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Walkabout: Melatonin Mayday
Why I took drugs in Malaysia
By DAFFYD RODERICK

November 20, 2000
Web posted at 12:40 p.m. Hong Kong time, 11:40 a.m. EDT


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If you read my column last week, you'll know that I promised to dabble in drugs for the sake of my fellow travelers. No, I'm not testing out Malaysia's fun-loving drug laws: "Offenders will be put to death!" I'm giving the hormone melatonin a try in an effort to see if it helps me combat the jetlag of a 14-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to London.

 
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As ordered, I took my tablet on the way to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, as the effects are supposed to kick in a few hours later.

And kicked in it did. My eyes feel filled with sand; they seem to close on their own volition and I can't tell if I'm awake or asleep and having a nightmare about using a really crappy computer in the airport's Plaza Business Center. While I'm happy the drug seems to be working, there is one little problem: My flight is delayed (Malaysia Airlines, just in case you were curious) and I'm a bit concerned I'm going to pass out before I even get on the flight.

It's now 12.03 a.m., and the melatonin is truly coming into its own. Already completely wiped out from only five hours of sleep the previous night, I'm moving into the territory of the living dead. And this is not good. My plane is supposed to board in about an hour, and, at this rate, I'm going to be found curled up on one of the leatherette sofas, eight hours after my flight finally departed.

The only thing keeping me awake is the vicious little massage chair in the corner. Every 20 minutes I drag myself over to it, plop down, and let it give me a massage worthy of the Marquis de Sade. It feels as if it's going to crush my vertebrae like a walnut between its nasty little massage arms. But it seems to stave off sleep quite nicely. Excruciating pain has that effect.

WAKE UP!!! That was close. Nodded off right here in front of the monitor, my head down on the marble counter and my fingers still on the letters asdf jkl;. The chair doesn't seem to be helping, in fact, it seems to be lulling me to sleep. I decide I'm going to leave the comfort of the cozy lounge and head out into the cruel world of the waiting area. At least there I'll have a chance of one of the cabin crew spotting my boarding pass -- which I've pinned to my jacket -- and helping me onto the plane.

Signing off in Kuala Lumpur, it's the sleepy traveler.

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