Category Archives: travel

Sri Lanka: What’s in a War


Tamil Tigers Emblem

After a few days of messy surf at the south coast, I returned to the capital Colombo in preparation for my flight to Europe. While consumed by surf in the last couple of months, I haven’t once mentioned the Sri Lankan elephant in the room; the civil war.

Up and Coming out of a War

The land of Ceylon tea- the plant is mainly cultivated for tourists and the export- hasn’t been on the (mass) tourist radar for that long. Although visitor numbers are increasing every year, the big touring companies haven’t found the Serendib island (yet). The reason that tourists and travellers have only been coming to Sri Lanka in significant numbers fairly recently, is because of an ugly thing called civil war.

Seeds of Hatred

The Sri Lankan civil war, an armed struggle between the Sinhalese dominated government army and the Liberation Army of Tamil Eelam, or Tamil Tigers for short, raged from 1983 until 2009. The stage for this conflict was set during British occupation and the early years of independence just after the Second World War. Sri Lanka had always been an island, where different ethnicities and religions co-existed, and different regions were ruled by different foreign and domestic powers.

From the early 1800s Sri Lanka, then called Ceylan came under British rule and the Brits were the first and only foreign power, that ruled the entire island, bringing the island’s different ethnicities together under one administration. After Sri Lanka became independent in 1948, parliament passed the controversial Ceylon Citizen Act, which was considered discriminative against Indian Tamils. Indian Tamils had been recruited by the British in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century to work on tea plantations in Sri Lanka. The Ceylon Citizen Act set as a requirement for Sri Lankan citizenship, that you could proof that you were at least a third generation migrant. This meant that you needed to be able to proof, that your father- not your mother- was born in Sri Lanka. As most Indian Tamil women would return to India to give birth, most Indian Tamils couldn’t submit such proof and were refused citizenship. In addition to Indian Tamils, who formed about 10 percent of the population  at the time, the country also has a Sri Lankan Tamil population. These  Tamils are mainly located in the North and East of the country and have been on the island for centuries. The effect of the 1948 Ceylon Citizen Act, was that most Indian Tamils had become stateless and hundreds of thousands were expelled and forced to return to India. Only in 2003 the Sri Lankan parliament passed a law giving all Indian Tamils, who had been in the country since at least October 1964 and their descendants the right to get Sri Lankan citizenship.

Language Thing and Militancy

In 1956 the then prime minister passed a law, that made Sinhalese, rather than English, the official language of the country. This is believed to have been a move to push Tamils out of the civil services, as many Tamils were not fluent in Sinhalese. Tension rose between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil speaking minority, that included in addition to Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Moors, who descent from Arab and Indian Muslim traders. In the late 1960s the idea of an independent Tamil state, Tamil Eelam, started to gain more traction. After more discriminating action towards the Tamil minority by the Sri Lankan state in the years that followed, Tamil youth in the North and the East became more militant and started to form armed opposition groups. The Tamil Tigers, became the most prominent of these groups by either merging with or getting rid of most other Tamil resistance groups. Quite a few Tamils opposed the actions and the goals of the Tamil Tiger, as many didn’t support the idea of an independent Tamil state and/or denounced violence. Some Tamils have worked for the government as part of paramilitary factions, while others had been active in ‘legitimate’ state politics. The Tamil tigers main resistance was aimed at elements of the state apparatus like politicians, especially Tamils, police officers and soldiers. These attacks were retaliated by the army, who killed far more civilians than armed fighters.

War what is it good for

In the almost 26 years of war, that ended with the surrender of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009, around 150,000 people, mainly civilians died as a direct result of the war. Many more fled the country and the war had a detrimental effect on Sri Lanka’s natural environment and economy. The risk of land mines still exists in rural areas of the north and the east of the island. The total cost of the war is estimated to have been 200 billion US dollars. In 2014 the UN attempted to have an investigation into war crimes, mainly committed by the government, yet the Sri Lankan state refuses to cooperate.

Tourism in Sri Lanka; more and uglier?

While I have been roaming and surfing the south coast and stayed in Arugam Bay in the Tamil-dominated East, I’ve seen no signs of a past war. Tourist- travellers are a relatively new phenomenon in the country and most locals seem very keen on foreigners having a good impression of their country and war doesn’t fit into that picture.  To an outsider, Sri Lankans of all ethnicities seemingly get along without little problems. Since the war ended only 9 years ago, there must still be a lot of pain, anger and resentment. Being in my surfing- traveller bubble, I seldom asked locals questions about the war. After post-colonial unrest, civil war and natural disaster, Sri Lanka has become an attractive tourist- traveller destination once again. So much natural beauty, rich culture and many kind locals in wonderful weather is most definitely worth a visit. Tourist numbers have been increasing since the end of the civil war and there is no sign, that numbers will be falling any time soon. I just hope Sri Lanka will be smart about its tourism. As the country is relatively small and densely populated, it needs a solid infrastructure. Without one, tourism in Sri Lanka could get quite ugly indeed.


Sri Lanka’s Arugam Bay; Surf and Chadors


Elephant near one’ of A-Bay’s breaks

Just before the (surf) season was drawing to an end at Sri Lanka’s south coast, two newly made surfer friends and I headed for Arugam Bay, Lanka’s surf ‘mecca’ at the east coast, where the season was just about to start.

A-Bay’s strange Mix

Arugam Bay, or A-Bay if you want to appear to be in the known, is a rather peculiar place and perhaps the most ‘disjointed’ tourist- travellers destination I have ever visited. As a tourist- travellers destination, it’s mainly a backpackers’ place, although more mature folk most certainly don’t look out of place. There are quite a few foreigners, who either own businesses in town, or spend the whole season in the Bay, mainly for work and a few for leisure. A-Bay is in the town of Ulla, which is predominately muslim and quite conservative. Muslim school girls all wear lilac uniforms that are something between a chador* and a khimar* with loose fitting trousers. Grown women you barely see and if you do, most will wear black niqabs*. Many of the young female tourists in contrast, wear next to nothing, not quite realising which part of the world they are and simply reasoning that if it’s okay to wear it at home, if the weather were good, why not in A-Bay; we are at the beach after all. The local Sinhalese and Tamil women, who are Buddhist and predominately Hindu respectively, don’t cover their hair, seldom wear clothing that doesn’t cover the shoulders and knees and when they have a dip in the sea, they do so fully dressed.

What’s in a Surf

Despite the surf being the main attraction, I wouldn’t call Arugam Bay a surfer town as such. There is one and a half surf spot in the town itself called Main point, which is a reef break and too grown up for me to surf at the moment. The other surf break in town is Baby Point, which wasn’t working yet. All other surf spots, about eight in total, of which at least four weren’t working at the time we were there, are a ride out of the town. The nearest break called Whiskey point, is about 10 minutes and the furthest about 40 minutes by tuk tuk. The tuk tuk mafia is sure to take their share of the surfing traveller, as it has been made illegal to take your board on your scooter and tuk tuk prices around Arugam Bay are considerably higher than on the south coast. Most of Arugam Bay’s breaks are also very crowded. With exception of Main point and a couple of other breaks, most waves will be filled with beginners’ classes  and since it was only the beginning of the season, I don’t want the know what the surf looks like mid-summer. A-Bay is not known for its world class breaks, but for beginning and intermediate surfers it can be great fun if you know how to avoid the masses. The way to one of our favourite breaks, was like a safari, as we came across plenty of wildlife including peacocks, buffaloes and the occasional elephant.

Leaving the Coast

After three weeks in A-Bay, where surf sister Iris and I both had to stay out of the water due to an injury- hers more serious than mine- and after a week of rest(lessness), conditions were flat as a pancake, we left the east coast. Iris was going back to the south and I went to Ella to sample the Hill Country in attempt to see something else than the coast. I was rather underwhelmed by Ella. The surroundings are beautiful and great for hiking, but as it was pissing down off and on, I wasn’t too bothered to release my inner outdoor girl. The village itself is mainly a stretch of hotels, guesthouses and eateries along the main road, that look even less appealing in the rain. It didn’t help that the guesthouse, where I had booked two nights influenced by a top rating on, was a big disappointment. Instead of visiting other places in the Hill country, which was initially the plan, I returned to the south coast for one more surfing fix before I have to deal with the dry spell.

My second visit to Hiriketiya Bay on the south coast, was quite different compared to my first visit only a month before. It was quite clearly low season. A lot of accommodations were closed and the amount of the people in the surf could be counted on the fingers of one hand at any given time, if there was anyone at all. The surf itself was messy, but I did get my fix, el hamdulilah.


Ginger Beer Chill

*In case you are not familiar with muslim headwear, check this link
top image: Brody,

On Sri Lanka’s Waves Consumed by Surf


Hiriketiya Bay

Although Sri Lanka is a relatively small country with great offerings in terms of nature and culture, my main reason for visiting the teardrop-shaped island is to surf. The topic of Sri Lanka as a surf destination had come up several times in the last few months and were attention goes, energy flows, or so they say. My yoga intention of doing a couple of courses in Thailand and India respectively had been put on hold, but loyal to the surf intention I seem to stay.

Surf or how to develop a Compulsion

Surfing is a peculiar practice. The girls and boys, who have been doing it for years, make it look incredibly fun and quite easy. Fun it is, just as much as it can be hard work and frustrating, especially if you start learning as an adult. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf, but, unlike windsurfing, it was not an activity people did in Lowlands Country when I was growing up. In London I was far away from a surf sport and poor most of the times, which made realising that dream quite a challenge. Nine years ago, when I had some extra money coming in, I decided to go sniff at that dream and went to a surf camp in Tamraght, near Agadir in Morocco for a week. I had fun, didn’t catch one (unbroken) wave and had fallen in love with Morocco. Only years later I realised that my surf tuition in that week was terrible. My ‘instructor’ was a nice guy. He had been surfing for years, spoke a little English, as my French is shady, and was a mate of the surf school owner, but a proper instructor he sure wasn’t. Doing a surf camp for a week, or even two, to learn how to surf is a bit of a joke. It’s like doing a one-week language course to master a new language from scratch. It can be a fun introduction, but it’s not that you’ll be fluent in surf or can even have a basic ‘conversation’ with a wave.

In addition to the difficulty level of learning how to surf at an adult age, surfing fucks with your time and with your hair. Before you know it, you are checking Magic Seaweed several times a day and starting to design your day around the surf. My hair is a mess and despite trying to take precautions with oils and creams and all that jazz, my Dark Fairy locks are brown-reddish-going-on blond, rather than very dark brown and dry as hay. Then there is the risk of injury by boards- your own or others’- or the ocean floor, whether sand, rock or reef, or getting a glimpse of what it must feel like to drown (or actually drowning if you are rather unlucky or stupid or both).  And yet, the surf sucks you in. Riding a wave not only gives you a great sense of freedom, surf can teach you a lot about life and that seems reason enough for me to stick with it and let it consume my life.

Surf as a Practice

For me surfing is not a sport. I know that it is considered as such, but I doubt it was invented as a competitive activity. For me surfing is very much a practice, like yoga. It helps me to stretch my comfort zone and overcome stuff I find hard or scary. It helps me to deal with what is; you can’t dictate the ocean. It shows me how to be in the zone and it can give me a sense of ultimate freedom  Even if I had a bit of rubbish session, the water seems to mellow you out and you learn to deal with what you are given. In addition, although sea water messes with your hair, it’s pretty good for the skin, assuming the waters are not too polluted.

After several weeks in Sri Lanka the only culture I have dived into has been surfing culture. As a woman of the world, I do find it a tat embarrassing, that my stories about Sri Lanka will be mainly about surf plus an elephant and a museum or two. I guess if you’ve made a practice your fixation and a fixation your practice, you’d better do it properly.


top image: Mokum Surf Club

Galle; Fort Culture and Dutch colonial Heritage


Another brick…Galle’s fortress wall

After my two-night stay in Mirissa, I took a bus ride an hour or so to the west, to the fortress town of Galle, of which the English pronunciation is Gaul, as in the old name for France. The fast majority of the city of Galle is located outside of the fort, yet the fortified neighbourhood, is the main tourist attraction.




Dutch Reformed church, Galle

Galle; what’s in Colonialism

Galle has a very long history as a trading port, starting hundreds of years Before Common Era. The Indians and Chinese were coming and going, followed by other folks including Persians, Arabs, Greeks and Romans. The famous fort was initially built by the Portuguese in the 17th century, and after a trade war, the Dutch took over and rebuilt parts of the fortress walls. There is quite a lot of Dutch history in Sri Lanka and in Galle in particular. This particular history of Dutch merchants exploiting lands and goods in the East, is a bit of a peculiar one. To many, the history of the VOC, which stands for United East-India Company in Dutch, is a reason for great Dutch pride. In primary school I was taught about the trading successes of the Company, making the Netherlands a strong maritime nation and the country and Amsterdam in particular very wealthy. This period in Dutch history is referred to as the Golden Age. About a decade ago, the then Dutch prime minster mentioned the term VOC mentality’ in parliament in reference to the nation’s economy and how ‘we’ could prosper once more, just like in the VOC days in the 17th and 18th century. The then prime minister referred to the merchant mentality of the Company, yet many MPs and member of the public found his words very inappropriate and rightly so. The VOC was a public trading corporation and functioned as a state within a state. It was a corporate entity, that not only could make trade agreements on the government’s behalf, but it could also govern occupied territories and declare war, which it has done several times. The Company exploited many regions in the East, with little or no regards for the foreign lands and its people. The Dutch only established trading posts along the coast of Sri Lanka, which they called Ceylan, and were never interested in colonising the whole island. After a lost war against the English, the ‘Dutch parts’ of the island were ‘transferred’ to the British, who had the aim to colonise the whole island and, as the only foreigner power to ever do so, that’s what they did.

The Dutch left their mark in Sri Lanka and in addition to forts in coastal cities like Colombo, Galle and Matara, there are a fair amount of Dutch churches. Furthermore, VOC coins, weapons and other artefacts are on display in several museums, including the national museum in Galle.

Tourist Herds and Heritage

Galle is not Amsterdam or Venice in terms of tourist herds, but the fort, which is a UNESCO heritage site, is rather touristy nevertheless and with ever increasing tourist numbers in Sri Lanka, it can only get worse. The fort is small and can be explored in a few hours. If you plan to stay for the night and you are on a budget, it’s better to find accommodation and food outside of the fort. Prices in shop and restaurants within the UNESCO heritage site are relatively high.

Dutch history, and VOC history in particular, is very present in Galle. As a Dutchie with migrant heritage, this is both familiar and strange. Familiar in the sense that it’s part of national history I learnt in school and strange, because it wasn’t my ancestors, who lived on the shiny side of that history. My ancestors were on the other side; the dark-skinned victims of the transatlantic slave trade, which also made the Lowlands tremendously rich. I don’t believe in white guilt, or guilt of any shade, as no one should be made to feel guilty or ashamed for what their ancestors did. It’s rather a question of acknowledgement, that mistakes have been made in the past and how the current consequences of those mistakes can be addressed.

Meanwhile, being a Dark Fairy from a country predominately inhabited by white people is confusing for some here, so I have been assumed to to be from South Africa, Ethiopia or Jamaica, which is all fine. The ambiguity is comforting somehow.

Mirissa: Surf and Sea Mammals Action


A Whale’s Tail

Arriving in Mirissa, a short tuk tuk ride from Weligama, I immediately noticed more white faces and a busier main road. There also seemed to be far more hotels and guesthouses scattered around and the beach is very nice, which made me wonder whether I had been hanging in the wrong place. But I came to surf and to start out, Weligama is a kinder break than the ones in Mirissa. In the latter town, the bay more to the west is rocky and has a fair amount of sea urchins, especially at mid and low tide. The larger bay to the east is a great break for improvers. I really like it. The waves don’t close out as fast and as powerful as in Weligma, which gives you more time to pop up and do whatever manoeuvre, but one needs a lot of paddle power to get to and from the line-up. I moved to Mirrissa to have a change of scenery and to be closer to the whale watching tours ,that leave from the town’s harbour. There are plenty of operators and at a boat party I met a cool Finnish young woman, who recommended Raja and the Whales, so I made a booking with that crew.

What’s in a Sea Mammal Show

DSC_9653 (1)Animal tourism can be a bit of a circus and I am not really a fan. On the Rock of Malta, where I used to live for 3 years, one can swim with dolphins and all I think is; leave those poor animals be. I ‘swam’ with whale sharks in the Philippines last year. At the particular place I went to with the Magnificent 7, the idea was to arrive before dawn and although you have to take some precautions, like you can’t where sunscreen- not that this Dark Fairy is using any-  you can’t use flash photography, you have to keep a distance of at least a few metres and you’re not allowed to touch them, it was a zoo nevertheless. There are hundred and something, if not more people lining the shore to get into boats. The boats go out about 200 metres from the shore where the whale sharks are being lured with food. Once they come close we can jump into the water. Then it’s the whale shark, that probably forgot how to feed itself, you, and 20 other people you share the boat with, in the water all wanting to take selfies or something else rather vain. Surely that shit must stress those animals out. So, animal tourism? Not a great fan. Operator Raja is known for its conservationist values. It treats the animals with respect, by keeping the boats at a safe distance and not sailing in the whale’s path.

Whale-Mad Sailors

The Raja crew are amazing and very keen to share their passion for sea mammals with the tour guests. In addition to that, you get fed throughout your stay on board. You get on the boat at around 6.30 to sail out at 7. I have understood, that everyday is different and sometimes they find dolphins and/ or whales after 30 minutes, sometimes it takes several hours. We sailed out about 10 to 15 kilometres from the coast and the about the same distance towards the east. After a couple of hours we encountered several schools of dolphins playing around, which was a joy to watch. Sailing for another hour, our crew spotted the first whale of the day. The blue whale, that is native to the area and doesn’t migrate, spurts water through its air hole and moves forward above and under the surface. Blue whales don’t jump like humpback whales, which makes any footage of them less photogenic and ‘dramatic’ . After making a few glides, the whale will lift its tail and disappears under water. Blue whales can go as deep as 200 metres and can stay underwater for as long as 30 minutes. We saw blue whales doing their thing on five or six occasions. Blue whales are solitary creatures and can only be spotted in pairs as mother and calf. The calf will stay with its mother for about three years, after which it will lead its own solitary whale life. After a relaxing, fun and informative trip, we returned to Mirissa Harbour at about two o’clock.

There are a lot of operators offering whale tours and I have been informed, that some are real sharks. The might charge lower rates, but I have been told the boats are dodgy and there is no respect for the animals, as the whales are being chased. I toured with Raja and the Whales, which I highly recommend if/ when you are in Sri Lanka. If you don’t get to see any whales on the day of your tour, you can rebook for another day free of charge or you get half your money back, which is a great guarantee. I’ve heard that the Whales Club is doing a very good job too.

When in Mirassa, enjoy some beach life. Swim, surf, party a little and make sure to view some magnificent sea mammals.

images: Raja and the Whales

A Whiff of Ceylon Charm and Ocean Force


Weligama Beach, Sri Lanka


After a month of Thailand and shortly debating whether to go to Myanmar for a visa run, I decided to go to Sri Lanka, from where I have a ticket to Europe. I initially had a one-way ticket to Thailand, but my friend Louis, whose family I visited in Mindanoa, Philippines, last year, advised me to get a ticket back to Europe. I would otherwise run the risk not to be allowed in the land of Siam or forced to book a return on the spot and buying under pressure is never a good thing. No one asked me for anything when entering the kingdom, but I had a pretty solid reason to go to Sri Lanka. On the day my Thai visa was about to expire, I left for the land of Ceylon tea, mellow waves, good food and lovely people. I heard mixed story about Sri Lanka; some loved it, others had been less impressed. As my plane from Bangkok was delayed- besides that, excellent service from Sri Lanka Airlines- I arrived in Colombo when the sun was about to set and after exiting the terminal attempted to find a bus that was to take me to the centre of the capital. This wasn’t very straight forward and had to ask some nice people, but I managed to find one and once I had boarded the bus it was leaving in the next few minutes. As it was dark, there wasn’t much to see, besides a lot of traffic. After arriving at the ‘bus station’ in the capital I had to ‘fight’ with a few tuk tuk drivers to get me to my hostel for a decent price and I lost. On top of that, the driver had no idea where the hostel was located, despite having given him the address and shown him a map.



The Dutch Burgher Union (as in the brochure)

A Union of Citizens

Once I finally arrived, I unpacked and went out to feed my famished being. The restaurant and what seems the be a culture centre  named the Dutch Burgher Union was close by. Only after I arrived I realised that burgher was not referring to the meat dish, but to the Dutch word for citizen. It’s the home of an association of Dutch citizens, established in 1907, when Sri Lanka was called Ceylon. The complex has a restaurant and a small cafe attached, where I saw a poster for the Sint Nicolas celebration, which is a very Dutch festival. The last few years many of my fellow and sister countrymen and -women are almost at a state of civil war, as the festival is racist, which people of colour new along and many white Dutch people don’t want to acknowledge. We had to get the UN involved for the globalist organisation to come to the conclusion that the festival is indeed racist. Not being able to solve the issue by ourselves and needing to get the UN involved is most embarrassing, but I’m seriously digressing.The ambience at the Dutch Burgher Union was pleasant enough, the staff absolutely lovely and the food horrendous. I’m sure it’s a Sri Lankan dis in regards to Dutch cuisine.


Fabulous hippy/hipster cafe Nomad in Weligama

Going South

The next day I boarded a train, that was as full as can be, going south, as my main reason to come to Sri Lanka is to ride some waves. My destination was the town of Weligama, which is known for its mellow waves perfect for beginners and intermediates. Weligama is not a pretty town, as such and if you’re not surfing or want more challenging waves, the town is not really worth a visit, but there are plenty of other beaches and more challenging breaks close by. It was the very first time I went out to the line up on my own, without a surf buddy, sister or teacher and as it such a ‘mellow’ break, getting out is a piece of piss. I put ‘mellow’ in brackets as the breaking waves are still powerful enough for a proper white wash and they close out quickly. It’s also a very shallow break and one runs the risk of ocean floor confrontation. During my very first session I experienced just that and lost the battle- I guess the ocean always wins- scrapping the top of forehead against the ocean floor. It was more the shock than anything else; it could have been a lot worse and I was rather forcefully reminded why I’m not a great fan of shallow breaks. For a week I had early morning sessions, made some friends and did some work.

After 10 days I wanted a change of scenery and left for neighbouring town Mirissa to check out the breaks there and, the main reason, to see some dolphins and whales.

middle image:

The Raid on Long Beach; or State-endorsed Dick Swinging


Buffalo Beach, Koh Phayam

I was in the island of Koh Pha-ngan, where I planned to do a yoga course at Agama, a well-known yoga centre with branches all over the world. Once I was there, I wasn’t quite feeling the vibe and decided to make a move. One of my dorm roomies at Mythai Guest house, a young woman from Zürich, Switzerland, recommend Koh Phayam, a small island in the Andaman Sea near the city of Ranong. The city of Ranong, has not much of interest, but is on the travellers trail nevertheless as a gateway to reach nearby islands or to go to Myanmar, either to visit the country or to do a visa run.


The Chill of Koh Phayam and Trouble in Paradise

Koh Phayam, as I was informed by Swiss chick Stephanie, is very chilled. There are no cars on the island and one can explore the beaches, jungle and/or attend a party if one feels in the mood. The island seems to attract a more mature crowd, with 30-plus being the norm and it is popular with young hippy and hipster families. Quite a few western foreigners have made Koh Phayam their home for at least parts of the year. Although you can easily avoid it if your not in the mood, you can have a decent party on the island including the ‘necessary’ intoxicating means. Although drugs like weed, ecstasy and MDMA are illegal and possession of even small quantities can lead to stiff penalties, they are easy to get, once you know where to look. Koh Phayam never had any issues with the police interfering with islanders drug consumption and the odd visit from Ranong police would immediately be tipped off. So last half-moon people attended a party at Long Beach at the southwestern corner of the island without a care in the world. Until the beach was raided by the military. I wasn’t there- luckily- and only heard the story from other people, most of whom weren’t there either, but the story was the talk of the island for several days as you can imagine. What happened is that the military- not the police, but the military, mind you- entered the beach with sniffer dogs. All those, who couldn’t get away and in possession of illegal intoxicating means, were arrested. Others were made to pee to be drug tested and if the test turned out positive, you were taken away. This means that even those who were not in possession of any sweets, weren’t using anything, so didn’t violate any laws in that sense, but had just arrived from another country, where they had been indulging, could’ve been arrested. In total 45 people were apprehended and put in jail. One Dutch guy, who just had a couple of puffs from a joint, was thrown in jail, humiliated, told he had to ‘serve’ four months, not given access to any information or even a lawyer and luckily released after paying a 50,000 baht fine with the help of a Koh Phayam local, who owned the Ranong police chef a favour. This stuff is terribly fucked up on multiple levels.

First of all, this could have been me or almost any of my friends, who like to indulge now and again and especially when they are on holiday in such idyllic settings. Now, you could be a bit more square and might think; the law is the law and you need to obey it, especially if you are in a foreign country. I’m not arguing in favour of dissing a foreign culture and its rules, yet I think a clear distinction needs to be made, anywhere in the world, between legality and morality, which are not one and the same. During my lifetime Apartheid was legal, yet, most of us would agree, morally wrong. In Saudi Arabia women are still not allowed to drive a car. This is finally about to change in June of this year. Yet, grown Saudi women still can’t open a bank account, get a passport or even have some types of surgery without the permission of a male ‘guardian’. This is the law, but, in terms of our idea of equality, unjust. You might think, that is just the past or some backward nation. However, meanwhile in Europe, constitutional monarchies like the Netherlands and the UK still uphold the law of lèse majesté. This means that insulting the monarch, an unelected individual, who is the head of state, not based on any skills, but on her or his bloodline, is a criminal offence. So much for equality and freedom of speech.

The Case against the War on Drugs

With the exception of a few countries, drugs laws and policies are not treated as a health issue, but as a political and economic issue. The drugs that are most dangerous and cause the most harm, alcohol and pharmaceuticals are legal in most countries. Cannabis is used recreationally world-wide and is known to be a tremendously effective natural medicine in the treatment of a whole range of conditions like sleeplessness, arthritis and MS. No one has ever died, as far as we known, as a direct result from cannabis usage. Yet illegal it is.

The war on drugs, being waged world-wide, takes far more casualties than the drugs themselves. An estimated 1 per cent of all drugs on the market are confiscated. One percent! So much for effectiveness. Talking of war, the raid on Long Beach in Koh Phayam, was executed by the military and not the police, which can be considered state-muscle flexing on steroids. What threat to national security do a small group of intoxicated revellers on a far-out beach form exactly?

I acknowledge that there is a lot of nastiness going on in the drug trade and that drug abuse is the cause of great problems for individuals and whole communities alike. I believe that a majority of those problems have to do with poverty, a lack of information and the illegal status of drugs, of which real criminals take advantage. Countries with the most progressive drug laws have the least problems with drug-related crime, diseases and other problems. Also, these countries have considerably less users. Drug usage is a moral issue. If I own my own body,  who is the state to deny me the right to mess with my own body, if I choose to intoxicate myself without infringing on someone else’s freedom and rights? (Some) people like to mind other people’s business. The state should stop being the nosiest of them all.

image: Cornelia Seitz