Say No to Drugs


Say No to Drugs
There’s a quirky town in western China called Dali- for want of a better picture builder it’s China’s Nimbin. It’s a picturesque destination for the disillusioned, artists and non conformists of all persuasions. Those not wanting a bar of China’s Economic Miracle gravitate towards Dali for an Alternative Lifestyle.
One light years from the industry and commerce of China’s mega cities. The most interesting Chinese nationals I’ve met in recent years are those living in Dali.

He left the Ritz & Glitz of Hong Kong for a slice of Tian Tang- heaven

I found myself propping up the bar in a low key arty watering hole.
I’d enjoyed many an evening there the previous year but the vibe was now palpably subdued. The bar attendant told me that the owner had suffered a mental breakdown and was away convalescing with her mother in Beijing. And that her ‘toy boy’ boyfriend [ who was a permanent fixture on my last visit] was ‘forced’ to return to France.
His parents having cut off his funding- not having approved of his relationship with Liz the owner, who I’d liken to a quasi Chinese Yoko Ono for want of a better picture builder.
As she told me the sad tale a cavalcade of a dozen police officers marched into the bar headed by an agitated plain clothes officer brandishing a folder. I nearly fell off my stool whereas she[ the bar attendant ]coolly butted out the joint she’d been smoking and smiled welcomingly.
My first paranoid thoughts were- ‘ You fucking clown Marsani- you’ve got yourself caught up in a drugs raid in China of all places. You can kiss goodbye ever getting another visa to revisit this country.’
Mind you a dozen provincial Chinese policemen in shabby ill fitting uniforms aren’t as intimidating as say a crack SWAT team, but I found the sight disconcerting non the less. After an animated exchange and a cursory inspection of the premises the officer in charge left behind a handful of official looking notices and they all marched out the door Indian file.
{ I assumed they’d presented her with an eviction notice }
“ What was that all about ? ” Still stunned, I asked .
“ Oh, they’re just visiting bars in town on a public awareness campaign, and they want me to display these signs,
Say No to Drugs.”
Then she casually lit up her joint and continued where she’d previously left off.

Over the years Dali and Nimbin have attracted their fair share of Japanese hippies. Drop outs from regimented Japanese society, attracted by lower living costs and readily available marijuana
[ it grows wild on the outskirts of Dali ].
It would be fair to say that China has a difficult- strained relationship with Japan,
the wounds of Japan’s occupation during the 1930s through to the end of the War in 1945 still brew under the surface.
Chinese politicians regularly play the race card to stir up the masses and divert attention from China’s stratospheric income inequality gap and corruption scandals.
Communist Party corruption scandals can be swept under the carpet by starting anti Japanese demonstrations in front of Japanese Consulate and Corporation buildings and patriotic youths are whipped up into a Dervish like fervour and randomly mash up a few parked Mazdas for good measure.
[ that seems to divert attention from the main game for a while]
There also appears to be an inordinate number of Chinese TV drama series and films showing the resistance of the Chinese fighting against the ‘evil Japanese invader’.
So I could never fathom why the authorities stomached and seemingly turned a blind eye to scores of young frugal Japanese hippies hanging around town smoking dope.
Well eventually someone in authority had had enough [ one too many anti Japanese propaganda movie in all probability ] and the Japanese were refused visa extensions and eventually run out of town.

A bygone era still visible in Dali.
I’ve just returned from a month in Nimbin in northern NSW and I was taken aback by the number of Japanese in town. There appeared to be an inordinate number, considering Nimbin only has 500 odd inhabitants. I asked a young Japanese woman what the story was behind all her co nationals hanging around town. She gave me this incoherent ‘stoner’ explanation about how in ancient times the Japanese smoked marijuana to attain a higher spiritual consciousness with a view of better communicating with ‘The Gods’.
It sounded like a wishy washy justification for just wanting to get perpetually stoned and avoid the stifling Salary Man ethos of their parent’s generation to me !

A bloke who takes his smoking seriously

In Dali I met a Korean- Japanese guy called Ken, who ran a Korean restaurant.
He managed to escape the anti Japanese backlash which saw the expulsion of the resident Japanese en masse.
Mind you Ken was a heavy dope smoker
[ I was surprised that he managed to function and operate a well run restaurant – he always appeared perpetually stoned to me ]. He probably played the Korean Card to side step the backlash. All things Korean are in favour, the country and culture is enjoying a renaissance of sorts .
Being Korean is seen as cool throughout Asia.

The Pirate CD seller-poet was a constant fixture around town.

I developed a respect for those Chinese who choose to break away from the mainstream. Societal and parental expectations to conform are overbearing compared to so called Western standards. To drop out and seek an alternative lifestyle takes a lot of gumption and courage in China. Besides the overwhelming disapproval of family and colleagues, there’s the economic reality. Unlike dropping out in say The Northern Rivers region of NSW and falling back on Centre Link benefits.
There’s no such luxury for those Chinese nationals moving to Dali or anywhere else in The Middle Kingdom. Those Chinese Tree Changers can reinvent themselves in Dali but there won’t be a New Start allowance to help them along the way.
They’re out on a limb from day one.

Jen was an English and history teacher in Beijing before packing it in for a ‘hole in the wall’ food stall with her husband.

They have to provide for themselves. Which means they go to Dali with a little nest egg or they have to become enterprising
[not exactly a foreign concept for ethnic Chinese ] and start little businesses.
Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph used the headline- ‘Welfare Wasteland’ in an article outlining the percentage of Northern Rivers residents receiving some sort of Government Welfare assistance. They claimed 1 in 5 working age residents are on some sort of welfare. Doing New Age Healing Workshops requires somewhat more courage when government benefits-handouts aren’t forthcoming fortnightly.
Yes, getting in touch with your Heart Chakras in Dali requires a bit more fortitude and gumption !

Eccentric or deranged ? – fondling a sex toy in public.…-Grass-in-Town

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