Vodka to Russia and wine to Italy is whiskey to Thailand. I’ve seen men drink it as early at 6 a.m. Aside from volunteers, I have never seen a woman drink it.
I could never touch the stuff in the states. Now I’ve developed a tolerance for it where I can at least take a shot, if offered, and not allow my face to react like a four-year old drinking cough syrup.
On a Sunday afternoon during training, I took a bike ride by myself into the city to use the internet. About a kilometer of the ride consists of biking through a lower-class village followed by a heavily forested path and eventually rice fields. It was on the way back, in the forest part, that I ran into a party. I’m still not sure why they decided to hold the party in the middle of a small forest. The men saw a white dude walking his bike and got excited.
“Whiskey Thai! Whiskey Thai!”
It’s not just whiskey in Thailand, it’s “whiskey Thai”.
Two or three men shoved glasses with a big swallow of whiskey in it. Why not? I took the shot, got on my bike before it hit the back of my throat to make sure I wasn’t offered another one and took off to the cheers of drunken Thai men.
I had to go to Korat and it turned out so did a group of kids, their mothers and the men from my office to see the zoo and later the city of Korat. Great, I thought, I can save bus fare. I would have paid triple fare to avoid this trip.
They told me to be at the office at 5 a.m. I was. No one else was. Around 6:30, there was a lot of people and a bus to take all the kids and moms. I was dreading sitting on this bus full of frantic, undisciplined kids who wipe their asses with their hands. Soon I was given a ride to the nay-yok of the office (aka the dude in charge). There was a van and a number of men from the office waiting. They’d already begun the whiskey drinking. They offered me some and I politely declined.
By the time we left around 7:30 a.m., most of the men were drunk. It was then I realized we were taking a party van, with a designated driver and pounding, horse shit Thai music and karaoke. They kept offering me whiskey and I kept declining, a little less polite each time. The guy next to me kept talking to me. It’s difficult enough understanding a new language, but it’s next to impossible when the guy is slurring his speech with pounding worse-than-Creed music and another eight or nine drunks shouting their opinions behind me.
The gossip got around the office because when I got back the next week I was told by some of the women who didn’t attend the trip how “serious” I was.
I told them, “I wasn’t serious! I just wasn’t drunk!”
They gave me a thumbs-up for not being a typical Thai man.
Thailand, go ahead and love your whiskey, but let’s hold back when we’re taking five busloads of kids to the zoo early in the morning, okay?