Love from abroad in Hong Kong

 

I just returned from a week long visit with my husband to Hong Kong – such a dramatic and magical place that creates sensory overload on so many axes. I fell in love with the city and picked up so much about its culture through many dinners and discussions with locals.

 

I learned that many Asian men from Hong Kong seek out females like themselves who often were educated abroad and can speak excellent English. Although this might make it much easier for basic socializing, I believe that the subtlety lies in how this basic filtering process washes away many eligible women who are of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Birds of a feather flock together. These elite Hong Kong eligible men tend to marry Asian women. It is quite rare to marry Caucasian – at least from what I was able to pick up on in discussion.

A hugely difficult area is expats. Well, let’s just say the expat women living in HK have a tough time. These women are typically in HK on assignments for big financial firms and law firms for anywhere from 2-5 years on average. They might blend in well in the boardroom with their business acumen but I’ll tell you this much – it absolutely sucks to be a pretty expat girl in HK. Why you might ask? Cause no one wants them! I’m not kidding! Why is this exactly????

 

According to an inside source who is an expat living with her hubbie in HK, she shared that the expat men (Americans, Brits, Aussies) typically who are working for a fancy firm will be housed at a pretty lavish apartment, that comes with “help.” Help is cheap and typically from the Philippines, among other regions.  These men (many of whom are eligible) start loving the life where they come home from a long day of hard work and a 5 course meal has been prepared, socks ironed, perhaps a little massage too? Let’s just say the service of home can become a rather gray zone into service of expat? Oy vey!

 

So these expats start to experience the life of Asian culture and often switch from once being into Caucasian like themselves, to “no more…no way!” Why would they go back to the old ways, when many of the women they encounter would never raise a voice to them and are always there to please? I had to ask myself hard if I were an expat guy and had gotten accustomed to “such servicing” all the time, what I would do. Would I want to go back and end up marrying a brilliant like-minded girl like me from the states or would I end up with a strong Asian preference and Caucasian would be treated on a case-by-case basis?

 

So back to the expat women living in HK. Since many of the expat men do not want them and the local Asian men go for “whole package amazing” Asian women, essentially this means that literally no one wants the Caucasian expat in HK. They stand out like a sore thumb in the social strata in HK. The expat bars are filled with these uber handsome finance types all partying together.  I saw handfuls of expat women…really attractive women no less….and without any hopes of pretty much meeting anyone for dating, courtship, and marriage if they are single.   

 

My inside source said that she has many girlfriends who are expats in HK. These are highly intelligent women, slender, stylish, and working as attorneys, etc. These women, she said, are actually considering leaving HK because the hopes of quite possibly meeting someone special while abroad have been eliminated because they simply are not a commodity in HK. She said she is constantly trying to set them up and throw dinner parties inviting eligible men but to no avail there just isn’t a lot of interest.

Now a twist to this would be if you are an American guy who wants to visit HK and make a point to hang out in the expat neighborhoods. You could be the geekiest and gangliest of the bunch back at home and an absolutely prince of a man to one of these gorgeous girls. Cathay Pacific one-way anyone?

 

I learned a little bit about networking in Chinese culture which has many meanings and is quite different from Western networking. Chinese business culture is relationship-based and all about who you know and how you got there. In Western business culture it is more transaction based. The definition of a successful Chinese business person would mean that he or she is very well-connected and for us in the West it would be that we have made ‘it’ through monetary means.

 

The term GUANXI is a very important term that I only started to learn. Guanxi networks are among individuals and not businesses. Unlike a Link & Drink at home in Palo Alto where many guests often ask one another where they work and their professional title, in Hong Kong you might ask where someone is from and if you know anyone there as a way to figure out if there is a preexisting relationship-based connection. Business Week wrote a decent piece on the complexities of guanxi and how it can be quite difficult for a Westerner to crack the guanxi code when conducting business overseas.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_47/b4059066.htm

It is good to be back home and to focus on my own guanxi network called Linx Dating and all of the enterprising and dynamic clients and members within. Although I am craving a little dim sum right now and wish I could be in Mong Kok enjoying some hole-in-the-wall dim sum, I can wholeheartedly say I am glad I am not an eligible American girl living in HK, cause no matter how skinny, how rich, how pretty, or smart….I’d be googling matchmaker matchmaker make me a match from abroad.

 

And finally for laughs….let’s play a game of “Where’s Waldo?”  This is a photo taken of me in the MTR subway en route to a fancy dinner at The Peninsula hotel. I told my friend, Peter, to snap the picture capturing the sea of people heading on the train at rush hour.

 

One comment

  1. The whole notion of Guanxi isn’t typical just for the Chinese culture but through the rest of Asia as well. This is also very typical in the Philippines where one usually does not marry outside their socio-economic class even in this day & age. To this day one can still very easily find out about someone based on where they live, what part of the Philippines they originally are from,who their parents or grandparents are, where they were educated. All of these dictates their standing in society and can affect who they socialize with & do business with.

    Some of these practices follow the Filipino immigrants to their new lives in the US but the younger generation embraces the more American way where equal opportunity is more the norm.

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