The final part of this series explored my drinking in Phra Khanong after the world shut down in 2020. The lockdown allowed me to work remotely. Thus, my drinking patterns shifted, neither third place in Part One nor home holidays in Part Two. On top of that, a new substance—cannabis—came into the mix. It felt like distancing from the neighbourhood during these years. But that didn’t stop me from getting intoxicated there.
2021-2022: Neighbourly Distancing
As the pandemic put the world on hold in 2020, I was grounded in DC, returned to Bangkok on that New Year’s Eve, and checked in the neighbourhood after the quarantine. Since my apartment was rented out, the estate agent got me another room in a large complex next to the ‘hood, which was still within walking distance of the scene. I was curious how the community coped in the past 15 months I was away.
As you know, one of the most affected sectors was the night economy, including pubs. Gladly, many of my regulars survived through 2020: Uncle Jong’s Kitchen, the Rovers, the Last Drop, and Paradiso. Kosmo was temporarily closed but Ped’s was gone (so was the hostel above.) Moreover, I spent time at some new spots: P.J. O’ Brian, an Irish-theme pub that used to be a dive bar across Sukhumvit Road; and a beer garden near On-Nut Station (ceased).
Those pubs were optimised as workstations because of a new remote work arrangement. Even though there was a dedicated desk at the co-working office, I’d like to switch the environment or chill while waiting for a response from colleagues in DC. Besides, they helped decompress the stress from work, both from billable hours for DC and the pet project of 2021—SARANOKCHAN. Working (paid or personal projects) in a pub has been my practice since my time in Sydney. It was emphasised from this period on.
A new habit from DC was also brought to the drinking—weed. At that time, cannabis legalisation was on high tide but still on the way. I shamelessly became a bad influence sharing marijuana with mates either as vaping or edible butter. Making AVB (Already Vaped Buds) butter was a skill I crafted during those months. Some took them and we enjoyed the evening. It went wild sometimes. Others respectfully said no. I learned to be cautious when giving some AVB butter to a first-timer to try. Not everyone has the same level of tolerance.
The Last Drop was my prime spot to perch, drink, work, vape, eat, and socialise. Not in any particular order. This time it was accompanied by the scent of cooking from their open kitchen. Sometimes, they cooked themselves Isan dinner, salivating customers who sat next to them. Eventually, that was our treat too. We could be creative and challenge the young cook, ordering off-menu fusion food. Exquisite! Especially, I was working on a food channel.
However, COVID-19 wasn’t over in 2021. Businesses closed and resumed due to the waves of prevalence. To survive, pubs could not only follow the restrictions and measures such as distance seatings, plastic panels, cleaning alcohol, opening hour reduction, certificates from the authority, testing results, and even curfews. They also had to improvise to cater for us discreetly: beer in personal mugs (they designated one to an individual regular), services at the back, and closed-door entry. It was dicey but somehow I dodged the virus. Some weren’t so lucky.
Toward early 2022, it seemed we approached the other side of the tunnel. However, I took a different path, embarked on a new adventure as a digital nomad, and was absent from Phra Khanong for another 13 months.
Continue on the next page.