The Weirdest Songkran

Hello internet wanderer. My name is Bangkok Seven, and this is my blog.  Last weekend was the 4-day government-mandated replacement for the 2020 Songrkan holiday that got cancelled earlier this year on account of a pandemic that only kills old people. But I digress.

I took the opportunity to 1—get outa BKK for a bit, and 2—see what Pattaya looks like at the mo. Here’s what I found…


Pattaya is a ghost town compared to a year or two years or ten years ago, but it’s not completely deserted. In fact, at the moment there’s a large contingent of Thai tourists who’re taking advantage of the dearth of foreigners to enjoy themselves a little P-town action. It reminded me of a dream I once had that I went to Disneyland and everyone was Thai except me.

The malls are full. Of the hotels that remain open, they seem to be doing just enough business to eke out while Thais geek out on points of interest normally swarmed-over by Chinese and Farang. And for us expats, there are sweet deals to be got in what remains of the red-light districts round town.

Pattaya is the Ft. Lauderdale of Thailand, and what I mean is, there’s not as much mask-wearing as, say BKK. On the streets of Ptown, around 4 in 10 people were maskless.

Walking Street has become cruising street, as long lines of cars now slowly meander from one end to the other, only to swing back around and pass through again. They can do it because foot traffic has decreased to a trickle. Only a handful of gogos are open, among them Fahrenheit, Dollhouse, Dolls (not to be confused with the one on Soi 6, which is closed), Tantra, and Pin-up. Inside the latter, you’d have no idea there’s even a travel ban. With at least 100 girls and not an empty seat in the joint, you could almost fool yourself into thinking it’s 2019. I saw no reduction in the number of girls or customers in Dollhouse, either. It just seemed like business as usual there. The rest of the bars I visited were mostly devoid of customers, but filled to the brim with girls. It looks like all the dancers from the closed gogos have taken temp-pole jobs in the ones whose doors are open. So similar to the RLDs in BKK, there’s a glut of hot, cash-strapped hotties and not enough customers. If you’ve ever wanted to be doted on by six bikini-clad Asian girls with groping hands, Pattaya is the place to make it happen.

There’s been a bit of a reversal of fortune in the two spots known for fornication—a reversal of fornicortune, if you will, copyright BKK7. In recent years, Walking Street’s popularity soared, mostly because of the prevalence of huge groups of Chinese tourists and gawking foreigners gagging for some debauched nightlife, while traffic on Soi 6 had waned. Not so anymore. Today, mid-Covid, The 6 is the new MacDaddy of Ptown—although it’s not saying much—with a kind of party atmosphere that Walking Street can only envy at this point. To me, it looked like a bunch of old expats were there, rediscovering why they moved to Thailand in the first place. The party is mostly hosted by the Nightwish Group, whose beer bars dominate the soi and draw in local punters consistently if not in abundance. Their strategy is a pragmatic one: shut 1/3 of their 20+ bars and stuff the open ones with girls from the closed ones, and shuffle the bars daily so that they’re not all open at once and not always the same bars open. It gives an impression of variety, or at least something other than monotony—a practice that kept my eyes constantly surveying the scene with wide wonder.

Still, I ended up spending much of my time in Baku, since the tunes in there are more farang-friendly, beers are 79b, and it’s a good vantage point for ogling the ladies in the NWG bars across the soi.

The bars on The 6 that cater to Japanese tourists—namely the “karaoke bars”—remain fully staffed and totally devoid of customers. The folks at Slice Pizza continue to turn out excellent pies to fill a beer-soaked gut. Mama’s Italian Kitchen on the corner of the Beach Road is open and serving up comfort food as well as free wifi.

Walking around Pattaya was eerie, as someone who’s used to seeing it teeming with activity. Most businesses remain shut, creating long stretches of no-man’s land between pockets of activity.

And I hate to say this, but if I’m honest I actually love the new scaled-down Ptown. As someone who reviles tourists and loves bar girls, having none of the former and spades of the latter and mostly to myself was an absolute joy. My holiday was 4 days long, and by the 2nd day every single girl on The 6 knew my name and shouted it as I passed. It felt just like being in Patpong, except the girls were younger, new to me, and there were exponentially more of them per square meter. And here’s something I found odd: of the lasses I caroused with, several of them were very…..I guess the word would be ‘kissy.’ In 10+ years in Thailand, I’ve never known the women to be big kissers. Most preferred to nuzzle, sniff, or grasp hands. Even I, a farang prone to kissing whilst living in the West, got out of the habit here. So when half a dozen chickies planted smackers on my lips throughout the trip, I’m not gonna lie, it tripped me out. But the overall casual magnetism of those Soi 6 Nightwish girls was something to behold. I found myself falling in love every 20 yards or so, and showered with attention every time I sat down. I can’t count the number of tits I jiggled or cooters I grabbed—there were just too many. Shout out to the girls at La La Land, Wrath, Ruby Club, Baku, and Where Angels Play. Y’all were lovely as a summer’s day, as The Bard might have said were he there to put pen to paper and do you justice. I myself cannot, for my head is still spinning from all your lusty goodness.

So despite the overall quiet, and the emptiness of the streets, and the many, many closed businesses, I quite enjoyed my time in old Ptown. But it wasn’t all great.

Unlike in Bangkok, where expats seem generally reluctant to frequent the red-light districts, there’s a large contingent of creepy Pattaya locals that prowl The 6 like aging hyenas. They all have a similar look—wrinkled, over-tanned, tattooed, draped in tank tops and basketball shorts, riding bicycles languidly up and down the soi, never going into a bar but stopping every so often to grope whatever girl happens to be closest, who slap them away like they’re pesky children. I will say, it was entertaining to watch.

I stayed at Hotel Selection on the Beach Road for its proximity to Soi 6, and I cannot recommend enough that you go to some other hotel. It’s behind a building that’s behind a McDonald’s, so when they say “sea view” on Agoda, they mean you can see a tiny sliver of water beyond the top of the structure blocking 80% of the sea. Additionally, the internet stopped working after the first day and the staff made no effort to fix it. I had to schlep down to Starbucks twice a day to sip their shitty Americanos and use their crappy wifi.

A quick word about the bus trip. Contrary to what you may have heard, they’re not social distancing on buses. Long before Covid, I routinely bought 2 tickets to ensure I wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone. I didn’t do it at Ekamai because someone told me the bus companies had enacted safety measures by not selling pairs of seats to solo travelers. Not so. The bus was stuffed to the rafters. I got stuck next to some old lady for 3 hours, pandemic be damned. Then, on the way back, I showed up at the Ptown station for the 6:30 bus to BKK and there wasn’t one. Contrary to Google’s assurances, the early buses aren’t running. I had to wait an hour for the first departing bus at 7:30. I’m not sure why this is—perhaps it’s Covid-related. But I don’t want to end on a sour note, so let’s talk about the Mexican buffet lunch at Beefeater.

There was a taco bar, with ground beef and steak fajita fillings, home-made hard shells as well as soft flour tortillas and chips, lettuce, tomatoes onions, sour cream, and red salsa. Mini chimichangas, red rice, and beans rounded out the “Mexican” fare. The rest was more traditional “Tex-Mex” content: mini drumsticks that were smoky-good, BBQ ribs in a sweet tangy sauce, potato skins, Texas chili, beef stroganoff, and mash. Oh, and a small salad bar. I enjoyed all of it, but the highlight for me was the Texas chili. I went back for it 3 times. The only criticism I have is the lack of sauces. These days, folks have differing Mexitastes. I would’ve liked some really hot sauce, something chipotle-like, and maybe a salsa verde. But overall, I give the buffet a big fat thumbs up, and will likely have it again and again.

In summation, bus trip and hotel bad, lack of tourists both good and bad, Soi 6 good, Walking Street not great, and the Beefeater TexMex buffet better than expected. And that rounds out the long weekend in Ptown. I’m actually planning to spend every holiday for the foreseeable future there. Low-key P is fine by me.

I’ll end with a few quick Patpong-related side notes: King’s Castle 2 has shut, for lack of customers, and the girls have all moved down to KingsCastle (not to be confused with King’s Castle 1), the formerly 50% ladyboy bar across from Kiss. They’ve shooed out all the LBs so it’s strictly vajays on display in there now, and some nice ones at that. I won’t go in there though, because when I tried to snap a pic of some girls sitting outside, they all hid their faces. Fuck ‘em then, let someone else do their PR. Speaking of Kiss Bar, it’s open again. Sai, Pai, and Som have shifted from Superstar—which is now closed—to there, along with Mint and a few other familiar asses.

Topless Pool Bar on Soi 2 is undergoing a makeover whilst shut, though it remains to be seen whether it will reopen again as a pool bar or something more LGBTQRS-related, given its location.

Saturday was Christian’s (manager of XXX Lounge) birthday. He hosted a party in the bar that put more butts in the seats than any day since the start of the fake pandemic. The girls were all dressed in white and looking lovely. Christian doled out free shots to folks and provided a buffet as well. Everyone had a great time and felt for a brief moment that this tourist-free nightmare might soon come to an end.

On Friday night I ran into Bangkok Toby who, like me, was making the gogo rounds. He had a statement and a question for me. The statement was that he’d recently been to Nana and Cowboy in addition to Patpong, and in his opinion, out of the 3 red-light districts, at the moment, the hottest girls hands down can be found in Patpong. I concurred. He asked me why that was. I said that Nana and Cowboy are full of girls who are like schools of fish. They go as a group wherever the money is. Not coincidentally, many of the hottest girls I spoke to on on Soi 6 were transplants from Cowboy and Nana. When he asked why the Patpong girls don’t relocate in the same way, I said I thought that they possessed a kind of familial loyalty to the owners and gogos of Patpong in a way that Nana and Cowboy girls don’t. The girls in those latter places are mercenaries. Guns for hire. In Patpong, the girls have more heart, and feel a more meaningful connection to their gogo home and their stage’s landlord.. At least, that’s my take.

Toby’s question for me was, what will it take for the Bangkok gogos to not go under? Given that there are virtually no customers, and given that the gogos are open and fully-stocked with hotties, how will they stay afloat if the tourist ban goes on for another 6 months? My answer was simple: The bars need to enact “survival mode.” Forget making a profit, forget that new sofa or next holiday destination, and plan out a budget where the goal is to break even month-to-month. Drop the price of beer to wholesale plus the cost of rent+electricity bill+staff salaries—and that’s all. Waive barfines and the girls’ drink quotas. Tighten belts and get used to eating Mama noodles for the next 3 months. That’s how the gogos will make it through to the other side of this global hoax. The good news for mongers is, if the current owners do go under, some rich dude who wasn’t affected at all by the pandemic will swoop in in the aftermath and buy them. So the gogos will go-go on. It just remains to be seen whether the current owners are willing to sacrifice their profits now in favor of still being owners a year from now. Let’s watch from stage-side, shall we?