I Had a Mushroom Shake in Thailand and All I Got Was This Stupid CD
I can’t even show you the CD. Why? Because I threw that five-track motherfucker straight into the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s crystal clear aquatic thoroughfare. As a Dive Instructor, I should’ve known better – eventually it’ll end up lodged in the colon of a sea turtle, and I’ll be no better than Tony Abbott or Greg “The H is Pronounced C” Hunt, but God… I hated that CD.
This isn’t a story about taking drugs. That would upset my mother, who forms most of her opinions based off anything I write that gets published. She’s been through enough already – when I was in Year 12, she read on Facebook that I had been shelving Ritalin in order to get me through my final exams. She obviously didn’t know what shelving entailed and, had she waited for my results to be released before confronting me at the dinner table, it would’ve been fairly obvious I had not touched performance-enhancing study drugs, nor inserted them up my rear to make them hit quicker. No, this is a story about trying to take drugs, and the following experience that, five years down the track, is a much better story than some “life-changing” hallucination.
Though I never actually listened to the CD, I knew what it sounded like – the incessant, repetitive beats of Koh Pha-Ngan’s Half Moon Jungle Party. It’s the kind of music Satan would pregame to, thumping in the background as he sucked down a Smirnoff Double Black.
“I fucking love this track,” he’d squeal, jumping on a table and twerking his fat red ass as Beelzebub Snapchats the demonic dance.
When I looked at that CD, however, I could only hear one thing: Martin, a large Canadian-Chilean (henceforth known as Chiladian), mumbling in my ear, “I’ve shit the bed. I’m getting in yours.”
On a scale of one to things-I-don’t-want, a huge Chiladian whispering in my ear was right up there. Looking back, it was certainly a low point in our relationship. Maybe not rock bottom, but definitely not a highlight.
We’d first met on Koh Tao, two lone backpackers just looking for a mate to hang out with. To be completely honest, I had seen him earlier and thought he looked like a complete dick, but when a dick starts talking you can’t help but listen. He worked on oilrigs and had spent time in prison for dealing crack. I worked with kids and once smoked oregano in high school. He told me I looked like the kind of guy who would listen to Ben Howard. I took it as a compliment. We were destined to become firm friends.
Our friendship eventually took us onwards to Koh Phangan. Here, we sampled the delights of the Jungle Party with our fellow hostel guests and I hated it. If you’re a DJ and want to play music so loud I can’t even scream in someone’s ear, you had better be playing 90s RnB. There’s so much that can be communicated through ‘No Scrubs’. TLC fandom aside, I wasn’t having a great time – that’s why downing a mushroom shake from the lovely old Thai man at the Mushroom Stand (not the official business name) seemed like a great idea.
It tasted like mushroom sauce, surprisingly, but not that Monday night $15-steak special with mushroom sauce. More like a blended concoction of mushroom, dirty dishwater and a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang. No, hang on, that last part is a Paul Kelly song. I forget the last ingredient, but I’m certain Paul Kelly wouldn’t endorse it. I should know, he once cooked me a vegetarian curry at his house in Melbourne (though that’s another long story).
The mushroom shake never affected me. I left an hour after consumption, drunk and dishevelled, sharing a tuk-tuk with a British girl from the hostel. All I had to show for my “epic” night was a shithouse CD containing exclusive tracks from one of the DJs. Stoked. I tried to put it to good use, holding it up to the girl as we stumbled towards our respective rooms.
“Do you want to come listen to this CD in my room?” I slurred. She was on the fence. “Oh wait,” I continued, “I don’t have a Discman.”
She probably wasn’t old enough to know what a Discman even was, but at least I had cleared the air – we would be going to bed alone (I now carry a Discman everywhere, ’cause you never know when love might strike). Two minutes later I realised this was probably for the best, as my entire insides soon blew up in a vegan-friendly explosion of mushroom.
If the Kingdom of Thailand ever gets jealous of Indonesia’s famous Krakatoa volcano, well, the Koh Pha-Ngan eruption in July 2011 could give it a red hot run for its money.
Martin returned to the room several hours later. I heard him moaning, rolling around on the rock hard bed like a big, smelly baby. “Uh-oh,” he said, “shit.” Now, I already kind of hinted as to what happened, but at the time I had not realised the magnitude of the situation until he padded across the tiles to get into my bed. I lay there for a minute or so, pushed up against the wall, wondering how my life had come to this. Then I was sick. Really sick. Which, of course, set Martin off. We both ran to the bathroom, me on all fours in the shower while he sat on the toilet excavating his insides and vomiting onto the ground.
As we had both had a shake from the same lovely old man, it’s only natural we would be displaying similar symptoms. Unfortunately, there was only one toilet in our ensuite, meaning we were forced to perform a highly complex logistical manoeuvre known as, “Martin, get off that fucking toilet right now.” How pathetic he looked, on all fours in the shower as I sat on the throne in tears. It’s simple military strategy: control the high ground.
I won’t go into the details of what played out next. Let’s just say it was a special moment, shared between Martin and I, which we both keep close to our hearts. What I can do is offer some advice: be open to anything and anyone. Sure, I could’ve politely declined Martin’s invitation to have a drink. Failing that, I could’ve said no to a dodgy looking mushie shake sold by a dodgier looking old fella. But if I had done either, it might’ve been a pretty boring trip in Thailand. No-one wants to hear about the raging night you had with the other 10,000 backpackers, nor the Pommy traveller you managed to charm with out-dated technology, but a night spent being spooned by a potentially poo-covered Chiladian? Now that’s the kind of yarn you can spin for your future in-laws.
Cover by Stewart