Thursday, March 13, 2008
Don't bogart that... er... mosquito coil, man.
I'm STILL in Asia. The following Asia-ish piece, by me, appeared in thefirstpost, a few days back.
Mad Thai Drugs
Drug scares are a regular occurrence in Thailand. In the 1980s, the great fear was "China white" heroin. In the 1990s, methamphetamine came along. Now there is a new drug on the Siamese streets - and it is truly bizarre.
The narcotic is colloquially known as "4 x 100". The name comes from its four main ingredients: Coca-Cola, cough syrup, boiled kratom leaves, and crushed-up coils of mosquito repellent.
Three of these ingredients can be found in the average supermarket. Kratom is an endemic local weed with properties similar to marijuana: you can buy it anywhere in Thailand, for a few baht.
No one knows who first concocted this extraordinary mix. But everyone agrees that 4 x 100 comes from the country's roiled, insurgent south, where bored Muslim youths - forbidden alcohol by their religion - experimented with various substances, to see what made them high. Somehow they hit on the 4 x 100 combination. The resulting brew is drunk very quickly: because it tastes much as it sounds.
The effect is like a slow-burning, hallucinogenic opiate. The user is stupefied, but then becomes agitated - as the dreams and visions kick in.
The craze has lately hit Bangkok. You can see people whacked out of their gourds, on 4 x 100, in many poor parts of the city. The government has tried banning cough syrups containing codeine, but the kids have simply switched to new brands.
Indeed, the fight against 4 x 100 is getting more complex, as the drug evolves. Rumours are circling of a refinement of 4 x 100: known as 6 x 100 or even 7 x 100 - because of the addition of new ingredients. These can include yoghurt, coffee or Alprazolam, (a sleeping pill already nicknamed the "deflowering drug", in the Muslim south). The final ingredient is the powder from the inside of fluorescent lightbulbs.
Posted by sean at 5:30 pm