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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Strube

How to Get Lost in Hong Kong

If you want multiple international offers of romance or wooing via Godiva chocolate and cosmo martinis, all you need is a lost look and blonde hair in Hong Kong.

I wish I could tell you that love in the world’s most expensive city was run on morals. The locals here seem terribly friendly, and I’m shocked each time I offer up my Mandarin to them and their pristine lips offer back words in English. Really, they are lovely, kind, and impressively multi-lingual. It’s just the expats you have to worry about.

While strolling through the famous Temple Night Market, famous for exposing the real true behind Jimmy Woo hand-bags (such as the fact that you can make them for 3 dollars as oppose to 3000), I was appraoched by a tall and slender man wearing a silk suit and cab checkered converse. With velvet chocolate skin, he subtly noticed I was lost while staring at my maps. Maps have never seemed to aid in my orientation. I must have missed the cartography lesson in geography class in grade 7,  but thankfully, geography is what this approaching stranger was all about.

“Hello Madam. You look confused. I think a drink with me will help you find your way in Hong Kong.”

I look up from my map to see said stranger man, now within inches distance of hand-marked map, peering down my shirt. His thick Nigerian accent was only as subtle as his Rolex watch, which now was grazing my twinging shoulder. “I’m sure I’ll be fine, but thank you for the offer.”

“But you don’t know why I am on this street, do you? I never come here, but perhaps tonight I was guided here to fall in love with and meet my wife.”

“Perhaps. I was guided here to buy some fake jade,” I said, and kindly kept walking.

“But how will I keep in touch with you?” He said, scurrying after me, my face now re-planted in my map “Where do you live?”

“China,” I said. “They don’t allow Facebook there.  Where are you from?”

“I am from Africa but I have worked here in business in Hong Kong for 8 years. I want to write you. Please give me your email.” And before I could protest, the latest edition of the iphone was placed before me, open to the Notes app, where a list of emails hung on each line. 

And I was supposed to add my name.

I quickly thought of the best fake email I could muster, like you do when you play the “what would your dancing girl name be?” game in grade school. So I took the name of my first pet and the name of the street my folks live on and added my name to the Hong Kong specialty girl list.

And with that, I took off down the stairs and to the metro. Here, no creepy millionaire could mind me. After all, businessmen don’t take the subways right? Yet, while fumbling through my purse for coins for my metro card, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

“Excuse me, but I have an extra metro card I can loan you as you are very beautiful.” I looked up, half expecting the Nigerian-IPhone-Hooker-List keeper, but instead was an Armani suit, a Harry Winston watch, and a pinky ring sparkling with Swarovski diamonds. He smiled at me from behind his ultra-trendy Gucci thin rimmed glasses.

This is the problem with ultra rich men. In some aspects, they have exactly what you need, like a metro card when the machine is out of order. I kindly accepted the plastic token, but had no idea that the strings attached from a two dollar subway pass could stretch all the way across the South China Sea. 

Metro cards led to post-train Illy coffee at the sidewalk cafe, where I discovered this finely dressed Milano suited man sold Italian leather floor tiles, as out from his Tumi briefcase came perfectly buffed cowhides, tan and suede squares, ready to cover many a modern floor just the way MoMa intended. Move over Times Square New York City — Hong Kong has one too, and it soon may be coved with vintage suede symetry, hand made by Joe’s enterprise.

Perhaps the leather was no surprise — after all, Joe was from Milan — the “fashion capital of the world” he informed me, right after he hired me to be the ghost writer for his family’s next book. He wouldn’t tell me who exactly this FAMILY was, as martinis were ordered and Godiva chocolates were presented before me in ribbon-wrapped packages. Now, I’ve never been a girl to refuse chocolate, especially when it’s hand-fed to me over Frank Sinatra songs in a green lit neon lounge. And who knew that Cosmopolitans could make old Italian men so charming? 

But that was precisely my error. Don’t eat the chocolate, ladies. Why? Because Italians don’t know how to count, and all age differences blend away like the espresso shade does in the buffed Italian fashionista rawhide. I thought a coffee with a friendly old Italian man, old enough to be my father’s older uncle, would be safer than the Nigerian cornerside marriage proposer. 

I was wrong.

Chocolates and martinis and the revealing of Italian leather floor tiles — which he swears are the next big rage — are intimate tasks. Especially in Hong Kong. So somewhere between his need to hire me as a mafia biographer and the second martini, I saw the gleaming light. Call me captain not-so-obvious, but perhaps it was his offer of a friendly massage in his room or the lingering need to swim together in his rooftop pool that tipped my edge. Or his creepy fingers on my back with offers of more martinis and publishing greatness. (Either way, no massage or swim was had. Taxi please.)

Sure, he was rich, but I can’t judge him for that. But I shall judge him for his closing line when I played the “I have a high power boyfriend” card and he leaned in to whisper in my ear, “Who cares? I have three.” The cab could not be called soon enough by my snapping fingers, but I do wonder if Nigerian Proposer could help an Italian Mafia Fashionista brother out. If they compare lists, Italy and Africa could both date Serena69 and at the same time, creating peace treaties long overdue.

But no one will be picking any Shady Peaches this evening, even if your Rolex is shiny and your Godiva smells divine. 

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