The Gang Goes to Thailand: Not THOSE Americans (Part 2)

Welcome back, friends. 

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve returned to the states now, and while the details are blurring, they were never all that clear in the first place. In that spirit I’m going to run the rest of this chronologically, utilizing the handwritten notes I scribed along the way. The last part ended with our first night, and focused mainly on my excitement about being in Thailand… here’s where we start to dig in.

Day Two

Our second day in the country began with a bang. A series of them actually. Let me paint the picture real quick:

It’s 11 am but the room is still dark thanks to effective blackout blinds. You are surrounded by snacks and empty drink bottles scavenged from the night before. It sounds like an elephant is trying to get into the room. You hear shouting and thumps on the door as you awaken from your stupor. 

*Remember, I had just time traveled, and thus hadn’t seen a bed in days. We smoked dozens of blunts after landing, and were on our feet for like a 10 hr day. I was OUT out, and I assumed the rest of the party would be as well.*

Turns out everything was fine, the guys just thought I was dead because I hadn’t woken up yet. [Honestly, how did you? Y’all just did the same journey I did – Jimi’s zeal never ceases to amaze me.] They’ve already eaten, and are ready to explore. All I could think about was needing a smoke, but I wasn’t there yet. I told them I’d come find them in a few hours. I tucked back in.

Upon Consciousness

An hour or two later (or longer, who knows) I finally got my shit together and joined the herd. I met them at the largest outdoor weekend market in the city – I don’t remember the name, but it doesn’t matter. It was a zoo. Like most markets in Thailand, they have some things you need and absolutely everything you don’t. From hilariously bootlegged high-fashion staples to original designs deifying pop culture icons, to “gold” and other precious jewelry, to cell phone cases, to some actually incredible vintage home goods from American brands, it’s all in there. Right across the street was a mall that had more of this that’s open all the time. There was another on the other side. I guess the weekend markets have better wares, but I couldn’t tell the difference. The only thing that felt special about this one was it had a mix of shops every step you took, whereas in the malls for some reason they section the types of shops off. It’s weirder than it sounds – let’s say you’re looking for a cell phone. There will be a village of cell phone shops all right next to each other. They’re all selling almost exactly the same thing, and they all look almost identical. They’ve all got guys out front trying to persuade you to come in. I have no idea how they all stay in business. And it’s like that for everything. The electronics are in one section, the jewelry in another, the clothes in another – each with dozens of competitors lining the walls around them. It made no sense to me then and still doesn’t. 

I was glad to see once I met up with everyone that the consensus was clear: we needed more weed. I always hate to be that guy, so I was glad to be traveling with other addicts. I know I’m going to get shit for that but hey, I’m calling the spades. Regardless, we’re the *fun* kind of drug addict, so piss off. I’m just celebrating the fact that I wasn’t the only one itching. 

Josh admiring the wares. Shot on Jon’s iPhone
Shot on Jon’s iPhone

We scoured this god damned market for weed. People kept telling us (though we’re not entirely sure if they ever understood or cared what we were actually asking for) different directions for a supposed pop up dispensary in the market that we never managed to find, and while one or two vendors did have jars with some more earthy looking buds, we kept looking for something more… acceptable. 

So, over to the nicer mall across the street. For some reason our hosts thought that would be a better place to score than the shanty market, and while we didn’t find a vendor there either, we did find a friend who had some on him to smoke with us. We went to this nice little rooftop coffee shop and smoked a few bones overlooking the city while a man played funny songs on his keyboard from the street below.

Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

Adventures on the River

After this it was time for a boat tour. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know Bangkok had a river, but if you’re reading this and thinking that you want to book a trip, make this the top of your must do’s. It is absolutely surreal to see the city from this perspective. You see, Bangkok has EVERYTHING, and there are skyscrapers everywhere. But there are also slums everywhere. Often right next door. So to take in the city from the water is amazing because you can more clearly see just how many influences built this city, and how close everything is to its neighbor, while being entirely different – both aesthetically but also more generally, culturally. There’d be a futuristic looking skyscraper, and then an ancient temple right next to it. Or Louis Vuitton stores next to for-real slums. And you could see the influence from all of the other Asian countries making their mark here. It was such a wild change from what we’d just experienced in the market.

I should probably take this time to introduce our hosts. I mentioned in the first part that this trip was planned by Bangkok Urban Green, but I didn’t tell you much about who they were. This group is a newly formed collaboration between both American and Thai operators that is generally looking to help proliferate the fledgling industry. The group includes Americans Judah, and Ron (of Kingston Royal), and Thai native Oliver, the proprietor of the dispensary Phandee in Bangkok, among other operations. Along with us on the trip was JT, one of Judah’s partners from back in the states, and a slew of Oliver’s friends and employees. Oliver’s gang met us at the dock with a bunch more weed and a homemade mason jar bong to take on the river.

Photos taken on Jon’s iPhone

Pit Stops 

Our first stop on this boat tour was an incredible Buddhist temple. Very little information about this place was provided in English and you could tell by how quiet and respectful everyone else visiting was that this was a special site. We did our best to be polite and not be THOSE Americans, but we got some incredible footage and had a good deal of fun. I will say we didn’t smoke at the temple though, which is I think saying something favorable about us, despite that being the bare minimum for most everyone else.

Photo taken post-mid-water-maneuvers, on a Tuk Tuk boat. Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

After the temple we got back on the boat, and after a quick detour jumping onto another boat to take some pictures for our gracious hosts, we started the journey back up river to find dinner. Along the way though one of the super malls on the water seemed to be having an event. We pulled our boat in closer and soon realized there was a full-fledged Muay Thai fight about to go down. We were hyped. It took us about 5 minutes of watching from a distance after the fight had started before we realized it was kids that were fighting each other. Not teenagers, children. I still don’t know how to feel about it but I will say they made it a hell of a show, and it was very well attended.

Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

Next we headed to a Chinese village to find a dumpling spot that our host Oliver said was incredible. Unfortunately this was Sunday night and it was already late so after stumbling around this very dark and spooky village we found the restaurant was closed, so we just smoked some blunts about it and went back to the boat. Solid detour if I’m honest – it at times felt both like we were explorers, and about to get murdered. We ended up getting dumplings anyway. Soup dumplings in fact, and they were delightful. 

Photoception taken on Jon’s iPhone


After dinner, and because our hosts were now keenly aware that the jet lag was hitting us, we headed to get traditional Thai massages. In case you don’t know, in Thailand you can get a massage anywhere (remember I said this), and they’re CHEAP. Although usually much more intense and painful than the one we got, the two hour experience cost about $22 USD. They put all of us in a room together on beds about a foot and a half apart. As my masseuse started working on me I briefly considered staying an extra night in Thailand and just getting an 8 hour massage as that would cost about the same as a hotel room. It didn’t take long before I fell asleep. 

I don’t know how many of the others fell asleep, but I know Jim did, and he snored. We were all in such a state at the end that the last masseuse leaving the room turned back before exiting and giggled at the sight of us. It was both humiliating and hilarious.

When we got back to our hotel it turned out there was a wedding happening. We would quickly learn that our hotel was the hot spot for upscale events in town. While it didn’t affect our stay in the slightest, it did just so happen that Oliver knew the wedding party. As such, we crashed this very fancy wedding in tank tops and shorts, and the groom for some reason bowed to us as if we weren’t completely out of our gourds. Soon after I was approached by a woman in a pantsuit who asked me where I was staying tonight. When I told her here in the hotel she told me ‘her room’. It took a solid three minutes for me to understand she was saying she owned the place. I quickly thanked her for the existence of her wonderful establishment and escaped before I could find out if there was an additional meaning there. 

I got back to my room to find candy and a quote from Steve Jobs waiting by my bed. Thailand is cool, man.

Day Three

I think the first thing I said to Jimi when I saw him that morning was ‘Should we stay longer?’ We hadn’t even gotten into the real weed journeys yet, and despite the jet lag I was feeling grade A, and ready to dig deeper. Although we couldn’t extend long because we had to be back for Emerald Cup’s Harvest Ball the following weekend, we agreed to stay an extra night en route to our first dispensary of the tour: Best Budz Bangkok. 

Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

Pot Tourism

Best Budz was the closest thing we saw to what I expected a Thai dispensary to look like before arriving. Complete with a bong made out of bamboo hanging across the wall, this spot felt like the Tiki bar of weed shops. The crew that runs it were super excited about the products they could offer and the wares they carried, and honestly, so were we. All of the products they had on display were actually what they were labeled to be – which was the first time we’d seen this in this country, having mostly dealt with delivered and street vendors so far. They even had a Rainbow Sherbert on display that I think the OG’s back home would be proud of. In fact, Jimi and I believe they had gotten the real thing during the highly-coveted clone drop last year, and gave it the proper care it deserved in its new home. While I’ll admit most Thai-grown is still significantly lower quality than what we get in California, these guys gave me real hope for the dispensary scene out there. 

We bounced around to a few more shops that basically tried to custy us, but we bought at least a little something at every real shop we went to. It’s worth noting that Best Budz did not do that to us – in fact, they comp’d us all, and they were actually fun to hang out with and talk to. The first stop of the day turned out to be the best, in my opinion.

Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise
Photo credit Derek Fukuhara, High Rise
Shot on Jon’s iPhone
Shot on Jon’s iPhone

Dispensary Mechanics

It’s also worth pointing out that most of these shops had a pretty heavy merchandise presence, almost feeling sometimes like a dispensary and a headshop combined. You expect there to be some items to help you use your newly acquired fix of course, but this usually seemed more sectional – the way we’d normally see pre-rolls next to flower, which is next to concentrate, which are next to edibles. 

In dwelling on the different GRAV and Puffco products available abroad in one of our last stops of the day it occurred to me that many of these shops only had 5 or 6 actual THC products available, so this was likely more about filling-out the floorplan. The most unique example of this I saw on this day was a walk-through flower room at the front of one of the shops, directly facing the street. These were pretty small plants, and likely mostly about display, but even here you don’t often get to see living plants in the retail environment, unless someone’s selling clones. And it’s a cool, easy way to communicate to the world that you’re pushing dank.

After hitting another mall, this one even more expansive, where each floor was dedicated to a particular ware – I didn’t bother to look at how big the building was – we sat down for what was my favorite meal of the trip. A wood-fired Korean BBQ spot. These guys treated us like we were children and cooked for us – which was helpful if I’m being honest because we were really, really high – and for the first time since arriving in Thailand I felt full. I wish I wrote down the name of this spot, because I would love to tell you to visit them, but alas, I was stoned.

Taken on Jon’s iPhone

Dipping Our Toes Into Nightlife

We stopped at our hotel to change, and gobble up the new candy they had left in our rooms for us. Although not everyone was feeling the rage, a few of us then went to the coolest bar-type spot we hit that week, Smalls. 

This entire multi-story establishment was like a maze. Or a half-completed puzzle. There were multiple ways to get up to the rooftop where we hung out for awhile, each of which felt like you were climbing an Escher painting, but although our hosts supposedly normally could, it was a bit busy that night and they told us we couldn’t smoke there. Cigarettes were fine though. It was a bit surreal, but they let us roll up at our table while we finished our drinks after we profusely promised we wouldn’t light it there. I eavesdropped on some expat crypto bros analyzing the FTX collapse, and the opportunities it presented. Even in Thailand you can’t escape someone pitching their next NFT project. We bounced from there to light up, and hit two more clubs that we thought were going to be cool.

The weed they didn’t want to let us smoke, shot on Jon’s iPhone

I should clarify here that I used to work in nightlife in New York, and I’ve grown a bit jaded to club life. This admittedly sounds pretentious, but I’m not going to pay a cover charge to get into your bar to pay you for drinks, or weed. I don’t care about your dress code. I’m coming to spend money with you, you should make it as easy as possible for me to do that. Doesn’t feel like asking too much. 

Anyway, at both of these next two clubs my east coast came out a bit. The first place didn’t like Josh’s sneakers, and wanted $10 USD to give him something else to wear. Fuck that, it’s an off night, and only weed is that expensive in this country. I wouldn’t let him pay it, though I should note he was happy to. The next spot wouldn’t let us bring in outside weed, which we had a lot of. 

So, we headed for Nana, which we knew would be happy to let us consume, and take our money as we were.

*Those of you that have been to Bangkok likely know where we were headed. Those that haven’t will have to wait until Part 3 to find out. I’m doing my best to properly explain the experience without risking cancellation, so bear with me. Hope you’re warmed up.*

The post The Gang Goes to Thailand: Not THOSE Americans (Part 2) appeared first on High Times.

The Gang Goes to Thailand: Ganja in Bangkok (Part 1)

I’m sitting at the Suvarnabhumi airport trying to recap the madness that’s occurred over the past week while it’s fresh in my mind. I’ll be honest, my brain is pretty mush after cooking through over 100 blunts in less than a week. We consumed an entire original thai stick in brothers broadleafs & backwoods – which was quite possibly a world’s first, but surely a serious load for my lungs. If that wasn’t though, smoking an entire stick in a night was DEFINITELY a world record. Even the Thai Stick OG, Han Singh, who has been doing this since he was 15 years old (he’s 74 now) was floored to see how excited we were to try his legendary wares, and how much we could smoke. He brought us a whole stick – which they swear were hundreds of grams – but we cooked through that bad boy in basically one sitting (or evening, more accurately). I imagine it was closer to an ounce and a half, and I was surprised at how well Han kept up.

This is a good introduction to the Thai scenery now. Although there are dispensaries every few feet – with even entire strip malls dedicated to housing over 20 different dispensaries and consumption lounges, it’s clear that the Thai market is still getting its feet under them. After all, the sudden legalization left a lot of room for gray area operations that have since begun to become more regulated. For example, they have officially closed down consumption rooms until they can set up a licensing procedure for it, and while it’s technically not legal to smoke in public, it was clear the city’s filling up with that delectable aroma just like NYC. Further, I saw like one cop the entire time I was there, and we were far from the only ones smoking on street corners.

Even more surprising, however, was the lack of true Thai genetics that are available in the market. Sure a lot of Cali genetics have made their way out to the far east – we saw a lot of Runtz and Gelato – and edibles and concentrates are still banned for recreational consumption, but it was immediately clear that it was important to the Thai community to do things their own way. They’ve been trying to hunt down their local genetics that were largely lost during the prohibition days, prioritizing canopy for landraces as opposed to what we’d consider market-viable. And if you ask any of the newly legal operators they’ll all say the same thing: “Oh man, Thai Stick, that’s like the great white buffalo now – we haven’t seen one of them in years.” 

Turns out it only took seasoned road warriors Jimi and I 5 days to find. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

*Flash Backward*

Let’s first zoom out a bit to clarify how this trip came about. This wasn’t some thoroughly planned adventure. Oh no, in fact I didn’t have an active passport or any idea I’d be going the month prior. Sometime in the middle of November during another weed-filled journey my friend Josh, Chief Operations Officer at High Rise, asked me if I’d be interested in coming to Bangkok with him and his crew. I had been hearing rumblings of my friend, America’s favorite pot critic, Jimi Devine’s planned trip, though at the time hadn’t realized it was the same one. Once Josh made that clear obviously I couldn’t miss the opportunity. 

I will disclose here that the trip was planned and funded by Bangkok Urban Green, who requested nothing but to show us around and for us to document our experiences however we saw fit. Basically the easiest way for me to write the real shit, and not just the glitz and glam the brands are focused on you seeing, is to give you the true story of our antics. But don’t worry, there’s a slew of content around our trip for you to dig into. High Rise has released their 30 minute documentary, and Jimi his coverage. But I’m going to take a little bit of a different approach here, having been to the country before.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

A Brief History Lesson

You see, I was in Thailand like a decade ago shortly after finishing college, and it was an entirely different beast. While in the past you’d have a much easier time finding benzos and opiates over the counter at the pharmacies of Khao San, it seems all those shops have since switched to dispensaries, making the new school Khao San an entirely different experience than what I was used to. Also worth noting the last trip we only spent like 3 days in Bangkok. Admittedly it was a much seedier place back then. It was impossible to find weed, but pills were everywhere. So you know? When in Rome.

But man, has the game changed in the last ten years. Over the last year, really. Last time I barely wanted to hang in Bangkok – I was ready to explore the jungles, and the islands. But this time we didn’t leave the city, and I’m really glad I got to see a full view of what Bangkok has to offer. That boat tour alone was one of the trippiest experiences of my life – from passing slums to mega mansions to temples to super malls was not what I expected when we got on the boat, but I had no complaints. In fact, I was amazed at not only the sights, but of Jim’s ability to roll a wood on a speeding boat, and the mid-water maneuvers we were made to undertake in order to take pictures in the Tuk Tuk boat, leaving me feeling like a parkour expert.

But maybe I should zoom back out to the beginning for a second to really run down all the shenanigans the boys got into that week. It was admittedly a lot, even for us.

The Details

The cast of characters for this trip was as follows. We had Erin and Derek, the founders of the High Rise Agency, Josh, who I already mentioned is their COO, Jimi Devine, in my opinion the best pot journalist in America, and me, your friendly neighborhood deviant.

It’s worth noting that as soon as we got to the airport security turned Erin’s passport away because it had a very minor rip on it. We tried to get tape from another gate to fix the issue but the friggin airline took it upon themselves to call the State Dept and let them know the passport was damaged, so no luck. Unfortunately Erin wasn’t able to join us on our flight, and missed the first few days. That said, I want to take this opportunity to give a massive shout out to our State Rep, Ted Lieu, for helping sort our documents with the Department of State in an extremely expedited manner. 3/5 passports we needed for this trip were obtained within the last two weeks, and it’s all thanks to our friend Teddy – just so you know brother, you’ve got our votes for life! 2/5 of those were planned, and Erin was a surprise bonus a few days later. All things considered, it worked out.

So we get on the plane sans Erin for what will amount to an almost 24 hr travel day, and given that there’s an almost 15 hr difference between here and LA we lost a solid day on the way in – though we ARE about to have a 36 hour day today on our return, so I guess that makes up for it. But I’ll be honest, this was the longest I was going to go without smoking in recent memory, so I wasn’t entirely excited for the journey. Fortunately Xanax exists and I slept through the vast majority of the flight to Taiwan. 

It’s worth noting we brought absolutely no THC with us on this journey as Taiwan is still one of the less friendly ports to our ilk left in the world, and we didn’t want to take any chances. Thank god we didn’t, because they made us go through security to get to our layover. From there we linked with Jimi, who had taken the first leg of the journey solo en route from SFO, and jumped on the next plane – just a quick 4 hr jump this time. We didn’t sleep this leg – the excitement was really starting to set in. (Remember, I had less than a month’s knowledge we’d even be going – I was fully convinced this wouldn’t happen, so this was still absolutely surreal.) Before long, we landed in Bangkok.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

We Made It

Now, before the flight I let our hosts know about how this gap in consumption was probably going to affect me. I wasn’t expecting to be in a great mood, so I politely requested they meet us with some weed so we could expedite the process of getting back up to speed. They obliged, and met us at the airport with a blunt already rolled. We smoked that in the smoking section before leaving the airport. They were surprised, however, when we asked for more. You see, Thailand is still fairly timid in their consumption. With most residents smoking at most a gram a day (approx. $30 USD, or 900 Baht), they had no idea what they were in for with us. We were rolling blunts that would satisfy the whole group’s expected daily consumption every time. 

As it was still technically morning when we arrived they made a call and had more brought to the first stop on our journey.

Naturally, before we went into the first stop we met the guy and rolled and smoked two blunts. As I said, we were getting up to speed, and taking in the fact that we were now on the other side of the world. Though things hadn’t gone exactly to plan, we [most of us] made it. We rejoiced. 

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise
Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

Starting The Tour

Our first stop was the final day of Southeast Asia’s first Hemp Expo. Admittedly looking way closer to MJ Biz Con than I expected, we were primarily here to meet with the hemp company that the Queen had started – coincidentally the first cannabis license granted after legalizing. Go figure. Well it turns out she’s no longer with the company, but they’re definitely doing a LOT, and over the course of the few minutes we spent with them we learned how they’ve been using hemp for cloth in Thailand forever, and while the war on drugs stopped them from fucking with cannabis for awhile, the hemp game never slowed down. The versatility in the textiles they showed us was crazy, but the fact that they all began from the same source material was the biggest trip. 

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

I don’t remember much else from the Hemp Expo – I was exhausted and trying to smoke more. I remember joking with the guys that this wasn’t what we expected to see on the other side of the globe, having successfully avoided the showroom floor of the aforementioned convention the month prior. In my lamenting, someone overheard and asked if we were from the States. He was a Cali transplant who was trying to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself out there right now. He had some work with him, and it turned out to be much better than the local we’d tried thus far, so I stopped the group to get an eighth ($75 USD). We rolled that up and smoked it before getting back in the van. 

From there it was off to our hotel, finally. Although it was still technically our first day in Thailand it had been like 3 calendar days since I’d seen a bed due to the long flight and time traveling, and I was ready to crash. We arrived at the Pullman King Power Bangkok, which seemed to be one of the nicest hotels in town. A night in this spot runs around $100-$250 USD, which is a fortune in Thailand, but standard for roach motels in the states. This was not that. They put us in the ‘executive’ section at the top of the tower, with access to a private buffet and drinks throughout the day. Not that we got to take much advantage of the meals – actually the guys probably did, I was never up for breakfast – but I definitely enjoyed their fresh juices. No one told me until the fourth day that I wasn’t supposed to leave the lounge with the juices, but that says something about Thai hospitality and their desire to please.

Photo Credit: Derek Fukuhara, High Rise

No Rest for the Wicked

Somehow instead of going to bed we were persuaded to join the local gang for a drink at this rooftop bar not too far away. While I’ll admit, I was an absolute vegetable and teetering on passing out, I’m glad I got to check this place out. I have no idea what this place was called, but it definitely made me feel like I was somewhere else. While they had a welcoming smoking section with an excellent view, probably the most exciting thing about this spot was this multi-story glowing jellyfish dancing above the bar. I have no idea what it was for, or if it was some famous art installation, but I was very geeked on it and it kept my attention as I patiently (lol) waited to go get into bed.

Although we’d only just landed it was already clear that the country’s landscape has changed drastically in the ten years I’d been gone. When in the past the only drugs I could reliably find were the type you’d get from a pharmacy, here we were less than 24 hours in and every sort of recreational had already been practically shoved in our faces. I might be exhausted, but I’m already loving the new look of this place.

*When I realized how long this piece would be I posted a poll on Twitter asking if you all would prefer one long mega story, or for it to be broken down into smaller bite sizes. The overwhelming majority voted for chapters, so here we are. I’ll see you in a few days with part two.*

The post The Gang Goes to Thailand: Ganja in Bangkok (Part 1) appeared first on High Times.