Great pics, Rascal. Thanks.
This one reminded me of a funny experience I had in Hanoi:
It was 1997, on my first trip there, and I noticed everywhere people were sitting in the fields and on the sidewalk and inside cafes smoking bongs. Holy shit! Everyone’s heard of killer Thai stick, and of how many US soldiers when fighting in Vietnam enjoyed the great herbal medicine, but I didn’t know the country was awash with potheads. This was too good to be true.
So, after some hesitation, I finally ventured up to a small shop selling bamboo bongs and asked “how much?” He gestured the price and I indicated that, ok, but I wanted some herb to try it out first. “Sure,” he was happy to oblige. He pulled out a baggie and packed a big bowl for me as his two companions sat beside him happily watching. After many months away from my native California sinsemilla, I was thrilled. He handed me the lighter. I steadied myself, exhaled deeply, sparked the lighter, and drew one long, massive bong load, taking the smoke deep into my lungs and holding it in until. . .
Suddenly a giant cloud of smoke bellowing from my throat, as I began coughing and gagging and desperately gasping for air, my eyes tearing up instantly, my head spinning, I tried standing, but grew dizzy and nauseaus. I recalled the various stories I’d read in Lonely Planet and the like about how one should never take a cigarrete from a stranger in Asia, because they’ll drug it and rob you, so I struggled for my feet, but my head spun, and they guy offered me a small stool to sit on. No way, I thought, you won’t get me that easily, as I cartweeled about trying to avoid crashing down on the sidewalk.
First astounded, then alarmed, the guy’s buddies were now laughing, and slowly my head cleared enough that I could give him the requested payment, grab my loot, and stagger off to my nearby hotel room, where I tried to puke in the toilet, threw water on my face, and crashed out on the bed, by then realizing that it was only tobacco, but a most effective substance when ingested in deep bonghits, which is obviously not how the locals do it, instead just drawing the smoke slowly and gently through the device. Oh well, live and learn.