Bar fines is an issue that is sure to evoke a little passion, especially among regulars. On the other hand, newcomers find bar fines confusing, even if after a couple of nights they will become expert: in avoiding them! Of course just to add to the confusion, bar fines operate differently in different places.
In Thailand the usual rule is the bar fine simply buys the girl out of the bar for that evening. By 'out of the bar' I mean working at the bar. Any other activity other than social chit chat is not included. And bearing in mind that prostitution is illegal in Thailand, a bit of the 'other' really can not be included. But in the Philippines, for instance, the bar fine, in most places, most definitely does include a great deal more than a few social niceties.
But of course 'paying bar' is considered by most of those paying, and indeed most of those being paid for, as an agreement to perform a little horizontal folk dancing, or something similar. So, you may ask, where is the issue that evokes the passion?
The answer is simple. It is the paying of the bar fine. And many, in effect all of us, at some time have tried to, and in many cases succeeded in avoiding paying the bar fine. We simply resent giving the bar owner money.
Bar owners will come up with a raft of reasons as to why we should pay the bar. The main reason, and a not an unreasonable argument is that staff cost money. And gogo dancers are beginning to cost serious money. Dancers in Bangkok are now paid between 6 and 10K per month, and some showgirls get a lot more. So a stage full of pretty girls wobbling their assets does not come cheap. Of course a few Lady drinks, which cost very little and sell for a lot, will help. Nonetheless what with rent and other staff overheads the bar fines are what pays the bills and without them gogo would be a sad event as in Europe, with a couple of bored girls shuffling around a worn out pole. Or have a 500 Baht entrance charge. However, the reason I got onto this subject was not to defend the gogo owners, most are quite capable of doing that themselves, but to protect you.
There is little doubt that 1am closing almost certainly linked to the mobile phone has seen the number of freelancers multiply beyond all expectations. Just to get your head round the number of girls now trawling the streets after the gogos, close think of the Nana Hotel car park and think of it full - with girls and of course needless to say, a few modified boys. Maybe! Not quite? But when you add in Sukhumvit Road's mass of shebeens and noodle stalls that appear every night and their attendants, I reckon that car park would be full, even if you removed the cars. The result is many leave the doubtful comforts, and comforters, of the official bars and head to the streets.
As they say, one thing leads to another and reading web boards as well as talking to people it is clear that crime against punters in the streets is up. I am not talking about pick pockets and muggings, which is certainly not on the wane, but about theft from bedrooms. The most dangerous trend is the use of date rape drugs to anesthetize luckless punters. A friend of mine who should have know better was robbed of far more than he should have been carrying. His story is typical. He met a couple of girls in the Nana Bar and that is about the last he remembers until he woke up the following afternoon. There are enough stories of people apparently using ATM cards and knowing nothing about it, to believe that this does happen under the effect of certain drugs. I know at one stage this was a real problem in Moscow and there they tended to clean out whole apartments. More than one person woke up, with very little on, asleep on a bare floor in an empty apartment. Another danger was overdosing. The effects to a simple, or na´ve mind, would be the same as a heart attack!
A couple of stories I have heard recently in this town. One guy woke up, undrugged because he had just dozed off, as one does, only to find his wallet sitting on the side with his SIM card on top. Needless to say the wallet was empty of all cash but credit cards were left and, of course, his mobile was missing but the girl had removed the useless (to her) sim card. A thinking thief! In the end the victim had no reason to report the crime, which he would have had to if credit cards and or the SIM card was missing.
Another person woke up to see his suitcase disappearing out of the door. He pulled on some clothes and chased the girl down the road and caught her. He grabbed his case and then felt pain in his side. She had stabbed him although not too seriously and he got most of his stuff back. But, of course, it could have been very serious.
There are a couple of points here. One is that if you stay in a decent hotel they will ask for the girls ID card. Many guys try and get in without the girl having to show ID. If you do not know the girl too well, there are several very good reasons to get the ID checked, one to discourage theft and the other to make certain she is of age. If I do not know a girl I always ask if she has her ID card and make it clear she will need to produce it to the hotel. If she either says she has lost it, or left it behind, you have to ask yourself why?
And of course the other protection is paying that dreaded bar fine. I am not saying a girl who has been bar fined will not steal, but it is certainly less likely. And if she does a quick visit to the bar the next night, it can bring swift retribution. Certainly in all well run bars it will. I know of a girl who rather stupidly stole from a very drunk punter. The punter found out which bar he had been left in and the hotel management got involved with the police. The girl was identified by the bar management, her room was searched and the proceeds of her crime found. I was told she had a three year holiday, at Thailand's expense to reflect on that crime. But that is most definitely the exception that proves the rule.
On a final note meeting a girl outside the bar, after work, is no guarantee. More girls than most of us realise have a mangda (Thai boyfriend or read pimp). They will pressure girls into all kinds of activities and once you are outside the protection of the bar they will think you are fair game. Not to mention the fact the girl will know you have saved the bar fine, and almost certainly expect some or all of what you have saved.
So the moral of this story is that saving a bar fine can be very expensive.
And just to back my piece up this appeared yesterday:
Thai Tourists Warned Of Sedative-Spitting Transvestites
BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thai police are warning tourists of a new scam. Members of a Thai transvestite gang have confessed to hiding strong sedatives in their mouths and spitting them down the throats of victims during deep kissing. Then they rob the drugged tourists.
The confession came from three attractive transvestites arrested in Bangkok last week. Police say they'd robbed a Bangladeshi businessman of more than $7,300 in cash and valuables.
Police say the victim told investigators he met the transvestites in a bar and invited them all back to his apartment.
After kissing one, he said he felt dizzy and passed out. When he woke up, his cash, watch, mobile phone and notebook computer were gone.
A police lieutenant colonel has this warning for tourists: "Don't rush to kiss a stranger on the mouth or you will end up in a deep sleep."