Happy Sunday, reader. Low season is here, weather-wise, but the streets of BKK are smattered with more tourists than we’ve seen in two years. It’s great to have them back, isn’t it? How I missed their loud, inane conversations, lack of cultural understanding (saw a dude screaming at a homeless Thai for the crime of asking for some change), rudeness (asking “How much?” to random women on the skytrain), disregard for the law (stepping into zebra crossings amid fast-moving traffic, not wearing a mask in public), unfounded piety (a gaggle of fat white chicks hung around Patpong one night last week, shaking their heads in disgust), and all around irritating behavior. But I get it, we need the tourists. They sustain the country. They enable old mongers like me to maintain my lifestyle, so I can’t knock them too much. I’ll just carry on privately reviling them with a seething, loathing hatred.
(Pictured above: the first tourist bus to roll through Silom since January 2020)
One thing’s for sure, the uptick in foot traffic has put smiles on the faces of Patpong’s bar owners, and some of the girls as well. The increased revenue can also be attributed to the monster bar holiday on Thursday better-known as St Patrick’s. Irish pubs around BKK went wild—so wild that this aging Gen-Xer didn’t come near any of them. Actually, that’s not true. I passed by Paddy Field on Patpong Soi 2 en route to the gogos and the place resembled a riot at a lunatic asylum.
Per a suggestion by our friend Jack Nites, The Strip put on a St. Paddy’s party, complete with cans of Guinness for 140 baht and girls in green dresses—granted, they were day-glo green, like something out of a Bananarama music video, but I can’t say they weren’t fetching. I convinced 3 girls to try an Irish Car Bomb (half a Guinness with a dropped-in shot of Bailey’s and whiskey). It didn’t go over well. I had to buy my own bottle of Bailey’s from Foodland and after the carbombs I passed the rest around, causing the whole of Soi 2 South to get hammered in short order. ‘Twas a sloppy night, but a fun night.
There were other highlights during the week. As news trickled out of possibly relaxing Covid restrictions, the party vibe picked up. As of today, though, the girls still aren’t allowed to don bikinis and get on a gogo stage. This from the brain trust that runs the government. Schoolgirl cosplay uniforms give you Covid. Dancing on a stage 6 feet from customers guarantees transmission. And so, the girls have grown accustomed to wearing cocktail dresses instead—with one exception. On Wednesday a gal showed up to Bada Bing in an air hostess costume. She must’ve been returning to work after a 2-year Isaan haitus and didn’t get the memo. But we locals saw it as a good sign. Maybe, slowly, subtlely, the uniforms will creep back into the gogos in the coming months. And as if to confirm this hope, the local gogo gear shop began displaying uniforms in their storefront once again. Things are looking up.
Every night of the week, I bought dinner for the girls at XXX Lounge and The Strip. The somtam lady—Panom—swings by every evening, and if I’m on the Soi the girls know I’ll pick up the bill. Especially for Nan at XXX Lounge, who looks to me like she might have an eating disorder. In an effort to stuff food down her gullet, on Thursday I got her somtam, followed by ice cream, followed by pizza. And of course I couldn’t get away with buying Nan’s food while ignoring the other girls. It was an expensive outing for Seven. Then on Friday I got waylaid by a visiting harem girl and didn’t make it to the Pong. On Saturday, upon my return, I was received by shrieking gogo dancers appalled at my gall (gallpalled for short, copyright BKK7) for not showing up the night before. “Se-VENNNNNN! Last night where you go? I so hungry! I no hab kow!” I don’t know how they’re going to survive my upcoming 3-week holiday in California.
Speaking of eating, XXX Lounge had a “sausage bbq” night on Saturday, grilling up kebabs and brats. I had two with mustard and loved every bite. And I wasn’t the only one. It’s kind of a cool business model. Order up a hot meal, then plop down in an air-conditioned seat flanked by lovely chicks while your meat cooks. It’s a magical match (matchgical for short, copyright BKK7). And since XXX has become my go-to “restaurant” lately, earlier in the week I had some G’s German ordered in–well, technically not German. I had moo dat diow and spring rolls. And on Friday morning I got my usual before-noon dish at Shenanigan’s–the ‘choose your own 7 items’ breakfast (eggs, pseudo-American bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomato, white pudding, and hash browns). Always a winner.
Getting back to gogo uniforms, the bars have started to color coordinate their staff. Walking through Patpong is like being in an Arthur Laurents musical. It’s an Asian “Westside Story,” with gogo crews instead of gangs. On Saturday, the XXX staff wore red and black, while Bada Bing’s beauties—with a few exceptions—donned all-black. For the girls at The Strip, ‘twas a night in white satin. And some girls are just like Sharks and Jets. Once they find a gogo home, they stay for life, while others are less loyal, flitting from bar to bar in search of the biggest payday. These days, though, there’s no such thing as a “big” payday. The bars are in survival mode, trying to get by until the tourists return in full force. It’s something of a stand-off between the redlights and the government, who’d really like to see the naughty nightlife scene get snuffed out. But that’s a losing fight, because men are men and money is money, and the Thai GDP cannot flourish without the RLDs. It’s a fact the morons in power must except.
(Pictured above: Jack Nites’ quick photo grab of the crew from The Strip)
Right now, we’re in a holding pattern, and some bars are hanging on by a thread. Pink Panther—a former juggernaut that got screwed when the gay bars elbowed their way in, cutting off PP from the rest of the straight bars—is languishing in obscurity. We can only hope they hold on and hold out. By all metrics, though, the future’s looking bright–or at least, less-dim.
In other news, the guys at GogoHopping are living up to their name, having started a weekly pub crawl for groups and/or tourists to get a hand-held guide through The Strip, Bada Bing, XXX Lounge, and Black Pagoda. GGH led a cluster of fish-out-of-water punters around Soi 2 on Saturday. From my vantage point at a safe distance away, they appeared to have a blast. There was a shakeup over at Nana involving some cops and gogo dancers who, according to their IDs, should not have been working in a gogo. Heads rolled to make an example of someone for something, I don’t really know the details and prefer it that way. Speaking of underage, a girl on Soi 7 also caused a stir for shaking her booty while being 14. That ain’t right. Bar owners need to be on their best behavior, especially now. We don’t need to give the govt another reason to shut the party down.
Also worth a mention is G’s German on Soi 4 once again. I popped in a couple times to sample more of the new beers on their ever-expanding menu. This time it was a Bavarian brew plus a Thai crafty. Both were utterly fantastic.
And that’s all the monger that’s fit to ponder this week. Until next time, keep your balls shorn, your beer chilled, and cheers to another week above ground in what used to be and will soon be again the best adult playground on Earth: Thailand. I’ll take us out with a few more pics of the girls at XXX Lounge. Peace.