Alcohol: The Real Thai Love Story
I have long believed that the real love story in LOS is alcohol. The heavy drinking scene in Thailand is all encompassing. It seems to me that most of the action in Thailand revolves around bars…certainly for the mongers and almost definitely for most
of the other expats and residents. For many the women are a sort of side show or supporting act to the booze.
The customer base in the main areas of Pattaya, Sukhumvit, Phuket etc. needs the booze to function and many of the girls seem to me to be indifferent. In fact it is a trick of mine to get the girl I am with as drunk as me because that way at least we both have fun.
It certainly helps that Thailand is one of the best places to be drunk in. I can only think of Vegas as another city that loves a drunk. Amsterdam is a great place to be drinking too but none compare to LOS as a drunkard's paradise. Open air bars, beach bars, pubs, bars with incredible views, bars full of easy women, wine bars, rooftop bars. A lack of rules, a major tolerance by all, encouragement from all sides and the fairy tale Disneyland playground feel of the place complete the picture.
There are 43 Alcoholics Anonymous groups scattered all over The Land of Smiles, including 2 groups who meet daily in Sukhumvit. Please think about the members of AA inside the Ambassador hotel and The Park Hotel next time you walk past. I hope you contact them if you have a problem.
An alcoholic is someone who drinks as much as you but you don’t like them. Where does this chronic drinking and borderline alcoholism start? That is probably the key to the whole story.
Phase One : This could be very early. Your mom might put some hooch in your baby bottle as that guarantees you will be blissfully happy and behave yourself. The real beginning for most people is stealing booze at a family party and getting loaded or skimming a bit out of the ole man's liquor cabinet. For most beginners this involves extreme illness as your body revolts in protest.
Phase Two : This is where you find more effective methods of getting pissed. You probably discover your favourite brand of beer. Find a bottle of hard liquor you enjoy or fake having class by drinking wine. This quickly becomes your “legal suicide” years where everybody seems to be drinking heavily or often. Life revolves around bars/nightclubs and places where pretty girls can be found with glasses in their hands.
Phase Three : This is from age 30. You have a liquor cabinet of financial security.
Phase Four : This is the phase of mid-life crisis socially unaccepted alcoholism. This is the most dangerous phase. This is from age 40 when most normal people have long since become teetotal or given up.
Phase five : This is post retirement socially accepted alcoholism. Age 65 and up puts you in this bracket.
I believe that Farang in LOS have a higher percentage of alcoholics among them than any other place anywhere and I bet even people working in the music industry don’t drink as much as Farang in LOS. I know this as I am often sitting right next to them on a barstool watching.
Owning a bar is the number one occupation of the Farang…selling or consuming alcohol. The reason I personally would never own a bar in LOS is that I would drink myself to death very quickly. I have heard of it happening quite often and I am sure it would happen to me.
You can spend too much time on the booze with awkward strangers that have nothing more in common than an affinity for drink specials. Because regular people have lots of silly hang-ups like guilt, shame, desire for real connection, even something called self-respect. Drunks don’t. Drunks are always getting into mischief and making weird friends. Drunks speak their own language, and are drawn together. Be aware that heavy drinkers are to be befriended at your own peril, most professional drinkers are generous to a fault. Like cigarette smokers, they want a collaborator.
I believe the love affair with alcohol also makes us Farang ignore what we are doing. We all know deep in our heart of hearts that spending time with prostitutes in seedy dives is bad for your morality and your spirituality. The booze helps us forget how bad we behave, plasters over our shame and makes us feel comfortable in a very unnatural environment. The booze helps us lie to ourselves and helps us pretend it's ok to behave the way nearly all of us do.
I am a firm believer in never trusting anyone who doesn’t drink. Adolf Hitler was one of the world’s best known abstainers from alcohol. Muslims, Mormons and Quakers don’t touch the booze. The puritan movement at the turn of the century succeeded in banning alcohol under prohibition. Killjoys, uptight religious fanatics, Vladimir Putin and the Hare Krishnas all refuse to partake of the sauce.
Here are some fun facts : Brewing beer in Thailand began in 1934 with Singha beer. Chang Beer first started production in 1995 and is the top-selling brand in Thailand. Despite being known as a whisky, Mekhong is in fact much closer to a rum. Launched in 1941, it quickly became the most popular brand in Thailand. Sang Som rum was introduced in November 1977 and has since become the dominant brand in the Thai spirits market. The drink won gold medals in liquor competitions in Madrid, Spain in 1982 and 1983, in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1983, and again in Spain in 2006. The medals are featured prominently on the product's packaging but it’s hard to believe such disgusting rubbish can win any award. The beverage is virtually unheard of outside of Thailand.
Running off to the shelter of a bottle can be good and bad. You can suck out of that bottle for a while but be careful after a while that bottle can start to suck out of you.
There are a lot of heavy drinkers amongst the expat populace in Thailand. Just who is and who isn't an alcoholic, I would not like to comment on, but there are many who drink much more than is advisable and do so on a very regular basis.It takes willpower and a willingness to buck social mores in expat circles if you enjoy a drink but wish to do so in moderation and at your own pace.