It all started while waiting for yet another night bus in Hanoi, I had just run back from my hotel to grab my passport which I had forgotten at the front desk. If I hadn’t turned back from the pack of travelers being guided down Hanoi’s corridors I would have seen a local on a scooter grab a Canadian girl’s camera only to be whipped off the bike as a result, after a little shouting he apparently ran off. I’d later be told a western woman died this way, when her DSLR was grabbed, while strapped around her neck, by a passerby, I don’t remember how far the scooter dragged her before she let go but then again the story changes depending on who you ask. Meanwhile I’d grabbed my passport and as I would later learn, inadvertently stole my room key, only to run back in a hurry, cursing the cheap smokes every step of the way, only to stand around holding my dick for about an hour waiting for the bus to arrive. As had happened so often before I had squatted down onto the sidewalk and while myself and a rotating series of Britts, Germans and the occasional American smoked, chatted and waited for the bus I struck up a conversation with a fellow traveller, an American. He, like myself, was no stranger to the strange and we began trading war stories of our drunken or drugged up escapades. Somewhere during this conversation he made mention of an Eldorado of sorts, a bar quite literally called Eden in Ko Phangan, Thailand.
Their acid, he told me, was on an entirely different level, maybe it was idiocy or hope on my part but when he spoke all I could here was the sound of a flowing cash machine. If the price of this acid was 5$ or less per hit, which made sense to me considering the price of weed in Laos, then I could mail some home and make a killing, maybe even enough to hit the road again. Eden was now embedded into my travels in a way that no other destination had ever been, it was a must see experience if ever I had herd of one. After nearly 5 weeks of drinking, toking and general insanity throughout Vietnam and Cambodia, I landed in Ko Phangan and wasted no time with my quest, within the hour I was asking my hostel owner for directions to the lost paradise and he was all too happy to oblige. Wait until the afternoon, he said, that way you can catch a taxi to Haad Rin beach and a taxi boat over to Eden. Of course he was Thai so it sounded more like, “Taxi go there lunch after, more boat then”, nevertheless I understood what he was saying and made my way down later that day. When the boat finally took me around the bend I was directed up the rocks along a rickety and terrifying series of bamboo bridges perched along the shore. Upon entering Eden I found mostly locals as well as a Russian girl and her French friend piecing together necklaces out of seashells. The scenery was absolutely stunning and the Alex Grey prints on the ceiling indicated that I was indeed in the right place. I asked for a special menu, no special menu the waiter replied, so fuck it I thought I’ll just order a coke and wait until these guys offer something. Sure enough they did, starting with a happy shake but I wasn’t there for more weed, I asked for two hits of acid and after a long wait and a second request they finally came out with two redbulls, each holding one hit of liquid LSD for a total of 1000 Bach (33USD).
Thinking these two hits to be only moderately more powerful than two of the same back home I tossed them both back immediately and waited for the results. In the meantime I befriended the Russian girl and the Frenchman, who shortly after hearing that I had taken two hits decided to wake up his friend and join me for the day on their own acid trip. Then it hit me, this was a high on a level that none of my years of drug use had ever prepared me for, on this clear blue day the floor of the bar appeared to be getting hit by rain, the sky turned into a crystalline kaleidoscope, I could see tiny monkeys running through my legs and gorillas and giant lizards running across the tree covered mountains in the distance. I felt connected to the earth and ocean and the whole bar, the whole island for that matter seemed to ebb and flow with the tide. I felt like my entire journey, my entire life to that point was all connected, I felt all beauty, all love, I can remember so clearly thinking if I died at this moment, this life would be enough, that I had lived more then I could have ever hopped for.
Then it started to turn, if ever an argument was made for why we as a species should wage war on mosquitoes until their ultimate extinction, this is it. One of the Frenchmen were bitten by what they said was huge mosquito and from that moment forward my mind began to seek out every disturbance, however slight and explode it and soon and itch became a swarm of mosquitoes picking and flying to fast to swat. At first I was obsessed with bugs, the ants were crawling on every inch of my skin, out of my mouth into my camera, I started spraying myself frantically with mosquito repellent but it was no use, more bugs kept on coming, bigger and faster, invading every inch of personal space imaginable. Then the acid got on top of me in a way that to this day shocks me, everyone in the bar transformed into a cross between a bad heroine junkie, covered in sores and lesions and my own skin began to burn and peel. I was poisoned, I was sure of it, this isolated bar up on the rocks was a trap, this was like hostel and what they had given me definitely wasn’t acid. “No its okay.” The Russian girl insisted but her conspicuous smile said otherwise, so I grabbed my shit and ran off. “This is fucked, what the fuck is going on here!” I screamed as I frantically scrambled across the ramshackle bridge which began to collapse behind me on my way towards the beach, I needed people, the more people there were the safer I was, or least that seemed the logical conclusion. I made it maybe 30m before running into a man carrying a small over the shoulder bag, snorkeling gear probably but I had no doubt by the look on his tribal, junkie face that he had a sawed off shotgun and was meaning to put two in the back of my think tank. “Just put down the bag man, I don’t want to hurt you! I just want to go home! Put it down God Damn it!!!”
I discovered something on this escapade; people tend to listen to you when you’re insane. I made it down to the beach yet all the while the people I crossed along the way belonged to what was surely a shady tribal cult with nothing but the most nefarious of intentions and my skin was still burning, a slow chemical pealing. This is not acid, I need help now I thought. An English girl would later tell me that back where she came from they described this as, it’s the acid, it’s not the acid, those moments when the acid manages to convince you on every level that something about this nightmare is true because until this point I believed that nothing, and I mean nothing could ever create such a powerful illusion. At the time it seems the strongest indicator that this must all have been real was the people’s reaction, they were so calm, so un-reactive, I felt spurred on towards becoming louder and more insane because I thought if this was all real, no one would allow this. I would be getting shut down, quieted up or least garner more concern then I seemed to be getting and the more attention I got the more certain I became of my death. Being alone on this island without any frame of reference for reality; a friend, a place, a touchstone of any kind left my mind vulnerable to this intense deception. I hit the beach screaming “Help!!!!!!!! I need fucking help!!!!”, have you taken any drugs asked a concerned vacationer, unaware she was now part of this delusion, for that matter so was the whole beach.
Hundreds of tattooed, pierced, built islanders, locals and tourist alike all stared at me with murder in there eyes and their dogs, already fairly large, were transformed into pit bulls and tigers. “I took acid I replied to her” “Why would you take acid?” she shouted back to which I still remember responding “I don’t know, it was well recommended” before dropping all my shit off on the beach; passport, wallet, DSLR camera, mp3 player and running off. All eyes were on me and they all meant business. “Come on then assholes, just give me the fucking gun and let me kill myself!!! Come then shoot me, shoot me!!!” I had never been so absolutely convinced before that I was going to die; this was it, the last and final hurrah and I was damned if I was going to go out ripped apart by dogs, I demanded a weapon a fair chance. “Take all my shit I don’t care, I just want to go home!!!” Finally I ran full speed and jumped onto and empty boat, fuck it, I thought I’m getting out of here no matter the cost. Then I got hit hard by the, it’s the acid, effect and remembered briefly that if indeed I had just temporarily lost my mind that hijacking a boat would probably end badly, especially considering that I know fuck all about boats, so I made my way to the bow and prepared to jump off if anyone came any closer. Eventually I came to the conclusion that the safest place to be was out at sea but I couldn’t swim, however the anchor of the boat went out into the water pretty far and I figured I could swim to the rope and just stay a good 50m out in the water, safe at least for the moment, so I jumped off the front of the ship.
Nothing delivers more clarity than jumping into the ocean especially when you can’t swim, you know when people describe their feeling as sinking, well this is what their talking about and it’s a lot fucking worse. As soon as my head was under the water I was thrashing my way back to shore. When I hit the beach it was like landing at Normandy, the waves felt so overpowering that I had to literally drag myself up out of the water by my hands and on my stomach, this might have been made easier if I hadn’t chosen to wear jeans and a t-shirt that day. Once back on the beach the scenario persisted, I was demanding a ship off the beach but I could only go with one other person, the more people in the boat the more potential killers. “I need a hospital, I need a helicopter, I need white people, I need facebook!!!!” The demands were all pretty insane in retrospect, especially considering how much I really wanted facebook but I eventually began talking to an Israeli who offered to let me hop on their boat. I agreed but kept a stone in each hand and asked the passengers to all to keep there distance since I could see in their eyes the same devilish glint that had been terrifying me. Luckily for me my karma must have been in order because the people on the beach kept my stuff safe and brought it all with me. Yet even getting onto the boat I was sure that at any moment the driver was going to slash me up with the propeller while I walked by and as the boat took off flames came flying out the engine. We made it around the bend to the main party beach and as I landed I believe my first words were. “This is the same beach I just came from your tricking me!” Luckily for me the Israeli had seen this type of situation before and had managed to calm me down quite easily. We made our way to the clinic and once I found myself in a safe setting with a drip to remove some of the acid I calmed down and was given the gift of my sanity. I had made it to hell and back and had kept all my possessions, with the exception of my room key and headphones. All in all it was a fairly anticlimactic end to an otherwise insane escapade but ironically enough when it was all said and done I was prescribed a few medications to clear the LSD out of my system entirely. Vitamin B1-6-12, taken 3 times daily and another substance designed to reduce stomach acid contents, labelled literally Anti Acid, oddly enough the doctors didn’t seem to understand why that was funny. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned somewhere in all of this, yet considering that I returned to the bar and took more acid two days later suggests to me that this lesson has eluded me entirely, but hopefully you’ve figured it out.