New Challenge: Six Months Abstinence From Alcohol In South East Asia

no drinking
no drinking

How different would your life be, if you did not drink any alcohol whatsoever? How differently would you behave? What would you find out about yourself, if you took a vow of abstinence from alcohol, for a selected period of time? Would you cope in social situations?

I’m about to find out. From this moment, I’m announcing a comfort-zone challenge and I am going absolutely teetotal for half a year from now.

This is going to be an extremely hard challenge for me, which is going to take a massive amount of discipline and willpower. I’m currently on a tropical island (Langkawi), during peak season, cheap booze at my disposal – with a New Years Eve beach party, just around the corner.

The drinking culture is massive over here and people drink every single night. It’s a predominantly Muslim state too! So why would a guy, who actually enjoys getting drunk want to cut out alcohol for so long?

Quite a few reasons, read on…

Budget Worries

I don’t actually have a lot of money out here, I’m not exactly raking it in. So when a traveller is on the road and concern starts over expenditure, one must prioritise and see what’s important to the individual, in order for their travel journey to be the best as possible.

And so I have to ask myself; is drink an absolute necessary spend? Of course it’s not. Food and accommodation are the only compulsory expenditure right now and that’s all I need to have a great time. Also, there are recreational activities that I would like to take part in, such as extreme sports – way more of an importance than my drink fund.

The alcohol here in Langkawi is actually really cheap, the cheapest that I have ever known, at about £1 a pint in most places. However at the minute, every penny counts. I am in a transitional period and I have a dream to make this thing sustainable, so I’m going to have to make decisions like this in these vital earlier days.

Health & Fitness

One of the major reasons for my desire to have a life where I can do what I want, when I want was the reclaiming of my fitness. I want to be healthier: I don’t want to have to shop around for better health insurance quotes yet, I want to be fitter and in better shape than I ever have been in my 28 years on this planet.. I want to sport a lean body with impressive muscle mass – beer isn’t going to help me get closer to that goal. I do NOT want a beer belly!!

Beer (and any other alcohol) is empty calories and it’s also not too good for the old liver. All of my hard work, exercising on the beach is being ruined every night with putting crap into my body. I honestly believe that we can handle almost anything that life chucks at us, when we have a high level of fitness. Our mind is sharper and our thoughts are more positive. We can move mountains we’re fighting fit.

I Lose Days With Hangovers


I feel like absolute poo in the morning when I’ve had a session. This is a vital moment in my life when I have to really make stuff happen – or I’ll be going back home and feeling as if I’ve failed. I don’t take very kindly to failing.

I can’t afford to stay a few hours extra in bed, or to feel groggy when I have to create the magic.

Because I Want To

Unless you’re hurting somebody or something, or marrying a serial killer – is there a better reason to do something?

Social Experiment

Many people rely on alcohol because they believe they need it, or that it makes them more interesting to be around in a social situation. I don’t want to be one of those people.

I’ve Got Some Issues

I’m not a psycho or anything, and I’m certainly on the right path. But like anybody else I have some emotional shrapnel that needs taken care of and I don’t think getting sloshed all the time will help that.

It’ll Force Me to Meet the Right Type of People

What I mean by this is, if I meet someone who thinks it’s weird, or takes some kind of offence that I’ve taken a vow of sobriety – then I know they aren’t the type of people who I want to be around. I find these types of people small-minded and unbearable to be around. Live and let live!

We owe it to ourselves, to hang out with those who support us, especially if we are intending to become happier people.

And to finish off – the things that I may find difficult with this challenge:

I Like Getting Drunk

I actually like getting really drunk and I’m quite a good drunk person to be around. Some people just shouldn’t drink at all because they get aggressive, but I’m all about having a good time when I’ve had a skin full.

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure

Do you think peer pressure stoops when you leave school? Oh please! Peer pressure is everywhere and it will be around until the day you die. And where I’m from, peer pressure is very prevalent in the drinking culture. If you turn down a drink on a night out, you’ll often here the cry of; “be a man, and have some more drink.” (Or something similar).

Ironically, part of ‘being a man’ is not following the flock and doing whatever the hell you want because you want to – not because you’ve been told to. I rarely bow down to peer pressure, but I’m only human. There is certainly a short-term comfort, following the status quo, but it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do.

Partying in Penang and New Years Eve

There are a lot of big parties coming up – I’m just going to have to enjoy them sober 🙂


People like to buy people drinks, as a nice gesture – I appreciate nice gestures. I was speaking to an American guy at the bar last night and when he left, he slammed a beer in front of me, slapped me on the back and said; “be good” before walking off. It’s going to be pretty awkward when this happens in the next six months!

Drunk People Are Annoying When You Are Sober

Annoying drunk meme


I Have Failed This Challenge Before

Long before the days of Man waging a war the clock. I feel a lot more mentally strong now though.

At the end of the day, I feel for where I am in life right now, drink will do me more harm than good. So there we go – the new challenge (and the first ever Man Vs Clock abroad challenge) is six months of abstinence from alcohol. Will update to how I cope!

Have you ever done/failed/completed a no drinking challenge? Maybe you’ve stopped drinking all together? Any tips welcome!

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Anthony Middleton

A former loser who took a risk. I now live in Chiang Mai, Thailand after visiting over 100 countries. Stay tuned for the next challenge against that clock!
Ultra runner walking in desert

Hi, I'm Anthony!

In November of 2010, I took on a mammoth challenge against the clock in a quest to upgrade my miserable life. I went out of my comfort zone and turned it all around. Ten years later, I’m completely location independent…

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