Stickman Readers' Submissions February 9th, 2008

Assaulted at The Windmill, Pattaya

There has been a great deal of discussion on the gradual but relentless slide of Pattaya into becoming a den of thugs and criminals, both Thai and foreign. Much of this is centered around the nightlife. Now, the appeal of the nightlife, while sordid in other countries, has long been regarded as a fun thing here, different. But that has always been skin-deep and like so many things in the Land Of False Smiles an illusion, and increasingly the squalid underbelly is being exposed.

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I was a victim of that on Thursday, when my evening at the Windmill on Soi Diamond in Pattaya was ruined when I was set upon by three or four thugs, resulting in a cut lip, a cut on the bridge of my nose and a black eye.

The situation arose after I had spent around four hours in the bar and spent thousands of baht on drinks and tips. I had been entertaining one of the dancers, but after I made a visit to the toilet I returned to find her missing from my table. Another dancer told me she had been moved to another table. I approached the mamasan to ask why and told her it was bad customer service, and she exploded and started screaming and asked why I was making trouble and began pushing me away. I defended myself by holding her wrists, and then did as another customer suggested and went and sat at my dancer’s new table. Then several thugs rushed to the table and attacked me, hitting me on the side of the head – which can be fatal – and I had to curl up and shield myself from them. Only later did I discover the injuries they had inflicted and the blood on my glasses.

Dean (? – sorry for not being sure as I was a bit shaken up after being attacked), who was apparently in charge in place of the missing owner Dave, came to the table with a Thai security guard or tourist policeman (?) to investigate. He heard my side of the story, spoke with the mamasan and a customer witness who later told me he used to be a go-go bar owner, and the mamasan was sent home. The Thai man told me she was a crazy woman, so that begs the question, if that is known, why is she employed there. She lied to Dean and told him she was going to ask me if my dancer could be moved, but at no time did she do so. She simply wanted to move her to a table with customers but no dancer, and didn’t give a damn about me and the money I had already spent. There were simply not enough dancers in the bar to cover all the tables. Their problem, not mine.

Dean has been cleverly schooled, perhaps for good reason, and at no time did he admit any wrongdoing by the bar, and although he took my phone number and e-mail address I was offered no way to contact him or Dave or anyone else. I was told by the security officer/policeman (?) I could press charges for assault, but really, what’s the point with a farang against Thais and them saying one thing and me another. Not one single member of staff, or customer, said I was in the wrong when Dean went around gathering the facts.

I was not drunk, and my dancer, other dancers and the ex go-go owner all told Dean that I was a good customer. I am not some young tattooed trouble-maker spoiling for a fight, a common feature in Pattaya these days. I am close to retiring age, and highly respected in my field of journalism where I am arguably one of the top 10 specialists in the world.

There appears to be a worrying problem with Dave’s bars, and I don’t care how active he is on the forums. Last year I wrote on a forum about bad customer service and management at another of his bars, Club 69 on Soi 15, and he wrote an abusive and dismissive response. Only later did he actually bother to go there and investigate and fired the manager and sent me an apology. It might make a difference, of course, if he actually spent time at the places he is involved with and saw what goes on. I posted this particular incident on several forums (more of that in a moment), and one respondant said Dave was the most hated bar manager in Pattaya, although he didn’t say why and I’m not really interested.

Dean told me he would report to the missing Dave and ask him to call me, but in these days of instant communication I had heard nothing some 14-15 hours later, until I posted on the forums.

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I agree, as some have said on the forums, that the Windmill is a fun place. That’s why I went there, because of its reputation. And I was having a great time until something went wrong. Why the mamasan was so volatile I have no idea. As I said, the Thai I spoke to told me she was crazy, so I’d guess there may have been problems with her before. Even after the beating, I stayed on for quite some time. The mamasan was removed from the bar, not me.

I was what should have been regarded by the bar as a perfect customer – spending a lot of money on lady drinks, as Dean who examined my bill would agree, and tipping the staff. As well as tipping my dancer 500 baht I also tipped two waitresses and the cashier. Instead, it was a case of spend 3000 baht and get a free black eye etc. (the black eye developed during the following day).

I stand by all I have written above, which was put down as soon as I returned to my hotel and while details were still fresh in my mind. For those who have suggested on the forums that I was drunk, even though I said I was not, then can a drunk write the way I did? I believe that what I wrote was articulate (as above), not some drunken rambling.

What is most interesting to me, however, is that most of the people that responded on the forums have sided with the bar. I’m not sure what that says about them, Pattaya or Thailand. It appears to me that many, at least on these forums, now accept that beating up customers is a normal part of life here and can be expected if you complain about poor service, or that many customers in the bars here are looking for trouble and deserve what they get. Perhaps some are. But I have never been in any confrontation in my entire life, and I’m 60 next birthday. I mentioned I am a respected professional as that was supposed to underline my good character, but some even took that up against me. The prat who said he didn’t witness the incident but that he was close enough to me in a noisy go-go bar to hear me rant about the mafia was the silliest responder of all.

Another aspect of the poor service by the way, which I didn’t mention as it was irrelevant to the main topic, was the waitresses habit of removing glasses before they are empty. I was ordering my dancer a drink while she still had one, and as soon as the new drink was brought they would take the old drink away. They did it twice before I finally caught on to the scam with the third drink and insisted they left it. Guess if they ‘accidentally’ took an unfinished drink again, once I’d noticed what they were doing.

I very much look forward to hearing from the management, and am surprised they have not yet responded or contacted me. Perhaps that tells its own story. I don’t know. I’m not after anything for myself, even though some have suggested I deserve compensation. I also don’t have a grudge against anyone, but when something of this nature occurs I believe it is my public duty to inform. Then people can make up their own mind.

Stickman's thoughts:

This is a very sad story indeed, and it is reports like this, which are appearing online more and more frequently, that show the nightlife industry for what it really is. OK, not all of the bars are like this, but it seems that more and more are.

Let me first of all say that Bangkok Barry is someone I know personally. We have met up for a drink a handful of times, and have bumped into each other on a couple of other occasions. He is not a close friend, but he is someone I both like and respect. In cases like this, one often wonders if they have heard the whole story but I am sure in this case that we have. Barry is a stand up guy, and far from the trouble making type. He is an older gentleman, and not a big man, so he is not the type of person who would initiate any sort of trouble.

That this bar is farang-owned and farang-managed yet neither the owner or manager has followed up with the victim is inexcusable. Do they care? Do they show any interest in their customers? Or do they perhaps even condone what happened? I am very disappointed at the apparent lack of responsibility shown.

My experiences in Windmill in the past have always been good and it is a bar that I liked to start the night in. Notice the use of a past verb tense. Liked. You can guess what that means.

With all of this said, that this incident happened should not come as a huge surprise to anyone. It takes precious little to set some Thais off, and frankly many employed in the nightlife industry are extremely volatile. We're talking an industry full of messed up people, many of them time bombs. And let us not forget that this fun industry with the bars that we enjoy is in fact prostitution. Lest we forget that.

Windmill now has a wonderful chance to put the situation right. Whether / how they do that is up to them, but I truly hope that they actually come to the party with not just an apology, but some sort of assurance that this will never happen again. A bit of contrition, a genuine apology and a willingness to put things right could win you many new customers. Windmill, it's over to you.

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