It’s been a funny old week since I last blogged……
Tan and I returned to Bangkok on Tuesday night from Nakon Sawan after she had finally obtained her ‘double’ driving licence.
At the last moment, she decided to bring her twin sister and her daughter with us to Bangkok to stay at her Aunt’s house, in the ‘wilds’ of Bang Khen.
So it was after ten at night when we reached the perimeters of Bangkok, drove down the Don Muang Expressway towards central Bangkok and completely missed the turn off to Bang Khen.
We sped on, took a random exit after we had passed Ding Dang, in a desperate attempt to retrace our steps and immediately became hopelessly lost.
In the past, with almost every Thai girl I have ever travelled with, this would have instantly resulted in major row in which I would be inevitably blamed for the situation. I was actually feeling very tired and somewhat stressed myself as I had been night driving along busy, heavily congested highways.
So we were clearly lost. I pulled up by the roadside and asked Tan for suggestions as to which direction we should proceed. Tan said she didn’t know!
Wonderful, what to do next?
Calm and collected as ever, she phoned her brother who was living at her aunt’s house and she described our location (I had parked near an intersection which had road signs) and he understood where we were. He then gave her precise directions on how to get to Bang Khen.
I was amazed, because most Thais are absolutely hopeless at trying to explain where they are and how to get anywhere, but sure enough, we set off and had to drive for a good forty minutes through heavy traffic, but we finally made our way to the area of Tan’s aunt’s house and once in the local vicinity, she knew the way to our destination.
After dropping off sister and baby, Tan’s brother gave us further instructions on how to get back on the expressway, which was located a couple of blocks away, and find our way to Sukhumvit. It couldn’t have taken more than fifteen minutes before we were driving into our hotel in Soi Nineteen off Sukhumvit Road.
Bangkok’s expressway system is as wonderful as it is frustrating. If you don’t exactly where you are going and where the exits and entrances are for your destination, you can become lost very quickly or end up going in completely the wrong direction. Not every exit to the expressway going in one direction will be matched by a similar exit on the other side of the road going the opposite direction.
In other words sometimes, you can get on, but cannot get off at a particular junction, and vice versa. You have to know the ‘ins and outs’, or you will be in deep trouble.
Then there are the road signs, most of which are thankfully written in English as well as Thai. But many of them show a destination which at best is pretty obscure, and at worst are not even shown on most road maps. The numerous signs showing ‘Dow Kanong’ are a good example of this.
Last Tuesday when we took the expressway from Bang Khen to Sukhumvit, it was more luck than judgement that we made it without getting lost. I told Tan that I knew there was a sign for Ploenchit if approaching from Rama IX, but I had no idea if there would be a similar sign if driving in a different direction.
We kept our eyes glued to the signs, and suddenly Tan yelled; “Left, to Ploenchit”. I told her I hadn’t seen the sign. She explained that it was only written in Thai!!!
Ah well, at least we made it. Thank God for Tan on several counts. She is a smart, alert young lady. And not a whisper of a mood, anger or blame. For much of the time, especially in public, she speaks to me in very polite, respectful Thai – something that no other Thai lady has ever done with me.
Early Wednesday morning, Tan took off to a hospital in the suburbs for a minor procedure, and I slept in. Later I caught up with Jack and we commenced our consumption of Singha beer at noon in the hotel coffee shop, and finished in the early hours of the next morning.
We repeated this the following night, although I did get back at around twelve thirty as by this time Tan was back with me in the hotel.
Friday morning I drove back to Pattaya with Jack and Tan and spent the afternoon and evening at Tan’s old bar where she caught up with friends.
I now have a ’live in’ chauffeur – Tan is an excellent driver – and she drove us back to Jomtien, as both Jack and I were in a highly inebriated state.
Yesterday, Saturday, I tried to cut back on my drinking, but when we met up with Jack last night for dinner I started again, but thankfully I didn’t get too drunk and was home by eleven p.m.
Jack left this morning on a bus back to Bangkok and thence to Laos, so I doubt i will see him again during his current trip to South East Asia.
While It would be self delusional to blame my binges on Jack, now that he has gone, I feel I will have a better shot at keeping my drinking under control.
I will try not to drink today. I am seriously considering giving total abstinence another shot.
How many times have I said that? I know…. so many.
I am still not convinced if I can keep my booze under control.
I do enjoy drinking, I do enjoy the fun I have with friends and women when I am pissed, but I don’t enjoy the hangovers, the effects on my health (the inevitable diarrhoea, high blood pressure and so on) and the fact that I feel my life seems to drift aimlessly, out of control.
Later this month, Tan will start full time college and I will have a lot of time on my hands. I have to seriously consider how to find a life and interests that doesn’t include booze. For when I am drinking, I really can’t do anything else, including writing this blog.
I wrote about Geoff on 29th April, the alcoholic who recently screamed abuse at me in public for no good reason, other than he was drunk. This was the third incident of a similar nature.
A couple of days after this incident he sent me an email which was a half – hearted apology in which he apologised for calling me an ‘arsehole’ but still insisted he was justified in getting mad at me and that Dang was the cause of all his marital problems.
If this was the first occasion when he had screamed at me, I might have accepted his apology and forgotten about it, but this was the third time he got completely out of line with me in public and I want no more of it.
His blind, stubborn refusal to accept that it is his drunken behaviour that drives his wife to Dang’s house for solace is also a stumbling block to us remaining friends. Sooner or later it will blow up again and he will still be blaming me and Dang for his problems.
So I penned a strongly worded reply, telling him that as far i was concerned his behaviour was totally unacceptable, and that ‘three strikes and you’re out’.
Then the ‘fun’ started. Over the next few days we each tried to outdo each other with insults and abusive emails. Even though I say it myself, I think that drunken Geoff is no match for ‘erudite Mobi’ when it comes to writing insults, and he became very, very upset when I told him a few home truths, and some other stuff which must have hit a very sore spot.
It was getting ridiculous and we were both writing when drunk. It came to a head when Dang called me a couple of days ago to tell me that Geoff’s wife was with her and she was asking if i would stop sending her husband upsetting emails. She said he would stop if I would.
Of course I could see the funny side of it, especially when Dang said:
“You two, stupid, drunken old men should know better. Haven’t you got anything better to do than send silly, rude emails to each other?”
We had a good laugh over the phone, and I could hear Geoff’s wife laughing in the background.
So I have stopped, and so has Geoff. But I won’t be renewing our friendship. One thing is sure, he would never see the funny side of it, as he has no sense of humour as far as his personal life is concerned.
I am quite sure that as I write this, he is sitting with drunks around the lake, embellishing the whole affair, telling them how he ‘saw me off’.
It’s all too pathetic for words, including my part in it.
This is another reason why I think I have to quit the booze. I am almost as bad as Geoff, and that’s quite worrying!
One night in Jomtien, Jack and I got extremely drunk. It must have been around three a.m. and we started arguing with each other. I took exception to a rude, patronising comment he made about a Thai girl who had been sitting with him and one thing led to another, developing into a full scale argument.
Jack is normally a pretty laid back sort of character and we get along pretty well, but I suppose the alcohol was taking over our brains.
Jack decided to bring our mutual friend, Dave, into the conversation and revealed some discussions he had had with Dave about me! He told me that he thought Dave’s views about me were right.
“Oh – so just what are these views?”
“Dave says that you are always insisting that you are right.
“Dave told me never to take you to my favourite restaurants as you don’t know how to ‘savour’ food”.
“Dave told me that Mobi claims he knows more about Thailand because he reads the Bangkok Post!!!”
And so on and so on and so on…..
I won’t even try to argue on my blog about many of these accusations. To my mind it is all so pathetic.
All I can say is that I have loved Dave like a brother for nearly forty years, and since I have been back in Thailand I have done everything I can to keep him alive, (including providing financial support), to keep his spirits up, and make sure he has had all possible help to keep him alive.
I never recollect a single occasion in the past forty years when Dave has ever bought me a meal, yet it nearly a difficult to remember us dining together when he has even paid for himself.
I have never argued with him or tried to force my views down his throat. Yes I have expressed my views in a strong erudite manner, and that is as far as it has ever gone. If he didn’t agree, then it was left at that.
I know I am over reacting to this, but for Dave to tell another friend stuff like this is about me is extremely hurtful. Especially to a friend like Jack who disappears for two years at a time and leaves people like me and Bob to pick up the pieces.
Even if there was any truth in Dave’s criticisms of me – and I am always prepared to listen to reasoned arguments on this and admit it if I am wrong, it doesn’t justify Dave bad mouthing me to another close friend.
I don’t know what I am going to do about all this. I was very hurt when Jack first told me, but now I am trying to be calm and philosophical about it all. But I can’t yet bring myself to talk to Dave.
But I don’t want to make a big deal of it with Dave. It will lead nowhere and possibly accelerate his descent back to booze.
It was only a few weeks ago that he implored me to call him every day because myself and Bob are his only friends. Another thing he told Jack was that I have no friends left because of my unreasonable behaviour!
What a strange thing to say! He has absolutely no knowledge of my circle of friends here in Pattaya, and indeed across the world.
It seems what I really have to do is get rid of all my drinking friends. There will still be quite a few left, not that I’m particularly bothered whether I have friends or not.
When all’s said and done, I still have my beautiful ladies to prevent me getting too lonely.
So it’s been a funny old week……