Long ago on the banks of the Mekong lived a shaman. A rat shared his hut. Since the rat was afraid of cats, he requested the shaman turn him into a cat. On becoming a cat, dogs started troubling him and so he sought another transformation, but now into a dog.
This wish too was granted. However, his troubles continued which he tired to overcome by seeking further transformation into a monkey, boar, elephant and then finally, into a beautiful maiden. This beautiful maiden married a king, but soon after fell into a well and died. The aggrieved king turned to the shaman for solace. The shaman promised to make his wife immortal, and converted her body into a poppy plant.
The shaman said, “A capsule of this plant will produce opium. Men will take it greedily. Whosoever partakes of it will acquire a particular trait of each of the animals into which opium was transformed. In other words, the consumer of opium will turn out to be as sneaky as a rat, as lazy as a cat, as unclean as a dog, as quarrelsome as a monkey, as savage as a boar, as strong as an elephant and as spirited as a queen.