Happy new year, reader. Bangkok Seven here. This is my blog, and today’s offering was supposed to be Part 2 of a weeks-long pig-out session at various upscale buffets around Bangkok to round out the year along with my waistline. But then Covid re-reared its ugly head, and all planned partying was swept off the table like so much broken chinaware. I did manage to reach my goal of 6 fancy do’s. The first 5 appear in last weeks’ blog. Between then and now, I managed to hit one more—a post-Boxing Day brunch at the Royal Orchid Sheraton’s Riverside Grill. It was moderately priced (or so I thought) at 2200b for the buffet, and listed tons of delectable-sounding dishes, among them prawns, oysters, foie gras two ways, butterball turkey, honey-glazed ham, beef wellington, lobster thermidor, and tenderloin rossini.
I was their only customer at 12.00, and soon learned that it wasn’t in fact a buffet. For 2200, I could choose only one starter and one main, “because Covid,” they said. I decided to splurge and order an extra main, so I got prawns to start, missing everything else on that great menu, and finished with lobster and beef wellington. They charged me an extra 1,150 for the latter dish. I paired a glass of chard with the seafood and a cab with the beef—both Chilean—and after the meal had a cigar outside with a glass of port and a lovely view of the river. The prawn and lobster were very good, as was the beef, however I was so stuffed by the end that I couldn’t even finish it. All in, my lunch cost 5096 baht. It was a ridiculous waste of money.
And that’s how my 6-day Bangkok buffet odyssey came to an end—sputtering out like a car out of gas. And not coincidentally, that’s also how the whole of 2020 ended. The recent Covid spikes and “clusters” nationwide caused the government to clamp down on all New Year’s celebrations as well as entertainment venues. Pattaya was the first to lock down, and by January 1st, Bangkok was following suit. Nana and Cowboy both shut on the 30th. Half of Patpong’s gogos closed, but a handful remained open and were the only joints in town where a punter could gogo. As it turned out, most stayed away, either out of ignorance or fear of the virus. Seven, of course, was on the scene every night. And though the girls were in high spirits for the most part, no one could deny what was coming. Each day, fewer and fewer people took to the streets. Each night, fewer dancers showed up for work. Rumors began to swirl that BKK would lock down on the 2nd, and so we collectively made the best of the 1st, though we did so with heavy hearts. I bought whiskey for the girls in the remaining bars—Kiss, Black Pagoda, XXX, and The Strip. Dancing had already been banned, so they sat around in their regular clothes trying mostly in vain to coax in passers by for a nightcap. A couple found their way to the stage, after several glasses of whiskey.
New Year’s Eve was eerily quiet. I think Thais have an irrational fear of the virus. The TV news here has failed to explain to them that, unless you’re very old or have a co-morbidity, your chances of dying from Covid are 0.04%. At any rate, nobody was out in Silom on the 31st. The streets were devoid of mirth, and crowds (obviously). I went to Foodland to get a bottle of wine to pair with my Undercrown red label flying pig cigar—a fat, stubby monster that took surprisingly long to finish and that tasted like smoking a fudge brownie—and noticed large swaths of people buying liquor to take home. Self-imposed lockdown parties were everyone’s agenda, it seemed. New Year’s decorations and party favors were shunned with malice. I flitted back and forth between the 4 open gogos, but spent most of my time in The Strip, where the atmosphere was the most jovial. They held a gift raffle—I got a tea kettle and gave it to one of the girls. I even DJ’d for a while, but at midnight when I went to the toilet a hostess stepped in and changed the tunes to that awful Thai polka music the natives love so well and that most farang despise. And so I buggered off home. It was an anticlimactic end to a year with few high points.
On Saturday, most retail stores were open, as were restaurants, though they were banned from selling booze. 7-11 and supermarkets still could, so try to figure that one out. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Thai government was run by total retards who have no fucking clue what they’re doing.
After holding out longer than Nana, Cowboy, The Kings Group, and the French-owned bars, the last stalwart Patpong gogos shuttered. But that hasn’t put them out of business. Thanks in part to my strong encouragement, some of the girls are following the business model of the bars on Soi 6 and doing livestreams. I spoke to a girl when I was there who said that in just one day doing live streaming, she got 30 drinks bought for her by lonely locked-down lookie-loos from the four corners of the Earth. That’s 10 times the typical amount for a typical girl on a typical day in the bar. And now looking forward, with 2021 shaping up to be as bad or worse, more shutdowns on the way, new strains and propaganda scares in the works, and the hope for an economic rebound seeming less-likely, the prospect of moving the bar online seems to’ve pointed the gogos in the direction they should gogo. The future of the red-light appears to be virtual. More on that in a moment.
Thus, all is not yet lost. There’s silver lining our Covid clouds. While the collective mood of the country seems down in the dumps right now, at least there’s an air of acceptance. I mean, what else is there? Thailand’s not a democracy, after all. Here, folks do what they’re told. There’s no anti-mask rebellion, no screaming fits of rage, no Millennial SJW meltdowns. You have to go to the West to see that. No, here it’s sad stoicism, sprinkled with tiny shavings of hope, like the truffel atop my lobster in 1919 the week before. And so I will do the same. I will look for hope in the nooks and crannies of 2021. I still have my harem, there am I happy. We still have Foodpanda, there am I happy. And very soon, the folks who brought us the Patpong Museum plan to open another sexy social space—only this time, it will be virtual and open to everyone across the globe. It’s called Cyberpong, and if they can pull it off, it’ll be revolutionary. So keep hope alive, everyone, and keep your eyes peeled. There’s fun to be had this year, even if we have to create it ourselves, behind closed doors in front of mobile phone cameras. I’ll keep you posted.