Pattaya, 8th July, 2009.
Today I have been sober for 13 days. I hope that 13 is not an unlucky number!!
As I have done for the past 13 days, today I woke up at 7.30 a.m. showered, shaved and dressed, made 2 steaming mugs of coffee, and at 8.15 I got into my car and made the half hour journey to Pattaya for my morning AA meeting.
I have been sleeping very late and waking up late for so long, that I really find it a huge effort to get up early, in spite of the fact that I actually fell asleep before midnight.
In my working days, I was a very early riser, but these past two weeks I have felt like shit when I wake up, even though I am not hungover. But by the time I have arrived at Pattaya, and the caffeine has started to kick in, I feel much better.
(All medical experts will tell you that coffee is very bad for recovering alcoholics, but I have yet to meet one – and believe me I have met a great number in the past few months – who doesn’t ‘down’ copious mugs of coffee from early morning, and sometimes all day. Let’s be realistic, drinking coffee is still a million times better than taking that first drink.)
Once I am in the meeting with my new found friends, I instantly start to feel better, and by the time the meeting has closed, an hour later, I really do feel mentally charged, ready to face the day, and all set to embark on yet another, hopefully booze – free 24 hours.
But more about these meetings later.
For now, I will continue my “background” story, which I pray will provide a timely warning to any heavy drinkers out there, of the dangers of descending into a life of alcoholism.
MOBI’S STORY (PART 2).
It was 1974, and before I travelled to Jakarta to start my new job, I took a long, (2 month), break in Bangkok. By this time I had travelled to Thailand a number of times, and I soon 1slipped into my familiar routine.
The very first time I had arrived in Bangkok, I had booked myself into the Siam Intercontinental in Siam Square, (now sadly no more). But I never stayed there. I quickly discovered that five star hotels did not approve of “ladies of the night”, and it wasn’t long before I opted for the much more down-market, two and three star hotels that were scattered across the metropolis.
After trying out a few, I eventually settled on the Fortuna Hotel, on Soi 5, Sukhumvit Road. It was old even then, but it had a fine, 24 hour coffee shop, decent rooms, and even a swimming pool. But most importantly, in true “Cheers tradition”, it was a place where everyone knew my name. The staff were very friendly, and even the owner used to talk to me as he somehow had got into his head that I was very rich, and he was keen on marrying me off to his cute little Chinese daughter who worked behind reception. I’m not sure that she was too keen, as all that she saw was a young, long haired ‘hippie’, who drank too much beer and never slept alone, and never with the same lady for more than 2 nights in a row.
The Fortuna was conveniently located across Sukhumvit from a large massage Parlour, called HP Massage, and next to the parlour was an “illegal” go-go bar that was open all night and, even in those far off days, used to have naked ladies to provide the dancing entertainment. The Chinese owner had it all sewn up; any ‘masseurs’ who were not otherwise employed, would gravitate to the bar next door after work, and try their hand at dancing, in the hope of snagging a late drunken farang.
So my two months were largely spent within the confines of HP Massage, the bar next door, and my hotel room. Drinking would start at Noon, when I would sit at the bar of HP, peering at the girls behind the window, and choosing my ‘wife of the day’, followed by lunch in the hotel, and thence to bed for an afternoon nap, and a bit of ‘nookie. Most days, I would wake up in the early evening, kick out my ‘wife of the day’, go back over the road to the illegal bar, and spend half the night there, making sure I didn’t sober up, and sometimes taking my second wife of the night back to the room for ‘part two’.
In a pattern to be repeated through the years, I eventually got my ‘comeuppance’, in the form of a gorgeous little thing, who I fell for ‘hook line and sinker’. Within a week I was married to her, and on the first day of my marriage she was kidnapped, outside the Fortuna Hotel, by a couple of young guys in a black taxi. I was beside myself with distress, and drank more than ever, awaiting news of my beloved. After a few days she called me and spun the yarn that she was being held by a gang and they had demanded a ransom to set her free. To cut a long story short, I duly paid the ransom to a guy on a motorcycle at Victory Monument, but the lady never returned – of course. I did track her down later, and when she disappeared yet again, I even travelled up country to a communist infested village, east of Ubon, where I found her mother living a lovely little house with a bright, new shiny roof. The best house an otherwise totally impoverished village. But no sign of the wife.
(By the way, the present day Landmark hotel is located on the site of the old HP Massage and bar, and many years later I stayed there one night, and could have sworn I heard the ghostly laughter of all those girls I knew as I lay in bed in an advanced stage of intoxication.)
I eventually made the plane to Singapore, and thence to Jakarta, very hung-over, poorer, broken-hearted, and not a lot wiser.