The wide awake friend of mine sent me this long ass essay he wrote while he was on
methamphetamines (see following post). It’s an unformatted block of text, but quite rewarding to
read. Interesting and sums up the scene pretty well, but you revealed where you’re from Mr. Foaf. I
assume that was meant to happen, but email me if you want me to delete any identifying names.

********** All text following this line is written by Mr Foaf **********

For those of you who’re not familiar with the term, feng tau or yo
tau
in Hokkien translates to “shake head”. Speed in Malaysia is called feng tau yin or
yo tau yee, literally “shake head pills”. Speed is relatively cheap in Malaysia, you can
score a tablet for RM30, which is A$15 here. The speed is high quality and is mostly diverted from
Thailand. The most renowned “brand name” when I was in the scene (that was around 1998 – 2000) is
the Green Apple. It is a large methamphetamine tablet and it tastes absolutely horrible when you
crunch it up. There are several other substances masquerading as yo tau yee, the most common
being caffeine. One guy even attempted to sell me a No-Doz caffeine tablet that still had the
writing on it! As far as I know, MDMA (ecstasy) was not widely available in my hometown. Most of
the pills passed off as Ecstasy are speed. I can still remember the first time I got into the
feng tau scene. I hooked up with a friend of a friend (seriously) who is a regular yo
ka
(literally “shake feet”) which is a vaguely derogatory term for a speed freak. The term
yo tau was coined due to one of the well known effects of speed – it makes you perform
repetitive (and sometimes unconscious) movements. The people who take speed in Malaysia usually
stand near the speakers and grasp it and shake their head horizontally (think of the movement you
do when you’re saying No). It’s highly pleasant to perform repetitive movements while on speed and
once you start moving in a particular way, it’s hard to stop, thus the term “yo tau”. I feel
that it’s a meme that’s passed on by older speed freaks who tell newer acolytes that they need to
shake their head to get high. Thus, you can see a high proportion of people shaking their heads in
discos. It has become somewhat fashionable to do it even if you’re not on speed. Anyway, back to my
first time. I hooked up with a friend of a close friend and he took me to this really dodgy out of
the way disco. We literally spent an hour on the road, with the last 15 minutes spent navigating a
long, dark rubble road to a single house located in the woods. It was like something out of a
story, that was what I though then. Heh. Anyway, the house seemed extremely well secured for a
residential property. All the windows were barred and the front door has an extension with an
intimidating cage and lock system and there was an old gangster sitting between the cage and the
front door. I presume the cage was meant to delay police from breaking in. Anyway, this place was
strictly invitation only and it was my friend’s first time there too. The old gangster kept on
telling us that it’s a private residential house and would not let us in. My friend had to make a
phone call to a regular, who came out and told the old gangster that we’re cool. Which brings us to
another part of the feng tau scene. The scene is sustained primarily by Ah Bengs – a derogative
term referring to an unsophisticated Chinese boy, usually a gangster. Anyway, the old gangster
security guard asked us if we wanted any pills. Naturally, we said yes, because that was the reason
we’re there. The OG walked over to a dilapidated truck partially hidden in a darkened garage and
pulled the biggest bag full of pills I’ve ever seen out of the empty fuel tank. It seemed rather
surreal and movie like to me at that time. We got two pills of the guy and I crunched mine up and
chased it with some coke. The drink, not the drug. After that, our party went into the disco, which
is basically a renovated living room with a pumping sound system. There is no entrance fee per se
to the illicit disco, but you’re required to either purchase a jug of water for RM 30 (A$15) or a
pre rolled marijuana joints for the same price. We didn’t want to cloud the experience, so we opted
to go for the water and sat down at a table. Our party consists of 4 – the friend of a friend, his
girlfriend, his friend and me. Which reminds me of the funny scene that always happens when his
girlfriend is partying with us. Heh. The girlfriend in question does not approve of drug use, so he
has to covertly take drugs while she’s with us. It was an exercise is subterfuge and reconnaissance
indeed. Anyway, I was offered some chewing gum to take care of the jaw clenching that always occurs
with speed and I spent three hours dancing along in that disco. I learnt that the disco is a
safehouse which people go to yo tau when the police are making their inaugural rounds at the
licensed discos to snag drug users. To introduce you to more of the local feng tau
lingo:

Sapu – Literally “sweep”, it refers to the police raids on licenced discos

Anyway, the way the police do this is they pull up in several trucks
customized to hold 20 people in each and make a fucking racket, scaring everyone in the disco. They
pull out their batons and bust in the disco with their flashlights and surround all the exits and
shouts at the DJ to cut the music and turn on the lights. Anyone caught shaking their head when the
lights are on are immediately (read roughly) pushed into the trucks. It can be a frightening
experience because Malaysian police are known for their persuasive interrogation techniques.
Anyway, when the lights are all turned on, the police pushes everyone who has tattoos, piercings
and dyed hair to one side and begins marching them into the trucks. This could be interpreted by
unconstitutional profiling, but that’s the way things work around there. Everyone remaining is
required to line up and produce their IDs for the police. If the police does not like the way you
look, you’re diverted to the other line, which leads to the truck. It can be an exercise in self
control to force yourself to stop shaking your head after you’ve been doing it a couple of hours
while on speed. I can testify that it CAN be done, but you better hope the police are looking
elsewhere when you inadvertently and unconsciously start shaking your head again.

Anyway, about the truck. It’s a standard military truck converted to hold 20
people in small cages that you can’t even move or stand up in. The air is extremely musty and it’s
very, very warm in there. That’s not the end of the day though. If you’re unlucky enough to be the
first disco they raided, that means 4 hours in the hot truck while the rest are rounded up with the
same trucks. By the time they let you out, you’ll be begging for them to arrest you.

And that still not the end of your day. When you’re at the police station,
you’ll be interrogated by mean looking police officers. After that, you’ll be required to strip to
check for any hidden tattoos (gangs are a problem where I come from and most gangsters have
tattoos, hence this). After that, you’ll be given a small container to piss in. The container is
taken to the lab, and you’re required to sleep in a jail cell for the night with only your
underpants because the police takes away your clothes and belongings.

Chiak curry pun – Literally eat curried rice. It means you were unlucky enough
to get busted and spent the night in a jail cell. The police provides you with breakfast before
they release you – curried chicken rice, hence the term.

The next morning, you wake up in a jail cell stinking of piss and feces (if
you’re lucky enough to sleep) and you get released with a stern warning. I don’t know if anything’s
changed since I was in the scene, but I haven’t heard of anyone getting charged. I suspect that the
urine samples were never tested at all, and they just want to lock you up for the night as a
“lesson”. Which is good in a way. You don’t want to get busted with amphetamines in your urine
because that is a Very Bad Thing in Malaysia, and it leads to leads to stuff like Long Jail Terms
To Send A Message To The Masses. It saves taxpayer money too, because the police then does not have
to spend money on drug testing kits. Everyone wins, including the poor sod who spent the nite in
the cell. The only people that doesn’t win are the ones who did not take any drugs and yet has to
spend the night in the jail. =D

Oh, wait I do know someone personally who got convicted, but in different
situation. Someone narced on him and the police busted into the house and found ice (smokable
methamphetamine) and cannabis on the premises. Every resident was urine tested (for real) and my
classmate was unfortunate enough to have traces of cannabis in his urine. Which brings me to a
puzzling issue – apparently there are people out there who gains happiness from other people’s
suffering. If you don’t take drugs, that’s cool, it’s your choice and I respect you for making it.
But why do you feel the need to report me to the police? Is this some misguided tough love gleaned
from primary school teachers who urge people to report people doing drugs “for their own good”? Nah
mate, dun kid yourself, the only reason you do that is because you want to bring me down. Anyway, I
digress.

Anyway, regarding my first time again. My friend had to leave after three
hours so I went back home and played loud rave music at home while shaking away, much to the
amusement of my roommate then. My first time was also the first time I was exposed to “speed rage”.
My neighbor suddenly appeared in front of my gate at 4:30 am looking extremely pissed off. He
shouted for me to turn the music down and complained that I’ve been playing music at unacceptable
volumes and it has disturbed his sleep. I agree that the volume was too loud (it was at max volume
and with my setup then, max volume is really loud). Normally, I would apologize and turn the music
down since it’s unfair to subject a 40 year old man and his wife to loud thumping music all night
long. At that time though, I felt strangely confrontational and shouted back that if he wants the
music off, he can come right up and make me. I ended that sentence by saying cibai.

Cibai – An expletive which means cunt

At that point, the man started shouting again about my rudeness and threatened
to call the police. Upon hearing that, I promptly stomped down the stairs with the full intention
of beating the shit out of him. Luckily though, my roommate restrained me and apologized to the man
and turned down my stereo. Thank you, PL, for defusing a potentially dangerous confrontation that
will probably end with me sitting in a jail cell. I spent the rest of the night paranoid (great)
that the police will raid my house. I kept going through what we’re going to do if that happens. My
plan was to pretend to sleep and get my roommate to answer the door and deny everything. Not a
really good plan, and I knew it too, so I was feeling really paranoid the rest of the night and I
couldn’t stop clenching my jaw. I wanted to leave the house and sleep over at the friends place but
didn’t want to risk getting busted on the way. I was not thinking rationally then. Thankfully, the
neighbor didn’t make good on his threat.

Anyway, back to the feng tau scene. It’s a really fun scene where people take
speed and shake their heads as discos. Some people might dismiss it as an Ah Beng form of
entertainment and sniff at it, but it’s actually pretty fun. There is a community of yo kas which
look out for each other and other than the occasional fights that inadvertently break out, it’s
actually a pretty fun scene. The music is nothing to write home about, it’s mostly remixed Cantopop
songs and popular dance groups like Vengaboys, but it’s surprisingly effective and enjoyable. I
spent a couple of happy years in the feng tau scene and I still fondly look back at those times
with delight. And at regular intervals while dancing, a group of people will inadvertently start
The War Cry.

The War Cry

Yo ah yo ah si beh song ah

Shake shake it feels damn good

Yo ah yo ah yo ah

Shake shake shake

Kaka yo ah yo ah yo ah

Daringly shake shake shake

********** End of Essay **********

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