Six Months Alcohol Free in SE Asia: Complete! What Next? An Interview From The Readers

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Stop the clock – challenge is complete! As of the time of publishing; not a drop of alcohol has touched these recently injured lips for the past six months. So I have put out a request for questions from the readers – spotlighting my half year of sobriety.

Juliane, and also Mike of Nomads on the Road asked:

Why?

Anthony Replied:

A great opening question – why did I choose to do it? Many reasons…

Health: I was drinking an insane amount of alcohol and when I have future imaginary children, I want to be able to keep up with them running and not be pot-bellied and red-faced.

Money: I wasn’t exactly flash for cash and I’m still not! Beer was (is) an unnecessary expenditure in a quickly hemorrhaging bank fund. I’d planned to travel the world since 2008 and I wasn’t going to throw it away, just to get pissed. I could (and have done) that at home, it gets boring very quickly.

Willpower: Going absolute cold turkey was going to take a lot of mental strength. I like to put myself through tough challenges like this, because I feel I evolve as a human, if successful.

Relationships and Social Study: I was interested in how different my relationships would be, when meeting new people. Now I could no longer use alcohol as a crutch, to make friends as a solo traveller – how would I cope in social situations?

I had a drinking problem: I wasn’t an official alcoholic, but I definitely had an unsettling relationship and reliance on alcohol. I found it virtually impossible to only “have a few” and would get in some pretty nasty states every time I went out.

Why Not? Always a good answer to “why?” Why not try something different to my social conditioning and look at things from a new world?

Shaun asked:

Ok mate I have a question for you. Do you think you had a better time with or without alcohol?

Happy Travels!

Anthony Replied:

Happy Travels to you too, Shaun! I think that initially I didn’t have a very good time because drinking when out was all I have ever known. So it felt as if I was in a complete new world at first, but it got easier and when I found open-minded people who wouldn’t give me a hard time about it.

Gardenbre asked:

Was it very difficult? And were there any times during the 6 months that you wanted to go back on your decision to have a drink (or ‘two’)?

Anthony Replied:

There were times when I was really tempted to drink. Usually when Newcastle United were playing on TV – they usually drive me to alcohol! There were times when people were sneaky and said “come on, have a drink, it’s just me and you – I won’t tell if you don’t.” But nay, I was really determined to do this and resisted the temptation.

Erica of Kizzling Around asked:

Did you ever get tired of people asking you why? And how often did you get asked this question. Oh! Also, do you think that it affected your decision whether to go out (did you go out to bars and just drink cola, or replace that with other activities)?

Anthony Replied:

Hell yes! I got very sick of people asking why, but only in a certain way. Non-judgemental, open-minded people ask it in an inquisitive and genuine way. Then you have the people who think the world is going to end if you stop drinking alcohol and ask it, so they can get confrontational about it. I literally got asked the question every time I went out – usually by Brits!

It affected my decision to go out at first, but then I just sucked it up and made sure I had a good time!

Annette of Bucket List Journey asked: 

What type of alcohol did you miss the most? What was your first drink of liquor when the six months was over?

Anthony Replied:

Without a shadow of a doubt – red wine!

Kate of Adventurous Kate asked:

 Will you be going to Vang Vieng now? 😉

Anthony Replied:

CHAV!!! 😛

Wor Paul (my cousin) asked:

Would you recommend the same challenge? 

Anthony Replied:

Yes, I would highly recommend trying it for a certain amount of time – it’ll definitely do more good than bad.

Craig of Flashpack at Forty asked:
Craig
What has been your favourite new non alcoholic drink? Did you weaken at any time and nearly reach for the bottle? Will you be resuming your normal drinking habits on completion?
Anthony Replied:
The mighty banana shake! I came close to weakening, but I stayed strong. I don’t take very well to failing, so I didn’t think it’d be worth it if I did. I certainly don’t plan to resume the same drinking habits as before; I feel like I’ve been woken with a big slap in the face.

Alison of See My Travels asked:

Calton Hill in Edinburgh About See My Travels

Will you be celebrating with a booze up, ha ha? Or has six months without made you think you don’t really want to drink any more?

Anthony Replied:

With risk of offending beer-swilling party animals; I won’t be having a booze up to celebrate.

As for the second question – I don’t think I’ll be a teetotal guy (English word for someone who never drinks) for the rest of my life. I’m planning a trip to Argentina at some point and wild horses wouldn’t be able to drag me away from my beloved Malbec!

Ian Ord of Where Sidewalks Ends asked:

Ian looking FIT!

Nice one dude.. don’t crack now! ;) Question for you, dear friend: How did alcohol, or the absence of it, affect your interactions with others in situations where alcohol was present.

Anthony Replied:

Hey Ian! At first, I was blown away by how hard I found it to interact in a pub/club scene, or where people are drunk and I am not. Like many others do – I had been using alcohol as a crutch for many years.

It was time to really get on top if it.

Rachel of World Flavor asked:

You mentioned before that a lot of people seemed resistant or angry about this challenge. Why do you think that is?

Anthony Replied:

I think it derives from low self-esteem and self-reflection. When you say you’re going to stop drinking alcohol, it makes the status quo question their relationship with booze – and many people don’t like the truth. If you do something different to the norm, you’re always going to have some resistance.

Alexandra from Crazy, Sexy, Fun, Traveler asked:

isn't Manzanillo beach beautiful

What has been the best thing about NOT drinking?

Anthony Replied:

Spending less money, feeling healthy, focused and truly living in the moment of a good time.

Lauren from Lola’s Travels asked:

Tell us, doll face, what were the top three things you learned from this challenge?

Anthony Replied:

1.) Many people (myself included, before this challenge) rely on alcohol to function on even a basic social platform.

2.) Brits are among the worst drunken natives in the world. We are a decently  polite bunch by nature, but we are taught and expected to suppress so much shit, that it all comes out through anger when drunk. I don’t think I know any country in the world that has a more toxic relationship with alcohol than the UK – but I need to travel more to make such sweeping statements.

3.) We owe it to ourselves to hang out with people, who accept us for what we are all about and who we are. I never gave anyone a hard time for being drunk, but I got a hard time for not being drunk. I’m all for piss-taking and giggles, but people who were relentless about it became a negative source of energy – and so I dropped them as friends or acquaintances. Don’t give energy to people who ask you to change who you are. Get out of there before neurons die.

Christine of C’est Christine asked:

Christine Amorose in Andaman Sea, Railay, Thailand

I know that backpackers go crazy drinking cheap alcohol in SE Asia, but do you find that it was easier to do in countries with religions that prohibit drinking (i.e. Islam and Buddhism)? There are so many non-alcoholic drinks as well, with fresh fruit smoothies and juices and sodas on every corner. Would love to hear your thoughts!
What’s your new favorite non-alcoholic cocktail?
Did you encounter much peer pressure? What’s your favorite “I’m-not-drinking-so-leave-me-alone” excuse to end the conversation?

Anthony Replied:

Even though the religions prohibit drinking – it doesn’t really have much of an affect and the Thai’s drink pretty much every night. You’re bang on about the non-alcoholic beverages and I’d get through a watermelon, banana and strawberry shake on an average night out 🙂

The peer pressure was insane, but very much expected – but it has the reverse affect on me. I’ve tried all the excuses in the book; I’m on antibiotics right now (which became true anyway). I’m allergic to alcohol. I’m pregnant. I’m driving (which was often true, as I rented a motorbike).



Join the Conversation

29 comments

  1. Christine Reply

    I totally just realized my question should have been WHAT NOW? I’m super intrigued now!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 😀

  2. Gaelle Reply

    You know, he’s not telling me either, I’m supposed to wait till Monday like everybody else……. Pffffff…. But yeay, can’t wait to hear exactly what it is 🙂

    PS: I did learn “teetotaler” when I was in secondary school!

    1. Anthony Reply

      I have been laughed at for using that word on many occasions! :O

  3. Erica Reply

    hmmmm I too am very curious now.

    What I didn’t mention in my question: Massive props for completing this!! I thought about following in your footsteps for a bit… and then some beer and yakitori appeared in front of me, and that’s just not something I’m capable of resisting. I know, I’m weak.

    1. Anthony Reply

      Hey Erica,

      It’s all revealed now! 🙂 Thanks, haha I’m not sure if that makes me strong or just stubborn 😛

  4. Waegook Tom Reply

    You can tell me what you’re doing surely, Middleton? I won’t breathe a word to ANYONE about your top secret plan.

    Anyhoo, congrats on completing the 6 months with no alcohol challenge! I’m typing this as I’ve just sweilled down some vodka.

    1. Anthony Reply

      The secret is now out the closet, Mr Waegook! 😉

  5. Robyn Reply

    “say drinking violates your probation” – I need to use that one, haha

  6. Annette | Bucket List Journey Reply

    tick tock, tick tock. Is it Monday yet? I have not patience 😉

    Congrats to you, I’m not sure I could make it 6 months without a glass of jammy red wine!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Sorrrrry, I was a day late!

  7. Rachel Reply

    Your responses to my question make sense. It would be a decent explanation to why my non-drinking ways seem to anger and offend some people (only the people who drink the most, typically). It’s not like I’m judgmental (it’s not like I never drink, just not usually – would rather spend money on food) and I still go out. But I guess I represent something they don’t want to think about – being able to socialize well without the crutch of alcohol.

    Anyway, I think this challenge is great and everyone should try it 🙂

    1. Anthony Reply

      You’re bang on with that Rachel, bang on!

  8. John Bardos - JetSetCitizen Reply

    Hey Anthony,

    Congratulations on your accomplishment. I quit drinking for a few years in my university days, and was definitely healthier for it, but I do enjoy a good buzz sometimes.

    I believe alcohol makes me a better person. 🙂 I am much more relaxed and outgoing after some drinks. Most people don’t like me until I am drunk. 🙂

    It was great meeting you in Chiang Mai, by the way.

    1. Anthony Reply

      Thanks John,

      Good for you that you’re not an angry/crazy drunk! I think it’s major kudos that you were strong enough to quit while in a place like uni! Was great meeting you too, mate 🙂

  9. Will Reply

    I don’t think I’d like you or find you even remotely attractive if I wasn’t a raging alcoholic.

    1. Anthony Reply

      Neg

  10. Jools Stone Reply

    But the 64 million dollar question is this – how did it affect your ability to remember all the words to Auf Weidersein Pet??!!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Hahaha Jools mate,

      I would never forget such a classic!!

  11. Sofia @ As We Travel Reply

    Congrats Anthony! I loved it when you said “We owe it to ourselves to hang out with people, who accept us for what we are all about and who we are”, that is so true.

    Seriously, who would even want to hang out with someone who judges you for such a silly thing as what drink you chose to order anyway?

    Can’t wait to hear about your next challenge!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Cheers Sofia!

      It’s such a simple concept that many fail to see the importance of! You’d be surprised about how many people would do that where I’m from. The new challenge is up! And I do believe I’m seeing you two tomorrow (hopefully!)

  12. Ian Ord Reply

    Bahahaha… well done, mate. Love the pictures you chose for everyone who asked you questions… though why did you put a picture of yourself for the question I asked? “Do you think I’m stupid or something?”

    Love the interactive follow up! Great idea! Have you had a drink yet?

    1. Anthony Reply

      Hehe Ian,

      You are looking WELL FIT on your pic 😉 “Do you want a prize or something?!?!?!”

  13. Edna Reply

    “Drinking violates my parole” made me laugh out loud. Would have loved to see the reactions to that one!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Hahaha try it out, Edna!! 😉

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  15. Massagem Tantrica Reply

    Yea, i agree in be surprised about how many people would do that where I’m from. Good work!

    1. Anthony Reply

      Cheers! Well I did it in Thailand on the backpacker scene – and I’m British 😛

      So anything is possible!

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