Wednesday, May 26, 2010

709 The Smugglers

709 The Smugglers

(TAIPEI) -- Here's our big chance! In today's world the next wave of drug mules from Mexico, north will be little old ladies and little old men driving Corollas or Impalas with their stash on the back seat in Wal-Mart bags and in plain sight. What border patroller would give someone like that a second look?

We oldsters are unlikely to go to Mexico, but here in Taiwan there are some fine opportunities as well. We found out they have a nifty cough medicine here called "Liquid Brown Mixture." How charming and innocent. For the record, we came upon it quite legitimately. Liquid brown mixtures can include some forms of prune juice or pancake syrup, even licorice. This stuff does, in fact, taste like licorice.

How do they get that flavor? Easy. They use something called Glycyrrhiza Fluid Extract. We were happy to learn that while some forms of this stuff contain ammonia, this is not one of them. Good thing, too. Think you can bring this stuff on an international flight? Probably not.

Alright. Also on the list of ingredients is something called Antimony Potassium Tartrate. This stuff's been banned in animal food in the US. It's a compound often associated with fireproofing. Tasty.

Then, Ethyl Nitrite Spirit. Don't light up a Lucky while using this stuff. Don't overdose. Don't worry... people have been using this medicinally for centuries. Bring it on a plane? An explosive? Um... probably not.

But the clincher is the number two ingredient: opium tincture. Take that on a plane? You gotta be kidding. Of course, if we had one of those Corollas or Impalas and a Wal-Mart bag, we might risk transporting it over the border (can a drug sniffing dog pick up this scent?) But to put it in luggage on a flight from here to Washington is not a good idea. You can imagine being taken aside at Dulles and hauled into a little room with no windows and with a metal table bolted to the cement floor while Captain Freedom of the Homeland Security Department or the FBI or the CIA or the DC Police or all of the above question you about your history as a drug smuggler and international conspirator.

This stuff is perfectly legal here and has been in wide use for who-knows-how-long, probably since well before George Washington's administration.

The question is: does it work? Oh boy, does it. But this particular bottle, if there's anything left when we head out in a week, will stay behind in Taipei, regrettably.


--Just can't get used to this "no tipping" policy here. Cabbies, restaurant waiters and waitresses, hairdressers, just about everyone who gets tipped in the US doesn't get tipped here. And -- it's been said -- tipping here is an insult.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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