IN HONG KONG
thought that when Hong Kong became a Special Administrative
Region of China on July 1, 1997, all nightlife --- in its
various forms --- would disappear. Not so. It is better than
is true Hong Kong has undergone some momentous changes, and
continues to evolve. But one thing remains constant: it's
still very much a man's town. The things men savor are here
in abundance: good food, good drink, good companionship, and
start with sex. The game goes on here just as it does everywhere
in the world, but there are local rules (the same as anywhere)
so if you're new to Hong Kong, it's important to be knowledgeable.
Some things that are accepted in the West are viewed differently
being the Mysterious Orient, things are not always what they
seem. It pays to bear in mind that in spite of its outward
veneer of a modern Western city complete with skyscrapers
rocking skyward, Hong Kong, just a scratch below the surface,
is an Asian city, specifically a Chinese city -- culturally
that is since it is now a Chinese city politically. This situation
did not happen with the departure of the British --- it has
always been so.
first impression, Chinese girls can seem very aloof and cold,
the Chinese are by no means oblivious to sex (they may even
have invented it --- the Chinese have a name for simply everything),
public displays of sexuality are considered low class.
the Chinese very likely do the same things in private that
the Europeans and Americans do, the public face must always
be one of virtue and decorum. In other words, here, if you've
got it, you don't flaunt it. Sex, that is.
sex and premarital sex are much less prevalent in Chinese
society than in Western societies, but they exist nonetheless
--- obviously. Much like the West, "respectable"
Chinese girls don't go for "one-night stands", particularly
with Westerners. Anyway, as a visitor, the chances of meeting
"nice" Chinese girl and taking her out on a date
are very slim. They lead sheltered lives.
if it is action you're looking for, that leaves the "other"
kind of girl, the professionals. (Some men think they're more
fun anyway). Where do you find them?
the Wanchai District (Suzie Wong territory) on Hong Kong Island
was where sailors and horny businessmen head when they have
just one thing on their minds.
the heady days of the Vietnam War and the GIs' famous R&R
junkets, Hong Kong's girlie nightlife spread across the harbour
to Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, the area along Nathan Road close
to the Star Ferry. (Most of the R&R hotels were there
so the extension was only natural.) Incidentally, Hong Kong
is still a popular R&R centre for warships of many nations
on patrol in the area.
Wanchai, along the famed Lockhart Road and its side streets
were dozens and dozens of girlie bars, hostess clubs and pubs,
cheek-by-jowl, ranging from evil-smelling dives where anything
goes (and where one ventures at one's own risk) to respectable
establishments with live music and uptown prices. That's changed
somewhat these days --- Wanchai has become respectable with
an excellent selection of ethnic restaurants and up-market
pubs. The number of earthy girlie bars and discos has decreased
since Suzie Wong's heyday, making meeting your very own "Suzie"
much less likely.
Lan Kwai Fong area in Hong Kong's Central District is probably
the best known entertainment area in the city, but it is certainly
not like Wanchai or Tsimshatsui of old. The hundred or so
bars and restaurants crowded into two streets are distinctly
up- market. Consequently, trying to meet someone becomes that
much more difficult and expensive.
and Tsimshatsui aren't the only two areas with girlie bars
and hostess clubs of course, but the others cater almost exclusively
to Chinese, and a Westerner might not be made to feel welcome.
older, traditional clubs that look like Hollywood movie sets
--- vast, plush, opulent, and very, very expensive --- still
exist and are mainly patronized by well-off Chinese and Japanese
days, many are called karaoke clubs. They're easy to tell
with their doormen in fancy uniforms, hostesses in evening
gowns, greeters in tuxedos, big orchestras, exotic, lavish
decor, expensive sound systems --- the works. In these establishments,
the girls who command the highest fees are Westerners!
suppose - just suppose - you wanted to meet a girl while you're
in Hong Kong, Where should you try your luck?
unless you are prepared for a blank check-type evening, you
can't just wander into a bar or karaoke club and walk out
with the piece de resistance. First you must play The Game.
It is called "You Buy Me Drink". Drinks for yourself,
of course, are extra.
there's drinks for "my cousin" the bartender. You
can't refuse because the idea is to demonstrate that you're
a macho man of generous nature, not a "Cheap Charlie"
(the famous phrase used by legions of Saigon bargirls when
GIs refused to buy them the proverbial Saigon Tea).
can turn into a costly test of resources and stamina when
all you want to do is take the girl out of the bar and have
some fun in more intimate setting. All they want you to do
is stay and spend money.
is another factor at work here, however: no girl, especially
no Chinese, girl, wants to be made to feel that she is a piece
of merchandise to be sold off the shelf to any john who walks
in the door. So, although your money is happily accepted,
the rounds of drinks sort of serve as a period when you and
the girl can size each other up.
some words of caution: While ordinary drinks in girlie bars
normally aren't expensive, the "hostess drinks"
are. And funny things happen with bar bills in some of these
sometimes get charged for drinks they never ordered (or even
saw). "Special" charges appear. Totals sometimes
are higher than they should be. ("Ah! Very sorry, sir,
of running tabs, particularly those to be settled at the end
with a credit card. Always ask the price of drinks, as uncouth
as that may seem, and pay as you go.
of the worst bars and clubs are under the control of triad
gangs, and occasionally there are horror stories of innocents
who drop in for a casual drink and are confronted with outrageous
bill (tens of thousands of dollars!) and it is pay up of else!
while most bars are honest, they're not charitable institutions,
and everything has a price. Therefore, invariably there is
a "buy-out" fee for taking any girl out of a bar
or club. This is negotiated with the bar mama-san and it is
simply a ticket to leave, with no promise of anything else.
This can easily cost more than several thousand dollars.
although virtually all of the bargirls are professionals,
you shouldn't assume that because you paid a fee for the lady
to leave the bar that she will go along with all you plans.
Maybe things will go as your hope, but there's no money-back
stories have been told of men who have gone home to lonely
beds after thinking they were on to a sure thing. In reality
they just didn't know the score.
and/or karaoke clubs are usually more subdued than the girlie
bars, more "high class," more expensive - and less
predictable. Many of the hostesses are simply hostesses; they
will sit and chat (for which you pay, by the quarter-hour),
have a drink, and then, at closing time, when your hopes are
up, they may go back home to Mom and Dad. It's a chancy game.