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Or, Living with spirits.

Now here's a sobering thought ...

Alcoholism in Thailand ranks 5th highest in world. (Don't believe it ...Google it ... !!)


By B.S.


              t's no secret that every party town around the world has a different pulse. New Orleans, Vegas and Rio all have their own unique rhythm. Our little seaside town of Pattaya is no exception. However, here the lifeblood that regulates its pulsing nightlife and flows through every artery, vein and blood vessel must surely be alcohol. Just as a bonfire requires wood or an automobile petrol, alcoholic substances seem to be Pattaya's preferred fuel. When I really stop and think about it, I'd bet a bottle of scotch that more money changes hands in one day as a result of the combined sales of alcoholic beverages here in Fun Town than any other commodity.

             Lets face it, Pattaya's no dry-town, a thirsty man can stumble upon a startling plethora of saloons, gin-mills and watering-holes in this target rich environment that has more than a few bars. Those who wish to indulge in the drunken extravagance that Pattaya provides need not worry, for there is no shortage of venues and establishments in which they can 'name their poison'.

             Yes booze is for sale everywhere morning noon and night and on just about every soi. It's available from each hotel, resort and restaurant. It can be had at a multitude of smaller cafes, eateries and fast-food joints. It's sold at every super-market, grocery, convenience and liquor store. It's served poolside and on the beaches and consumed by sportsman on chartered fishing boats, at golf club country clubs and in dim pool halls.

Copious amounts are dispensed at the pubs, bars and beer-gardens, of which there are many. It flows like a river at the countless beer, short-time, gay, coyote and a-go-go bars scattered throughout the town, and the karaoke's, nightclubs and discos all specialize in administering liquid intoxicants to the revelers who throng there nightly. Just contemplating all the possibilities is enough to drive a man to drink.

        How far do you actually have to walk, stagger or crawl to enjoy the warming pleasures of alcohol when you step


             outside? It's easier to find a beer than your preferred newspaper; you can purchase a rum, vodka or wine cooler faster than a liter of petrol and it's more convenient to shop for a bottle of whiskey than it is to order a plate of fried rice. And, when you're too lazy, legless or hung-over from over indulging in said adult beverages to venture outdoors, well then you just need to dial the phone and a fresh supply of beer, wine, coolers or spirits will be delivered to your doorstep!

            Such elixirs and intoxicants waiting to be plucked off the shelf by shoppers and mixologists beckon to us all like some snake-oil salesman selling a cure-all to a bunch of rubes at a carnival. They temp us daily with their unwavering promise that they alone can slake our thirst, enhance our meals, brighten any occasion, raise our flagging spirits, provide much needed joy, drown our sorrows or medicate our pain.

            Believing these often empty encouragements we are easily led down the path towards alcoholic excess. And in our pursuit of alcohol induced euphoria we rest our weary emotions on 100 proof crutches while we drink with all the gusto of Shakespeare's Falstaff to achieve whatever degree of inebriation that we personally deem is appropriate to maintain or completely abandon what's left of our sanity, to relax and recharge our batteries, or to escape our dreary lives and disappear, if only temporarily, safely into the ether of alcohol.

           It's a fact that humans pursue the things that give them pleasure. Whether it's keeping poisonous reptiles as pets, entering ballroom dancing competitions or developing bar-stool hemorrhoids while downing shots of bourbon followed by bourbon chasers, mankind knows many desires. Partaking in the delights that alcohol has to offer, for whatever the reason has caused many like-minded individuals to congregate in our fair community. So it should come as no surprise that drinkers and drunkards of all stripes and persuasions are attracted to Pattaya like ants to a picnic.


          Certainly, if some white-coated lab guy were to feed an IBM supercomputer with all we had ever known about drinking alcoholic substances from the dawn of time to the present day, the circuits would have pulsed and hummed and then printed out an image of say, Walking Street, or maybe Soi 7, or perhaps Soi Bukhow, or even one showing the whole of Pattaya labeled, "The world's capitol of drinking," all because the data indicated that it was unlikely that any other city in the world offered a greater opportunity for dry folks to drink their fill than our very own Pattaya.

       There's no point in denying it, all across Pattaya, around the clock, and 24/7, both publicly and privately, men and women, Thai and falung, and resident and reveler will seek solace, sanuck or salvation by downing an early morning 'eye-opener', ingesting 'the hair of the dog', eating a 'liquid-lunch', tossing back a post-duty libation, drinking their dinner, having a snort of 'Dutch courage', raising a celebratory cocktail or ending a long hot day with a cool and comforting 'nightcap' or two, or three . . . just for the sheer pleasure of it, or just to take the edge off, or just to get to that place they so desperately want to be.

       In this town, the pleasure of alcohol assisted ecstasy is responsibly sought by the majority of those who drink and is recklessly craved by more than a few. Just as you or I require air to breath, the average merry-maker desires but a sip or two of a fermented or malt based beverage to speed him along the way towards a good time, like a blissful rocket-ship flying to someplace that he had no idea existed.

     While a handful of besotted-inebriates hold fast to the bottle like a security blanket to anaesthetize life's petty injustices, and an even smaller minority of hard-core 'lushes', to whom the comfort of alcohol is as reliable as the setting sun, suck down vast amounts of the devil's elixir as if it were mother's milk just to achieve cerebral nothingness.


      If you've ever popped the top on a can of beer, cracked the seal on a fifth of whiskey, or uncorked a bottle of wine simply because you are thirsty, desire sanuck, or can't live without total oblivion, then you too probably fall somewhere between the happy-reveler and the hopeless-drunkard. While here in Pattaya it really doesn't matter if you're a 'teetotaler' taking your first tentative taste, or an occasional drinker consuming with caution or a voracious 'barfly' with a bottomless thirst, or even an implacable 'wino', 'rummy' or 'boozehound' drinking yourself comatose; or whether your personal motor runs best on chilled coolers, ice cold beer, room-temperature wine, the warmth of whiskey, or the pure fire of blue aguave tequila, let us hope that during your stay within the city's limits that your personal fuel is imbibed among good company and in good cheer, with a minimum of restraint and a maximum of common sense, and with no malice and much levity. Furthermore, when all is said and done, let us also hope that we can all look back on our assorted celebrations, festivities and misadventures and have the good fortune to be able to truthfully say, "I have taken more from drink, than drink has ever taken from me."