Day 18: “Ketamin, Opium cocaine…” – Ipoh, Malaysia

Biggie and Kel drove us 140 km and then dropped us off at a petrol station, near Pinang, about 150 km from the Thailand border. We waited there for nearly two hours until someone finally picked us up. The vehicle that stopped, though, was certainly worth the wait.

A shabby white bus pulled up with three men inside: two older men, Hasni and ‘The Chief’, in the front, and a younger man, Daud, in the back with us. The men were part of Malaysia’s anti-narcotics squad.

Drug law in Malaysia is one of the strictest in the world. Long jail sentences and heavy fines are mandatory for suspects caught with controlled substances and the death penalty is prescribed for drug traffickers.

After some brief chit-chat, Hasni turned around from the passenger seat, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “ketamine, opium, cocaine? You want to try?”

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“You what?” I asked, eyebrow raised.

“Would you like to try some ketamine, opium, cocaine, or ice maybe some ice?”

A silence hung in the air for a few seconds, before the three policemen all erupted into howls of laughter.

“Your face”, wept Hasni, as Daud slapped me on the back. “If you had said yes”, continued Hasni, wiping a tear from his eye. “We would have had to kill you”.

As he said these words the minibus went deathly silence once more. No more laughing, no more smiles.

I looked at each man. Daud and Hasni seemed to be staring into my soul and even The Chief, who was driving, shot me a glare from the rear-view mirror.

The whole bus then exploded into howling laughter once more.

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