Bangkok Eyes continues to monitor the Coronavirus situation locally and abroad in order to provide our readers with current cautionary data, and to provide realistic expectations as to timeframe(s) for a safe reopening of Thailand'sNight Entertainment Scene. As we went to press' last month, the temporary shut-down of Thailand's Night Entertainment had four more days to run - at which time (4 January) things would return to normal (as we experienced early December). Little did we know this would be just the beginning of the Night Entertainment blackout...
The Ghost-Town that was Patpong 1 Road
No one could have foreseen the extent to which the Coronavirus had spread through the factories in the industrial estates in the adjoining Samut Sakhorn Province. Nor did anyone predict the extent to which the virus would 'leak' to most other provinces in the country. In mid-January, we were given a glimmer of hope that Thailand would be administering vaccine by mid February. As is typical, that was not to be - now the authorities are saying it will be sometime in March- perhaps By the time 4 January rolled around, authorities had extended the Night Enertainment lockdown to, and, now, through the end of January into February.
While we can already see first-hand much of the direct damage to the Entertainment Scene, as evidenced by the number of permanently closed Venues, there is no telling how much of what we knew as 'Bangkok Entertainment' will remain after the virus is under control.
Below is the initial formulation by the authorities on easing of the Covid restrictions by the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority. These same conditions were mimicked by the National Government (based on critical assessments) on 28 January (effective 1 February). The one exception for Bangkok's Entertainment Sector is restaurants will now be able to stay open later, and sell take-out alcoholic beverages. Huh (!?)
Partial Easing Of Restricted Venues / Functions Effective 22 January 2021 - Bangkok Only
Venues / Functions reinstated by Bangkok Metropolitan Authority for Bangkok, as of 22 January 2021
1. Game consoles. Must wear masks.
2. Game Rooms / Internet 'cafes'
3. Elderly Care facilities - with reduced activities.
4. Sports / competition fields - no boxing, horseracing or spectators.
5. Function Rooms / Catered functions. Not over 300 persons without obtaining prior permission from BMA Health & Safety.
6. Amulet sales markets / areas
7. Beauty parlors, inclusive of ear /body piercing.
8. Fitness centers - no personal trainers, no steam/sauna
9. Traditional Thai massage / foot massage / spas - no steam baths
10. Boxing Gyms - practice sessions only, no competitions, spectators
11. Bowling alleys, skating rinks, no spectators
12. Dancing schools
13. Martial arts studios - no competitions, no spectators
Venues / Functions remaining off-limits as per Bangkok Metropolitan Authority for Bangkok, as of 22 January 2021
As stated last month, currently, no reasonable projections can be made as to when the Coronavirus (and the even-more destructive effects of government-induced 'Coronaphobia') will subside to a semblance of normalcy. It is becoming more obvious by the day that the "isolation model" of beating the Coronavirus is not only not working, it is destructive in nature. Should Thailand's return to normalcy, in particular, 'tourism' be delayed much longer, many more Nitespots and hotelswill not be able to survive.
Coronavirus Overview GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS ON DECLINE 01 February 2021
This February Bangkok Eyes continues our ongoing review & analysis of the global figures, to include Thailand - touching on several 'typical' individual countries. For purposes of comparison, this month, as in months past, we are updating data for the same countries previously reported.
In followup from last month, the below "The Case for the Sweden Model" amplifies our comments on Sweden last month. After a year of consistent data, we have selected Sweden as the "Benchmark" due to their no-lockdown posture, their other proven methods to control contagion and their adequate medical care (both quantitative and qualitative), and of course, consistent reporting. It is noted that Sweden's First and Second wave were typical, globally, for timeframe, but strikingly, although the now-diminished 2nd Wave had a greater number of infections, the number of deaths were less than the 1st Wave (area under the curve). Combine this with the early rise and plateauing of medical treatment, there is the strongest argument that the Swedish model is reflecting 'herd immunity'. All this is significant statistically, while also proving our ongoing premise that the Coronaphobia (and it's 'isolation mania)' is worse than the Coronavirus. This becomes most apparent when comparing with Nations more seriously affected by Coronavirus, but insist on continuing with "lockdown" policies.
This February Bangkok Eyes continues our ongoing review & analysis of the global figures - as well as several 'typical' individual countries. For purposes of comparison, this month we continue to update data for the same countries previously reported. Note: 'typical' countries are so selected because of their accurate record-keeping and, not coincidentally, their implementation of internationally recognized precautionary and medical treatment procedures used in containing the Coronavirus. It is immediately apparent from the graphs below that the Coronavirus is far from gone, even as worldwide figures indicate a minor downturn. Going forward, it will be necessary to continue to observe the already-proven protocols for viral containment - social distancing, wearing of masks, personal and area cleanliness. A very real 'expectation' is that if the number of new infections per day in Thailand continues to stay at current levels, we will not see any meaningful easing of lock-downs, local travel restrictions and other restrictive regulations.
As the above upsurges and declines are recent, we have used both 'new case' and 'death' data to best illustrate the actual trending by the most accurate and visually observable means. Bangkok Eyes has reproduced the above information as a public service - this information is readily available to the public on the Internet and through other sources. This information is not to be construed as a prediction, or an estimate, or a projection relating to changes in the prevalence of the Coronavirus, either as to length of time, location or severity.
Charts sourced from www.worldometers.info and W.H.O. data.
*We note the local Thai Night Entertainment Areas are open and doing reasonably well, as, of course, their main source of custom is not foreign tourism. (Examples of local ThaiNitespot Areas: Sri Nakarin South, Soi Thonglor, Soi Udomsuk, Soi Ekamai, RCA.)
Read this afternoon that the "TQ" in Pattaya closed. Then that was confirmed when I read it in Bangkok Eyes. I didn't spend a lot of time in the TQ as that spot was mostly "afternoon & cocktail hours" drinking. I found out early that if I indulged early and late afternoons, there was no night upright. Like Dracula, I did my best work at night...... At one time I was going to move to Thailand and open a bar with a friend named Fred Huff. He's now passed on, but he worked at the TQ as a day manager for a time. He fuc!ed that up as he did almost everything else. We were going to buy a bar on Soi Pattayaland. My idea was to give it a N'Awlins theme. Then work on the rest of the bar owners in the Soi for a yearly Mardi Gras. Fred and I met with Woody a number of times. The deal fell though. I later found out that the guy selling the bar didn't own it. Lucky for me.
We don't know if we were first out last month with the 'news' that the Tahitian Queen (TQ) had closed, but we were the first to have confirmed it with 'The Horse's Mouth' prior to publishing. At the time, there had been been a lot of activity behind the scenes regarding plans to reopen the TQ as soon as a semblance of normalcy returned. This included discussions on the possibility of taking on a non-managing partner(s), and a GoFundMe, which was reportedly doing yeoman's service, at least toward paying the rent - an 'institution' like the TQ couldn't just let wither and die...
We have, just hours ago, been informed by the owners that the GoFundMe was able to raise enough money to get the TQ back up to break-even, and they will be reopening on Friday, 12 February 2102 - Good Lord willin' and the cricks don't rise.
This is just out on his Sunday blog, so you may not yet know. Stickman, your strongest competitor is no longer publishing. Can't blame him, when there is next to nothing to talk about with the bars closed, and no tourists even if the bars were open. Hopefully Bangkok Eyes will continue publishing?
Thanks for writing in, but, we need to read Stickman's latest column carefully - there is a very good chance he will be returning once Thailand is back to 'normal' (whatever that may end up being). Note that his website is staying up online, so there is always a lot of reminiscing of times past to be done until such time as Stickman (hopefully) returns to the 'ether'. We note in passing that Stickman is not a competitor in any sense, our two websites are 'same-same, but different'. The Bangkok Eyes is not commercial in any sense, and our 'Prime Directive' is recording the Nightlife history - whereas the more popular Stickman column covers entertainment in general. Rather, he and I have long been more like 'co-conspirators' - both our sites produce original (rather than 'derivative') material - there is way too little of that these days. As long as the Bangkok Eyes writers remain able-bodied and not thrown out of country PNG, we will continue to blog-on...
Sobhraj (left). Chowdhury, who was last seen in Germany 1976 (right). Photos in Public Domain
You may be interested to learn that the BBC television in the UK have just started to air a series on the remarkable story of Charles Sobraj. Wanted for multiple murders in Thailand, Sobraj used to pick up his victims in the bars of Patpong in the early 70's.
You may recall that Sobraj was arrested in his apartment following a tip off from the Dutch and British Embassies and that passports of people missing were found in his safe. Sobraj was let out on bail and was never seen in Thailand again. The Bangkok Post allegedly made accusations that a bribe had been paid.
I look forward to seeing how close the television drama will be to the facts..
Many thanks for the heads-up. Many of us will remember when Sobhraj stalked the Nightlife Scene in Bangkok and Pattaya in 1975.
However, contrary to what most 'recall' of the "Charles Sobhraj Story", Sobhraj and his partner-in-crime, Ajay Chowdhury were more active in Pattaya than in Bangkok. (At the time, this writer was living in Pattaya.) According to best information from all sources, Sobhraj and Chowdhury were the two actual perpetrators of the murders. Sobhraj, Chowdhury and the rest of the small group of acolytes were headquartered in a Pattaya resort at the time most of their Thailand victims perished.
As far as records are known, their first victim (there may have been others) was Teresa Knowlton, who was lured by Sobhraj to Pattaya from Bangkok - her corpse was found there in Pattaya, burned. Next was Jennie Bollivar, who refused to become part of the cozy little group - she was found floating in the bay, just outside Pattaya in her flowered bikini. Vitali Hakim was next - he was found burned on the roadside near the Sobhraj / Chowdhury 'headquarters'. Dutch students Henk Bintanja and Cornelia Hemker, acting on an earlier Hong Kong invitation to visit Sobhraj, came to Pattaya that same year, and were later found strangled and burned - reportedly after Sobhraj and Chowdhury began to fear they were being found out. The last known death at their hands was that of a Miss Charmayne Carrou, who came to Pattaya to search for her already dead boyfriend, Vitali Hakkim. She was summarily drowned, as was the second victim, in her flowered bikini. It was then that authorities connected all the dots, and the Sobhraj / Chowdhury murders became known as the 'Bikini Murders'.
The series you refer to is The Serpent, an 8-part mini-series on BBC, which commenced on 1 January, and is ongoing. Note: "Serpent" should read, "Serpents", shouldn't it... It is seen, so far, to be a relatively accurate portrayal. Interested parties can Google it.
Your January blog was spot-on - nowt going on in the big bars, they're bleepin' blacked-out! But I, and a couple of mates, roaming the lesser quarter have found a couple doors cracked open, allowing a quiet sup, or three. I guess it would be fair to call them speakeasies, like in the old American gangster films? I think for discretionary purposes I'll hold off on putting names to those not-so-public houses, but jest to let you know, seems there's always a way to get down the pub.
Indeed, accounts such as yours are reaching our ears, and while out on our 'rounds' this month, we stopped by at no less than 6 of those 'speakeasies' of which you speak, obliquely, and we have noted the existence of several others. While there is, in fact, the romantic notion of the old speakeasies, there is a common lament at those sparsely populated Venues - they've got no money for rent, they've got no money to pay the staff - they have to stay open, or they are gone. We are not taking sides here, but the authorities need to understand what works and what doesn't. And one of the things that historically does not work (from our old Viet Nam days) is, "We had to destroy the village in order to save the village."
At the end of December 2020, due to a sudden surge in the Coronavirus 'new cases' in Thailand, the authorities put a freeze on the Nightlife - no bars, pubs, karaokes or specialty massages (or "similar facilities") - along with the lockdown of Samut Sakhorn Province. The 'freeze' was to continue until 4 January. That 'freeze' of Nitespots was not terminated then - instead, it was extended through January, and is currently in effect. To add insult to injury, prospects of a timely reopening of the Entertainment Industry have further deteriorated due to an indeterminate delay in commencing Covid vaccinations.
We note an increasing number of Nitespots going out of business (not just temporary closing-down for Covid). The case (already made elsewhere around the globe) against 'across-the-board isolation' is being re-proven here in Thailand. Reopening - with proper precautions - if not implemented soon, will see a runaway economic disaster in the Entertainment (and related) sphere.
Due to the number of Night Entertainment Venue closures for the month of January, our surveys for the 1 February issue will concentrate on those Nitespots that have reopened - and remain open. All other Venues not specifically mentioned were, and are closed (either permanently or awaiting legal reopening).
Is the below video clip too dark? We had to lighten it up considerably to make it even moderately visible - it is that dark. The only places open were the 7-Eleven, Hanuman Traditional Massage and the Derby King Restaurant - even the Madrid was closed.
The Black Pagoda, once it reopens, will be offering something for the 'regulars' and for the first-time visitors. Gives new meaning to 'A Get-Acquainted-Offer'. Third level, just above the Patpong Museum.
The French Kiss was one of two venues open on Patpong 2 Road. The other was the Le Buchon. Other than that - blackout... Both qualifying as 'restaurants', and both French owned. If it couldn't be ordered in a coffee cup, it couldn't be served.... Ahennh..
"Dark" is not the word... No one should ever have to see Soi Cowboy in such a state - not a single Nitespot open durning January (and this includes Crazy House, around the corner on Soi 23). The only barely visible facility was the Kazy Kozy where staff were eating outside on the soi.
Just outside the entrance to Soi Cowboy, someone brought an umbrella and a table, and borrowed an electric light fixture. It made for a perfect mini-snackbar. Later, someone brough a couple of bottles of beer over, obviously purchased from outside somewhere... Rock it up tonite...
Nana Plaza was shut down in January, lock, stock and bouncer (some of whom milled around out front, wishing they could confront someone). Authorities take note: - without enlightened policies, the entire Tourism industry could end up like this.
The Swan 1 (file photo below) was one of a very few Nitespots to open in January - as a 'restaurant', of course.... The others were 'No Name Bar' bar beer and the Charmming Massage in Subsoi Big Mango, the T-Thai Traditional Massage, and Swan Massage deep in the Soi. The rest of the Soi was shut down tighter than Alcatraz.
Soi Katoey (Silom Soi 4) was the only Night Entertainment Area that had enough Venues open to attract customers. Remaining open were : Banana, the Connection, the Telephone Pub, the Nakarat Massage, and G's Bangkok, and the Pride, also The Balcony, and the Fork & Cork. All others remained closed, either permanently, or attempting to wait out the draught caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Proof, if more were needed, that having a 'restaurant licence' (sometimes referred to as a 'day license') would be a wise consideration for any future business plan......
Good news to see Buddy's Bar & Grill reopening. Except for Wine Depot (just below), all the rest of the Nitespot Venues that reopened in January were massage parlors (and a reported speakeasy or two, if one knew where to look). Welcome back to the vicissitudes...
The Wine Depot was also able to open (as a restaurant) this last January. Welcome back to the endless sleep...
Below are the Massage parlors that were able to reopen in January. (All other Night Entertainment on the Soi was shut down through January by local decree...)
Amidst the darkness, one bright light shone forth.... The Soi 7 Bier Garten (with exterior lights doused) was functioning as usual - nay, way better than it has for over two years - customers, freelancers and beer... Don't ask, we haven't the foggiest...
SOI 7 PLAZA
The most esoterically named After Sammy Bar has not only closed, but they have gone out of business (their stall has been removed - and a Vietnamese Restaurant has replaced it.) Greener grass ladies...
SOI 7 PLAZA
We further note here that an additional six "closed" bars were serving ala'speakeasy'. (Perhaps we will be able to be more specific in a future issue.)
The 666 Class specialty massage, mentioned last month as 'newly opened' have completed their signage installations.... looking good. Yes, they are still open... A pic for the Archives.
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
If and when it opens - the Honey will be taking over the steam-and-cream duties from the previous Love & Service Massage (Mitu BKK). On Sub-soi 4.
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The 33 Society, after spending several million baht on top-to-bottom renovations, opened last September..... for a few days. They would open on occasion after that, apparently for functions. They have been closed all of January, and are now up for sale. Yet another Covid casualty...
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
The upstairs Dozo Massage reopened in January - with some new, brighter signery. Rub-a-dub-dub.
ARTISTS (Sukhumvit 33)
Other Nitespots reopening in January on Soi Dead Artists (Soi 33 Sukhumvit Rd). (Venues not shown herein remain in 'closedown' status indefinitely.)
The Kawinya Massage and the Good Time Massage & Salon (and the unnamed massage next to it) reopened in January. May they continue to slip and slide. All other Venues - not shown here or below, have either closed permanently, or are closed, waiting out the 'lockdown' of Bangkok's Nightlife.
SOI EDEN (Sukhumvit 7 / 1)
The Dalah Massage reopened in January, but "lights out". Perhaps because they are not 'traditional massage'.... Let 'em work it out... gotsta get paid.
* The Boomerang Bar bar beer reopened. It was located along the side fence.
(Total Nitespots that month: 21 )
* On the ground level, Sugar Beat closed for renovations. It was a small bar beer located outside Hollywood Rock. No Nitespot is currently at that location (since the closing of the London Calling).
* On the 3rd level, Beverly Hills closed permanently - its real estate absorbed by the next door Carousel Bar - Hollywood Strip. The Billboard currently occupies that location.
(Total Nitespots that month: 41 )
Soi Katoey ( Silom Soi 4 )
*The Ibiza Bar closed that month. It was located where Welcome Bar now hangs its shingle.
*The Film opened only one month, closed to become the Exposure. It was located where today's 4 Sport is now keeping shop.
*The upstairs Om Trance Club closed that month. That real estate is currently occupied by Hugs Bar-Karaoke.
(Total Nitespots that month: 16 )
Soi Dead Artists ( Sukhumvit Soi 33 )
* The Japanese bar Setsu Getsu opened newly. That entire area has recently been leveled, and is now under redevelopment.
*The Blue Sky Club (Japanese) located on the 2nd level of Peep In Park (now S-33 Compact Hotel) reopened its doors after a one-month closure.
* The Lucky Luciano's, located at the front of Peep In Park opened after a long renovation. No Nitespot currently occupies that property.
* The 33 Center (to include its massage parlor) reopened after a one-month 'holiday'. Currently the Akane Fashion Massage occupies that frontage.
(Total Nitespots that month: 26 )
Buckskin Joe Village (~ December 1988 to 9 June 2006)
(Also called 'Tobacco Road', 'Soi Rot Fai', 'The Tracks', 'Soi Zero' & 'Machim' [Thai] )
* - No changes that month / year.
(Total Nitespots that month: 20 )
Washington Square (~ April 1999 to April 2014)
* The JapaneseOak Club opened newly between The Prince Of Wales P&G and the New Square One Pub.
(Total Nitespots that month: 17 )
(Originally ''Entertainment Plaza'')
[ ~February 1999to June 2003 ]
*A favorite of many, the 2nd level Coco Loco (in the main building) closed its doors for the last time...
*Bouncing back yet again, the Wind Mill (Kangaroo) reopened. They were located outside, against the rear of the main building.
*Suzy & Crazy Bar opened newly in the just-closed Love Scenebar beer. Located outside against outer wall. It would be the first of several 'Suzy' bar beers (serially, at Sukhumvit Square, Asoke Plaza, Sukhumvit 1 Plaza, and Soi Nana (@ Soi 6), none of which remain open today.
(Total Nitespots that month: 21 )
''13 Night Market'' Entertainment Area
(Originally 'Old Thermae Compound')
[ April 2000 - March 2005 ]
Last month, we featured 'Shoreditch', a London district sporting a bustling Nightlife (when not hiding from the virus), and also boasts of a notorious 'graffiti wall'. Our article reached those far shores of London, where amateur-professional photogMr Slee saw our layout - and was prompted to send in a generous sampling of his London graffiti photographs. Obviously in spite of the Covid lockdown, some rather spectacular murals are being thrown up on legal - and other - walls. Follows is a sampling of what might be experienced while cruising 'Slee's London Town'.
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....