A fight on all fronts

The personal and professional impact of the third lockdown

It sucks that we are still in the throes of this pandemic, that people are suffering in all kinds of ways because of it, that incompetence rules the roost when it comes to handling the crisis and it sucks that we are still moaning about it. Though we at Guru have listed things to make lockdown bearable and listed how you could help those in need, it's time to hear from of some the city's professionals on how the state of things has affected their lives.

Anamhrinn "Joone" Daokaew

Co-founder of Affluent Creation PR (@affluentcreation), All Around Trading & Holidays (@allaroundholidays) and All Around Real Estate Thailand (@allaround.realestate)

Prior to the pandemic, Joone worked for her family's travel and PR companies. Then she had to face the reality of tourism shutdown with both business at both companies coming to a complete stop, though she was fortunate to switch to the real estate business with her brother and cousin. But that didn't mean the pandemic left her unaffected.

(Photo courtesy of Anamhrinn Daokaew)

How have you been affected by the third wave?

Our travel and PR agency have been affected not only in this third wave but since the first one hit. Tourism worldwide crashed, followed by the restriction of social distancing that forced all events to be postponed or cancelled. For the real estate business, some of our deals with international investors and clients are delayed as no one wants to spend weeks in quarantine and get numerous tests before and after travelling, but this is understandable. With the unpredictable situation and daily restrictions by the government, it's hard to keep up with all of the new rules. The struggle of doing business now is not only that you have to be ready with Plan A or B but you have to also be ready with more backup plans. The struggle of living life is not being able to go out/dine out, hang out with friends, go to the gym or travel with ease.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

Quality time with my loved ones: my family, friends and partner. I have always enjoyed working and realised that I have been living an unbalanced life and my health had been affected a bit.

What have you been doing for yourself during the lockdown?

I am continuously adhering to my health-fitness routine. I'm getting in touch with all of my good friends, present and former. I'm supporting those who I can support and learning new things for my personal benefit and business, as well as getting rid of toxic things in life and taking care of my mental health.

Has there been any personal positivity?

My self-belief has grown and I've mustered the ability to keep moving forward through all the business challenges. I become more patient, more supportive and understanding of my partner, who lives in Seattle.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

Think about when you're in the middle of the ocean and about to drown. All you have to do is love and believe in yourself, enough to bring all that you've got to get yourself above the water and catch that fresh breath of air. You are only a second away. We will get through this together!

Taeyoung Ahn

Founder of Changwon Express (fb.com/ChangWonExpress), Hangang Ramyun (fb.com/HangangRamyun) and Changwon Food (fb.com/ChangwonFoodTH)

Changwon Express has made a name not just for its signature Korean fried chicken but for also serving up craft beers. Though restaurants have suffered greatly due to the changing rules and restrictions, those serving alcohol have been hit even harder with bars opening for only a month in March.

How have you been affected by the third wave?

(Photo courtesy of Ta eyoung Ahn)

F&B is one of the hardest hit industries. We could ride out the first and second wave but the third one is a whole different animal. Not only are there restrictions on operating restaurants but people also have less money to spend. People tried to support local businesses during the first and second waves but now everyone has to save themselves, first. For us, 60% of revenue comes from customers drinking beer so it's a hard hit. To make it worse, the government made online alcohol delivery illegal last year so bars can't do any delivery. Most bars don't have food menus that can compete with restaurants so for them food delivery doesn't really help. I wonder how many bars will be left after this wave.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

Human interaction. It's pretty depressing not being able to meet friends. I miss sharing a beer with friends.

What would you recommend doing during this pandemic?

Stay sane. It's a depressing time for everyone and it's not gonna be over soon so you need to maintain your mental health to overcome this long-term game.

Has there been any personal positivity?

Absolutely nothing. I've lost two years of my life and faced setbacks in business and in my personal life. Nothing positive from this.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

Hang in there. This is gonna stay for a while.

Enzo Dela Cruz

Formerly chef próprietor of Enzo's BKK and group chef for Broccoli Revolution (fb.com/BroccoliRevolution)

Dela Cruz is a Filipino chef who has worked at a number of different restaurants and was also fortunate enough to open up his own on Langsuan. Due to the pandemic, however, the restaurant has been "temporarily closed" since June.

(Photo courtesy of Enzo Dela cruz)

How have you been affected by the third wave?

The third wave is crazy. When I still had the restaurant on Langsuan, we had to deal with a lot of things like booking cancellations and no shows, high commissions from food delivery companies and staff leaving the restaurant without notice because we had to cut their salaries and other incentives, just to name a few.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

I think number one would be my physical and mental health. And secondly, with the worsening situation right now, spending quality time with loved ones and friends. I didn't think about these things before because I'm always busy.

What would you recommend doing during this pandemic?

It's the time to create, explore, to be thankful and cherish every moment you have. Once the world is busy again, you may not have the time to do what you really want.

Has there been any personal positivity?

Appreciating small things has upgraded my life in a big way. There's a reason to celebrate the small things and be grateful everyday with just a slight shift in perspective.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

Be strong! I know it's not gonna be easy but we will get through this. God bless y'all.

Naraphat Sakarthornsap

Artist (@naraphat_s on IG)

Naraphat features flowers heavily in his art whether it's photography or installations. Take a glance at his IG feed and you'll see a dazzling array of colourful flowers and beautiful arrangements. However, the pandemic made it challenging for him to continue creating.

(Photo courtesy of Naraphat Sakarthornsap)

How have you been affected by the third wave?

In the beginning, my main problem was the use of fresh flowers since I only used them to create artworks. I had to deal with going to Pak Klong Talad, the biggest flower market in Bangkok, where so many Covid-19 cases were found daily. Every time I needed to visit the market, I would be very stressed. Up until the third wave, I found out that the area I'm living in is even riskier than the market itself. What I regret about the situation is the fact that I couldn't adjust my way of creating to the dangerous situation and still have to go out to handpick each flower myself. When everything became a real threat, the only thing I could do is go out to buy the flowers and come back home -- each time praying I didn't catch the virus in the process.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

Learning that when our country is faced with a severe pandemic, we really need to have a leader who can solve the problems wisely. It's sad that we don't have such a leader right now.

What would you recommend doing during this pandemic?

I will ask everyone to just stay home and use food delivery services every day. Everything will go back to normal, for sure. But I'm really sorry that my middle-to-lower-class family can't even afford to live like that. Every single day, I have to go to work with two masks on and spray myself with alcohol sanitiser before entering my home. Forget about ordering delivery food because my latest credit card usage has been so high due to these delivery charges. This is the situation of someone who still has a regular salary. Imagine what life would be like for people who are daily wage employees. Where would they even find enough money to sustain their daily life? To sum up, the most important thing is not for people to 'just be careful'. It's the government's job to provide the vaccines of the best quality for the people, transparently. The vaccines must be equally accessible for all and they mustn't pay any money for it.

Has there been any positivity?

There is no single positive thing about Covid-19.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

I might not be able to comfort anyone but I will relentlessly fight for the most effective vaccines and accessible service points in Bangkok and all other provinces, without any payment. People do not need fancy but empty words of encouragement. We need precise solutions to problems.

Sinsiri "Noomie" Tiwutanond

Co-Founder of The Breakfast & Co, which includes Bitterman, The Meatchop, Phở Bò and Churos Boat Noodles

Noomie is no stranger to the F&B game. She has founded a number of restaurants and knows the highs and lows of running them. So when Covid hit, she had to grapple with lockdowns and unclear regulations. However, she does say the third wave is more challenging.

(Photo courtesy of Sinsiri Tiwutanond)

How have you been affected by the third wave?

It's more difficult this time around, especially at the rate at which new cases are rising. It's apparent that people are being more cautious about their spending, as well. It has been almost two years so you definitely feel the impact especially when you are working in a sector that has received very minimal support during lockdowns. Every time you open back up, you run your expenses, but you've never given enough time to recover especially in an economy where purchasing power has gone down along with a lack of tourism. It's truly exhausting, but you have to just push through. There are days I feel like we are operating just to maintain the livelihood for our team. I worry for them. People should not have to worry about their job security and health.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

Time. Prior to this when everything was going well, you always think you have time. Sometimes you have something in place and within a day you are doing a 180. Can I also say a freely elected democratic government?

What do you think should be done during this pandemic?

Loaded question, considering barely anything has been done, in my opinion. I'm supportive of a lockdown and restrictive measures to help curb the spread of the virus, but it's the lack of details in management and strategies to support these measures from the state that really proves their glaring incompetency and disregard for citizens' well-being and livelihood. It is reactionary at the most surface level. People cannot operate on uncertainty. Besides the support, we need transparency and accountability. I believe this third wave could have been mitigated if an effective health rollout plan was in place since the start of the year. What should be done during this pandemic is a change in leadership.

Has there been any personal positivity?

It feels weird to be talking about a silver lining when the situation has impacted so many lives, but it definitely forced me out of routines and seeing things from a place of comfort and even complacency. It pushed me to become more proactive with the need to do more for our communities. I'm also extremely grateful for all the support we have received. I really do appreciate having more opportunities for daily exchanges with our customers and connecting with people.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

Find clarity through expecting the worst. What I have found to help us move forward is to always plan for the worst ahead of time. Adjustability and flexibility are vital. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you can and reach out to others. I don't think it will do much to say 'keep fighting' because that is what everyone is doing. Find solace in the fact that you have done your best given the situation. You are not alone even though it may feel like that sometimes.

Yota Sampasneethumrong and Jirayu Koo

Photographer/filmmaker and artist, food bloggers (@WeAreKinKin on IG)

There are numerous food blogs you can find on many platforms but very rarely do they drip with the aesthetic and vibes that Kin-Kin does on Instagram. It's not a surprise though since the couple behind it are a photographer/filmmaker and an artist. Yota and Jirayu have found themselves having to adjust in the midst of the pandemic but they actually have a few silver linings despite it all -- including an addition to their family.

(Photo courtesy of Yota Sampasneethumrong & Jirayu Koo)

How have you been affected by the third wave?

Yota: On the photography side, it has impacted me quite severely but not as much as on the filmmaker side because I can still do it on my own. Filmmaking requires a lot of people to get involved in the whole process so nothing has happened in the past two years.

Jirayu: Unlike him, there are a fair amount of projects I've done during Covid, which is surprising. Some of it was limited by the situation but hey, who can complain about that? Probably one of the best years in my career.

Are there things you realise you've taken for granted?

Yota: Before the pandemic, jobs kept coming in. I worked for my clients but now that's changed. I'm trying to plan more about the future.

Jirayu: Not to exaggerate but I really miss the fresh air and breathe freely without a mask, and the freedom to be anywhere we like to be. We've been trying to go to parks quite a lot in these two years and we probably went more than we ever did in the past 10 years.

What would you recommend doing during this pandemic?

Yota: Find your hidden skills. I think it's like an investment. You shouldn't risk it on one profession. Anything can happen these days, you really don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow. But the most important thing, try to stay safe and stay sane.

Jirayu: Trying to keep yourself healthy, both physically and mentally.

Has there been any personal positivity?

We're soon welcoming our first baby! It might not be a perfect time, but on the bright side, we have something nice to look forward to and it makes us happier than ever.

Any words for those struggling in the current situation?

Yota: It's the perfect time to start thinking about yourself, what you really want to do and the future you want.

Jirayu: I share the same sentiment as Yota, though it will be even better if you start working towards it!

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