never seems to bother them. When they ask me if I want to enter their country I frequently give them a guilty
no. I explain that I don’t have time. On the Burmese side is a border town but there isn’t much to do there.
They don’t get offended. I leave happily with my proof of departure from Thailand in my passport.
Back on the Thai side things become more formal. Thai immigration refers to my passport as a ‘dirty
passport’ as it contains too many visa stamps for Thailand already. This makes them suspicious and
frequently leads to probing questions. As usual I approached them fearing they would refuse me entry. I hid
my shaking hands and answered their questions. They stamped me through, and I felt relieved to have this
chore out of the way for a few more months. I could now concentrate on the real business of the day. The
journey to the temple.
A quick glance at my watch showed the time to be eight o’clock. I wanted to get to Wat Thamkrabok before
the admissions office closed for the day. I didn’t know what time this happened. During my earlier
conversation with a volunteer at the temple I forgot to ask this and other important questions. Embarrassment
prevented me ringing back, but I guessed that it would likely shut around four o’clock. It wouldn’t leave much
time for beer breaks.
I planned for midday to be my cut-off point for alcohol. This would give me time to sober up. I didn’t want to
arrive drunk in case they decided to turn me away. My intention was aimed at giving a good first impression.
This automatic response developed over years of trying to hide my problem through people-pleasing. I never
even considered the fact that admitting myself for detox already revealed me as a hopeless drunk.
I enjoyed riding my motorbike in an alcohol induced semi-haze. This removed the boredom of long journeys
by seeming to speed up the passage of time. It also encouraged my mind to wander and invent impossible
fantasies. These ideas would seem ridiculous to my sober mind but they passed the time. I viewed them as
I began to give up hope that my body would recover before noon to allow me my farewell drinks, and I felt
cheated. In my imagination was the image of me swallowing my last drop of alcohol ever and acknowledging
it as such. I wanted this moment to be significant. I remembered being told by an ex-drunk that if you can’t
remember your last drink you haven’t had it yet. I also wanted these drinks because despite the fact that my
body was rejecting alcohol, a large part of me was screaming out for the stuff.
I considered spending the night in Lampang. This city lay about an hour away from the temple. I began to
think that there were good reasons for delaying another day. Why the rush? It would be easier arriving in the
morning when the office was sure to be open. More importantly I could give my friend-turned-nemesis a
In the end, sanity prevailed. There was no guarantee my willingness to enter a treatment facility would still be
there the next day. I needed to do this while the motivation was still present. Another reason was Oa. I am a
poor liar and would have needed to tell her that I was still at liberty. This would confirm her suspicions that
this trip was yet another drunken orgy.
It would be a lie to say that I wanted to get sober for my girlfriend. I adored her and felt shame at making her
life miserable but this wasn’t enough. An attempt to quit driven by this type of motivation always ended in
failure, as I knew from experience. Her disapproval certainly didn’t make things easy, but I just couldn’t stop
for somebody else. In the past when forced to decide between a relationship or the booze I would choose the
booze. People always came second to my addiction.
Despite my sober state, I don’t remember much of a journey that passed quickly. The Thai countryside was a
lush green, I remember that. People were busy in paddy fields as this was the rainy season, I remember that.
I flew past villages, towns and temples, but I only really noted the drinking establishments, and failed to
appreciate the beauty around me. I was too busy focusing on the battle in my brain between my desire for