Could the end of the dope holiday really be nigh?

What worries me about the possible decriminilisation of cannabis is that people will have one less reason to travel. Going abroad in search of dope is one of those honourable traditions that Bohemians, hippies and new-age travellers will one day look back on with tears of nostalgia.

All backpackers worth their salt know what it is to sleep in smoky Bombay dormitories with self-righteously dirty Austrians and Germans, who suddenly whip crafted pipes out of their clothing just at the moment your eyes were about to close in sleep.

The elaborate lighting-up ceremonies, the smoky suckings and puffings, the silent offering around of the pipe like a sacred talisman; these rituals mean as much for travel as Delhi belly and the InterRail card.

And look at those generations of students riding the waves to Holland every Christmas vacation. As we all know, ragged young intellectuals do not cross the North Sea for tulips or the Van Gogh Museum. They go for dingy peace cafes where spliffs appear on the menu next to the mushroom quiche.

In years gone by, the further you travelled the further the view disappeared into aromatic smoke. Before the war the place to smoke a pipe was China. Shanghai was so sinful that a blast of opium before bed was as respectable as a glass of sherry.

In the Fifties it was Saigon and Hong Kong that filled with travelling dope-smokers, while the Sixties saw dope shops spring up on the road to Goa like garrison cities on the Silk Road. Istanbul's famous Pudding Shop was where you stocked up on the stuff before taking the long dope road to India and Nepal. And if you couldn't make it to Katmandhu you took the short cut to Marrakesh instead.

Otherwise you went to countries where the whole local culture revolved around "substances". Countries such as Columbia where a mouthful of coca leaves was the local equivalent to a mid-morning coffee, or the Yemen where cabinet ministers chewed qat to discuss the national budget.

Meanwhile, airports from New York to Singapore crunched to the sound of dope being walked on, hidden inside travellers' shoes, while rucksacks swilled with cannabis fragments disguised as bits of dirt. Personally I call it madness, but there is no end to the madness of people who associate dope with travel.

And yet how things have changed. Smoking dope in Tony Blair's Britain seems such a tame affair compared to the same, heart-stoppingly dangerous offence in, say, King Hassan's Morocco or Lee Kwan Yew's Singapore.

It won't be long before long-haired dropouts from the universities of Delhi and Bombay start making pilgrimmages to British seaside resorts, where they will play didgereedoos and relax naked under the stars. The curious residents of Bournemouth and Brighton will earn pocket money by selling dope to naked junkies.

Still later, in a long overdue act of retribution, the Chinese will send their gunboats and force us to buy dope by the tonne, whether we like it or not. We will no longer need to travel for our dope and the tides of cultural history will have changed yet again.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on