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Khao San Road

I was ready to be eaten alive by the incessant human tide that is Khao San Road on Friday nights. I mingled with hallucinated backpackers, discovering the cool side of the world, feeling immortal, with enough energy to spin the universe. Coming back from full moon parties, toying with the idea of never, ever going back home. I can get a gig as a DJ in Kho Phangan for the season and travel for the rest of the year. I can buy gems in Sri Lanka, sell them in Singapore and travel for the rest of the decade. I can bring a suitcase of bhul bhuliya pills to Mumbai and travel for the rest of my life. I can write a novel about my life in a Thai prison. My brain exploded with possibilities. There was a six-year-old black B-boy dancing on break beats and performing stabbed windmills into a back spin, and I wondered: how could his dance reproduce my thoughts so accurately?

One thing led to another. The loudspeakers were madly sending waves of reggae, rock, and house. I fell deeper into the throbbing heart of Khao San. A grilled scorpion, fake driver's licenses, a tattoo parlor that reeked of incense. I bumped into a guy near the tattoo parlor, we smiled, and he said something in Khmer. I knew this routine. I kept walking, and five pills of yaa baa landed in my right hand. A few banknotes slipped out of my pocket, and then we were gone. It was the eternal flux of energy down Khao San, the ethics of the trade, trusting the accuracy of bad karma. The pills in my palm burned like a stigma. I feared that my sweating palm would dissolve the meth and the caffeine. Holding the potentiality of the gift that yaa baa brings was so powerful. What if I swallowed the five of them — would I become the new shaman-messiah?

[ "Shaman Express" excerpt: Amazon US / Amazon UK ]

Khao San Road