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Trying the Laughing Gas in Laos | Ummi Goes Where?

What is Happy Balloon or Laughing Gas?

The “happy balloon” is not a new trend. But if you’re a little late to the party (like I was), this article will tell you all you need to know about it.

So, there’s this drug called the “happy balloon”. It’s literally a balloon that is supposed to make you happy. But you don’t play with it the way you normally would with a balloon (although that would probably make you happy too). Instead, you inhale the gas inside it.

The balloon is filled with a gas that is commonly known as the laughing gas.

What is the Laughing Gas?

The scientific name of the laughing gas is nitrous oxide (N2O). It is usually used in dental clinics as an anesthetic.

I’ve never had any dentist use it on me. I wonder how he’s supposed to get any work done if the patient can’t stop laughing.

Anyway. At room temperature, the gas is colorless and non-flammable, with a slightly sweet taste and smell. It is also frequently used in restaurants to prepare whipped cream.

Now that explains why I always feel happy after eating whipped cream.

Laughing gas happy balloons
Credit: D Sharon Pruitt / Wikimedia Commons

As a recreational drug, it is often served in a balloon. It is legal in many countries, or rather, has not been made illegal. This is due to its minimal side effects. The intoxication only lasts for several seconds, and overdose cases are very rare.

Where to Find the Happy Balloon

Apparently, you can find happy balloons everywhere, from Europe to Asia, especially in party places like music festivals and nightclubs. In Asia, it seems to have become a big thing in Vietnam, Laos and South Korea.

I tried it in Vang Vieng, the backpacker capital of Laos. There was this little cafe on the main street that sold ‘happy’ things — happy omelet, happy pancake, happy pizza, happy coffee — you name it.

Earlier in the day, I had a mushroom shake there and liked the result. So, that night, I came back to buy a slice of space brownie to take away. While waiting for them to prepare the brownie, I decided to try the happy balloon.

Trying the laughing gas happy balloon in Laos | Ummi Goes Where?
The ‘happy’ menu.

What to Expect When You Inhale Laughing Gas

I had to wait a little while for my happy balloon, because it seemed like it was not easy to prepare and not all of the staff members knew how. After some time, the cafe owner himself came to serve the balloon to me. It was yellow, with splashes of paint on it.

He told me that I must only consume it in the cafe, and not to bring it back to my hotel room. I don’t know if that was the law or because they wanted to reuse the balloon for other customers (yuck, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did).

At first, I only took teeny-weeny sips from the balloon, afraid of the effect, but I didn’t feel anything at all. Finally, after a few more failed attempts, I finished the gas in two deep inhalations. The effect hit me immediately but went away just as quickly — I think about 15 seconds, tops.

The Verdict

I liked how fast it was — unlike the magic mushroom or the space brownie that makes you wait and wait until suddenly bam, hallucinations!

This was milder and more pleasant — a sudden rush of euphoria. It didn’t make me laugh, but I was smiling so wide, my cheeks hurt.

Before trying the laughing gas happy balloon
After trying the laughing gas happy balloon

Tips for Taking the Laughing Gas Safely

WARNING: Although the laughing gas is generally harmless, prolonged or excessive exposure to it may result in:

  • Memory loss
  • Ringing or buzzing in ears
  • Vitamin B12 depletion (which can cause brain and nerve damage in the long run)
  • Weakened immune system
  • Anemia
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Psychological dependence
  • Psychosis
  • Incontinence
  • Limb spasms
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Disruption to reproductive systems
  • Potential birth defects (if consumed during pregnancy)

Overdoses, although extremely rare, may be fatal. Therefore, if you choose to try the laughing gas, make sure you take the necessary precautions to reduce the risks of potential disaster:

  • Remember that individual results may vary. If it’s your first time trying the laughing gas, go easy on the dosage.
  • Do NOT use it alone or in dangerous or isolated places. Have a trusted friend with you in case something goes wrong.
  • Do NOT use if you have pre-existing respiratory issues.
  • Do NOT buy your own gas canisters if you’re not a trained or qualified individual. Faulty gas dispensers can explode and injure you. Dispensing the gas incorrectly can also cause cold burns to the skin.
  • Do NOT inhale the gas while standing or dancing, as you may pass out from a lack of oxygen.
  • Do NOT pinch your nose, put plastic bags over your head, or try to impede breathing in any way.
  • Do NOT use the gas near flammable substances, such as naked flames or cigarettes.
  • Do NOT take on an empty stomach.
  • Do NOT combine with alcohol or other drugs.
And last but not least, do it at your own risk. This article is by no means trying to encourage the consumption of drugs of any kind and of any quantity. Please refer to the disclaimer at the bottom of this page for more details.
Posted in Laos

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