when across the bottom of the screen popped the strangest message. It said I should meet beautiful Asian women for dating and marriage. "Ha ha!" Said I, "Why on Earth would I want to go to China to find a wife? What's so great about beautiful Asian women?"
About fourty-eight hours later, I'd thought of quite a few. I'm a Taoist for one thing. Few Americans have any awareness of Taoism or why I do some of the strange things I do. If you'd like to learn more about Taoism, I keep a blog on the subject here:
Also, I don't drink or smoke or do drugs but do practice sahaja yoga. I'm really kind of a weird, boring stick in the mud. And then there was the divorce, brutal. If I was going to get serious it would have to be real serious, life time commitment stuff with someone with a strong sense of family. I'd heard they had that in China. Maybe beautiful Asian women were more interesting than I thought.
Finally though, an issue that had been rolling around in the back of my mind for some time kept cropping up. Although the divorce had made me into a part time dad, I'm totally committed to my kiddo, a girl who was twelve at the time. While we got on fine, she was at her mom's a majority of the time and what with ideas like boyfriends and sleepovers at friend's houses occupying more and more of her time, I was beginning to see that our time together was time limited. I found myself glaring at the cat angrily, "If I end up living alone with you five years from now..."
Eventually, I clicked the "beautiful Asian women" link and found myself dealing with a Chinese dating service. Here's a tip, don't bother with a Chinese dating service. They display a lot of very sexy photos but very little in the way of actual women.
Social and economic conditions in China are undergoing massive change right now and one of the side effects is that many Chinese woman now have to power to seek life outside of the social and economic structures that they were born to by marrying outside of their home state and even outside the country. The way a dating service works is that they provide photos, translations service, and visa arrangements to the woman in exchange for fees usually paid by the man. It's the translation service that is the real money maker so far as I can tell. For a fee of about $5.00 per letter these agencies will translate letters back and forth between you and the woman and also provide other services such as interpreted phone conversations and hotel arrangements for the man should he come to China to visit.
The process is expensive to begin with and is full of fraud. I spent a couple of hundred dollars finding this out. At one point, two different women with the same agency sent me virtually identical letters. I found some warnings online that the translators in this agency sometimes invent women to answer letters for. Another time I found an agency posting stock photos of women that looked nothing like the actual woman you were writing too. Where were the beautiful Asian women I'd been promised?
I think it's possible to meet a very nice woman on these web sites, all the actual women I spoke to were charming and extremely sweet, but I was really frustrated with the services. My interest in Chinese women was rising but my belief in the agencies was failing. I found the solution on a webpage run by men who had happily married to Chinese women: Chinese Love Links.
Chinese love links, CLL for short, works just like a conventional dating site, small membership fees, small hard to see photos, chat rooms, etc. Except that it focuses on Chinese men and women around the world. Since there are one and a half billion Chinese people in China, most of the love lorn visitors are from there but ethnic Chinese from all over the world go to CLL to find that special someone. CLL was recommended to Minxi by a friend of hers from England.
Posting on a giant dating site like CLL was deceptively gratifying. While only a very small percent of the members wrote to me, there are hundreds of thousands of members so I suddenly felt very popular. I was bothered still by an issue that had bothered me with the Chinese dating service. Many of these people men and women, were engaged a surprisingly high tech effort to catch a mate. Many of the photos were professionally shot and a lot of the writing was clearly coached. (One spammer with a dating service, posing as a women, told me that, as soon as she saw me, she knew that she wanted me to chase her down the beach, catch her, and tell her, "You are my prey." The picture was very sexy! But I doubt there are many women anywhere who want to be my "prey.") I was here to find a real person, a morning hair, paying the bills, arguing over which nursing home person. I wasn't sure I was going to find her among hot, steamy profile photos that looked like movie still and totally fake hotties who wanted to be caught on the beach. Then came the hug.
A "hug" is CLL's way of letting people say hello. If you see a profile you like you can hit the "send a hug" button and let the other person know you've noticed them. I had been on CLL about ten days and was getting five or ten of these every time I logged in. I'd started a few conversations but nothing to promising when I got the strangest hug. The profile wasn't too unique. The woman lived in Guilin, where ever the hell that was, had a degree in accounting, and worked in a touristy restaurant. Not too different that is, except for the photos. All of her photos were just of her here and there, hiking, shopping, etc. and also her passport photo. "That's weird." I thought. "Why in the midst of all this sexy glitz and glamour is this woman posting a plain old, no make up, staring straight at the camera like a glass eyed doll, passport photo?" I was so curious that I wrote her back to ask her.
Her answer, in fairly good English, was that she wanted to be sure that people looking at her profile could tell what she really looked like. Somewhere deep in my head, a small bell began to ring. Could it be? Was I meant for a beautiful Asian Woman?