inconsistent news from southeast asia

Travel time: September 2005 - March 2006  |  by Matthew Audley

Opium and you.

-Heroin was created to replace morphine after the creators' wife got addicted to and overdosed and died while taking it. He thought that heroin would be a less addictive form of morphine, and thus the name heroin comes from the word "heroic". As we all now know, he was wrong and heroin is just as habit forming. But you can't blame the guy for tryin'.

-British women who had wandering husbands were encouraged to put opium in their after dinner tea in order to make them dopey so they stayed home. Nowadays we just turn on the television.

-The Brits were trading opium with China, which they got from India (since they owned India, they owned the opium production). As a result of all the opium coming into the country, 1 in 30 Chinese became addicted to the drug.
China requested that Britain abstain from delivering the drug to their ports, as it was becoming a big problem to the country, but Britain declined since they were making too much $$$.

China then banned opium - starting the opium wars. Opium was no longer allowed into the country, and the government rounded up all the drug they could find, mixed it with salt and threw it in the ocean. Restrictions were also put on which ports the Brits could operate through.

After the Chinese lost the war (as the Brits had better weapons), the Chinese were forced to sign a treaty that not only allowed the Brits to trade with any port they wanted, but also allowed them to open more ports and decreased the Chinese import tax from ~40% to ~3%. In addition to new trading rules, any Brits who lived in China would now be exempt from Chinese laws and would follow British rules instead. Oh yeah, and Hong Kong was "given" to the British as well!

And the moral of the Opium Exhibition Hall - The Chinese (among many other South Asian countries) culture, pride, and economy suffered as a result of the Opium trade, but hey, a couple wealthy British aristocrats got stinkin' rich... so... all's well that ends well.

© Matthew Audley, 2005
You are here : Overview Asia Thailand Opium and you.
The trip
Leaving for bangkok on Sept. 12. Where we go from there is anyone's guess. Hoping to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. Be back in six months or so if everything goes well. There really isn't much of a route planned - we'll see what happens.
Start of journey: Sep 12, 2005
Duration: 6 months
End of journey: Mar 19, 2006
Travelled countries: Thailand
Southeastern Asia
The Author
Matthew Audley is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 19 years.
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