Time in a Bangkok Thailand Jail
It had been a trying and tiring week.
We (a team of 7 or 8 from DCA-SAM) had departed Saigon, on Saturday 5 April 1969 at 3:25pm arriving at Don Mung Airport Bangkok Thailand at 3:35pm. No it was not a very short flight, different time zones. At least we were semi comfortable out of fatigues and in class A uniforms.
The taxis to the Hotels that our Bangkok office had arranged was uneventful. After checking in, some of the guys went out on the town for awhile. My part of the team stayed in the hotel, got a good supper and went to bed early.
We met Sunday morning for a very late breakfast and only then did we realize that it was Easter Sunday.
No work on Sunday (for a change) so we decided to take in a movie. Five of us walked a few blocks and observing all the very
long lines at the movie houses, picked the one with the shortest line. Only available seats were in balcony and then only four were available. One of the ushers brought out a folding chair and placed in the isle for one of us. (I do not remember who got the chair).
Movie: Clint Eastwood, Richard Burton in "Where Eagles Dare".
A new movie that had not reached Viet Nam.
Will not bore you with the details of our Evaluations and/or travels around the Thailand it lasted all week Monday thru Friday.
Now back to the beginning:
It had been a trying and tiring week.
Friday night was upon us and our work was completed. Time for a bit of R&R. Inquiring about the local night life, we decided that it was not really worth the effort. A couple of cold beers and listening to a decent band might be nice though.
Strolling not very far from our Hotel, we were in the middle (or near) of the "entertainment" district, or at least one of them.
Deciding on a Night Club that was on the second floor, we proceeded up stairs. We arrived just as the band was putting their instruments down for a break.
We made our way to an empty table and motioned for a
waiter to come over. Placed an order for
and started talking about the past week.
In about five minutes or so no beer, so we called another waiter and ordered 5 beers. People were milling around the place, like us
just waiting for band to start again. Time passes and no service so we called
yet another waiter and
ordered 5 beers. This process was repeated
at least one more time in the next few
We had been in this establishment for around 30 minutes and had yet to get a cold beer. It was time to leave. Just as we were preparing to depart, the band came back on stage and 4 waiters showed up at our table with 5 beers each. We politely said "No thank you", and started for the door. The Thai manager stormed towards us with 4 bills demanding payment for the 20 beers that had just been delivered. We declined to pay (had not touched the bottles) and went down stairs.
Now the fun begins. The manager and all 4 waiters followed us down stairs and into the street, yelling in broken English and Thai that we could not leave without paying the bill.
I open a taxi backdoor and slide thru the taxi and out the other side. The rest of the crew did likewise. A crowd was starting to form at the entrance to the club and out into the street.
The next thing I hear was whistles blowing and red lights flashing. The local Police had arrived. They rounded up all of us, me and the other four team members as well as the club manager and four waiters and took us to a local police substation a couple of blocks away. All the time the club people were clamoring and yelling in Thai. They still wanted us to pay the bill.
Upon arrival at the substation, I finally saw a policeman with a white armband (an indication that he spoke English). Finally managed
to get his attention and told him what had happened. He translated to the substation cop in charge. I told the policeman that I would pay for 5 beers although we never drank them, but did not think it was right to have to pay for the other 15. He agreed, and gave me a price. I did not even ask the other guys, I just payed the policeman what he had ask for. He then released me and the other team members. He escorted the club people, manager and 4 waiters towards the back of the station (where the cells were). They were not happy campers.
What the policeman had ask for was about the equivalent of $1.00 (the street price for the 5 beers). The club price was about $1.50 each. So, I figure we actually "saved" about $29.00. (20 x 1.50 = 30).
One of the guys had picked up a piece of paper from under the ashtray on the table. It stated that drinks were $1.50 unless the band was playing and then they were $2.00. Think that was the reason we did not get service while the band was on break? *(these prices are approximate at the money conversion rate at the time).
Not thirsty anymore, we went back to hotel to prepare for our flight back to Saigon the next morning Saturday 12 Apr 1969 on a Continental Airlines 707. We went back to the "war zone" where it was safe.
SUBNOTE: (pictures are only for graphic effect and do not represent true events in this story). (The Army and Air Force Officers would not go out with us after that trip. The NCOs had no problem with the way it was handled).