Mr Jam, tell me if I am completely mad.
I've been doing research for a thriller/mystery novel set in Hong Kong and have spent a few nights "doing" the bars on Lockhart Road. As you probably know, there are a mixture of venues there. Some are normal restaurants, others are trendy bars that attract the young, single set, while others are establishments filled with women in bikinis, aiming to extract money from sad, lonely men.
Over the past couple of weeks I have become increasingly brave, and have spent some time in all these places, including the last of the three. The third category is the most scary from a distance, but the most attractive from a writers' point of view: there's drama there, and a feeling that crime is just under the surface, and the people who you talk to there are "on the edge" in many ways. The women I've met say they are happy to be working there, and the men who are there are not nearly as hateful as I expected them to be. They are mainly rather shy guys who simply don't have the looks or communicative talent to make friends in the normal way, so they pay a couple of hundred Hong Kong dollars to get an attractive young women to talk to them for 20 minutes or so. Mostly they are far from home and looking for excitement. Occasionally one of them pays a small fortune -- about HK$3000 -- to take a woman out of the bar. I don't know all the politics of it but it seems to me that, generally speaking, both sides get what they want. I was also comforted by the fact that the establishments are entirely run by women -- one almost never sees a man there. This makes me think that while we tend to think of them as places where women are exploited by men, in reality they may actually be places where men are exploited by women.
Anyway, here's my question. I've got friendly with one of the women there. I told her I was a writer. She's invited me to come back at a certain time next week when the boss will be in the bar, a Chinese woman in her 50s, I guess what used to be called a 'chief mamasan'. She gave me a phone number.
Should I go? Will I be kidnapped and taken to China and sold into a "white slave trade"? Will I ever be seen again? The sensible woman in me says I should keep a million miles away. The trouble is, I have spent my whole life ignoring the sensible woman in me. In fact, the only times I have ever achieved anything is by ignoring the voice of reason. The writer in me says I should go and see where it leads me. You know Hong Kong much better than I do. What do you recommend?