Seventeen Years Ago in a Quaint Thai Prison

sayarsan's picture

Inside the jail the most widely consumed drug is of course tobacco. Some people smoke KrongThip which are Thai tailormades and better than their Australian equivalent but still hopelessly polluted. Boorlee Pamar are Burmese cigars which are very cheap since they don't pay tax to the Thai Tobacco Monopoly. They also last a long time and are useful currency like KrongThip. What I like most is yassoor TaiYai. The locally grown tobacco. It is very nice quality and costs $2A for a pack the size of a house brick. Drum tobacco costs $8A. With yassoor it is traditionally rolled in banana leaf or corn husk. In here some people still do that while others use newspaper. The newspaper is rank and poisonous. One trick I learned off SalarKior who sleeps next to me, is how to remove the silver lining off the paper inside a KrongThip packet and use that - better than the locally made cigarette papers. The cigarettes you roll yourself in here are fuckin BIG. The interesting thing is, if you smoke good tobacco in good paper it can be good for you provided you exercise strict moderation. No rationilization here but fact. When you sleep and live in dusty and dirty surroundings your respiratory tract is in a state of permanent overload. The mucous linings are continually trying to remove pathogens. Smoking stimulates the mucous secretions that remove these pathogens. The phlegm in your mouth can indicate by taste when an infection is present and preventive action can be taken. The phlegm that is swallowed allows the digestive tract to safely expose the immune system so antibodies can be generated.

Some men chew betel nut wrapped in a leaf with lime & tobacco. The lime is mineral not fruit. It is alkaline and releases the alkaloids in the betel. The mild buzz is pleasant but better still the lime and copious saliva stimulated by the betel & tobacco help to remove decay causing bacteria. Better to have red teeth than no teeth.. There are life long betel chewers in their 80s male and female who still have their teeth. I like it.

For sleep there are antihistamines if you have a friend to bring them in. The nurse who visits occasionally also gives them but not for sleep. They are not very effective except for the continually running nose. In the prison you can buy Tiffy tablets which have antihistamine but too much paracetomol for my liver. Immodium was given to me by a well meaning guard and I do believe it helped by the relaxing effect it has on the gut.

There is heroin in here and it was offered to me(free) but I refused. Junk in jail is bad news. Also when people see you withdrawing but you refuse smack they have to rethink their opinion of you. The heroin is smoked. Have not seen or smelt any ganja or opium but that does not mean it isn't here. Some of the Lahu seem very relaxed but that is their nature. Have Lahu opium eater in here over 60 years old who hasn't slept peoperly in a month and he seems relaxed!

When the nurse came I asked for O.T. (opium tincture). In Thailand it IS worth a try. They only dispense it for drug addicts in a mixture with methadone.. NO THANKS. Mai chop. After a while a nice TaiYai gave me 15ml of paregoric or Camphorated Opium Tincture which was nice. In the police lock up the head cop gave me opium to eat, a lot, when I told him I preferred opium to heroin. Is not easy coz no one speaks English.

With medical care at a minimum the men use many traditional medicines. Tiger Balm, Monkey Balm, Golden Cup- same thing is used for many things. You can put it on your throat for sore throats, on your nostrils for runny nose, on joints when they ache, on cigarettes for sore throats. No doubt there are many other applications I haven't discovered yet. A good one for runny nose, sore throat, etc. is YaPongDanDuHaJedi or BrownPowderMedicine5Chedis brand. It works well. Lime or lemon peel is used on skin. The old men have the strangest things stashed away in an old box or bed roll. SalarKior is a riot and his face betrays his quick and lively sense of humour. He must be a wonderful person to talk to. The old man I drink tea with isn't so funny. He eats alone and hides everything but he gives me tobacco and betel not so much because I taught him how to heal sores with salt water but because he hopes to get farang medecine from me. Jail is the same everywhere. I've done all this before in a much harder and less interesting place.

Me- I would kill for a joint but that is the beauty of ganja you only want it when you think about it. Opium and ganja are currently the victims of an international eradication program. Believe this!-In time the cynicism of this program and the personal pain and suffering it has caused will be seen as a crime similar in magnitude to that perpetrated by the Nazis in Germany and the Bolsheviks in Russia. Historically they are all connected.