Making Fake Ecstasy with the Meth-Smoking Beach Boys of Indonesia

I got a lesson on how to con Western tourists.

05 June 2013, 2:25pm

Off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, there are three islands called The Gilis – a mini archipelago of paradises where nothing much happens. There are no motorised vehicles on the islands – just stampeding horse-drawn carts; not too many brash, leering Australian tourists in Bintang vests, unlike nearby Bali; and no cops, just sporadic visits by police teams from Lombok every couple of months.

Which is lucky, because drugs are both extremely illegal in Indonesia and absolutely everywhere on the Gilis. Get caught bringing a bit of weed to the country and you could face death by firing squad. However, on Gili Trawangan, the archipelago's most developed island – a 3km-long stretch of sand, jungle and beautiful, crystal-clear water – every other shop along the main strip openly sells magic mushroom milkshakes and it's not hard to get your hands on whatever else you want if you ask nicely enough.

I found myself on Trawangan a few months ago and quickly made friends with some of the guys running the local game. Gilbert, a scrappy 23-year-old from the island, approached me on the main cobbled street of Trawangan asking if I needed any ecstasy. I don't think anyone ever really needs ecstasy, but we stood by anyway as he reeled off a list of name-brand pills that were popular in Jakarta at the time, before assuring us that his stuff was "legit".

My friend had just bought a few "Pink Love" pills from another islander down the street, so he told Gilbert he was all set. But the young pusher insisted on seeing the pills he'd just bought and, upon inspection, told him they were no good. "Those things are fake," he told him. "I could make those in ten minutes."

At first, we were a little bummed out that my friend had been sold dud pills. But then I realised I had an opportunity to see exactly how he'd been duped, which, although still kind of a bumout, seemed like a better thing to do than neck the fake pills and spend all night waiting to come up in vain. After 15 minutes of convincing him to show us how it's done (which ended in my friend promising to buy any drugs he needed off Gilbert for the remainder of our stay), Gilbert agreed and we headed off into the jungle.

Along the way, we made two stops. On the first stop we gathered ingredients, which consisted of a red marker, malaria pills and an egg. The second stop, Gilbert picked up some "medicine" to help him call in the "spirits" he needed to assist him with the process. The medicine was a large chunk of meth. I still have no idea what the spirits were.

After a 30-minute walk into the depths of the forest, we arrived at a small room with a single mattress and a lamp. We sat down on the floor and Gilbert began to pull out his ingredients, telling me that he could replicate any drug on the market – that he's been doing this since he was a kid and knows how the game works. Tourists come to have a good time and he helps them out. Sometimes he sells real drugs, sometimes fake. It all depends on his situation.

Before getting to work, Gilbert rigs up a meth pipe using a plastic bottle and a couple of straws. He holds a lighter to one end and inhales from the other. Releasing a cloud of smoke from his lungs, Gilbert tells me, "I need to have the spirit inside me to make these things." Which, in retrospect – seeing how easy it is to do – seems like a weird thing to say. Or just an excuse to smoke some meth, I guess. Anyway, spirits conjured, his eyes glazed over and he began to smash up the malaria pills.


- Five anti-malaria pills (or any chalky white pill).
- One red marker .
- One egg white .
- One straw .
- One pencil with desired stamp shape carved into the tip (a heart in this case).

Step One: In a small container (like an Altoid can) crush up the malaria pills into a powder.

Step Two: Place the egg white in the malaria powder and stir until a dry mud-like substance is reached.

Step Three: Break open the red marker and squeeze out the red ink into the egg mixture. Mix until desired colour is reached.

Step Four: Spread the mixture out on a flat surface and roll it out until about ¼ inch thick.

Step Five: Using the tip of the straw, punch holes in the rolled out mixture, creating little "pills".

Step Six: At the end of the pencil carve a little heart shape that can be used to stamp the top of each pill.

Step Seven: Gently stamp the top of each pill with the carved pencil, leaving an impressed image of the heart.

Step Eight: Let pills dry for ten minutes.

Twenty minutes later, and after a few more inhalations of his helpful amphetamine spirit, Gilbert had produced a handful of pills that looked identical to the real thing, but that in no way bore any chemical resemblance to real ecstasy. He can sell them on the streets of Gili for £15 a pop. He laughs and tells me, "They may not get you high, but at least you wont get Malaria."

DISCLAIMER: This article is for entertainment purposes only. Do not recreate anything depicted herein.

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