Why you should care
Because Hong Kong was rough even BEFORE the protests.
The Wan Chai district of Hong Kong has a lawless Wild West reputation. The place is run by criminal triads, street gangs and international syndicates specializing in human trafficking, illicit drugs, protection rackets, murder for hire and all the rest.
So, of course, my friend Bill and I couldn’t resist booking hotel rooms smack in the middle of it.
A place where there’s no police presence on the street, where over the span of four weeks, I saw only two police officers. They pulled up in a van, loaded a body inside and then disappeared into the night. I later learned that it was a West African meth dealer who had been stabbed outside the 7-Eleven, catty-corner to our favorite club, Bar Amazonia.
I grabbed the door frame with both hands and began to hold off my would-be abductors. All three wrapped their arms around my waist…
The bouncer told us that no one calls the police unless it’s to carry away the dead. “It’s vigilante justice out here. Police won’t help you.” Bill liked the sound of that. “Now we’re talking!” This was my first indication that my friend had a death wish.
And trouble was inescapable once the nightclubs opened their doors. Random strangers offered to cut my throat or shoot me and leave my body lying in the street. It happened so often it was almost comical. Most of these threats were designed to thin the room of competition for women, but other threats, I’m convinced, came from men who had killed before and who weren’t afraid to kill again.
Fight after fight spilled out onto Lockhart Road, and Bill loved to jump in the middle of the melee.
“Take a shot at me, you big dumb fuck!”
He’d manhandle guys twice his size, lean in inches from their faces and yell, “C’mon, pussy! Let’s go! Show me how tough you are!” The maniacal rage in his eyes backed them off, but I knew, sooner or later, someone would take him out. I was going to have to find a way to distract him.
One night, two well-dressed meth heads cornered me on the smoking terrace at Players’ Club. I had become numb to death threats by our second week in town, so when the little one said he was going to hack my beard off with a machete, I joked, “Thanks, I’ve been thinking about getting a shave. How much do you charge for a haircut?”
Dude lost it. He literally started jumping up and down, reeling off all of the unoriginal ways he intended to murder me. I gave him a thousand-yard stare. I was unimpressed. He turned his attention to my friend, who had sat there smirking the entire time. Bill said, “Go away, little boy.” The twerp took a long look at Bill and didn’t dare say another word, finally cutting out with his lanky sidekick. I half-expected them to come back with machetes, but they never did.
Bill, in the meantime, became infatuated with the buxom Filipina bartender at Bar Amazonia. When she told me she was single, I decided to talk him up to her. If they could kindle some sort of romance, I figured, we might make it back to California alive.
My plan worked all sorts of miracles. Bill and Sophie hit it off. Soon, instead of roaming the streets and tempting death, we were spending our nights enjoying free drinks and listening to the best rock cover bands in all of Hong Kong. I started dating Sophie’s girlfriend Rina, who worked across the street at Ebeneezer’s Kebobs shop. We quickly forgot all about the danger swirling around us.
On our next-to-last night in Hong Kong, I arrived early at Bar Amazonia. The place was jam-packed and the band was covering “Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith.
I swiveled around in my chair to order some food from the waitress. When I turned back, I took a quick swig off my beer. A young lady who was sitting next to me gently grabbed my hand and pulled the glass away from my mouth.
“Don’t drink that,” she said. “You need another beer.” She motioned to the bartender and he swiftly swapped it out.
“What’s the problem?” I asked.
“Those girls over there put something in your drink,” she said, motioning with her head toward three scantily clad 20-somethings standing near the front door. I thanked her for looking out for me as she got up to greet her friends.
Right when I went to take a sip off the top of my new glass of beer, the room began to spin. I struggled to focus my eyes. It was as if I was looking through the backside of a waterfall. I felt several hands grab ahold of my hands and forearms, lifting me up from my chair.
Was it Bill and our girlfriends?
“Come with me, we care for you,” a woman’s voice purred. I recognized her tight red dress — she was one of the three sexpots that had put something in my drink. “Our friend sick, we take him home,” one of the other girls told the bouncer at the door. I was having trouble stringing even a single thought together.
I noticed the blur of a red and white taxi pulling up to the curb. I put my right hand on top of the roof to keep from falling over. One girl got inside the taxi and began to pull me inside as the other two were slowly pushing me from behind. Something told me that if they got me inside the taxi, no one would ever see me again.
I grabbed the door frame with both hands and began to hold off my would-be abductors. All three wrapped their arms around my waist and tried using their weight to force me into the car. I managed to get a foot up on the backseat and used all of my strength to stand up.
“Help! I’m being kidnapped!” I yelled as loud as I could. “These bitches drugged me! Somebody help!” The girls disappeared as quickly and stealthily as they had sneaked up to spike my drink.
I stumbled back to Bar Amazonia and plopped down in a booth. An hour or so later, when Bill showed up, the drug had just about worn off. When he was sure I was OK, he ordered a couple shots of Patron and we toasted to surviving our stay in Wan Chai.