"You can never check your bags carefully enough when flying internationally," says the guy who wears a turban daily.👳🛃
🤦♂️ Prelude To A Colossal Mistake 🤦♂️
I obtained my medical marijuana card back in the early 2000's when I was living in Colorado. It was quite a novelty back then, and there weren't even any places to legally buy it when I first got my card.
Cutting to the chase, I apparently misplaced a 10g bag of ganja I purchased from the Colorado Compassion Club, the first dispensary in Colorado. I must say I don't remember ever sensing some herb was missing nor searching for it.
🙅♂️ Singapore, But Not By Choice 🙅♂️
Fast forward to the year 2011, where I'm living in Cambodia and teaching English. Between the time I lost 10g of herb 5+ years earlier and then, I'd flown internationally many times through various airports of the world with my favorite messenger bag.
I'd even taken a trip to India and Sikkim with a friend from Singapore that I'd met working at a YMCA youth camp in Indiana, of course not without my favorite messenger bag.
This particular friend had even come to visit me in Colorado before our trip to India together, so I felt I owed him a visit being so close to Singapore while living in Cambodia.
Eventually I had a few free weeks in my schedule, so I purchased a roundtrip Phnom Penh to Singapore ticket to meet my friend on his home turf, even though Singapore is a place I would've never gone otherwise.
Not My Cup Of Tea 🍵
Singapore has everything I try to avoid when selecting an interesting country to visit. It's crowded, expensive, the locals have very little free-time, and they live high-stress lives.
I'll try to fast forward a bit now, as this post isn't about the awesome stuff you can do in Singapore with money you've earned in Cambodia. My friend and I took a multi-day excursion to Malacca, Malaysia, by bus.
On the bridge back to Singapore returning from Malaysia, I was performing a deep search for my headphones when I felt a paper thin baggy with the tip of my finger. I fish-hooked the bag out from a little cranny using my index finger, only to discover 10g of several year old compressed Colorado medical marijuana.
Awkward Customs Encounter 🛃
Only having a minute to do something before we would arrive at the Singapore Customs checkpoint, and not wanting to alert my friend or anyone else on the bus to anything out of the ordinary, I was able to discreetly jam the bag of weed into a crevice between the seats.
What would happen during the next half hour would have me thinking I was going to end up on the show "Locked Up Abroad." I asked my friend how long the customs process would take, and he let me know Singapore is super fast and state of the art, and that it would be a breeze.
He also let me know we'd exit the bus for the re-entry process while the bus was being x-rayed and checked by dogs. My heart sank in my chest when he said this, and my palms begin sweating.
The dogs were certainly going to find the herb, but I was not going to admit to anything, and I wasn't going to involve my friend no matter what.
Surely enough, just like a bad TV show, my name was called from behind before I could enter the passport control area. Falling apart inside, I tried to act as natural as possible knowing this wasn't going to be anything like a Cambodian police encounter.
Somehow they already knew I wasn't traveling alone, and quickly summoned my friend to this mystery room. Immediately my friend began getting aggressive, demanding they hurry up so we can catch our bus.
They begin asking us all kinds of questions, from how we knew each other to why we went to Malaysia, and all the while my friend visibly upset with this intense questioning. I, however, was answering as calmly and respectfully as I could.
It reached a climax when one of the officers told me he used to live in New York in the 1970s, and asked me if I liked the Grateful Dead. "Nope, not really my kind of music," was my answer to that entrapment.
🚌 Back On The Bus 🚶♂️
In the end, it turns out they were concerned for my financial status upon re-entry. I wasn't able to prove enough funds to satisfy the Singaporean government, so my friend had to sign some formal paperwork making him my "guardian" of sorts.
We hopped back on the bus and yes, my herb was right where I left it. "Was this a trap?" "Do they want to catch me red-handed?" "If I leave it on the bus they'll surely question the only non-Singaporean on the whole bus once they've found it."
A flood of what-ifs ran through my head, but in the end I decided it best to get the herb out of the bus. I wasn't tackled as I exited with the herb, so I arrived safely back to my friend's house with 10g of vintage high-grade in the worst country in the world to be in possession of such a thing.
Apparently being friends for over 15 years wasn't enough trust for me to be left alone in the apartment while my friend and his wife went to work and his parents went out for the day.
I ultimately was kicked out of the house each day early in the morning, and then could only return when another resident family member arrived back at the house to let me in.
I only came to see my friend, and I didn't have money to be a tourist in Singapore, so I decided to roll a spliff and smoke it each day in one of the various free public parks, and basically just waste the day.
I managed to find a few places for budget meals, so I survived well enough, but Singapore is far from my kind of place. Even my friend's apartment gave me vertigo when I occasionally looked out the window.
It was so strange not being trusted in my friend's apartment alone, but I learned to cope with it.
🚫 Vibes Wrong 🧘♂️
I can't explain how bizarre it is to smoke high-grade marijuana when you haven't smoked it for years, and in a place where you are surrounded by people who have no idea what smoking marijuana feels like.
Initially I was worried people would notice my red eyes or smell it on me, but Singapore's eyes are distracted by their screens at all times.
I ultimately survived Singapore, but I missed Cambodia the whole time I was there. My friend and I's vibes were never the same again after he revealed there were trust issues with me. I wouldn't have even gone had I known that first.
I was glad to return to a rough and wild flooded Cambodia after the experience, where the people are engaged in life, and curious for what each day holds. These two countries are living in parallel universes, and it was an experience that really made me apprecialove how Cambodia has affected my worldview.