Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Wan Chai

"The thing you have to understand about Asian women," I was told here, "is they have a different concept of love to Western women. Here, it's very pragmatic. 'You pay for my apartment. I love you. If you don't pay, I'll find someone who will, and love him.'"

Knowing this, I'm not quite sure how it was I found myself explaining my mildly feminist, mildly self-preserving views on gender relations to two Hong Girls, D and K, over wine. Try telling a HK lady that it is somewhat seedy, archaic and above all disempowering to women for men to always pay for a date and they'll stare at you like a dog that's been shown a card trick. What started as a night out was quickly becoming a dismissal of my character and chances out here.

"That may be okay in the West, but over here you'll have to change your views or stay single," was K's decided opinion. She should know. Soon after we left to find her current sugar daddy in a bar, before heading out to one of the pricier establishments in town. K's paying boyfriend, a Canadian pilot, seemed a nice bloke, and generous with his cash, buying drinks all night for D and me as well as his girlfriend. After a while he suggested heading over to Wan Chai, the red light district, to meet some of his friends.

This is how I found myself standing in the corner of Neptune, a bar famous for Thai girls on working holidays in Hong Kong, sipping a beer and trying not to catch the eye of too many of the prostitutes, as they all tried to catch mine. D stayed close, not out of any moral objection but because she genuinely feared for my safety. On the way in I asked loudly and indiscretely whether this was in fact the prostitute bar. Apparently this is a big no-no, and is the second fastest way to get beaten up in Wan Chai. The first, although it probably depends on stamina, is refusing to pay afterwards.

K, meanwhile, was dirty dancing with her date in the way that drunk girls think they can get away with. After a while he came over, clearly knackered, and asked me to take over. We moved and shook for a while, and then she put her lips on me. I tried to back away, aware of her man standing in the corner watching us. I can't remember his name now, but at the time I felt a small pang of loyalty for a number of Hong Kong's more expensive beers. Still, the pang was quite small. K tried again and I gave in. Her boy stormed off, and when she realised she went looking for him. D, anxious for her friend - who was far too drunk to be walking on her own round a hooker bar at this stage of the night - told me to stay exactly where I was and took off after her.

So now I'm standing slightly helplessly in the corner of Hong Kong's most famous prostitute bar, sipping the rest of my beer (which I'm savouring in the absence of K's kindly benefactor) and wondering what to say to the two Thai girls who are walking my way. Together they stand real close to me and proceed to give me what I can only describe as the 'hard sell', rubbing themselves against me as I try and protest (it only seems to spur them on). I drink my beer like this, wondering if I've ever been in a more seedy situation (and, okay, actually slightly enjoying it). Time passes. I finish my bottle.

"You want another drink?" one of the girls asks me.

"I'm okay."

"You want to buy us drinks?"

"Actually I don't buy girls drinks. You can get me one if you want."

This, as it turns out, is the fastest way to get two prostitutes to leave you alone. I never saw the girls again, and soon after was rescued by D, worse for wear perhaps but richer for the experience.

1 comment:

Will said...

'The hard sell'. I feel a bit sick tbh.