Saturday, September 22nd, 2001:

The name Hong Kong is derived from Chinese words that translate into “fragrant harbour”. And in a lot of ways, like its name says, Hong Kong stinks.

After last night’s show our producer took us to Lan Kwai Fong, which might as well have been the French Quarter in New Orleans. The narrow street was packed with gweilos (“gwie-loze”), a Chinese term of endearment for Westerners, literally meaning “white devil”. The name is fitting; ex-pats of western countries live their lives in Hong Kong with little or no exposure to indigenous culture. In fact, Hong Kong is for them nothing more than a gweilo playground, where sordid acts can take place away from the prying eyes of wives and family.

Case in point: One thing I didn’t write about our opening night was the Filipina strip joint that our producer took the boys to after the ladies went back to the hotel. It was with good intentions; our host is frequently requested to do the same for visiting consultants and friends from America, so often perhaps that the morality behind the gesture is lost. Anyway, I’m glad we went; it was an opportunity to see a side of Hong Kong that many participate in, but never speak of.

It was a small bar on a side street in Wan Chai, guarded by a bouncer who pulled back a velvet red curtain for our entry. The show on stage was fairly innocuous, two girls dancing together in their underwear without doing anything too rude. More shocking was the quartet of halter top and mini-skirt clad ladies that attached themselves to our arms before we even reached our table. My “date” was Ana, who insisted that this was her first night working here, and maintained how shy she was while putting my hand on her thigh. With all this attention I couldn’t really see exactly what was happening to the others, but I did notice an old woman hovering around our table. Her function in all of this became clear when Ana decided that she wanted tequila; I knew the drill, and also where this was headed. I ordered her one drink, then started planning my exit.

I tried to get some real information out of Ana, and found out that she was 24 years old (she looked 18) was trained in computers (?) and was sending money back to her sister in the Philippines. She seemed very interested in where I was from, and in order to leave I first had to give her a bogus Canadian address. One thirty-dollar shot of tequila and a promise to come back later, I was free.

Our musician decided to stay behind, and I fully expected him to show up for breakfast the next morning with a new Filipina bride. But he had instead gone to hear a live band elsewhere. From what I saw in the strip club that night, few gweilos are as responsible as the men of Second City.

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