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Crime in Hong Kong

Rohypnol and rip-offs: the dangers of Wan Chai drinking during Hong Kong Sevens week

Thousands of tourists are descending upon the bars of Lockhart Road and Jaffe Road, but a drunken night out can be costly

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 5:49pm

A bar manager in Wan Chai has warned Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens fans to be on guard against drugs and being ripped off with thousands of tourists here for the world-famous event starting on Friday.

The legendary drinking institutions of Lockhart Road and Jaffe Road are already in full swing – and so are the perils that often come with a night out in Wan Chai.

A plethora of sex workers has flown in on two-week tourist visas, with customers enticed to buy drinks – sometimes spiked – at inflated prices, where bar workers get commissions.

“There are girls here who only go to rip-off the guys. They do it for the wrong reasons,” says the bar manager, who wished to remain anonymous. 

“Some girls are working for pimps and then when the guy goes to a bar – and certainly with the rugby sevens – the girl puts something in the drink. The guy is drunk but feeling OK, then the girl goes with him to the hotel room, he passes out, he wakes up the next day at two in the afternoon and everything is gone.

“In our bars, we don’t give commission to the girls. No commission, or drugs in drinks. 

“It happened twice to a good friend of mine, that’s why I know. She was very nice, but the next day he wakes up, his computer’s gone, all his credit cards are gone, his phone is gone, and even the money inside some drawers. He didn’t remember how the girl looked.

“The girls come here to have a good time, and if there is a guy who wants to buy them a drink, it’s the same price. There is nothing more. If there is a girl that wants to go with the guy, fine, it’s not our business.”

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The bar manager advised people to buy bottled drinks if you are in a dodgy bar and keep your credit card in your pocket.  

“Hold your drink in your hand, then nothing can happen to it. Take a bottle, so you can see what’s in it. Don’t pay with your credit card. So many times I hear people say they buy a round of drinks for HK$500, and then because they’re a little bit drunk, later on the receipt they see it’s HK$5,000.”

The owner of another bar also warned of the dangers of being drunk and enticed into bars.

“Some of the bars are pretty nasty. They are dangerous – you will get Rohypnoled. Our bar is pitched more as a pub where you can have a nice drink,” he said. 

A waitress in a bar, who also requested anonymity, said Wan Chai was already busy and sex workers were out in force.

“Now the girls are so happy because it’s busy, it’s rugby sevens – so many stupid party people,” she said, laughing. 

“There’s a lot of drunkards. You must be careful. If you get drunk, maybe sometimes the girls drug you. It’s so scary. It’s really dangerous around Wan Chai.”

The typical operation of some of the murkiest bars, the waitress says, is to get the customer to order a shot of tequila along with a gin freeze or margarita for the girl each round, on top of their own drink.

“It always comes together, HK$150 – it’s HK$100 commission for the girls and HK$50 for the bar,” says the waitress. “The drink is not real, it’s just s**t. Just a little drop of cheap alcohol, then the tequila is just water.”

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The girls are “freelancers” whose aim, according to the waitress, is to get the customer as drunk as possible so they spend as much as possible.

“They get the customer’s credit card and then they take advantage, even if the customer cannot sign any more because [he is] too drunk. Sometimes girls just sign it on their own. It’s crazy. 

“Of course, girls love that because they get money, they get commission. They don’t care about the victim. Sometimes the customer is so drunk they don’t know what they’re doing, they just give, give, give, give.”

The biggest slice of the commission pie on offer is a bottle of champagne, which will net girls around HK$500, with the bar taking the other HK$1,300 or so.

“Then they always go home with the guys, unless the card is not working or the guy’s already passed out, asleep there. But usually they go with the guys because of course they need more money.”

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A police spokesman said “the force does not maintain such figures” on complaints about drinkers being fleeced, while the Customs & Excise Department also said it did not have “any breakdown specifically for bars/nightclubs”.

However, it said members of the public may report suspected violations of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance dealing with goods, including the indication of price and how the price is calculated.

Robbie McRobbie, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Rugby Union, said the safety of fans attending the Sevens was their highest priority.

“Like any major international event around the world, the significant influx of tourists to the city during this time can represent an ideal opportunity for criminal elements,” he said.

“Forewarned is forearmed in this case and the HKRU would once again like to encourage everyone enjoying the city and the Sevens to do so safely and responsibly and to remain aware of their surroundings when outside of the stadium environment.”