NOT the 'Street Of Joy', Soi Cowboy remains in lock-down desolation after an evening summer shower,.
As we 'go to press', the Coronavirus continues to dictate - dictate the Bangkok Night Entertainment Scene, dictate our personal lives and livelihoods, dictate the Global economy, dictate the movement of human populations and dictate the actions of Governments around the globe. Such is a 'pandemic'. And this is something 'brand-new' to most of us - there is scarcely anyone alive today who remembers Planet Earth's last real global pandemic. Nevertheless, since our last month's issue, we have seen that this Novel Coronavirus is not omnipotent. There is light at the end of the tunnel - the Coronavirus is beginning, ever so slightly, to ebb...
Coronavirus In Thailand A LOOK AT THE RELEVANT CHARTS
A quick glance at the current charts will show that Coronavirus is on the wane in Thailand.
All charts sourced at www.worldometers.info from W.H.O. data.
Last month we made the observation that the Coronavirus was highly contagious but not very deadly. What we are now finding -through ever-greater testing- is that it is even more contagious than first postulated. This is due to the very significant number of persons who have tested positive for Coronavirus antibodies, but who didn't present with symptoms - which, of course, thereby boosts the stats on total number of infected. Statisticians then did a quick retake - extrapolating to obtain new 'adjusted' totals, and then recalculating a new, much-reduced percentage of infected who have died. The Media were quick to push these new-found stats as proof that the virus was not as deadly as we thought, and that we are actually better off than originally imagined - 'Just look at the numbers,'.... Well, OK... Nope, there are still just as many dead people as there were before, therefore it is exactly as deadly as it was before the statisticians got hold of the numbers. To say the same thing another way, its still the same 'too many dead people', the only thing that changed is we found out it was more contagious than we thought. This statistical manipulation is, we guarantee, not going to soothe mourning families.
Hey, wait a minute....
It appears, nevertheless, that the Coronavirus is in fact on the ebb in Thailand, and the recent statistics show it is ebbing more quickly here than in many other parts of the globe. However having said that, it is less apparent WHY - Thailand has been, from the start, in a state of "Partial Lockdown", (not full lockdown as found in the USA) - all of Thailand's essential services have remained open, persons are able to venture outside to go jogging in most areas, and go to restaurants (ordering food to take out). We, Thailand, have exercised social distancing, the near universal wearing of masks, self-isolation whenever reasonable and possible, almost universal testing of body temperature, and required use of sanitizing gel when entering commercial and government establishments, as well as increased personal hygiene and area cleanliness around homes and businesses. Our wet markets are clean and thriving, as are the curbside food stalls. In spite of remaining 'semi-open', and not being the most rigorous of 'lockdown nations', all appearances are that Thailand has 'turned the corner' and is headed steadily toward a full reopening. MIDNITE HOUR has reproduced charts from www.worldometers.info regarding the numbers of new cases, active cases and daily deaths which show very encouraging trends.
There is a great deal of conjecture as to the reason(s) the Coronavirus in Thailand has receded as quickly as it has. -Some of which is scientifically supportable... (There are also a number of pseudo-scientific reasons floating around, however we won't be covering them in this article.) Below are the most rational actions taken to date to control the pandemic - in no particular order of efficacy :
* - 'Social Distancing'. - Maintaining a distance of 1 - 2 meters prevents the passing of the virus through direct contact with another human.
* - Hygiene. - Personal and Area - The removal of the Coronavirus from the skin by washing (thereby preventing it from entering the mouth, nose, or perhaps the eye, from touching), and the cleaning of hard surfaces within the home and workplace that could harbor Coronavirus for a number of hours or days before dying off. Refraining from touching surfaces while away from home : door handles, elevator buttons, escalator handrails, etc.
* - Wearing of masks. The prevention of projecting virus-laden moisture and/ or droplets of saliva in the breath onto another individual or surface.
* - Time & Herd Immunity. - The longer the Coronavirus is around, the greater the amount of 'herd immunity'. It is now known that there is a much larger than expected number of persons who have been exposed to the virus, and who, without exhibiting symptoms, have developed antibodies (and thus a measure of immunity). There is currently no accurate way by which to gauge how much of the population (by %) has developed antibodies, or how much any resultant herd immunity has contributed to the current level of amelioration of Coronavirus in Thailand. Accurate data on this can only be obtained after extended testing and evaluation - and this will take considerable time.
* - Increased medical care. - to include improved medical procedures and the use of off-the-shelf chemical medicines, such as hydroxychloroquine sulfate. Preliminary testing of this, and other medicines has shown at least some positive results in reducing the effects of, and the prevention of Coronavirus. While very encouraging, testing needs to continue.
* - Herbal Medicines. Local ya samunphrai such as Faa-thalai-jone, ginger, garlic. Much is claimed on the efficacy of these and other herbals, however there are no scientific data available demonstrating their value in treating Coronavirus.
Based on promising positive trends reflecting a diminished Coronavirus infestation (see graphs above), the authorities have advised that starting 3 May 2020 we will see the phase-in of 'easing' of the restrictions of the Emergency Decree on Public Administration in Emergency Situations B.E. 2548 (2005) - as implemented by the Prime Minister on 26 March 2020 (and incrementally expanded to include the 22:00-04:00 hrs curfew and a one month extension of some provisions of the lock-down). Much of the advisory information comes from valid sources, and much comes from 'usually reliable sources'. To the best of our knowledge, as at this date 01 May 2020, the following guidance has been provided from official sources through the newspapers to the Thai public :
It should be noted that the Government will continue to monitor the Coronavirus pandemic, and should there be an observed resurgence of the virus, the stricter controls previously implemented will be reinstated. In summation, barring substantial improvement in the Coronavirus data, it does not appear that Thailand's Night Entertainment Scene will be reopening before June 2020.
Selective Fear & Loathing (DEATH - IT'S ALMOST NATURAL)
This graphic excerpt may be copyrighted
Below are the stats on some of our planet's major ways to die. With the Coronavirus upon us, we find ourselves frequently paying lip service to how terrible even one death is, how hard it is on the surviving family members, etc. But then, we don't hesitate to turn a blind eye to a number of other even more deadly 'plagues' that currently curse mankind. We never give a second thought to any of the below ongoing scourges that continue to decimate the human population...
Disease burden: According to the latest World malaria report, released in December 2019, there were 228 million cases of malaria in 2018 compared to 231 million cases in 2017. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 405,000 in 2018, compared with 416,000 deaths in 2017.
AIDS-related Deaths In 2018 (the last year for global reporting) : around 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide.
THE ANNUAL FLU
Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the annual mortality burden of influenza to be 250,000 to 500,000 all-cause deaths globally; however, a 2017 study indicated a substantially higher mortality burden, at 290,000 - 650,000 influenza-associated deaths from respiratory causes alone. Further, another 2019 study of additional deaths which were directly caused by influenza estimated that 99,000 - 200,000 deaths were caused from lower respiratory tract infections alone.
Globally, around 1.3 million auto deaths per year have been estimated by the WHO, with the latest reports amounting to 1.35 million.
US suicide rates --In 2018, there were 48,344 recorded suicides, up from 42,773 in 2014, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
DRUG OVERDOSE (US)
In 2018, 67,367 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States.
(Complete stats year 2019 unavailable : use year 2018. All sources: Internet)
Ahhh, I see you've now got a Bogeyvirus booze ban in Bangkok. In the old days you may have been hiring an old van and doing a smuggling run from one of the border states - bringing in moonshine, and making a bloody fortune!
Ban probably won't affect you too much... Here, there's been a bit of a rush on booze (Victorian lockdown laws more draconian than other states). Me, not a huge drinker either, but do like my two generous wines of an evening, one whilst cooking supper, one whilst eating it.
Stay clear of geezers wot sneezes!
Yes, first they put in place a curfew from 22:00 - 04:00 hrs, which 99.9 percent of everyone gave not a shite about one way or another - as nothing was open anyway. Their only purpose was to stop the all-night 'block parties' deep in the back-sois and the all-night khao-tom shops-on-wheels. This of course didn't work, because the authorities had no way to adequately police the curfew, and the khao-tom stands just moved into the sois. (Those few of Bangkok's Finest out on the beat caught a few after-hours passenger vehicles, and motorcycles that couldn't outrun them, and tried to play it up big in the Press as 'breaking news'.)
Subsequent to that time, the Authorities cut off booze sales for 11 days -10th - 20th inclusive- (and then extended it to the end of April). But they were mooting that anyway - to try to keep down the DWI manslaughter figures over the long (big city+upcountry) Songkran holidays. (They then cancelled -postponed- Songkran.) But 'I'm all right, Jack', I've got brandy and limoncino to sip on of an evening. The rest of the alkies ran out the day before and did a 'toiletpaper-style-raid' on the liquor stores, so they also are 'all right, Jack'. Then there are the hard core who know where the LOB's are... (Lights Out Bars). Somewhat risky, in that if you are caught you will have to empty your wallet on the spot to the Men-In-Too-Tight-Uniforms. (A late note: as we do our late edit, we hear that in a couple of days (3 May) we will once again be able to buy the grog. We hear that it will not be allowed to serve in restaurants, however...)
READER : Hello:
I find it absolutely hilarious that your “nightlife” newsletter was by far the best piece of reporting on this corona virus associated with Thailand than any other news agency! Keep it up!
Kind words, indeed. Normally the website preparation takes 4 days a month. This time it took 21 days - among the most critical was getting reliable translations for the pivotal Thai documents and to assimilate what the legitimate epidemiologists were saying. Bangkok Eyestries to stick to the 'historical', and someday, hopefully, we will be able to look back dispassionately on these unique times. As I had to get out into the (virtual) trenches to take the photos, I -at least potentially- exposed myself to a number of questionable places, people and surfaces. On completion of the photo sessions, I went on a self-imposed home-hibernation, and have since returned to what's left of 'normal' life.
READER : Hello:
The Eyes on BKK is quite interesting, and you really are putting your life on the line for its timely publication ! Stay alert and keep your guard up !!
Thanks your timely comments. However I wouldn't want to go overboard on "how I put my life on the line". All things considered, the decision to go out into potentially contaminated areas to photograph The Scene in shut-down and to visit the few "Lights Out Bars" was/ is just another of life's endless 'risk assessments'. We went out with masks, exercising social distancing - basically, don't touch things, don't get near others...
READER : Hi,
Great edition. Must read for expats!
Wow, very comprehensive reporting on the situation, congratulations! The photos gave me a really good feel for the desolation of the Night Entertainment Areas.
Flights to Thailand from USA cheap, no bar fines, girls negotiating, hotel rooms cheap and the dollar against the Baht almost all time high. Two problems. NO money and border closed. Bummer.
Bar Manager par-excellence Departs Bangkok After 20-Plus Years
'Dave The Rave'
READER : Dear Friends,
This email goes out to my good friends so YES it is meant for YOU. I fly back to England on Monday, April 20th to begin the next chapter in my life. Thank you for being a good friend over the years. It is time for this old rock star to exit the stage!
Love & Best Wishes,
MIDNITE HOUR:Hi Dave,
Hang in there Buddy. A friend I knew in Viet Nam in the '60's used to say, "You never know what's twitching around the next corner,". Who knows...., when this C-virus stops disrupting our lives, you may decide to get back home to Bangkok...
My first Bangkok eye-opener was in 1976 when I went there on a backpacker holiday. I recall visiting a very wild Grace Hotel coffee shop - everyone called it the chicken farm. In all my reading and digging on your site or the other blogs, I find quite a bit about the 1960's scene at the Nana Hotel coffee shop, and of course the Thermae. But I can't find any info on the Grace Hotel in the '60's era. So what say you?
While the Nana Hotel and the Grace Hotel are of the same approximate vintage, the evolution of each of their coffee shops into freelancer havens was quite different. By the mid 60's the Nana Hotel had already become a 'chicken farm', primarily due to the G. I. foot traffic into, and out of Soi 4 - on their way the Rajah R&R hotel located just a hundred meters down. It would be a few years before the Grace Hotel's entertainment facilities evolved into a 24/7 freelancer destination. But that isn't to say that in the 60's it had zero entertainment possibilities. The above advertisement for the Rose (restaurant, bar, cafe) regularly appeared in the local Press in '66 and '67.
A friend put me onto this. He says that the countries that customarily take their shoes off before going inside have a much lower rate of Coronavirus infection. He says the Western countries are just 'tracking it in'. This doesn't sound entirely logical, have you heard anything from anybody else on this?
Ha! We have seen one incidence of this being implied on a very reliable YouTube channel. However, even though there is some apparent correlation between 'shoes-off' and less Coronavirus infestation, a lot of unambiguous verification would be needed prior to stating there was legitimate correlation / causation. It is more likely there is more than one reason some countries have a substantially lower rate of the C-virus. That being said, what could it hurt? As there is no downside, take off your shoes....
As Bangkok enters its 2nd month of Night Entertainment shut-down due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, we note there are some encouraging statistical data which indicate the Government containment measures are successful in bringing the virus under control. However, even should ongoing containment efforts further suppress the contagion, it will be a long time before the 'good news' translates to a reopening of Bangkok's Night Entertainment Scene. As noted last month, due to the financial strains imposed by the shut-down, the longer the Coronavirus remains a disruptive force in Thailand, the greater will be the number of Night Entertainment Venues that will disappear. We face the increasing prospect of a vastly different world of entertainment when things return to "normal". While we at MIDNITE HOUR have already noted some negative signs in the Night Entertainment landscape, we will continue to give the benefit of the doubt to all Nitespots that were open immediately prior to the shutdown - we will consider these Night Entertainment Areas and Nitespots "Closed Temporarily" - until status is otherwise known. This month, we will continue to document the various Night Entertainment Areas / Nightspots currently affected by the Coronavirus close-down in Bangkok.
Except for a solitary 7-Eleven, the entire length of Patpong 1 sits in silence... Although I will say, it pleases us to note we do not have to gaze upon that wretched 'tent city' night market of fake-brand goods which normally chokes the street each evening...
Patpong 2's "The Ramp" (upstairs) and "The Island" below (and all the bars within) - remain in limbo for approximately another month, while the step-by-step 'easing' is implemented....
After a number of starts and stops, Glamour finally got its feet on the ground. A pleasing atmosphere and staff - a pleasant place to visit. With the lock-down now having been extended, it remains to be seen if it will return to its previous entertaining ways. For that matter, it remains to be seen if it will return at all...
A photo of the slightly obscured Nana Plaza in lock-down taken from Strikers Sports Pub. Strikers was, up until that time, open as a 'speak-easy' (lights out), but closed almost immediately afterward when the Nana Hotel closed down. Yes, you heard that right....
G's Bangkok in normal times also functioning as an 'oasis' - is in fact a 'restaurant'. -And therefore permitted to remain open during the current lock-down (but only for take-away orders, as per the emergency decree).
Progress on the Wine Connection has slowed, but not entirely ceased. Depending on 'the easing' of the Emergency Decree, will we see it opened next month? Or July? Located in the front of the Ambassador Hotel.
Subsoi Pan Pan (off of Soi Dead Artists - Soi 33), a predominantly 'Japanese' cul-de-sac, now stands idle, day and night....
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
What was the Check Inn 99 became the Christie's/Napoleon. However the Christie's/Napoleon fell flat on their face, and put the premises up for lease. This month, it looks like they have a taker: KTC Entertainment is furiously renovating - in spite of the lock-down. What they will name the new venue is anybody's guess....
The Tarntip Massage, lights on, is not actually open. Which is more than we can say for three specialty massages deeper into Soi Eden, where one might find a 'masseuse' or two lurking in the shadows....
* The Boomerang & Sawasdee - RELOCATE
(Switch places, Boomerang now at side fence, Sawasdee now at front.)
* The Oasis - NEW at the front.
* The Sakura - CLOSED - at front.
* The Asoke Beer House - NEW - (Replace Blue Bird - CLOSED) - at front.
(Total Nitespots that month: 15 )
* The Angel-Witch Rock Dancers opened newly in the Agogo 2000 digs (CLOSED). (Original Angel-Witch at the top of escalator, they would move later to present digs. Likely no one other than Dave will remember this...)
* The Fantasia closed that month, while renovations proceeded within. The Diamonds Bangkok are currently occupying that location today.
(Total Nitespots that month: 41 )
Soi Katoey ( Silom Soi 4 )
*The 2nd level Space Pub closed its doors. It was located just before, and next door to Telephone Pub. No separate Nitespot occupies that space today.
(Total Nitespots that month: 15 )
Soi Dead Artists ( Sukhumvit Soi 33 )
* In the Peep In Park (Now the S 33 Compact Hotel) were the following new openings:
- Peep Inn ('S.T. Hotel') - NEW - Downstairs
- (An unnamed Club) - NEW - Downstairs
- Wine Gallery - NEW - 2nd level.
- Blue Sky Club - NEW - 2nd level.
- 'Entertainment Club' - REOPEN - 2nd level.
*'33 Center' - REOPEN.
(Total Nitespots that month: 24 )
Buckskin Joe Village (~ December 1988 to 9 June 2006)
(Also called Tobacco Road, Soi Rot Fai, 'The Tracks' , Machim [Thai] & Soi Zero)
* The U & I Beer Bar closed.
(Total Nitespots that month: 18 )
Washington Square (~ April 1999 to April 2014)
* ( No changes that month / year. )
(Total Nitespots that month: 16 )
(Originally ''Entertainment Plaza'')
[ ~February 1999to June 2003 ]
*Love Scene Bar & Restaurant - NEW - Outside against outer wall.
*(A Boxing Ring) - CLOSED - REMOVED - On the 'Island'.
*Wind Mill - CLOSED - Outside, against main building.
*Maya - CLOSED - Outside, against outer wall.
(Total Nitespots that month: 23 )
''13 Night Market'' Entertainment Area"
(Originally 'Old Thermae Compound')
[ April 2000 - March 2005 ]
On January 26, 2020, nine people perished in a single-aircraft accident. John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah and Payton Chester, Ara Zobayan, Christina Mauser, and Kobe and Gianna Bryant died when their Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed just before 10 a.m. in Calabasas, Los Angeles County.
The decimation of three families, the pilot and one other passenger was a tragedy making national headlines in the USA for several days. Kobe Bryant, famed basketball player, was the most well-known in the group. Headlines were mostly focused on him and his family.
Kobe's death, in addition to generating dozens of side 'stories' of pilot negligence, etc, motivated an entire phalanx of graffiti artists - all paying their individual, highly individualized tribute to a Los Angeles celebrity role model.
...But wait..., was Kobe Bryant a celebrity or a role model, or both? 'Celebrities' on the one hand, generally can have a global following of millions, groupies, gossip-hounds, paparazzi, swooning old ladies, the gamut. All totally fascinated with every aspect of the celebs' personal and public lives - who are they dating or divorcing? Are they gay? What socially-responsible crusades do they support? What did they say lately to whom? What are they 'going through'? (Thus, this has been labeled, justly so, "Celebrity Worship".)
On the other hand, a role model would not necessarily be a 'name' known the world over, and would be exemplary in a specific field (like basketball or baseball). As a role model, he, or she, would be (for example) an inspiration to a legion of youthful imitators and wannabes. Kobe was most definitely a role model of this genre. But as he became so well-known, at least in Southern California, he had also, by definition, become a celebrity - at least, to a certain degree.
So it is quite understandable that the aforementioned phalanx of graffiti artists (not usually interested participating in sports) took up the spraycan in Kobe's memory. However, we do note, as in the past, that works of 'street art' such as these are not 'graffiti' in the true sense, as graffiti is 'unauthorized markings on others' property' (and these works could not possibly have been quickly thrown up in the dark of night, when the owners of the structures were nowhere to be found). It is, however, appropriate to call them 'murals'. It is regrettable that these murals -consisting of spraypaint on the exterior of various buildings- will not last long enough to become L.A. 'landmarks'.
Photos (excerpted herein) are Copyright: The New York Times, Photographer: Ryan Young
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered, under current legal precedents and prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of excerpts of any original artwork and excerpts of photographs resides exclusively with the creators.
The Walrus Says
7 ft high x 7 ft (all)
8 ft high x 11 ft
8 ft high x 16 ft
6 ft high x 7 ft (all)
5 ft high x 9 ft (Include wrap)
Bangkok Eyes is an historically based news outlet, and as such, all graphic excerpts herein are considered,
under current legal precedents and
prevailing interpretations, 'Fair Use' under Copyright Law. Copyright of any original artwork resides exclusively with the artists.
Bangkok's original site !
The MIDNITE HOUR Graffiti Page is prepared by Staff Contributor "Boge" Hartman.
(Boge's photo, above, is not a graffitiper-se, although there are those who have insinuated....