During my first few years in Thailand I was a habitual drunk – I’m not exaggerating here. In those days Thailand was one big bar; this made things difficult for my now-wife who was fighting to get me off the booze. I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time but I was the stereotypical loser ex-pat living among the Thais. I was staying in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but I may as well have been living in a bus shelter in Dublin for the difference it made to my life.
I stayed in a village in Phitsanulok for almost five years. Despite the fact that this was about 100 kilometers from the nearest thing that could be called a pub I still found drinking opportunities everywhere. Occasionally during that time we would visit Chiang Mai, or sometimes even Pattaya, and for me this would be like arriving in boozer’s heaven. At the end of my drinking though, I no longer cared about travelling to bars; I was happy enough being the village drunk.
Drinking nearly killed me; I was still my thirties and felt too young to die. I cleaned up my act by attending a Thai Detox temple called Thamkrabok; that was four years ago and my life has changed so much since then. I no longer judge places on the availability of booze, and this has meant Thailand has a lot more to offer me. I once believed that this country was all about drinking, but I this was just an absurd notion. Nowadays I sometimes take my family to the beach in Pattaya, and I hardly even notice the bars.
Before getting sober in Thailand I worried about how life here could be enjoyed without the booze. I have since learnt that I there had been no real enjoyment in my life then; how can you appreciate anything when you are numb all the time? Anyone who has had enough of the booze will find that this is a great country to live sober. I have no problem with other people enjoying the pub, that’s up to them, I just know that it has nothing to offer me. It turns out that Sober Thailand is a great place too; in fact I like it a whole lot better.