March 14th 1984

posted in: The way back | 1

The story to date, to put you in the picture in case you’re not reading this immediately after having read Vol VI (NB Looking for someone, Vol VI,  Sydney to Thailand, Pergamon Press, 85.)  Valerie + I have reached the island of Ko Samui, off the east coast of Thailand.  It is a travellers’ beach resort, along the same lines + with very much the same facilities as others we have been to of the same genre – Zipolite, Caye Caulker, etc.  Yet it is also much better.  We feel at ease here, not itching to be off after a day or 2’s obligatory rest.  To be sure, the place has a lot going for it.  The beach is white + reasonably clean, the sea very blue.  The sun beats down all day every day out of a cloudless blue sky, meaning one has to take care not to sizzle + shrivel like a steak on a Barbie.  The accommodation is perfectly adequate, + above all cheap, in bungalows or huts spread virtually around the entire coast-line, each group clustered around a small beach restaurant.  These restaurants, like the huts they control, vary a little in terms of furnishings + price, but basically offer much the same fare, which, it must be said, is generally very good.  The people here, both locals + travellers, are friendly enough.  And, depending upon one’s point of view, arguably the most important of all is the availability of stimulants.  Booze is affordable, + even more so are the grass cookies at $5 a throw, + the magic mushroom omelettes.

This is particularly pertinent at the moment,  because I am currently in the middle of an extended shroom trip.  (Not as I write, you understand, but in the time that I am writing of – the transition from one volume to the next could scarcely have come at a worse time.)  This makes March 14th particularly difficult to write about.  Yesterday at about 3 pm I ate a shroom omelette.  After a couple of hours, I was somewhere among the clouds, + this morning I was still way up there somewhere, only starting to come down sometime during the afternoon.  So first it is difficult to describe my physical wanderings during the day, tho’ Val has been able to help with that, + second it is almost impossible to describe my mental wanderings – I’ll try those first.

It was (I can put it into the past tense since it is now over) the deepest +  most profound drug experience of my life – a little too deep for comfort really.  My thinking was twisted, turned back on itself, so that every thought zig-zagged.  And any attempt at analysis of my own condition went swiftly the same way.  I had many ideas, which struck me as strikingly original when they first struck, but which, when I tried to analyse them, either seemed banal or disappeared altogether.  My memory disappeared, so that the only fact I could hold in my head was the fact that I couldn’t remember anything.  And my mind was full of paradoxes, of opposites – was I thinking more deeply or more facilely, more direct or more vague?  I was weighed down by the impossibility of a mind analysing itself, like a fork-lift truck lifting itself off the ground.  I made startling analogies between the physical world surrounding me + the larger invisible world.  I tried to classify the various inputs to my mind: 1. The physical 2. My observations upon the physical  3. My observations upon those observations, + only then would realise that, quite literally, this took me to the brink + gave me a peep over the edge into the world of insanity.

I used a catch-phrase, “And that way lies madness” to signal to myself that my thinking was on a dangerous track, but soon that phrase too became part of the track necessary to switch me onto a higher or deeper level (who knows which?)  I tried, from time to time, to communicate some of this to Val, but was severely handicapped by the fact I found it impossible to finish a sentence.  Before I’d finished explaining one idea, another, more profound one, would intrude, + demand immediate airing, in turn to be cut off by another.  In the circumstances , it was amazing that Val understood as much as she did, or seemed to, of what I was telling her.

Physically, I coped rather better.  Unlike other shroom experiences, it did not reduce me to a gibbering, giggling idiot.  I was, on the contrary, remarkably quiet + introspective (with all of the stuff I’ve described above churning thro’ my head, who would wonder?)  Because of this, I didn’t make wonderfully good company, tho’ I was able to respond to stimuli.  The most notable effect physically was that I developed a powerful case of the munchies.  And, it must be said, Val was not much better, having stimulated her appetite with a grass cookie.  We spent most of the day at various restaurants along the beach, with shakes, sandwiches, cakes, peanuts, coke, etc, etc.  Each dish seemed absolutely wonderful, + when it was finished we couldn’t wait to start the next.

At Peace bungalows, we were both entertained + amazed by the conversation going on at the next table between 2 Americans.  They didn’t know each other, so it was largely an exchange of information.  Except that they weren’t exchanging information at all, but batting clichés at one another, so banal, so hackneyed, it was difficult to believe it was really going on.  Better than a Pinter play.  I wish I hadn’t been stoned so I could record the actual words.  They are, alas (apart from “Must soak up some rays”) gone.

Somehow the day passed, + slowly, very slowly, I came down.  I swam a little, lazed a little, ate a lot.  It was, I’ll confess, with some relief that I recognised the slow return of sanity… or at least coherence.  The day ended on a fitting note, with a quite magnificent meal, eaten at the French place.  I had shish kebab + mashed potatoes – it was enormous + wonderful.  Val had sweet + sour pork – equally superb, she tells me.

Well, having apologised one day for my extensive description of a drug trip, I go and excel myself (if that’s the right word) with an even more detailed such description. My apologies. But, apart from that, we do seem to have fallen on our feet, being at just the right place at just the right time. Travel had jaded us, so having days of relaxing, swimming, eating was just what we needed to recharge our batteries… and all affordable too!

  1. Pamela Blair

    Why are you apologizing? Your description made me envious. If I ever get a break, I’ll take the shrooms I have waiting for me…with someone to ‘babysit’ me. After the heavy slogging you’ve been doing, Ko Samui sounds like paradise for you. Those days/weeks/months were exciting, but this island is so relaxing!

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