I was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia standing on the balcony looking over the river as I took another sip of the Amaretto. It was only my second drink of the night, but it was hitting me hard. Must have been the timezone or the lack of sleep last night. I had Sophie under my arm and I was starting to sway with the evening breeze, or was that Sophie swaying, or was the breeze making us sway.
We’d just been to a local restaurant called Happy Herb Pizza and were utterly disappointed with the lack of effect from the marijuana laced pizza, not even a mild mellowing out. Now we on the roof of the Foreign Correspondents club taking in the view, the breeze providing mild relief from the sweaty South East Asian air.
I’m no amateur in the drinking leagues, but I really was starting to freefall, so I told Sophie we should leave. As I walked down the stairs Sophie was laughing and rushed to prop me up. This was unnecessary, I never fall, I’m not a fall over kind of drunk, and I wasn’t even drunk, my senses were super heightened, in fact I felt like a superhero, and Sophie was too small to hold me up.
We bailed into a 3 wheeled rickshaw – basically a motorbike with a trailer at the back and an insane driver at the front. We held on for life as we cruised through the darkly lit Phnom Penh streets. This city had cleaned itself up, when I was here 10yrs ago it was all military checkpoints looking for guns, and don’t venture anywhere alone at night, now its was a more suave ex-colonial outpost than anything even Vietnam had to offer.
We got to the hotel and climbed the stairs. Why was everyone watching me, why was everything so near and yet so far. Me and Sophie started to talk, she would say something, I would reply, she would say the same thing again, I would reply with the same words again, this kept repeating, we were stuck in a loop. With all my concentration I tried to break the conversation loop but both of use repeated it. What the f+ck is going on? Suddenly I couldn’t feel my hands, I looked down, they were still there. This was not alcohol. I’m no rookie drunk, this was something else, what the hell was it. I walked to the bed and stopped. Suddenly I could feel each nerve ending, and Sophie was talking right into my ear, I turned my head and she was the other side of the room. What the hell? Did someone spike our drinks? What had happened tonight. I looked at Sophie, she looked at me. Magic Mushrooms. Maggy Maggy Maggy Maggy Mushrooms. Sophie’s English is great, but she’d lost control of her speaking.
Yes, my friends have told me, this must be a magic mushroom trip. “Maggy Maggy Maggy mushrooms”, Sophie laughed. She had no chance of saying the word magic, she was stuck in her own loop and couldn’t get out of it. I paced the room looking for a solution, I had heard about this, that is what it must be, and I feel damned sure it was that pizza. Happy herb, I was expecting a class C drug like alcohol, except it would be a marijuana laced pizza. I don’t even do marijuana, but once every 5yrs seems like an acceptable number.
What had my friends told me, “magic mushrooms are for people who don’t mind losing control” – do I seem like someone who doesn’t mind losing control? What the f+ck is happening, I lay on my bed and couldn’t move my arms. They were strapped to the bed, then I lifted one arm up and say it – they weren’t strapped to the bed, they never had been. That night as I slept my mild hallucinations continued until I drifted into sleep. I was worried Sophie had overdosed – how could I explain this in Chinese to her parents? Then I was worried I would freak out and kill her? People voluntarily do this drug? I came too in the morning with Sophie shaking me. The alarm had been going for an hour and she’d only just worked out what it was. I’d set an alarm with the sound of a ghost, and she’d not realised it was my alarm. I looked at the time 8:50. We have to be on a bus at 9:30. Shit.
I leapt out of bed and starting packing, and ranting as I did it. Then I stopped. I totally forgot what I was doing, then Sophie reminded me. Her trip had worn off, in fairness she’d only eaten half a pizza, I’d had… oh that’s right I’d eaten her half when she didn’t finish it I’d had 1.5 pizza, shit the room was spinning.
Somehow we made it onto the bus with minutes to spare. Sophie taking the adventure in her stride as she always does and me sweating out the last of the trip. I have to say that of all the places to do your first ever magic mushroom trip, your 2nd day in Cambodia isn’t the best place. Suddenly the realisation dawned on me, almost ever pizza had mushrooms in the topping! Happy Herb Pizza, it should have been called the Magic Fungi Pizza! but who can argue with a country where hotels with palm lined swimming pools cost less than £80 a night! Anyway, life’s all good mostly.
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