Whether it’s mountaineering, or marijuana. Trekking to Everest, or tripping on LSD. Getting as high as you can has always been central to the Nepal tourist experience. This is the story of an American president who tried to nip communism in the bud by destroying a Himalayan hippie shangri-la. But in stopping the smokers he sparked a Maoist blowback. The hippie trail followed the footsteps
of the ancient Silk Road. But instead of trading textiles, its travelers swapped the post-war social conformity of the Western world for dreams of enlightenment in the East. Some were fleeing the Vietnam War draft, while others came to find themselves. For whatever reason, every year from 1965 to 1973, tens of thousands of young people bussed or hitch-hiked the overland route from Istanbul to Kathmandu. And the terminus of the hippie trail was a
single bustling urban lane, called Jhonche, rechristened by its new inhabitants as Freak Street. America’s public enemy number one in the United States, is drug abuse. This will be a worldwide offensive, dealing with the problems of sources of supply as well as Americans who may be stationed abroad wherever they are in the world. A number of young Americans have become addicts as they serve abroad. Whether in Vietnam or Europe, or other places. Whether or not these young men are tuned in, they’ve certainly dropped out of the society they knew. Together they’ve quietly rejected the practical Western world, and seem not at all sure that they’ll ever want to return. The hippies weren’t the only ones
angered by prohibition. In western Nepal, far from the capital city of Kathmandu, hashish cultivation was the primary source of income. Sellers and growers were arrested. Private property with marijuana growing on it was forfeited to the state. The destruction of the marijuana crops pushed tens of thousands of subsistence farmers to the brink of starvation. Seeing political opportunity in economic
collapse, a communist party exploited local grievances, and persuaded residents that only a violent overthrow of the government would solve their problems. Nixon’s global war on drugs was fueling
the communist ideology he was trying to contain. And we will never surrender our
friends to communist aggression. By the “Just Say No” Reagan-era, drug prohibition had opened new opportunities for corruption that led all the way to Nepal’s royal family. King Birendra and I have each discovered a new friend. A blockbuster report by Nepalese journalist, Padam Thakurathi, implicated the king’s brothers in Nepal’s booming heroin trade. The government immediately shut down Thakurathi’s newspaper. Then, at 3 o’clock in the morning, a bodyguard of the royal family entered Thakurathi’s home, and aimed a gun 18 inches from his head. Shot in the face, Thakurathi survived the attack. He lost an eye, but lived to expose the royal family’s involvement in black-market heroin. This is a quick escape from grim reality. Today, Nepal remains a thriving hub for heroin and hashish. With stories of drug busts, addiction, and violence, mainstays of Nepal’s television news coverage. By 2006 the Maoists controlled 80% of
the country. The insurgency based in Roma had grown into a national political force that paralyzed the nation with a series of national strikes and armed resistance to the king. After a decade-long civil war that claimed 17,000 lives, Nepal’s monarchy was abolished, and the Communists elected to power. The Maoist have surged ahead past both the mainstream Left Party, the UML, as well as the Nepali Congress. Today, Nepal’s political situation has calmed down, and Freak Street is looking a little bit lonely. Katmandu’s hippie past is running high
on nostalgia and low on foot traffic. The erstwhile hippie haven is now a hangout for hipsters. Artisanal coffee shops, outnumber head shops. And the old Eden hashish Centre is just an ordinary budget hotel. Despite a small political movement to legalize hashish, marijuana is legal one day a year, for religious purposes only. The rest of the time, tourists and locals take their chances on the black market. With its wild days behind it Freak Street has mostly dropped the drug trade, and reinvented itself as a destination for mountain trekking. These days the real action is in Thamel. A short walk from Freak Street, Kathmandu’s thumping nightlife hotspot offers visitors every kind of indulgence that was available during Freak Street’s heyday, and many more that the hippies couldn’t have imagined on their wildest trip. And a recent retro hit is reviving Kathmandu’s hippy heritage.

How the Drug War Destroyed a Hippie Paradise in Kathmandu
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36 thoughts on “How the Drug War Destroyed a Hippie Paradise in Kathmandu

  • September 13, 2019 at 5:19 pm
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    Dude… Far out. Where's my popcorn?

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm
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    Hippies are gross

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:28 pm
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    hippies, blacks.
    god know what goes through the mind of republicans when they see a black hippie.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:30 pm
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    Wow what a well made video. It's kinda sad that the drug war had the opposite effect

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:33 pm
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    Boomers: That place is exotic!!

    Generation Z(yklon) That place is a shit hole.

    lol.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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    You say that like it's a bad thing.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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    What Nixon said was completely accurate, it’s just that he was trying to accomplish his goals through authoritarian means which is expected from any government.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:34 pm
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    What are we trying to say in this video ReasonTV? I agree the so called war on drugs is just another governmental way of population and mind control telling people on how to live their lives but in the same breath to those that feel the need to smoke a hash or whatever – do it on your dime in the health and side effects and not make me pay for your stupidity… still dont' get ReasonTV stand of vision of this video.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:36 pm
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    Wow, I never knew

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:38 pm
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    ironically
    the hippies and the drug trade did more to fight communism than the US government ever did.
    but I guess
    imposing christian sharia and jailing hippies and blacks was more important than actually stopping communism.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:39 pm
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    yeah but times have changed. I'm in California right now smoking legal weed while watching this video….don't need to go to Nepal anymore.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:39 pm
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    Learn from the mistakes of the past, lest you be doomed to repeat them.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:43 pm
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    THAT is Shangri-La?! A place of love and self respect? All I see is decrepit infrastructure, poverty, worn out people, addicts, desperation and stagnation. Not a single happy, healthy, prosperous, or secure person or community anywhere. Similar to Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Skid Row, Kansas City, St. Louis and San Francisco, nowadays.
    No, thank you, Nepal. Sell your Commie heaven elsewhere, we're all stocked up here.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:48 pm
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    a similar thing happened in Bolivia.
    because they tried to ban coca leaves
    now the government is led by a far left christian socialist.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:52 pm
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    What strikes me the most is how the USA could bribe these countries to do their bidding at the cost of their citizens. Perhaps the governments felt their citizens did not matter. That it was a win-win. They got money from the USA and they got to kill off the farmers and "low-life" in their own country at the same time? Now America is in an Orwellian hell-hole. Where credit scores, consumerism, social justice, facial recognition, fake climate change, bad universities, makes it hard to get a moral grip. Crazy in every which direction one looks. Does it date back to Nixon and his drug wars? Nixon certainly did abuse his power and was such a klutz nothing achieved success. Why can't America wage an economic war like China is currently doing? Where win-win scenarios are made using soft-predatory loans? Like we used to after WWII? Perhaps it is due to a bad culture here in America where hard work is not looked upon favorably?

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:54 pm
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    Fuck the US Government, it will always be the #1 enemy of the American people. It is a necessity to have a government to govern but it must be restricted by the people on every and any occasion.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 5:54 pm
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    The power of unintended consequences.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:04 pm
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    love how the man was singing some bob dylan sadly another victim of government overreach lets the folks stimulate the economy and themselves free love free market thats the idea capitalist hippie shit is the modern move

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:14 pm
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    God damn, Nixon was so right. Harsh, but right.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:18 pm
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    When I was a kid. I heard Kathmandu and thought it was Cat Man Do. lol

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:18 pm
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    Should have nuked all the degenerate hippies.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:21 pm
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    “You see homosexuality, dope, immorality in general; these are the enemies of strong societies. That’s why the communists and the left-wingers are pushing the junk. They are trying to destroy us.” said Nixon.

    The left wingers have been quite successful with this agenda in all western countries, destroying the foundations of our civilization: strong families, strong Christian and national identity and strong faith in God.

    The hippie culture had no future, it was just an escape, but not a viable alternative. Communism did not come to Nepal because of the drug war, but because China infiltrated Nepal and promoted communism for decades.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:26 pm
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    Should have just shot all the Hippies

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:31 pm
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    It's time to acknowledge that the war of drugs is an U.N. agenda. The Controlled Substance Act which gave us the war on drugs is unconstitutional, and should have never been acted. The federal government has no authority to prohibit anything. Why did we need a Constitutional Ammendment to prohibit alcohol, but not one to prohibit marijuana? It's past due to appeal the Controlled Substance Act, and take back our freedoms that has been lost to this war on drugs.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:34 pm
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    Learn from past mistakes; now there is Afghanistan and opium

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:36 pm
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    What's the name of the song that says puff take a puff?

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm
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    Ol Tricky Dick was quite the jerk, MAN

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:47 pm
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    We should of just shipped all the HIppies to kathmandu eventually hippies get seen for what they actually are.. Homeless junkies. California has tons of them.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:48 pm
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    So that's what Bob Seger was up to.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:49 pm
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    End the war on drugs.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:49 pm
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    Poor Nepal…

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  • September 13, 2019 at 6:58 pm
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    Do you know what a subsistence farmer is? I'll give you a hint, they only manage to grow the food they need to survive, or "subsist." They don't sell bumper crops of hash.
    That's how I know this it propaganda–when you use false terms intended to evoke emotion rather that REASON.
    For shame.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 7:01 pm
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    As an ancient philosopher once said, "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it."

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  • September 13, 2019 at 7:06 pm
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    Spiritualism is highly toxic to communism.
    Even if it's kinda dumb, poorly practiced, and worce of all; trendy.
    If you want to deny communists access to a population, spread spiritualism.

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  • September 13, 2019 at 7:24 pm
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    Such a nice nostalgic journey seen through memories almost drowned in a drug addled haze… it’s almost like Ozzie and Harriet except the suburbs are real, paradise on earth is a utopian fantasy. 🎭

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  • September 13, 2019 at 7:28 pm
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    Thanks, Nix'n. Great job.

    Reply

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