This Lax Limbo

Three weeks after booze came back to Bangkok restaurants, and one week after the dismal announcement by Prayut that bars and red-lights won’t open until January, the monger community carries on in a kind of limbo. I say “kind of” because there’s debauchery to be found in a few select locations around town. Soi Nana has joined Sois 7 and 22 as the pseudo red-light areas born of necessity while the big boys remain closed. But they’re a poor substitute for the real thing. A “lechers’ light” if you will.

I won’t lie, I enjoyed the trip to Soi 7. And an open Hooters and Hillary along with a string of streetwalking freelancers made Nana feel almost nostalgic. But I always come away from those places feeling like a tourist. And I hate tourists. I only really feel at home in Patpong, which makes this moment in time a true purgatory. Patpong currently resembles a set from a film about the life of Jack the Ripper. It’s dark. It’s deserted. It’s dismal. The few oases of activity can be counted on one hand. There’s Shenanigan’s, French Kiss, Madrid, and The XXX Lounge, the latter having opened under its restaurant license, employing their gogo dancers as waitresses. There’s a real dearth of entertainment but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

Last week, I spent most of my free time in Shenanigan’s and XXX, popping over to G’s a couple of times for fried camembert and Belgian beers. They’ve got 3 kinds of Triporteur in their fridge at the moment. Live music is back at Shagz, and along with it, huge crowds—especially on Fridays when the Bangkok Beatles are on the mic. Last Friday, I made the mistake of waiting till 18.00 to leave the house, so upon entering Shagz there wasn’t a free seat in the joint. After a moment of mild panic, I cast my gaze across Surawong and saw that Fork & Cork was open. It looked inviting from the outside, and I was famished. After considering Burger King for a millisecond, I made a beeline for F&C and pulled up a chair at the window. There were only two other customers inside, and I got the feeling they might’ve been the owners. At any rate, I ordered a margarita on the rocks, chicken wings, and what the menu called “shrimp tempura,” avoiding the mains out of fear of a ++ checkbin. Now, my mother told me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, I shouldn’t say anything. But I want to be honest with you, reader, so I’m going to give as honest an account as I can without being a dick about it.

The margarita was great. Oh, and the décor was lovely.

The food, on the other hand, was…not.

The chicken wings appeared with little fanfare—nothing else on the plate but a side of weird red sauce. They were dry. The shrimp looked suspiciously like the frozen microwavable kind. They were tasty, but uninspired. For reference, next to F&C’s wings I’ve posted a photo of Shenanigan’s salt-chili wings, and a tempura dish from my local sushi bar juxtaposed with F&Cs tempura, presented without comment. Margarita plus food plus one San Miguel Light: 730 baht.


Contrast that with Saturday’s bratwurst bbq at The XXX Lounge. Christian—the manager of XXX—manned the grill, cooking up brats with his original sauce, homemade potato salad, and coleslaw. Grand total: 200 baht, and it was delicious. Plus, the place was packed with girls—some newcomers alongside a gaggle of gogo pals who always make me feel right at home. DJ Kofty from Black Pagoda was there, casually spinning Mp3s for a nearly-packed house. It almost felt like old times, and I actually had a good time in Patpong on Saturday—that is, until some old bald fucker barfined the 3 cutest girls (who also happened to be my only friends). At that point, there wasn’t much reason to stick around. I shuffled off with a full stomach and an extra 1,000 baht in my pocket.

On a side note, I can hear some of you saying to yourselves, “The cork in ‘Fork & Cork’ refers to wine. You likely didn’t enjoy your experience there because you failed to partake in half of their business model.” You’re right, but I have a good reason. I grew up in California—a great wine state—and for several years worked for the biggest wine company in the US. I love wine, and consider myself a snob du vin, as it were. Fork & Cork’s wine list reads like a who’s who of who sucks. They’re all bottom shelf labels—wines that retail for around $10 in America—and F&C sell them for between 1,000 and 2,000 baht. And yes, I understand there’s a huge Thai tariff on wine, which makes for a miniscule profit margin in this country. So I’m not blaming them. But I won’t pay $60 for wine that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t go back. As I said, the décor—and by association the atmosphere—in F&C is sublime. Their cocktail menu is extensive, and going by the margarita, should all be quite good. I see the place strictly as a cocktail bar, and a good jumping-off point for an evening out.

And that’s all I have to report for the week’s antics. Oh, except for an article in Asean Now about a possible “early reopening” for bars. No definitive date was given, and the writer sounded somewhat dubious, but it caused a thrill of hope to run from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I think it’s more than a possibility. Judging from the increasing throng of tourists around town—all of whom appear befuddled about the lack of nightlife—it seems logical that the leadership would consider giving them a reason to stay. Also, how magnanimous would Prayut look, rescinding his original Jan 16 date and pulling it back to…well, some earlier day? That’s an ‘evil genius’ level stratagem, like something the Emperor in Star Wars might do. Either way, I’d be pleased as punch, as would you, I’m sure.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got that’s fit to report this week, friends. Until next time, raise a glass—to another week above ground, another X on the calendar, another inch closer to being stageside in a gogo bar. And to Thailand: the greatest country on Earth. Cheers.