If you have been traveling around Lombok or the Gili islands for awhile, you might have heard fellow travelers gushing about a certain type of mushroom that makes them ‘see magic’. Or you might have been walking down the street one day when someone approaches you and asks if you would like to try some magic shrooms.
So, what exactly are these mysterious fungi and what is so magical about them?
What are Magic Mushrooms?
“Magic mushroom” is the colloquial name for psilocybin mushroom, also widely known as psychedelic mushroom. Used mainly as a recreational drug, its effects can include euphoria, altered thinking processes, closed and open-eye visuals (hallucinations), an altered sense of time, and spiritual experiences.
The hallucinations are caused by a substance called ‘psilocybin’, which activates serotonin receptors in your brain. It has been said to be similar to LSD, only weaker.
How Long Do the Effects Last?
As with many psychedelic substances, the effects of magic mushroom are subjective and can vary greatly from one user to another. They can last anywhere from 3 – 8 hours, depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. The first 3 – 4 hours are often referred to as ‘the peak’, in which the user experiences the most vivid hallucinations and distortions in reality.
Are Magic Mushrooms Dangerous?
Because magic mushrooms can be found in the wild, they’re often thought of as a ‘natural drug’ or a safe alternative to harder drugs. And that is true, to some extent.
Magic mushrooms have minimal side effects. Unlike cocaine or cannabis, magic mushrooms do not increase the risk of mental health problems. They are also far less harmful to our internal organs than heroin or cocaine. In fact, psilocybin mushrooms have been found to be beneficial for people with depression.
The good news is that magic mushrooms are not habit-forming, which means you are not going to get addicted to them or experience any withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them after an extended period of regular consumption.
Are They Legal?
Magic mushrooms are technically illegal in Indonesia. However, the Gili islands are known to be a safe haven for those seeking mushroom-induced pleasure. Cafes selling magic mushrooms openly advertise them on their outdoor menu boards without fear.
There is no police on the Gili islands apart from their own ‘island security’. I’m not sure if these security enforcers are being paid to look the other way, but to my knowledge, no one has been arrested for selling or consuming magic mushrooms there. Then again, we don’t know how long this will last.
It is also possible to find them on some of the other islands like Bali and Lombok, but you have to be very, very careful. The person trying to sell you the drug could be an undercover cop, or someone pretending to be one. In any case, it’s going to cause you a lot of trouble.
Where to Find Them
I’m pretty sure you could get the magic shrooms in almost every bar/restaurant/guesthouse on Gili Trawangan sell the magic shrooms — if not on the menu, then under the table, from one of the staff members.
But the best place to find them would be on the Sunrise Beach, located on the northeast of the island. Here, there are a cluster of small bars all proudly selling magic mushrooms as their in-house specialty.
My Magic-Mushroom Experience
The first time I encountered magic mushrooms was in Lake Toba (Medan, Indonesia) on a small island called Tuk Tuk. But I was too scared to give it a try. I was solo traveling in Indonesia for the first time, and I heard a story of a fellow traveler getting a bad trip from a mushroom shake. I didn’t know what a bad trip was, but it didn’t sound very enjoyable.
The second time was again in Lake Toba, but I was with my mom, so trying the mushroom — or anything remotely adventurous, for that matter — was out of the question.
The third time was in Amsterdam. I still couldn’t pluck up my courage, because again, I was traveling alone and staying with a host I didn’t quite trust.
So, when I went to Gili Trawangan with a friend in 2016, I knew I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity. I had someone reliable to look after me if anything went wrong.
Unfortunately, she was down with the flu and had to stay in bed. But I was still determined to venture out on my own in my quest to find the magic mushroom.
I planned to buy a takeaway mushroom shake and have it in the safety of our room. Near the place where we stayed, there were a lot of expensive bars. But only a few of them advertised the shroom shake. Cheapest one was Rp200,000. I continued to walk clockwise around the island.
Gili T is a small island. To circumambulate it would take just over an hour, if you walk fast. There are no cars, only bicycles and horse-driven carriages. On my way to the Sunset Beach, I found a lonely shack, with a few beach boys loitering outside. They sold a shake for Rp150,000. I tried to bargain but they said that was the going price. I thanked them and continued walking in search of something cheaper.
Finally, I found one at the Gili Boys Bar. The price ranged from Rp100k for the low magic level, to Rp500k for the ‘fucking bloody super duper strong’. I asked for the cheapest, and he said he had run out of the low-strength shroom. Besides, he said, for ‘someone my size’, I would need at least a medium one to feel the effect. That was kind of insulting, but ok.
As I reached another part of the island, I saw that there was a row of maybe 5 to 6 small bars, all advertising magic mushroom, and all proclaiming to be “Dr. Feel Good” who could take you to heaven and back.
Long after reaching my room, I still felt excitable, if a little jittery. I could hear my heartbeat in my head. I felt pleasantly warm and fuzzy, and just…happy — but kinda lonely.
I went to the bathroom, and saw the bathroom tiles move. No, they throbbed. The patterns on the tiles danced in circles and appeared luminescent. After a while I thought there was an aquarium behind those walls with fluorescent fish swimming in them. I stared and smiled in awe for I don’t know how long.
And then, I started laughing at my hands because they looked cartoonish, as though they were knobbly carrots growing out of my arms. One hand was a much bigger carrot than the other. I think the effect lasted a couple of hours, but then again I lost track of time.
Tips for Taking Magic Mushrooms
- Please be reminded that magic mushrooms are against the law in Indonesia and in almost every part of the world. Always exercise caution when buying or consuming them. This post is in no way trying to promote the use of magic mushrooms or any recreational drug.
- Your existing state of mind plays a crucial role in determining whether you will have a positive experience. Although the compound in magic mushrooms is known to alleviate depression, in some cases it may also make you ‘crash’, i.e. feel even worse after the effect wears off. It can also cause anxiety and panic attacks. Please get a doctor’s advice before you take psilocybin as a treatment for depression.
- Remember that each person may react differently to psilocybin. If it is your first time trying the drug, take it in moderation and with trusted company. Make sure you have someone sober to take care of you in case anything goes wrong — preferably someone who has tried it before, so that he/she can reassure that you’re not going mad.
- Although the magic mushroom is not harmful in itself, it may cause some people to have poorer judgment. Accidental injury is the most likely cause for mushroom users to seek medical treatment. Take it in a safe space (not in the middle of a busy road or on top of a high building with no barriers!) and remove any potential hazard in the area.