I took my last drink at 2.00 am on Tuesday 19th January, so I have now achieved over one day of sobriety.
I sincerely hope this will be the start of a long – maybe lifetime – run of sobriety.
Yes, maybe the turning point was indeed the ‘turn’ I made back to my Condo in the early hours of Tuesday morning, rather than drive into Pattaya to continue my drinking spree.
I spent most of yesterday at home, but still went out in the evening, for a bite to eat and yes….. to a few bars to say hello to a few ‘acquaintances’.
At one place I ordered a Diet Coke, and a young lady who I have known for a while wandered over, so I bought her a drink. It turned out to be a beer, and she looked at my Coke in surprise and tried to persuade me to swap my coke for her beer. This was another test – I almost agreed, but held firm.
At my last port of call, I ordered a cup of tea, and one of the young ladies there who knows me well, joined me at my table. She is an extremely pretty young thing and I was sorely tempted to take her home with me. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised how ridiculous I was being. The lady in question was friendly, but I knew she didn’t really care about me.
After all these years in Thailand, I can sense the ones who really like me for myself, and those who are just going through the motions to earn a crust to feed their families. This particular lady was undoubtedly in the second category, but such is my egotistical, emotional hang up, that with such women, I believe that if I try hard enough, I can bring bring them around and make them have feelings for me. It is an allusion – I know that now.
I know that as I get older, the number of women in the second category will become larger and larger.
This is the dilemma of the alcoholic who is also addicted to whores. (As so many are).On the one hand they think that inside every prostitute is a good woman waiting to be saved and will fall in love with him. Then on the other hand he has a woman who will make love to him for money; it is a commercial transaction, which means there is no obligation continue the relationship, and no emotional entanglements or obligations.
Personally, I always insist on paying for my women, even if on the odd occasion they may offer their services for free, as it doesn’t feel right if I don’t pay for it. So for more than forty years I have been paying for it, yet at the same time, at some a different level of my consciousness, I have perversely believed that I can indeed ‘buy’ their love and affection.
These and other such thoughts were running through my sober mind as I looked upon this lovely young ‘thing of the night’. She was twenty one, had a two year old son back home in Udon, and her face was exquisitely chiseled in that classic ‘Thai symmetry’ – almost masculine. She had ample breasts and gorgeous, sensuous legs that seemed to go on forever, the thighs disappearing into a pair of white, micro shorts that left little to the imagination.
The temptation was enormous, but as I had found the strength to reject alcohol, I somehow found the strength to look at myself and reject this beautiful person sitting next to me. For tonight, and hopefully many nights to come I will try to stay sober and alone, and try to get my life back together.
I know that I will always go back to women – and in my humble opinion that is no great sin – but for now it was time to try and live alone for a while.
So I paid for my drink, gave the lady a generous tip, ( I had earlier intimated than I would take her with me, so she would now suffer a loss of income), and made my way home. Once home, I took my nightly meds and was asleep by 1.30.
I would like to deal with the vexed question of why I live in Pattaya, as many of my readers have commented that it is not the best of places for an alcoholic to stop drinking and remain sober.
Ron Baltimore wrote: “an alcoholic in Pattaya is like a kid in a candy shop. You haven’t actually acknowledge this in either case where this was pointed out to you. I’m not judging your past life as I am a fairly heavy drinker but I do think you are going to have to consider moving to a more conducive environment if you are truly to ever stop drinking.”
I would not deny that this is an indisputable fact, and can only offer up my own reasons for being here – not as an excuse or justification, but simply the reason why I am here, be it right or wrong.
First and foremost, I am in Thailand because I love Thailand. For all it’s faults – and there are many – I prefer it to my own home country – England.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that the beautiful Thai women are not near the top of my reasons for wanting to live here. I love looking at, and interacting with beautiful women. Unfortunately back home, there are so few of them.
Here in Pattaya, even in my deepest depressions, I can take a walk, or a drive in my car, and within a few minutes I will see literally dozens of gorgeous ladies with lovely, slim bodies, (most of whom the average western male would give their back teeth for). My depression would lift a notch or two and I would smile again.
Then, of course there’s the climate. Probably too hot for most of the time to be absolutely ideal, but oh so much better than the climate back home.
Then I enjoy living with the Thai people. I have been as critical as anyone on many of the bad things that go on here, but I am not convinced that the Thais are any better or any worse than any other race of people. There is good and bad everywhere and I just happen to resonate with so many of them; I always have done.
Along with this is my knowledge of Thai which is still continuing to improve. It makes such a huge difference to living here when you can speak to the locals in their own language, and even understand some of what they saying to each other. In particular, any farang who speaks reasonable Thai would confirm my experience – that most Thais interact with you and regard you quite differently once they realise you can speak with them in their own language.
We, Thai speaking farangs, are so few and far between, that we seem to become an object of respect and even affection wherever we go. It’s kinda nice.
Not too long ago I was seriously considering moving to Cambodia, and a good friend of mine, who lives in that country was visiting with me in Pattaya. I took him out to some night spots and he sat next to me while I chatted to the ladies in Thai. When we left, he said: “Mobi, you should never choose Cambodia over Thailand as a place to live. I watched the interaction you had with those girls back there and I was so impressed. I could see that they regarded you as a ‘soul mate’ and appeared so happy to chat and laugh with you. Your gift of Thai is so precious, and if you move to Cambodia you would no longer be able to use it.” I believe my friend was correct. I can’t conceive living in a country where I don’t have some knowledge of the local language.
I also love traveling in Thailand. I have driven nearly 40,000 kilometers in the past eighteen months alone. Some parts of Thailand are truly awe-inspiring – many of them off the beaten track of most tourists – such as the hills and mountains of Petchabun.
And of course I can still live here very cheaply compared to the UK and enjoy a much higher standard of living than I would be able to do back home.
I don’t hate England, it is still a good place to visit, but I simply have no desire to live there. But I do love Thailand.
So why Pattaya?
In the first instance I stumbled into Pattaya almost by accident.
When I first returned to Thailand, after my divorce with Noi, I set up home in Bangkok, and you will know if you have read my blog, that I had planned to live in a house that I bought, just outside the Bangkok metropolitan area in a large “moobaan” (village) called Thana City. When that fell through I rented a series of apartments in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok – an area I had known for over 30 years, and an area where all my friends lived and where I could eat, drink and ‘play around’ with great ease.
After I married Dang we made several trips to Pattaya for weekends by the sea and during one of these trips, Dang happened to mention that Pattaya City had developed into a mini-Bangkok, and she wouldn’t mind living there. I was surprised by this, as I had always thought Dang to be a dedicated lover of Bangkok, with all that it had to offer, and that she would never wish to move from her capital city.
She made this remark at a time when I was seriously considering burying a condo in Bangkok, so when we returned home, I did a bit of surfing to see what homes might be available for sale in the Pattaya area. I was absolutely amazed at the volume of websites with pages and pages of properties . I had no idea that it was such a huge and growing city, with new housing and condo projects springing up all over the place.
To cut a very long story extremely short, I hooked up with a UK builder and bought a rai of land some 20 kilometers east of Pattaya, near Mabprachan lake, and situated in Pong village; within easy walking distance of the local market and Wat Pong – the center of village life.
It seemed to be – and was – the ideal compromise. Life in a genuine rural Thai community (where virtually no one spoke any English), farang style restaurants and bars situated at the nearby lake, and yet only a twenty minute drive into Central Pattaya where we could do our shopping and enjoy the delights of what Pattaya had to offer.
We moved in to the newly built ‘mansion’ in October, 2005 and I have been living in Pattaya and its environs ever since.
I should add at this stage, that despite the fact that I have lived in countless cities throughout the world, I have always struggled to settle into a new place – simply because I have the most horrendous sense of direction and memory for streets and places, and it takes at least a year before I can go more than a mile or so from home without getting hopelessly lost. I well remember how long it took me to find my way around places like Lagos, Jakarta, Rotterdam, Bangkok and even the city of London, where I worked off and on for over twenty years, but even today I could get lost within half a mile of the Bank of England.
Typically I would be much happier in small towns, such as Abu Dhabi, Port Harcourt, and of course Pattaya as it was easier and quicker to get to know my way around. In point of fact, ‘Greater Pattaya” is a much larger place than I first imagined, and the area that most people know – from Beach Road up to Sukhumvit and from Na Klua in the north to Jomtien in the south is but a small part of the town. There is a huge area, quite possibly larger than Pattaya city itself, to the east of Sukhumvit Road, and of course it sprawls out out way past Jomtien.
No one knows what the real population of Pattaya and its environs really is, as a majority of residents have migrated to Pattaya from rural areas where their details are still registered on the village tabian Bahns, (home papers); but there does seem to be a consensus that Pattaya may well be the second largest population center, after Bangkok, in Thailand, which should give you some idea of it’s real size.
However, as I didn’t even live in Pattaya ‘proper’, it has taken me quite a while to get to know my way around, but since I have moved to Jomtien, and I am daily driving out and about, my knowledge of the place has increased in leaps and bounds. I now know virtually every ‘rat run’ and short cut in the city, and even most of the roads, sois and sub sois, east of the railway lines, as I lived in Pong for four and a half years. So I am comfortable on the ‘navigation front’.
But it still isn’t a good place to live because the place is full of bars and drunks.
Well my account of my wedding to Dang alone should convince you that it isn’t only Pattaya that is full of drunks but virtually every village and town in the whole country is similarly blighted. I could never live in a village. At my time of life I value my home comforts too much: Cable TV, reliable internet connection, nearby availability of decent shopping, and so on.
Even though I can speak Thai and am able to converse with the local Thais, I am not able to have anything approaching a meaningful conversation on any subject of mutual interest. The majority have had very rudimentary schooling which is of extremely low quality; they know little of the outside world, except what the government chooses to tell them and I regret to say, they are often ‘brain washed’ by the local politicians and government propaganda. Their lives revolve around ways and means to feed their bellies, and then to get drunk as often and as quickly as possible. Hardly an ideal environment for an alcoholic farang.
However I do accept and agree that Pattaya is unique in as much as it’s very raison d’etre is bars, booze and carousing farangs.
But at least most of us from the western world accept that alcoholism is indeed a disease, that should be treated as such. A majority of Thais do not even understand, let alone accept this concept.
It would probably surprise my many readers to learn just how many sober alcoholics there are living in Pattaya. Why this is, I cannot say, but my guess is that it is because so many alcoholics are attracted to the bar style of life, even when sober, and also by the availability of women. Booze and women seems to go together for so many of us.
There are three AA meetings per day in different parts of Pattaya, and all of them are well attended: by sober alcoholic residents, and by sober alcoholics on holiday or just passing through. When I first started to attend meetings here, I was astonished by the number of attendees who live in Pattaya and had many years of sobriety under their belts. I was even more surprised by the number of visitors who told me that the Pattaya meetings were amongst the best they had ever been to, and they even chose Pattaya as a holiday destination as they valued our meetings so highly.
Many residents, who are long term recovering alcoholics have also said the same thing; declaring that they live in Pattaya as they value the high quality of the meeings here which help to keep them sober.
So if an alcoholic wants to get sober in Pattaya, there is no shortage of meetings or help at hand.
All of the forgoing doesn’t in any way justify my decision to live here. I am simply telling you why I am here – rightly or wrongly. Since I have moved to Jomtien I have learned to love this city.
It is a wild, crazy, zany, melting pot of humanity and nationalities. You would have to go a long way in this world to meet such a diverse bunch of people as those who can be found in this town. We have what could probably described as the biggest whorehouse in the world, sitting side by side with 5 star hotels, up-market shopping centers and gourmet food at a price most can afford. Activities ranging from absailing, Bungy Jumping, go-karting, parasailing, windsurfing, motor racing, horse riding, boating and so on abound.
The nearby motorway makes it a perfect jump off point for the airport, Bangkok, Ayudhaya, the north and north east, with the Bangkok expressways whizzing you across Bangkok in literally minutes to continue journeys to Hua hin and the south.
And I haven’t even mentioned the sea, the shore line and the nearby tropical islands. I know the beaches in Pattaya are a disgrace, and I would never swim in the water, but if you travel a little way in either direction out of Pattaya you will find much cleaner, nicer beaches where the sea is much cleaner. Bang Sarae is idyllic, and the sea food there is outstanding.
My condo faces out onto Dongtan beach, which sort of runs from the north end of Jomtien right through to the headland leading into Pattaya proper. The beach is kept spotless by the locals; has a daytime motor free zone with a tastefully tiled walk way and even the ubiquitous umbrellas are much less prevalent here than on other beaches in the region. Dongtan has a reputation for attracting gays, ( and so what, says I), but since I have lived here, I doubt I have seen more than half a dozen gays,and the beach is a largely occupied by farang couples and families. From my condo which has a brilliant, unobstructed sea view, I can walk down to the beach and take a nightly stroll along the flood-lit beach without being hassled by ‘ladies of the night’ plying their trade.
I have no idea how long I will stay here, but right now, there is no other place I wish to be. I love my home and I love this city – “21st Century “Deadwood”. It appeals to my adventurous streak. Here, I have some good, sober friends who I can call on for help and support, and female comfort is never far away, in any nearby bar. I may end up becoming bored, but until I do, I will be here.
As Frank Sinatra once sang in the song ‘New York New York’, “If you can make it there you can make it anywhere…”
That’s how I feel about my alcoholism and Pattaya.
Yesterday, I took a look back at my very first blog which I wrote back on July 7th 2009. I wanted to re-review what I wrote as the purpose of this blog, and to see if the purpose that I had enumerated last July, still stands today; or had I digressed from my original intent during the ensuing months?
I was surprised and pleased to see that what I wrote then still remains valid today, and for the benefit of those who haven’t bothered to go back to the start of my blog I now will re-publish what I said in my July7th preamble:
Mobi wrote, on July 7th, 2010:
“The subject of this blog is alcoholism, and in particular, my alcoholism, and what I am doing in my life to combat this sickness.
The purpose of this blog is twofold: First and foremost – and I make no apologies for this, even if it does seem to go against AA principles – is that I find it cathartic to write about my problems, and further, that there may be folk out there who may read my blog, maybe offer encouragement, and by so doing, give me the strength and determination to continue along my chosen course.
Secondly – and this is certainly in keeping with AA principles, there may be many alcoholics out there who will be encouraged, inspired (dare I hope for such a thing?), and even learn (Oh my God I’m getting too cocky by half!), from my ramblings.
I sincerely hope – whether I succeed or fail miserably – that you, dear readers, may derive some benefit from reading about my life and exploits, as it pertains to my ongoing attempts to stop drinking.
There is one point I wish to make clear at the very outset. The very nature of my story necessitates that I have to be extremely discrete when writing about the people I encounter and interact with in my quest for sobriety. This means that you must take it as ‘read’ that all names and any information that could lead to discovery of those to whom I refer, will be fictionalized, in order to protect their anonymity.
So please, no speculation on anyone who is mentioned, as I can assure you that in all likelihood you will be way off the mark, as I am quite inventive.
But for me, Mobi, I will be an open book, and I accept that as the price I must pay for writing this blog.”