Alcho expats

I wonder if anyone has done research about the prevalence of alcoholism among Westerners at home versus those living abroad.

There’s an old saying: ‘If an Aussie reckons you drink too much, it’s time to admit you’ve got a problem.’  Back home, it will shock you to learn, I knew plenty of hard drinkers.

True story.

In Japan, considering just the foreigners (gaijin), I knew very few moderate drinkers.  My mates would drink at home, then get a couple at the 7-11 to drink on the train, then get another from the Family Mart to drink during the walk from the station to the pub, then get another walker for the way home, then drop off at the local near their house, and then sometimes have another couple once home to help them sleep, and then have a ‘hair of the dog’ the following morning.

On a Thursday.

No one who’s lived in Japan will blink at this story.  It is ubiquitous.  You can drink anywhere over there, but only foreigners choose to congregate outside the 7-11 to have a few quiet ones before heading out for the evening.

The gaijin are not nearly so bad as the farang in Thailand, who in turn are not quite so bad as the barang in Cambodia.  These last are the most drunken, drug-addled, sex-crazed, brain-damaged, violent, criminally-inclined lunatics I have ever come across in my life.  They’re quite a lot of fun to hang out with.

Goddamn those guys drink.  On a day off they’ll arrive at the pub before 10am, drink all day on the very same stool, make less and less sense as the hours roll by, then finally be put in tuk-tuk whose driver will be instructed by the friendly staff how to get the slobbering jellyfish home.  As for the retired ones, instead of doing it two days a week they do it seven days a week.

I get worried looking at those guys – will I end up like that?  I did actually spend a few days in the pub, which I do not normally do, and I wondered if one naturally slips into such a debauched lifestyle if living in such a place, especially if one has too much time on one’s hands.

But then I thought, yeah yeah yeah but nah.  I can’t drink a huge amount or I begin to feel physically ill.  I used to be able to drink more but after an epic night when I first arrived in Tokyo, which ended vomiting in the house of a 50-year-old fat Dutch woman, I can no longer drink that much.  Not due to turning over a new leaf; rather, I seem to have done permanent damage to myself such that I can no longer process alcohol very well.  I’ve had my liver checked and the doctor reckoned it was fine, but he was Japanese so I’m probably about to die and this will be my last post.

I enjoyed those liquid days in Phnom Penh, but after a while I got bored, wanted to go out and see things, and I wanted to get some work done.  An occasional bender is fine but it’s not a permanent lifestyle that suits me.

Obviously these guys have moved to those countries for reasons.  The gaijin found that they could drink anywhere and that there were cute girls, so they stayed.  The barang found the same and also discovered that the place was very cheap, especially the beer, so they also stayed.  The greater part of them cannot go home because they would be incapable of functioning in a Western society.  And that might be true of me, too, but for different reasons.

So no, I don’t think I’ll become an alcho expat.  Not full-time, anyway.  We’ll see.


  1. SnapperTrx · March 3, 2020

    I think after particularly bad vomiting episodes your brain rewires itself to avoid those situations. True story: Back in his high school days my dad was a pretty good football player, one of the best in his city. He tells me the story of a particularly good win and the subsequent party at whatever pizza place they went to, where the patron announced that the players were welcomed to all the root beer floats they could ask for. In the end my dad had far too much pizza and far too many root beer floats and ended up keeled over, vomiting profusely by the end of the night. To this day he cannot handle root beer floats. They make him physically wretch, all because of that one night. I’m sure the body has no trouble replacing “root beer floats” with “alcohol”, and that could be why you can’t drink as much.

    As for myself, I don’t drink much, and I’ve actually only recently (in the past few years) taken to enjoying whiskeys and bourbons. Don’t care much for scotch. I don’t see how people can slam stuff like that down one after another for hours, though. At some point it just isn’t enjoyable anymore. I suppose maybe it just becomes a habit. You just mindlessly drink and don’t notice the taste or lack thereof, you just…drink. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 4, 2020

      There’s a type of ramen called tantanmen that I can no longer eat. It was the last thing I had before being struck with an extreme bout of noro virus, and I will never forget how it looked when I vomited so hard it hit the wall behind the toilet.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Gunner Q · March 4, 2020

      That rewiring happened to me, too. I had pizza for dinner one night without realizing that my upset stomach wasn’t hunger, it was the flu going around. After twelve hours blowing chunks out both ends, it was over a month before I could eat pizza again.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gunner Q · March 4, 2020

    “I can no longer process alcohol very well. I’ve had my liver checked and the doctor reckoned it was fine, but he was Japanese so I’m probably about to die and this will be my last post.”

    You will be missed. *raises a beer in salute.*

    Liked by 2 people

  3. luisman · March 4, 2020

    I remember the first time we met and went out, I asked you “You’re not a drinker, are you?”. When you drink the last sip of a .3L bottle, it’s as warm as soup in the climate here 😛 Anyway, it’s not an achievement being able to drink copious amounts of alcohol. I have met too many white people with a yellow tint here in Asia, which are not around any more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 4, 2020

      I drink less than any man I know, excepting teetotalers. I probably average two beers a month. But I do enjoy those two beers. I just get a little sleepy afterwards.


  4. dickycone · March 4, 2020

    Can confirm that Americans in the FSU are like this too. The organization I worked for in Russia and Ukraine got asked to never come back by every hotel we stayed in for a conference. Projectile vomiting, property damage, lots of indiscreet sex, and so on. It was pretty much Sodom and Gormorah. Maybe it’s an Anglo-Saxon thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 4, 2020

      I think so. The alcho gaijin/farang are almost always Anglos or Celts. Also Russians and Finns, but they are the same at home. Sometimes Germans, but usually the Continentals (wogs) are not so bad.
      The Japanese and Koreans drink too much, but usually because they have to for work functions. They don’t tend to go crazy when they are overseas.
      I’ve written about the Muslims elsewhere. No one, but no one, drinks like the Saudis.


  5. Pingback: The one weird reason Thursday finance posts are going to disappear | SovietMen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s