“I had taken Ketamine in India, Acid in Thailand and Ecstasy in Berlin – but this was by far my favourite experience”
All great things in life come in pairs, don’t they? Knife and fork. Cheese and crackers. Fish and chips. Key and Peele. Lilo and Stitch. Mushrooms and Vietnam. Sometimes two things come together and perfectly unite in a beautiful way. This was the case with my experience when taking mushrooms in Vietnam. Despite what people may tell you of all the negative stories of psychedelics abroad, my experience was fortunately mind blowing. Was I just part of the lucky few? Who knows. Today I’m going to talk to you about the beautiful world of mushrooms, the beautiful land of Vietnam, and my beautiful experience from taking mushrooms in Vietnam. If you’re a psychedelic-fan then you’ll enjoy this story, if you’re not, then perhaps your mind will be altered. Let’s delve into it.
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During my late teens and early twenties I was lucky enough to travel to far away parts of the world. Although many places I went to caused me to feel the famous ‘culture shock’, each place I arrived at, I was greeted by gorgeously kind people, and open-mindedness was rife. It changed my perception of the world. If you haven’t ever had the chance to then you must; travelling is a necessity for everyone (whatever age you are). As J.R.R Tolkien, author of Lord of the Rings, once said:
“Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate”
What one can take from this somewhat ambiguous quote, is that life will often greet you with new experiences if you have the courage to turn that next corner. That’s how I felt when I first arrived in Vietnam.
Vietnam is a country in South-east Asia, and is most known for its incredible beaches, wildlife, motorbiking trails and bustling cities. If you were to look at the nation on a map, it looks a bit like the letter S, winding its way down the coast of South-east Asia. The old leader, Ho Chi Minh, who now has the capital city named after him, was responsible for claiming Vietnam’s independence in 1969.
Vietnam has always had the reputation of being a highly tropical place. Even during the American-Vietnam war (1955-1975), many American soldiers were sold a propaganda dream of beautiful beaches and amazing greenery. Furthermore, they were sent to hunt and destroy a communist ideology. In the end, both seemed to be lies and the devastation of the Vietnam war hit both sides demonstrably. Whilst Vietnam’s beautiful scenery is unquestionable, those involved in the war did not have the time or strength to stop and enjoy it. The Vietnamese were able to use their knowledge of the forests, and attack Americans with gorilla warfare, which US soldiers would not have been used to. There were no front lines, or back lines, anywhere was a threat. Both the Vietnamese and the American soldiers were unjustly killed due to deceitful politicians…yet again.
When deciding to visit Vietnam I was of course influenced by its incredible lustrous and interesting history. I had learned about the Vietnam war through history lessons and films, and I had seen images of the incredible landscapes. It was somewhere I had wanted to visit since I was a boy. However, I also wanted to visit because I had heard that Vietnamese psychedelics were supposed to be incredible – and those mixed with the unbelievable scenery of Vietnam was something I knew I wanted to experience. It was one for the bucket list. However, drugs in Vietnam are not accepted like drugs in Europe or America. In fact, they are extremely illegal. I use the word ‘extremely’ because using certain drugs in Vietnam can lead to the death penalty.
Mushrooms in Vietnam
Drugs in Vietnam, and South-east Asia in general, are very much illegal. Although you may smell cannabis on the streets, or see many street-dealers waving baggies at you, don’t be fooled. Drugs are very much unlawful. The irony is that:
“American soldiers in Vietnam began using drugs while off duty to help cope with all their struggles during the war. The Department of Defense reported in 1971 that by that time, 51% of soldiers had smoked marijuana, 28% had consumed heroin or cocaine, and 31% had used psychedelics such as LSD or mushrooms”
However, despite this fact, the truth is that nowadays, Vietnam does not want people selling or using drugs. The consequences are huge:
“Penalties for drug offences are severe. Under the Vietnamese penal code, a person caught in possession of even a small amount of heroin can be sentenced to death. There are over two dozen foreigners currently serving life sentences or facing the death penalty for drug trafficking offences”
It isn’t just heroin that can lead to such insane prosecutions. If you’re found with cocaine, ecstasy or even enough cannabis, you can also be sentenced to death. Whilst I was travelling out there, I met someone who’s father had recently been sentenced to death for possession of 5 grams of cannabis. It sounded as if he was finding a way to be released, but seriously, imagine if you didn’t have the connections to resist!
My Experiences of Mushrooms In Vietnam
As you can see, whilst Vietnam might seem like a fun-loving, drug-accepting place full of open-mindedness, it still has very very strict laws. However, most of the time, when you’re out of the authorities eye-line, it is a very free place. I took a few months out of my life and decided to travel from the top to the bottom: Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh. It’s a classic route that many backpackers take. There were many stops along the way in a variety of different cities. I was fortunate enough to rent a motorbike and do the Hai Van Pass, which is one of the most beautiful roads in the world. In addition, I got to see the wonder-of-the-world: Halong Bay.
The trip was a psychedelic journey even without psychedelics. However, drugs were still on my mind; and something that I knew I needed to find and to try. During my journey I was greeted by many people who spoke about these cannabis cafes, or ‘high bars’ as they were called. They were tucked away in forests and on mountains and were not the easiest to find. I remember one day spending 6 hours trying to find one, going down dirt tracks and insanely steep hills, only to eventually give up. Google Maps could only get me so far.
But in one small town, I was finally directed to one. I went with a few people I had met in the hostel I was staying at, and we jumped on our mopeds and began the voyage. It took an hour or so, and we had to park a little down the track as it wasn’t the type of road a moped would survive on. But eventually we arrived, sweaty and a bit irritated by the long walk. However, the view was something that would turn any sweaty, irritated person into a bundle of joy. The whole place was made out of bamboo, with beautiful carpets to lie on, and small tables to sit by. It felt like a Buddhist Temple for the psychedelic-lovers. There was subtle trance-music playing quietly, which was a beautiful addition to the atmosphere of the place. Plus, as if it couldn’t get any better, the sunset was only hours away.
I was excited to say the least. Once we’d settled and found a place to sit. I walked up to the counter and was greeted by a very smiley Vietnamese woman. I asked her if she had any of the ‘special shakes’, which were written all over the menu board. She replied: ‘Yes’. I had assumed these ‘special shakes’ were simply THC milkshakes. I wasn’t devastated because any experience would have been wonderful. However, before I was able to say anything else, she asked, ‘mushrooms or weed’? My dream had been answered. I was almost speechless with joy.
However, I found it in myself to reply, ‘mushrooms please’. And that was it. We ordered a couple; for myself and the rest of my group. When it arrived, I sat sipping the off-coloured but oddly nice flavoured drink, watching the sun dip into the earth, and feeling like I’d accomplished something incredible. Something that few people would understand, but for those that did – would be connected to me forever.
The trip was incredible. It took about an hour to begin and lasted maybe 6. There was enough natural light to accompany my trip for the majority of it, but when it became dark the amazing atmosphere of the place was good enough. I spoke to people about the world, I danced to the music, I even sat and just watched the sun. I ended up having quite an intense relationship with a cloud in the sky.
There was one particular cloud, which I had convinced myself looked like a big fluffy bear, and I had created a narrative in which this cloud was slowly moving across the world – watching over everyone and everything. I had taken Ketamine in India, Acid in Thailand and Ecstasy in Berlin – but this was by far my favourite experience.
The sad truth is, I can’t really remember all of my elaborate thoughts I had during the trip, but I knew that I felt like I’d discovered something incredible. Whilst the memory of it might not be as pure as the original experience, I’m very glad I did it. And i’m very glad I’ve now been able to write it all down.
Mushrooms in Vietnam are something very special, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. It’s a journey and it may take a bit of time to get there – but when you do – it’ll be extraordinary.
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