of staying the night on Koh Samui or directly continuing my way. I had no desire to mingle with the tourists on Koh Samui. However, at that time you had to go over the biggest of the three islands in the Gulf of Thailand and then taking a connection vessel. I considered the distance between the mainland and Koh Samui about four times longer than between both islands. The ferry arrived on Koh Samui. We had to take a bus across the island to reach a small port. There, the boats were leaving to Koh Phangan. We had to wait a longer time for the connection. Then we were put then on a small fisher boat. The journey was quick and took only one and a half hours. The boats now leave from Chumporn and take only a forth of the time. They go directly and are much more comfortable.
Getting to the island was easy compared to the transport options provided on the island. My journey to the desired destination was far from over and it should become more adventurous. It became dark by the time that we arrived. There were Songtaeos to the main beach Had Rin. It was not my plan to go there. Other destinations, mainly in the North of the island did not have this service. The best option was to stay close to the pier. Only the next morning, there would Songtaeos leave over the mountains to the North. I used travel guide books at that time. It was not suggested to go by motorbike in the night across the island. It was even advised not to take a motorbike at all on that island. Later, I discovered the facts about Songtaeos on the islands. 150 Baht for a ride across the island was far too expensive. The rent of a motorbike was 100 Baht for a day. However, I wanted to go to the small strip of beach called Had Khuat or Bottle Beach. In 1993, it was only possible to get there by hiking or taking a long tail boat. So, anyhow, a motorbike was out of question. Sometimes you just have to pay more if you want to go somewhere rather exquisite. Make your mind up where you want to go on the island and think about mobility. The choice should be between motorcycle to be independent or Songtaeo if you don't mind staying at one spot only.
THE BEACH?Bottle Beach had a small reputation at the time of my first visit, I don't know the reasons how it got so famous among backpackers. I still do not know why Had Khuat has been compared with The Beach of Alex Garland. It was far less adventurous to come to the spot and not dangerous. The small secluded beach was a gem. Not many people had been there and people who had gone tried to speak about it as a boring place. Well, there were not any nightclubs or bars. Electricity was sparse and only in the restaurant in the evening. It had its charm and was idyllic. The beach had a long white sand strip and clear green water. Some kind of paradise, only for some people that wanted to win a distance to hectic civilization stress. Tourism had tried to enter but had stopped its invasion. Half of the bungalows had fallen down and showed no signs of attempts to repair them. Only one family ran the business of the only resort. It was a fantastic location for me, so peaceful and calm. Of course it was a hidden place for most people. I hoped it would remain a secret spot for a longer time. This is probably the reason that it was so often compared to The Beach. Otherwise, it did not have much in common with the spot in the novel.
Another difference to the novel were the kind of people that I met at this beach. There was nothing of a hippie community but a crowd of nice people. All of us had a reason to come to that place. I think we were some species of shy, peace loving creatures who could not handle too much pressure of a modern world. We had relaxed contact with each other but left each other a large area of privacy. So we kept most time to ourselves. Sometimes, there were conversations in the restaurant. Most times we were just walking on our own through the jungle, swimming or just smoking weed. There were no closer relations or friendships going on. All of us just creatures living in a semi-hermit style. We were as well not depending on each other work as in the novel, we were just a bunch of backpackers off the beaten path.
Sometimes, I wonder that certain people can have an affect on the thinking, some you meet and others that you read or hear from. It was a great place to clear my thoughts. I met myself! Years of therapy can't help you so much as the opportunity to find inner peace. I could also say, it was some kind of therapy group under the supervision of a Swiss expatriate. He had stayed there a long time. More than a decade ago he had come to the beach. There he had met the daughter of the head of the police. The family controlled the island but was wary of visits from the cops from the mainland. His family owned Bottle Beach and did not want to make it a too touristic place. They loved the nature and just wanted to live in peace. A hermitage for the wandering souls. If I would ever leave the western society behind, I did it the same way. There was a deeper meaning in going away from civilization and organised life to harmony with the environment. Many expatriates left only their country to make the same nonsense somewhere else, for me it should be different.
So far with real people but I spot now, a long time later, some coincidental parallels to fictive characters. It is almost funny for me that I shared one of the main thoughts of the main character of The Beach. '..though I wander through the valley of death I will fear no evil...'. A place like Bottle Beach back in 1993 can evoke the strangest ideas. I liked strolling, clad only in my sarong, under my Chiang Mai umbrella over the hot sand. I provoked the strangest comments. Some people even suggested me to wear a bra and go as farang kathoey. Now, looking back, we were all some species of birds of paradise. The main clothing were light like sarongs or only towels, shorts, and if it became too hot, some loose shirts. We did not give a fuck about conventions. We were far away from everything that your parents teach you. We were doing the strangest things. Even the spear fishing described in The Beach was practiced by Wilhelm, the Swiss guy who had stranded here. There were a lot of jellyfish and I experienced the pain if you swim into a swarm of them. TI was often too stoned to see the water clearly and blinded by the sun. One time, I found myself back in the middle of into nice assembly of these creatures. I got burned at both legs and arms and even at my back. As I came groaning of pain on land, Wilhelm was laughing his ass off. There had been others before with the same fate. I fell nearly unconscious but learned that vinegar is the best medicine against the burns. I was rubbed by Gabriela, an attractive woman with a wonderful body, beautiful smile and apple sized tits, with it. The pain left me after a while, Gabriela did not. We spent the next two days mainly in my bungalow but then she had to return to Italy. I never saw her again. Some parts reading 'The Beach' remind me now how close we were in our behaviour to the imaginary characters.
ATTRACTIONS ON KOH PHANGANOne of the infamous highlights of the island is the Full Moon party, another the magic mushrooms. The party has become a real tourist event for backpackers, the shrooms can be enjoyed at other places of the island much better.
Now, most of you have probably heard of the Fullmoon Party at Had Rin. If we can trust in wikipedia, then this happening was created in 1985. Surely, the original initiators of this happening had never planned to become world famous only a few years later. It was not the festival that made my stay now even more attractive. I, basically, do not like parties of too many people and in that month, October 1993, there were over 50,000 people at the party. It was the gathering of the size of a small town. I am not a fan of that kind of mass hysteria. The party had obviously gone out of control.
One of the main reasons for me not to go there were the large crowd of people, the drugs and the connected risks. I imagined that this was the population of the small town where I went to school. All the people there gathered on acid and other drugs, well that would be scary. An additional point for me not to go there has always been the big accumulation of police officers. Following the estimates of a few people that I individually asked, then the amount of police man at this party is at least a tenth of the attendees. Fuck that! Always consider that you really do not want to be arrested only for having fun. In my eyes there was a problem with people who took the gamble and bought drugs to a gathering like this. Maybe they had not enough information, well stupidity does not protect from punishment. Eventually, they were not aware of the risks, well even travel guide books tell you about it! Or they did not deserve it better. For me, it was no fun thinking about an extension of my holidays in Suan Plu Prison. I did not see any sense as well in paying a lot of money to the officials. The risk for me was just too high! People should consider these setting if they want to do drugs. Drug consume is an individual choice but should be connected with a minimum of intelligence not to go a gamble. Just use common sense!
Another case are the magic mushrooms, if you can handle them then enjoy, if you can't then avoid them. The full moon can bring the best quality of mushrooms. A condition for it is previous rain fall. Then the shrooms grow excellently in elephant and buffalo shit. They are a much better option in comparison to other drugs. I like natural products much more than chemical garbage. However, there are some really tragic and funny stories connected with the consume. These are about people that have just no clue what they are doing when eating the fungi. You can hear all kind of stuff about people that were just not able to handle them. There are people going from Koh Phangan for a swim to Bangkok. Dickheads!
GENERAL DRUG CULTUREI have read a lot about drugs, experienced many and built my opinion about them. The biggest difference made between drugs is usually into dividing them into legal and illegal substances. There are hidden agendas about them. It is important to make your mind up about the basics to understand official opinion and not to drift into the cliche loaded mainstream thinking. Personally, it is important for me to explain you my thinking and attitude towards drugs so that you can understand what I am actually speaking about.
The first category are the legal drugs. They are not prohibited but that does not mean that they are less harmful. There is a concept behind just allowing these substances. The industry wants you to be addicted! They produce drugs, clarify them as legal and this because out of business interests. Additionally, the effect of these drugs is to keep you in control. You need to work to be able to afford cigarettes and alcohol. So, they legalize stuff like cigarettes and alcohol that are much worse than ganja, shrooms and opium! However, they do not bring you on alternative thoughts and so you won't criticize the society out of a changed understanding. They are harmless for the exiting system where people are kept in line so that they do not understand that they have become slaves of a mechanism. They are not harmless for you but give you maybe the understanding of being an outcast through consuming them. If people think the intake of legal drugs makes them an outlaw, then this is simply laughable. These dudes should first stop taking all this legal shite! How can you be cool if you follow advertisements from professional marketing agencies? How can you claim to be a desperado if you are falling for tricks of the mass media? What did you actually want to achieve by taking drugs? Cigarettes and alcohol do a lot of things but certainly not giving you an expansion of your perception.
Then there are the clearly stigmatized illegal drugs, they are dangerous for the system but can be lethal for the consumer too. People should get more knowledge and think more before they are doing any kind of drug. This includes certainly the above mentioned legal drugs as well. Any kind of consume can drift into the direction of stupid drug abuse when people are unaware about the effects. There are in my view some certain rules about the intake of drugs. First, do not try your first time to experience any drug alone. Have a guide. This does not have to be a guru, medicine man or supervisor; just a really good friend. Then, do not play around with the drug in a competitive way. 'Hey man I can take more than you' is probably a pretty brain fucked approach. You are a shithead if you go for this kind of game. Sorry pal, you do not deserve to live. Get yourself some information about the drug. This has kept me away from doing some really crazy stuff by avoiding certain substances. So, as an example I have never tried and will never try smack. First, I do not like needles. Well, okay I know you can smoke it also on a cone. Second, the danger of addiction is too high. Again, I am aware that you can get away from it again. Just close yourself into your room for three days and decorate it with vomit. Still, not very attractive! You know what I mean? Do not try any stuff where you cannot evaluate the risk of it. In my case it is first the method how to take the goodies. Then, important for me is to know about the grade of addiction. If a drug can make you depending on it for life time, do not even try it. Otherwise, these illegal drugs can give you a deeper understanding of the world. This is the reason why they are dangerous for the ruling classes. It is not wished that people ask questions about reality. Certain, illegally declared drugs can bring you on other thoughts. Again, this is not wanted because the system has to be maintained without disturbing influences of people who start asking too many questions. We all shall only perceive a reality as we are trained like little rats by education, media and politics. Every kind of being divergent can destabilize the rules and norms of the society. Nobody has actually informed the broad masses that there might be alternatives. Only people that do not obey to the rules might come to different choices and take their opportunities. Many of the illegal drugs can support the users to suddenly experience another vision of the so called truth of life. The ruling classes are scared of that. They even inform by using all kinds of media that people do harm to their bodies by abusing drugs. This is true but there is the stronger hidden agenda to keep people in line by restricting opening opportunities to come to thoughts about different aspects of life.
However, I do not support drug consume as any compensation for something missed in life. I have only a positive approach towards drugs if they are seen as a supplement to have a better understanding of life. Drugs are unfortunately mainly used to eradicate shortcomings in life but they will never be able to help the user to come over a personal deficit. This includes all kinds of drug consume which usually is abuse when people have the feeling to be unable to live without them. I am honest and admit that I am also in this group of people. I can't say that I am smart as long that I am smoking cigarettes. But come on, legalize weed and then I will not smoke any tobacco anymore! However, that's just me. Best still, keep your hands away from any drugs including cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and chocolate. Then you will never be endangered. You can for sure have fun without having ever tried any drug. Some people dare to say that drugs make happy. No, they don't! If you live only under drugs makes sense for you, sorry to tell you, then you are just a poor pig, actually unable to live. Maybe you could find another purpose in life. Try to handle situations in a way that you feel happier without drugs. They can only contribute to a basic happiness. I personally do not need drugs to be happy. I am high on life! That is the best drug and it is for free! Just take care that they don't put you away because you were too happy! Otherwise, I can't support laws against drug consume as it should be everybody's own choice to do with his or her body.
INTRODUCTION TO SHROOMSMagic mushrooms are a natural drug, but there are different kinds and only some give you an expansion of your mind. They are a traditional drug, many people have eaten them but might not admit it. Any farmer has direct access to them. They might not tell you. If a farmer takes them, they would get easily stigmatized. Imagine you tell your neighbours that you eat products that grow in buffalo shit. Particularly in the villages people are carful what they talk about. Now, on Koh Phangan, they have elephants and buffaloes. The best shrooms grow in elephant excrement. The ones harvested from buffalo shit can send you on a pretty bad trip if you are not careful. I had never bad trips on the ones in elephant dung. Now, you need to be pretty lucky if you have a good friend who has elephants. I have tried hard but I could never befriend an owner of them. So, even I had to buy them as I got a little bit too careful about the buffalo species. It must be a good sideline business for elephant farmers. These are not rich people and so you even support rural development. through a careful intake of just these magic mushrooms you can experience not only other colours but an inside view into the secrets of the planet.
On Koh Phangan you had sometimes to wait for the right time and then you need to know the right people to enjoy shrooms. We had waited a longer time for rain on the island and it finally arrived two days before full moon. This was the moment that we asked Wilhelm to organise us some of the elephant shrooms. We were around five people with an intense interest in them. Three of us had never eaten elephant shrooms, including myself. I had only the ones from buffalo shit before and was not yet fully convinced by them. I wanted to give this natural good one more chance to make my mind up. According to Wilhelm I might have to take a stronger dose as psilocybin was not new for me. Now, a final advice, never try to be the big super mushroom eater. You can embrace the shrooms on a certain level but never take so much that they fuck up your brain. You must be in control and can not expect to be lead by them on a nice journey. It was soon before departing from Thailand and I trusted Wilhelm to have the right knowledge to provide us with some quality.
A BIT DRUG PHILOSOPHYAs I said, never overdo any drug and never trust on your gut feeling. That is what I strongly believe all these swimmers to Bangkok got wrong. Maybe they even had a guide but gave him wrong information. If somebody is asking you if you had drug experiences with some stuff before, to hell with you being ashamed to look like an inexperienced person. All of us have done trough this state at some time. Just tell the person who gives the new substance to you the truth, or do you want to OD? Twat! I often wonder what people expect. They ask for some substance and are then surprised if it hits them like a hammer on the head. No wonder, it is like driving. Would you start driving with a Lamborghini as your second car? No, really not? Well, then do not expect your brain suddenly to jump from zero drug experience onto the dose of a person who has gone through years of drug abuse! That is pretty much the same! It is insane! So, get the point? Always be so fair that you do not turn the poor guy who gave you the drug into a fuckin murderer! Forget you gut feeling, forget your embarrassment, be honest with yourself and especially others around you.
Some people seriously believe in the concept of party drugs, that is another fucked up understanding. Mushrooms like most other drugs are not a party drug. There is a big difference if the founders of the Full Moon party took them or if people are using them now on this mass assembly. How can you enjoy the shroom if too many outside influences of loud music and too many people are pestling you? I wonder anyhow about the meaning of a party drug. I mean I do understand it with MDMA and Ecstasy. These are drugs that make you believe a feeling of being connected. So, yeah maybe they could be considered as a drug you should take in the gathering of many people. I have difficulties to gain an understanding how other drugs can be called party drugs. Do you want to enjoy the party or the drug? Both together is only limited possible! Many people nearly worship but LSD as a party drug. I mean, are they complete losers or what? They can only experience then a part of the party and a part of the drug. This drug should never been taken in public to enjoy its limitlessness to experience colours and thoughts. Take that stuff alone in a forest or alone with your girlfriend at the beach that is fine. On a party it is not only pretty anti social, even worse you wasted time, money and drug impact. It is hilarious to see people on Psy-trance parties on acid. They consume drugs and stumble around like zombies after a while. Hey great stuff, it really turns us on! Fuck no! Your behaviour just got fucked up and it is just not nice to be mentally out of control. Was the DJ really that shit that you had to escape into a fantasy reality? I mean, I speak from experience. It is not that I have never tried it. After a few times I knew that it was just a waste. If a DJ is shit, I just go away, I do not need the wanna-be musician as an alibi only to take drugs. However, I like well-mixed hard techno and psy-trance but I get pretty annoyed by all the zombies on the dance floor. But however you want to enjoy your kind of drug, it is fine with me. That were only my 5 cent to it, I am not a drug guru, far from it. In the end I was pretty happy to be on Bottle Beach to enjoy the shroom and not on some stupid party.
SHROOMS FLYING HIGHI was happy to be surrounded by nice people and in a remote environment so that I had high expectations for the mushroom experience. In the evening the ordered shrooms were put into omelets. Trust me, they are not delicious at all. So, do not eat them raw. Now, like with most drugs, the best impact of them is if you have not eaten for a longer time before. My last meal had been a light breakfast. Wilhelm was really a master of prescribing each of us the most suitable doses. After a while, all of us were peacefully drifting away. I went back to my bungalow and had another joint. Actually, this was not necessary. However, after the meal I wanted something to smoke and didn't want to spoil the trip with tobacco. The first half hour nothing happened to me. Wilhelm had told all of us to be patient. Then, after a while, my senses got more aware from hidden parts of the environment. It started very quietly, I heard some distant voices. They had such a beauty in them that I doubted them to be human. Some sweet sound was in the distance, first I could not figure what it was. Then, I identified it as a pan flute. It was playing a sweet melody. A sign that the god of nature walked around. I heard soft giggling, that must have been fairies. We were all protected by the nature. 'Do never talk about us', kind voices told me. 'Keep us away from the modern world. We are scared.' A sign to be on the right path. 'One day you will live in Thailand.' I giggled, that were clear signs of hallucinations. 'You will find love here.' I still had myself under control. Slowly I started to understand why some victims could not stand the experience of the shrooms and thought to escape by swimming. The sea made a nice background with its soft waves against the shore. It was tempting to go just into the water. Suddenly, Gabriela rode out of the water on the back of a huge water dragon. This kept me back from going for a swim. Obviously my subconsciousness kept me back from being stupid. I relaxed again, the lovely melody continued now further away. I saw multiple colours bound torainbows in the distant on the dark night sky. Everything around me turned into nature's calm embrace of beauty. Illusions were playing in front of my eyes, the leaves started now talking to me. They used a language I could not understand. My mind was relaxed and mellow, still aware of my surroundings. I was at home!
The aftermath or rebound from drugs can be quiet disturbing. After a trip I usually feel empty inside and missing something. I had slept over night in my hammock in front of my primitive shelter. I woke up at first sunlight. The impact of the psilocybin was calmly swallowed by the pure existence of nothing, I went for a swim in the first rays of a new day. The ocean was softly splashing at my half naked body. I felt like being in the softness of a mother's womb. The little pearl in the soda glass. The stream of lightening in the universe. Of course, I did not have any intention swimming to Bangkok. You have to control the drug and the rebound as well. I had handled it well, the drug had not taken control over me. I spent a longer time in the water and came out as it began to be too hot. Happily, I had my breakfast. The smiles of the other space travelers told me that they had also enjoyed a brilliant trip. There was not much talking that morning. Everybody must have felt the way that silence built a much better connection than making any sound. Sometimes there was a spoon dripping against a plate and even that I considered already as a disturbance. I was a little bit sad as well. After such an experience it is difficult to stay longer at the same place. In a few days my plane back to Germany would depart. I had slowly to get ready for my trip back to Bangkok. Wilhelm must have been able to read thoughts or to understand the feelings as he came over to me. He put his hand on my shoulder and said 'Yes, so is it. This happens to all of us.'
This is a long time ago, my attitude has changed since then. Do not do any drugs if you really love your life. You will be missing on so many opportunities and beautiful things if you drop too much of any substance. There is no overdosis on life, just on drugs. I have lost a few friends through drugs and well yeah nowadays I am pretty happy to be alive. Drugs are for sure a kind of experience but after a time you can forget that you 'only' wanted to try it out. There are too many people who were decent at one time no longer really living because they lost the plot.