Sihanoukville, 7th September, 2010

The “Home” page is my daily blog. The remaining tabs contain previously blogged, episodic ‘stories’, which are now re-published in chronological order.


I am presently reading Jean Paul-Sartre’s “The Age of Reason”, courtesy of an excellent English translation, (obviously).

The Age of Reason is a fascinating piece of literature, not just because it is brilliantly written, but because Jean Paul-Sartre deals with all the emotions and domestic dramas that invade everyone’s life: love, envy, hate, relationships, friendships, pregnancies, illegal abortions, and so on – all the typical tools of a novelists daily trade. Yet here is the “Father of French existentialism”, writing about such apparently mundane matters, but in a way that lifts them to a higher state of thinking. By his very prose, the reader becomes immersed in learning what his characters are thinking and what their motivations are. It is also happens to be an illuminating view of Paris, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. All good authors write about their own experiences in their own environments.

I would never be so vain as to vaguely imagine I could emulate such a giant of literature such as Jean Paul-Sartre or the wonderful writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald ( who I previously wrote about in my blog), but by reading such incredibly talented writers, it provides me with inspiration to write better. to take better care of my writing and to put more meaning into my work.

By way of experiment, I have decided to write the events that have occurred to me since I arrived in Cambodia in the third person. I usually prefer to write in the first person, but that is sometimes limiting as I find it difficult to write about my own feelings and emotions when they are coming out of ‘me’. It is not easy to overtly criticise oneself in a manner that you will find in the narrative below.

So the my narrative looks at Mobi from the ‘outside, looking in’. I hope that by doing this I can come closer to the real me, and what I really think about myself and my life.

This is a very long blog and it has taken me all day to write it in a single marathon session. At times it is very damning, and at times highly charged and emotional – especially towards the end; but I hope that you will take it for what it is, a piece of literature, a short story, which also happens to be true.

***

It was 7 p.m in the evening of the second day that Mobi had been in Pnomh Penh.

Before flying out to the Cambodian capital, Mobi had been drinking steadily for days, actually weeks. He wasn’t deriving a lot of joy from his drinking as the new medication, when combined with alcohol seemed to increase the natural depressive effects of the alcohol, and if he started with a few beers in the late afternoon, by 9 o’clock he was struggling to stay awake and he also felt pretty morose. This was not supposed to be the main purpose of drinking. Drinking was supposed to make you feel good, feel more charming, sociable, ebullient; it was supposes to eradicate any vestiges of reserve and make you the life and soul of the party; ultimately, irresistible to women. Increasingly, Mobi found that this just this wasn’t happening. There might be a brief period of ‘brightness’ in the late afternoon when the alcohol had started to work the way it should, before the medication started it’s poisonous and vindictive game in the tangled and fraggled receptors of Mobi’s brain.

There had been a few recent ‘fun’ afternoons in the plush Gentlemen’s clubs of Pattaya before the unpleasant ‘chemistry’ of alcohol and medication took its hold. There were still times when he would be surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad and semi naked women with whom he would be exploring every orifice they possessed and who would be returning the favour by using their feminine wiles to bring him almost to the point of orgasm. But as the medication took hold, the excitement would dampen and Mobi would make drunken promises he would never keep and take an early departure.

Mobi had been fighting this sadistic brew of antidepressants and alcohol for nearly two months now and he was losing the battle. He had already fallen asleep at the wheel of his BMW and wrecked two parked cars in addition to his own. What more proof did he need that he would never win this hopeless battle?

So a change of pace and scenery seemed to be in order. He would save money on car hire costs and he would be unable to drive in Cambodia – truly a blessing. The notion also occurred to him that he might stop drinking when he reached Pnomh Penh. He could make a fresh start. He had plenty of things to do, books to read and a few friends to catch up with. His new E72 Phone was barely comprehensible to ‘Mobi the luddite’. He bought it because a whore had stolen his precious wide-angled Canon Powershot and he decided to join the high tech telephone age and buy himself a decent camera-phone. A little research revealed that one of the few phones on the market with a 5 mega pixel camera was the E72, so he plumped for that. After two days of constant fiddling, Mobi succeeded in learning the basics of his new phone, but clearly there were many mysteries still to unravel.

He was staying at his favourite Guest House in Pnomh Penh – a small, Norwegian owned establishment with a friendly patron and staff, excellent food, situated in the middle of a long row of bars on 104 Street. Not the greatest location for someone who was trying to stop drinking.

The fast wi-fi enabled Mobi to sit at the Guest House bar all day long, watching the chaotic, frenzied activities in Street 104, while writing on his lap top computer. During the course of a day, food pedlars, motorcycle taxis, military officers in huge gold-crested Lexus SUV’s, beggars carrying starving babies, along with the various ladies of the night arriving in the late afternoon to ply the trade would all pass the portals of Mobi’s Norwegian Guest House. It was a microcosm of Cambodian society, the obscenely rich, mixing with the desperate poor along with a younger generation of ladies, all trying to better themselves in a country whose older generation had largely perished in the killing fields of the recent past.

It was a good and a bad place for alcoholic Mobi. Good, because there was so much around him to write about, but bad, because there was also so much temptation around him.

Last night Mobi had made a determined attempt to last the course, and by sheer force of will power he had actually succeeded in making his familiar journey from the bars of 104 Street, to the bars of 130 street, to the bars of 136 Street, to the bars of 178 Street and finally to ‘Martini’s, deep in the town’s suburbs and whose street number, he knew not. He had taken a lady back with him and slept at around 4 a.m. – quite an achievement these days, since he had been on his new medication.

He was awoken just four hours later, at 8 a.m. by the young lady who wanted to go home as she had chores to do before returning to work that evening. Mobi had no recollection of the girl, or of coming home. She was now getting dressed, and he knew without doubt that she had not pleasured him in any way. They haggled for a minute or so over her ‘fee’ for doing nothing other than cuddling him, after which she made a hasty exit, leaving Mobi to sleep off his hangover until well after noon.

So now at 7 p.m. Mobi was fully recovered and ruefully ruminating on his total inability to break out of the vicious cycle he was in and try to change his life for the better. More than ever in his life, booze clearly wasn’t the answer. It used to make him happy; it used to make him “king of the hill”; it used to improve his sexual prowess and he could drink all night and still stand erect and still remember most of what he had been up to. But those happy, crazy days were becoming a distant memory. In the past two years he had had had three serious motor accidents, he had smashed his wrist so badly that he would never regain full use of it, had many dangerous and violent encounters with the police and others which on several occasion necessitated his rescue by either his estranged wife or close friends and he had even fallen in a fish pond head first and was on the point of drowning when two gallant youths managed to pull him out.

The good, fun drinking days were well and truly gone and unless he was to take a huge risk and stop taking his new medication then they might well be gone forever. He seriously considered this option. The medication had worked wonderfully at first and had lifted his mood wonderfully, against all reasonable expectations, but as he increased his alcohol consumption, the effects were far less definable. He recalled the time before the new meds, a time when he was constantly in a state of deep depression and was becoming ever more suicidal. As bad as he felt now, it was nowhere near as bad as he had felt before, so he decided that discontinuing the medication was not an option.

He was in a turmoil, although  amazingly, at the present time, he had no female ‘involvements’ messing with in mind for the first time in many, many years. He was finally over his emotional traumas with his last wife, Dang and he was free of the various women with whom he had become infatuated when on the ‘rebound’ in the past year since leaving Dang. At long last, in Mobi’s mind, Tan, Tukta and others were no more than avaricious whores who had taken advantage of a weak, lonely and vain old man trying desperately to find love, company and regain his long lost youth.

Mobi was finally coming to terms with his age. Nature had been very kind to him for many years and he had always looked much younger than his sixty odd years. He had kept a full set of hair with little greying, his body had stayed in good shape, thanks to his detetrmined daily  jogging and swimming after he had turned 50, and despite all his drunken carousing, his face had been that of a fifty year old rather than one well over sixty.

Even a year or so back, Mobi could still pride himself on pulling the best looking girls in a bar and doing them justice. But those days were now rapidly vanishing. Over the past year his stomach looked like he was carrying a ten month old baby, his hair had become increasingly grey and his face had taken on the appearance of a tired, worn out old man, with the tell-tale droop of the jowls and the huge sagging bags under his eyes. Many of his close friends had confided in him that he seemed to have aged ten years in the past few months.

And then there were the girls. They were no longer interested in Mobi – money or no money. They didn’t give him that look of interest and excitement they once used to do when he entered a bar. One glance was enough to tell them he was a drunken, potbellied old sot who was as likely to lose control of his bodily functions in mid-fornication as not. The young, good looking ones pointedly kept away from him and the only ones he could interest were few of the older tarts who were in the twilight of their careers and were really only there to make up the numbers and help out with serving and cleaning duties.

This was becoming increasingly the ‘norm’ for Mobi, but he thought that a change of country might bring about a change of interest.

He hadn’t been to Cambodia for almost a year and certainly the last time he was there he had still had enough about him to attract considerable attention when entering a bar. But as he thought back to the previous night, his first excursions into the city’s fleshpots during his current visit, he realised that although the ladies would still flock around him when he entered a bar, there wasn’t the same vibrant enthusiasm that been obviously present on his previous visits and furthermore the quality of the ladies who fought for his affection left a lot to be desired. He had looked around the bars and seen the prettier ladies take furtive glances at him and keep their distance. It had sometimes taken a considerable amount of cajoling on Mobi’s part to persuade the prettier ones to sit with him and allow him the pleasure of buying them a drink.

It was with these depressing thoughts in mind and not knowing where his life was leading that Mobi hit the streets of 104 at around 8 p.m. He immediately became irritated by the never-ending entreaties from motorcycle taxis and tuk- tuk drivers asking if he needed transport. He would say. “No thank you”, politely to the first ones to offer their transport for hire, but by the time he had walked but a few yards there was a third, a fourth and a fifth who had also asked him if he needed transport, he was fast losing his equilibrium. On previous visits to this country he had berated his friends for becoming so irate and rude at the omnipresent drivers who never gave up making their folorn requests for business, even though they had already declined  offers to many other drivers before they reached the particular vehicle/driver currently offering himself for hire. Mobi pointed out that at least they were polite, and that his friends should understand the desperation of the vehicle owners and should control their tempers.

Now Mobi was worse than his friends, scolding and swearing at the drivers for their incessant offers and desperate to find a bar where he could escape all this nuisance. He peered through the glass door of a bar he hadn’t been in for a long while. It looked good; a fair number of women and no customers. It was just what he needed.

As he walked in he realised he had made a mistake. There was one customer – a well dressed westerner, probably in his mid forties, dancing on the bar. The music was very loud and the girls were all screaming, many of them  clutching drinks that had obviously been bought by the cavorting, drunken gentleman.

Mobi almost walked straight out again. He couldn’t stand very loud music and even worse he couldn’t stand the shrieks of massed bar girls. The high pitched sounds gave him physical pain in his ears. However the man was climbing down from the bar and Mobi decided that although quite a number of the girls had been entertaining the clearly drunken man, there were still plenty of girls remaining to see to Mobi’s needs.

The noise had become worse Mobi’s mood, and the loud antics of the other customer with all his girls in tow had aggravated his already bad  temper. Two of the available girls approached him. Neither of them was in their first flush of youth, but in an act of determined belligerence he immediately bought both of them a drink and grabbed them roughly around their waists. The girls weren’t too happy; Mobi could see it in their eyes and in their gestures. The man along the bar started singing again and all the girls around him raised their refilled glasses with an enormous scream of “Cheers!”

Mobi was glowering with anger and despair. “Only a year or so ago that man would have been me”, he thought to himself. “Yet he such a ridiculous, ill-behaved slob”.  This was by no means the first recent occasion, when a half sober Mobi had encountered drunken ‘clones of himself’ and realised how unpleasant they behaved, yet how the girls seemed to lap it up, partly because they were also becoming as drunk as the customer, but also to please him and to extricate yet more ‘ladies drinks out of him. After five minutes, a semi-sober Mobi had had enough, paid his bill and stormed out.

He walked to Street 136, a distance of maybe two kilometres and tried his best to keep his temper in check as he was accosted on all sides by the tuk-tuk and motorbike taxis. Upon entering Street 136, he once again looked for a quiet bar. Most of them were ‘heaving’ with customers and girls whooping it up, but he finally located a bar at the far end of the street and this time he was relieved to find that he was truly their only customer.

The girls were an average lot with a maybe a couple of them who looked half way decent. They were friendly enough but Mobi’s mood was blacker than ever. He ordered an ‘Anchor beer’, and the girl behind the bar said: “You want water?”

Mobi exploded: “How the fuck can Anchor Beer sound like water?? I want a fucking beer – not water!!”

The girls all laughed and took it all in their stride. They bore no malice by his rude outburst and immediately realised that they had one unhappy punter. They used their all their ‘magical’ Khymer charms to try and cheer him up. But he wasn’t going to be cheered up. He refused to tell them his name, where he was from or how long he was going to be in Cambodia. Having run out of questions, and for many, the sum extent of their English, the girls resorted to chattering and giggling amongst themselves in Khymer, no doubt laughing at the stupid old ‘Barang’ who was sitting at their bar with such an unhappy expression on his face.

In the end, Mobi bought a couple of the better looking girls some drinks, just to shut them up and continued to consume  cans of Anchor beer followed eventually by a couple of glasses of Scotch and sodas.

It was 10.30 and Mobi was suddenly tired. He couldn’t stop yawning. He was not enjoying himself at all and now he just wanted to sleep. The bloody medication was once again kicking in. He decided that enough was enough and he made his way back to the guesthouse, suddenly deciding that he couldn’t spend another day in Pnomh Penh. He resolved to take a taxi to Sihanoukville in the morning and try once again to kick the booze in new surroundings. Maybe there he could find a nice young lady who would help him to remain sober.

***

Despite the early sleep, Mobi didn’t wake until 11 a.m. the following day so he quickly packed his bags and went downstairs to break the news to ‘Mine Host’ that he would be leaving, and asked if they could arrange a taxi to Sihanoukville for one o’clock.

The journey took almost 4 hours, a long, slow monotonous ride through the Cambodian countryside and it was early evening before Mobi was checking in at an Australian owned, good quality resort on Ochheuteal beach Road just a few hundred meters from Serendipity beach. The bright, young friendly Aussie, who looked young enough to be Mobi’s Grandson, advised him that the resort was in the process of some major alterations and in view of this, the room charge had been reduced from $40 to $25 per night. Things were looking up.

After dropping his bags in his room, he returned to the cafe, which also served as reception during the alterations, and engaged the Aussie in conversation over a few beers. His resolution of the previous night was so quickly forgotten and ignored.

Sihanoukville has a ‘down-town’ area and a beach area. They are a few kilometres or so from each other and the tourist is obliged to take a motorbike taxi or Tuk-tuk to get from one area to the other.

Mobi had been in Sihanoukville before – almost 2 years ago. It was here, two years ago when he had woken up on the beach one morning, dreadfully hung over and with no recollection of how he had got there, that he started one of the longest dry spells of his recent drinking career.

His friend from AA, an old Aussie named Freddie,  lived in down-town Sihanoukville and Mobi had stayed in a  guest-house just down the road from him. After his harrowing experience on the beach, Mobi, with the help and encouragement of Freddie, resolved to quit the booze. He was also greatly assisted in this task by a very lovely lady who he met at a down-town pub. She was Alin, a slim 26 year old who spoke good English, and in Freddie’s words, was a hellava classy, Khymer lady. Why Alin took to Mobi is one of life’s mysteries, and during Mobis’s stay in Sihanoukville she looked after him like a mother, nursing him through his withdrawals, sleeping with him at night, taking him to all the tourist spots and beaches in the local area and generally giving him a very good time. She kept his mind off booze and he stopped drinking.

Mobi eventually had to return to Thailand and his troublesome wife, so Alin escorted to him to Pnomh Penh, stayed with him overnight, introduced him to her family and saw him off at the airport.

Alin was probably the nicest lady Mobi had ever met and he swore to keep in touch and come back soon. At first they communicated on email with the occasional phone calls and sms’s thrown in for good measure. Mobi kept promising that he would come back soon, but as he relapsed into his drinking ways and as his life spiralled out of control with the break-up of his marriage, Alin took a back seat and he never made it back to Sihanoukville to pick up the pieces of one of his more successful relationships. He did send her a very occasional email, and also phoned once or twice when he thought he may go back and see her, but in the end, he never did.

Mobi thought it must have been about six months again when he had last contacted Alin, and at that time she was still living in Sihanoukville. So when he resolved at long last to return, he sent her an sms telling her he was coming to Sihanoukville and would like to say “Hello”. He received no acknowledgement.

After concluding his ‘nightlife update’ from the resort manager, Mobi decided to take a bike downtown to the pub where Alin used to be. The bar was much as he remembered, except that there were few customers and even fewer girls. It was the rainy season and most of the tourists and even many residents had disappeared. He sat at the bar, ordered up several rounds of draft beer, resisted the advances of a few ‘dragons’ who had mistakenly thought that Mobi  was old enough and ugly enough to be interested in their ‘wares’, and after a couple of hours with no sign of Alin, he sent her another sms. The sms’s were delivered, but no response. He decided that she must have found a new man and that he had better forget about her.

He took a bike back to the beach, and following instructions from the resort manager, duly dropped off at  Utopia. It was a large place and was very busy. The manager had been telling the truth – the place was large and very busy. It was almost full of westerners – men and women in various stages of intoxication, seemingly having the time of their life. The large, central circular bar was fully occupied, and search as he might, he could find no signs of any single Khmer women who he might engage in conversation. He looked at his watch. It was 11.30, maybe it was too late – maybe all the girls had gone home.

So onwards to the third recommendation – Rich bar on Serendipity beach. The track to the beach was a mess – not a proper road at all, just stones, rocks and sand, made almost impassable due to the recent, heavy monsoons.  By this time Mobi was pretty well oiled with booze and like countless alcoholics before him, he just followed the sounds of music and stumbled down the long, dark track without once falling over.

Upon arrival, he found a strange, manic scene. The place was very basic, with a rickety wooden bar and various wooden benches and tables for sitting on scattered around a concrete area, and further afield was the perimeter of the bar with the waves lapping the wooden supports upon which various motley groups were sitting. The music was loud and the punters appeared to consist of a heady mix of drunken pack-packers of both sexes and a few attractive looking Khmer ladies. The smell of ganja was strong in the air and undoubtedly many of the wild dancers were stoned out of their minds.

Mobi sat by the water’s edge and surveyed the scene through his alcohol befuddled eyes. There was one very attractive lady sitting on a bench nearby and he caught her eye. She beckoned him so he walked over and sat next to her. He wasn’t disappointed; she had a very attractive face and sensuous figure. She smiled and asked his name and in return Mobi bought her a drink. A few minutes later Mobi caught sight of a second attractive lady, smaller than the first one and with a cheekier, sexier face. He smiled at her and she walked around to join the first girl and he bought another round of drinks for the three of them. It seemed that Mobi’s luck was about to change at long last.

It had turned midnight and suddenly the music ceased and everyone got up and climbed over the wooden perimeter onto the beach and started to walk out of sight along the beach. The three of them picked up their plastic cups containing their drinks and followed the unlikely procession. Fifty meters along the sand was a second bar which was starting to fill up with punters. The music wasn’t quite as loud, but apart from that it was more of the same. Mobi and his two ladies found a seat near the beach and sipped their drinks and watched the proceedings. Another lady had joined them, and this time Mobi could see clearly that the new arrival wasn’t really a lady, ‘she’ was a lady boy. The lady boy seemed to be exceptionally friendly with the first lady he had met earlier and when he  looked at his female companion very carefully, he came to the conclusion that she too was a lady boy. The third lady of the group was definitely a woman so unphased by the discovery. he directed all his charms to her direction alone. She was very pretty, a bit too skinny for comfort and looked very young. She told Mobi she was twenty and had only been coming to these bars for about six weeks. She certainly didn’t look a day over twenty and Mobi was starting to have grave doubts about the whole affair. He was at all sure that he really wanted to bed someone so young, who in fact may even be younger.

The decision was soon made for him by the  onset of the now familiar sleep symptoms. Mobi suddenly felt like he could fall asleep right there and then and couldn’t stop yawning. He knew he could do nothing with this woman, even if he were to take her to his room, so he gave her a generous tip and she asked him to meet her back there the following day at 9 p.m. The tip was sufficient to pay for the girl’s expenses that night and she accompanied Mobi to one of the many waiting motorbikes and told the driver to take him back to his resort, which was not far from the top of the track. A Sober, 64 year old Mobi, with creaking joints, would never have set foot on that bike, but he was sufficiently pissed to slip on the back and hang on for dear life as the driver made his way up the sodden, rocky, pot-holed extremely steep slope to the road beyond.

Yet again Mobi had no recollection of those last moments when he went to his room, locked the door, emptied his pockets, took off his clothes and fell into another very long sleep.

He was woken the following morning at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. by the sounds of electric saws cutting into cast iron metal. Then he remembered the alterations that had rendered the room to him at half price. He had no memories of arriving at his room and immediately became concerned as to whether he had taken all his medication. His nightly dose included 8 different tablets for his heart, blood, prostate and other ailments as well as the essential anti-depressant. He checked his pill box; the compartment for Sunday was empty. That meant he had taken them. He then looked around for the empty blister that would have contained his anti depressant. The tablet is a new fangled ‘melt in the mouth’ kind. No water is required, as the patient just puts the pill on his tongue and it instantly dissolves in the mouth. He searched and searched but could not find an empty blister. What should he do? Take it now or do without? His doctor had told him that if he forgot to take it, he should wait until the following night. But he was feeling low, and was concerned that he might feel even worse soon if he didn’t take the pill. On sudden impulse he opened a new blister and put the pill in his mouth. It had just started to dissolve when by some quirk of fate; Mobi suddenly spotted the empty blister on the floor by the side of the bed. He spat out the tablet. How much he had absorbed, he had no idea.

He lay in bed for a long time, considering all that had occurred during the last few days since he had been in Cambodia. It wasn’t very pretty. He wasn’t enjoying himself. He hadn’t found any ladies, like Alin, to take care of him and he couldn’t even get rollicking drunk and enjoy himself – even if he did pay for it the following day. He thought again of Alin. Why hadn’t she replied? He decided to take the plunge and phone. It was worth a try, even if he was rebuffed.

He called, Alin answered. He hadn’t spoken to her in such a long time but she immediately knew it was Mobi who was calling. She laughed happily and told him that she was now living in Pnomh Penh. “The irony of it”, Mobi thought to himself. “I have been in Pnomh Penh so many times yet I was too bloody lazy to travel down to Sihanoukville to say ‘hello’ and now here he was, in Sihanoukville and she had moved to the Capital. The thought flashed through his mind that he could return to Pnomh Penh early and meet up with her. He asked her what she was doing these days and she told him she lived at home; she didn’t work any more. His heart dropped when she went on to tell him that she was married to German man and had a baby from him. It was all over – well and truly over. Putting a brave face on it, Mobi congratulated her and wished her well in her life and she reciprocated the good wishes. Once again, Mobi had well and truly screwed up.

He finally roused himself enough to get up, take a shower and go for some breakfast. He thought he must be hungry and ordered a big breakfast but could hardly touch it. His thoughts were of the lovely Alin, lost for good and how hopeless  he was in his dealings with women and his life.He spent some time on his computer and then went for a walk in vain search of a Pharmacy. He finally walked into a minimart, bought some beer and wine and retreated to his room to get drunk. But his heart wasn’t even in getting drunk any more, and he sipped a few cans of beer with little enthusiasm. He must have taken more of that second pill than he had previously imagined for suddenly he couldn’t keep his eyes open and he fell into another deep long sleep, finally awakening at around 8 p.m.

By the time he had got himself sufficiently together to sample the delights of Utopia again it was past nine, but he was pleased to see that at least this time there were a few seats available, and even more pleased to learn that draft beer was at the special price of 25 cents all evening. Added to all that was the presence of a few unattached ladies of the night, although at first glance none of them looked to be up to Mobi’s ‘minimum standards’. This proved to be the case and when a couple of them sat down with Mobi to introduce themselves, Mobi was studiously neutral in his responses and gave them no encouragement to continue their efforts of making friends.

It was approaching 10 p.m. when Mobi decided he had enough of Utopia and remembered the young girl’s promise of the previous night to meet him at 9.p.m. It was well after ten when he reached Rich bar on the beach and immediately the young lady recognised him and came bouncing over. They cuddled a little and once again Mobi became aware of how young, thin and fragile his lady looked. He bought her a few drinks, (Mobi was pleased to note that she wouldn’t drink alcohol, although that also tended to confirm the idea that she may be below legal age), had a few beers and watched her dance in a frenzy with her friends.

As with the previous night, Mobi could smell the ganja and was taken aback by the bright, eclectic mixture of young backpackers, groups of young non-Cambodian Asians, along with some nice looking Khmer ladies, all having the time of their life. If Mobi had even attempted to dance with them he would have soon become a laughing stock. With the possible exception of a strange looking, completely bald headed Asian gentleman who was wearing what could only be described as pastel coloured pyjamas; Mobi was probably at least twice the age of everyone else who was there. This place was for young, fun-loving ‘kids, travelling to the far corners of the world on limited budgets. This was no place for an ageing, potbellied alcoholic Mobi. He grimly realised that he had to change. It was time to call a halt in this hopeless task of regaining his youth. He was just a stupid, miserable, vain old  man with nowhere to go but into the gutter and oblivion if he didn’t stop this drinking forever and pull himself together.

It is often said in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings that alcoholics will never forsake the bottle forever until they have found their ‘rock bottom.’ For most alcoholics, ‘rock bottom’ could mean lying stony broke, in some filthy gutter, puking his guts out, or doing a long term of penal servitude after having committed grave and deadly acts while drunk. For others it will be the hopelessness and despair of losing all that is near and dear to them and being all alone, with no one to provide them with comfort and nothing left to live for.

For Mobi, by the grace of God, his rock bottom has never been one of these, although it could so easily have been so.  Mobi has been spared the disgust of the gutter, the terror of a prison cell or the heart rending pain when those who once loved him abandon him forever. He has indeed been fortunate.

On a far-away, tropical, sultry shoreline, with the waves lapping at his heels; with the incongruous sounds of American hip-hop filling the air; with wild, young people from across the globe laughing, chatting, kissing, fornicating and dancing the night away with an air of total abandonment, the old man – with the odd salty tear sliding down his rugged, pockmarked cheeks – finally realised that he had reached his own ‘rock bottom’; that his time was well and truly up and that he better ‘come in from the cold’, before there was nothing of worth remaining, to undergo rehabilitaion.

Please God, help me to stay sober from this day forth.

Amen.

11 thoughts on “Sihanoukville, 7th September, 2010”

  1. Hi M,
    Re, the concept of a higher power. Fortunately none of the steps demands we have any kind of concept of a higher power so the hoop you have to jump through is a lot wider than you might think. I was atheist, but I wasn’t stupid. I attended many meetings and heard testimony from other AA’s (some had some horrifying stories) about how they didn’t have any notion of God or higher power, did the steps (2 and 3 actually don’t demand we know anything about God really just a willingness to believe there might be one) and found a small and ever growing if even slowly growing relation with *something* out there that was taking care of their alcoholism. I’ll tell you my experience was I was convinced there was no God and laughed at church goers. In desperation I took step 2 and 3 with a very limited if any understanding of God, about the only thing I actually knew about God was that something out there was helping the AA’s in the meetings. So, I went with that. Turns out that was all I needed. I did the rest of the steps and somewhere into 5 I started “feeling” something helping me. All I can say is it’s not the worst way to spend time in working the steps. Especially for hopeless alcoholics. I came to scoff at first but remained to pray.

  2. M,
    It takes what it takes, for me it was total disgust at my situation. I wasn’t homeless when I hit bottom, I wasn’t penniless, my health wasn’t failing, although these things had happened in the past around my drinking. Sounds like you may be ready to stop for good. If you feel up to it, even if you halfway feel up to it, have a close look at the AA book and study it for yourself. I would recommend careful slow study of the text rather than casual reading. The book is the basic text for the society of men and woman of AA. Fellowship is good and is important but I found personal knowledge of the program of AA is priceless. The program of AA found in the first 164 pages of the big book show’s precisely how the first 100 men and women of AA recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body…alcoholism

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I thought you were ‘out of here’!

      As I’ve written before, I have read the Big Book 3 times, have listened to it right through on CD and have spent a fair amount of time studying it at various AA meetings.

      It has a lot of very good stuff in it, some of it so simple yet so profound, and I will go back to it over the coming months. I also intend to go back to AA meetings, find myself a sponsor and see if I can work the 12 steps. I still have a huge problem with the concept of a higher power, but I will try to press on regardless.

      I have an ambitious programme of action coming up, which includes moving home, meditation, exercise, AA and therapy, so the only way I can manage all that is by staying sober…..

    1. Practising alcoholics are renowned for their habit of making promises they never keep. No excuses, but its the way it is, which is why so many of us end up dead or in jail.

      Recovering alcoholics are a much better bet, so it is to be hoped that I can remain in this group rather than in the former.

      Only time will tell.

  3. Sorry Mobi, I did not mean that you have not been honest before, what I mean is that I got the feeling that you in this blog had taken of your tinted glasses and saw the world in a total new light.

    I think many of us readers recogniced when you walked into a bar and the girls saw an old 60 year+ guy with a beerbelly, no hair or what was left, grey hair. And noone was jumping around of happiness because this guy arrived. We have been there, done that and seen that!

    So throw away your tinted glasses, you do not need them. Maybe you one day find out that life has much more interesting ways of spending your time and money.

    Good luck Mobi!

    Sven

    1. Point taken and apology accepted.

      BTW, I still have most of my hair, but an increasing amount of it is turning a whiter shade of grey. I had a hair cut last week and the young lady offered to make my hair black again so that I would look younger!! I politely declined.

      But the beer belly and other signs of encroaching old age are well and truly in evidence.

      Yes, I will start to work on a few of the other delights of life when I get back to Pattaya. I was devastated by the loss of my camera but maybe my new camera phone will do the job adequately.

  4. I am one of these people who have bagged Mobi out in the past. For some reason this time I actually believe you might be able to do it. I agree with Sven, I also feel that this time you are being 100% honest with yourself. You are not the man you used to be and I feel that you have finally recognised that you need a new direction in life, not just stopping the drink which although is the most important thing to do, isn’t the only thing.
    Good luck Mobi, please do not let us down.

  5. Boy that was a sad one Mobi

    But if rock bottom is where your at then at least you have only one direction left to go eh?

    As for speaking in the 3rd person…I can take it or leave it.

  6. First time that I get the feeling that you are honest to your readers and honest to yourself! You are not living in a alcohol influenced dream of yourself as the superman.

    Keep it that way, it might save your life! And it is more interesting for your readers.

    I wish you good luck !

    Sven

    1. Thank you for your comments, Sven, which I appreciate.

      The accusation that in the past I have not been completely honest is as strange as it is hurtful.

      The traumas, the miserable, shameful, drunken depths to which I have frequently descended to in the past year are not works of fiction – they are fact. Of course everyone believes that.

      Everything I have written on the blog is 100% true. OK I might have used the odd literary embellishment from time to time, but the essence of my accounts contain nothing but the truth.

      The mere fact that I have deprecated myself and my lifestyle over and over again surely gives testament to the veracity of my writing.

      There have been many who have sneered at me in the most unpleasant manner and have told me that they feel no pity for me and I shouldn’t look for sympathy. Yet the truth of the matter is that I have never, ever solicited sympathy and I have always accepted that my life is a selfish, dangerous indulgence and I have no one to blame but myself for the way things have panned out.

      Maybe you think I have been dishonest about my ability to pull the women or my sexual prowess, both of which powers are now sadly declining.

      Well, I have tried to be as honest as I can – albeit through alcoholic eyes, to tell it the way I see it, and surely my honest accounts of how these women have subsequently treated me, none of it to my benefit, should convince you that I am being honest in all regards.

      Sometimes, by telling the truth, I get it in the neck by readers who accuse me of being arrogant and self seeking. Like the occasion when I described the time I drove my BMW to Wan’s village in Roi Et and many of the locals came running out to admire the gleaming machine. The amount of flack I received over that simple account knew no bounds. Yet I was simply reporting the way it happened. If you choose to believe that I was lying and boasting; that I would go out of my way to fabricate such an event – why bother to read my blog?

      If you remain unconvinced, come to Pattaya and rent a new BMW for a week and drive around here and up-country. You will soon realise that the reaction I described receiving in Roi Et village is quite commonplace.

      As to my prowess with women – well the subject has been done to death. Doesn’t it occur to you that I have been completely open about the unsatisfactory sexual experiences I have experienced for most of my life; of my endless struggles through the years with PE and my inability to satisfy my sexual partners, add some sort of credibility to the fact that now, in old age, for a short while I seemed to have finally cracked it? I have bared my soul – all the bad and the little bit of good. Yet you believe the bad and not the good.

      It just makes me sad that people are always prepared to believe the worst of someone, but not the best of someone. If they dare to say something that appears to be boastful, then they must be lying.

      In the very first blog I that wrote, I said that my blog would be an account of my life – warts and all. Maybe I should have said warts, beauty spots and all…….

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