A close encounter with Taiwan’s KTV girls

Taiwan is obsessed with karaoke.  Everyone and their dog has a karaoke set at home for those heavy typhoon days, when they can’t go out and sing.  While exploring town in the first few weeks, I saw many, many signs for KTV (Karaoke TV) bars.

Now, there are 2 kinds of KTVs.

The PG 13 ones are where you can go, order beer, and sing your heart out.  I have even seen families head into these ones for a night of good, clean fun.

And then there are the R-rated (and sometimes X-rated, as I found out) ones which have all of the above, plus girls.

Needless to say, I was interested in learning more about the latter.

Here is a story about how I found out.

It was a Friday night, and I was out at one of the many fishing bars that they have here.  I was lonely as hell, so, while drowning my sorrows in beer,  I was contemplating on how I could find out more about the KTV scene.  Never having actually been in one of these joints, I was under the impression that these were places where young, single people go and mingle.  Obviously I wanted to meet someone of the opposite sex, and it seemed like the KTVs were the only place where I could do so.  There was no other place in town (that I knew of) where people congregated to flirt and be flirted with.  Of course, there was still the language barrier, but I figured booze and music would compensate for that.

As usual, a stranger comes up to me.  Of course, he looks mildly intoxicated, and his mouth is red with betel nut.  He is continuously spitting into a little cup.  (In a small town, they will never approach you unless they have some “liquid courage”.  Cultural and language barrier thing.)

“Where are you come from?” he asks.


“Ahhh…Jiānádà.  Wǒ zhīdào, wǒ zhīdào (I know, I know).  Very beautiful.  How long Taiwan?”.

Now, sometimes this means how long have you been here, and other times it means how long do you plan on staying here.

“I’ve been here for one month. I plan to stay for a long time.”

“Good-ah! Uhhh…very nice to meet with you. You like-ah whisky?”


He sits down, orders a bottle of whisky (1500 NT; $50 Cdn.),  and we start a broken conversation about Taiwan and Canada.  I thought then, that this was going to be my entertainment for the night.  Turns out Jay (his English name) was going to be my guide through the seedy underbelly of town that night.

Taiwanese drink whisky with only one mix.  Water.  They pour about a triple shot of whisky in a small jug and fill it up with water. Then each person takes turns filling up the others glass from the jug.  It tastes like crap but keeps you hydrated, I guess.

We were sipping our watered down drinks for about an hour when the bottle ran out.  At this point I had a nice buzz, and was having a pretty good time chatting with my host, nevermind that we understood about 20% of what each other was saying.  But as everyone knows, intoxicated guys all over the world always have a common language based mostly on women.

“You have nǚ péngyǒu?” he asked


“Ahhh…nà yīgè…girlfriend.  You have?”


“You like Taiwan girl?”

“Sure, they are very beautiful.”

“You want?”

At this point I didn’t know what to say.  Was he asking me if I wanted to buy a girl?  Or go to a place to meet girls?  I tried to get him to explain, but didn’t make any progress.  He went over and blurted out a stream of Chinese to the owner who then came by and told me that they were friends and he wanted to take me to another bar (I knew the owner because I had come here a few times before).

“Very good-ah pub.  You like.”

Fuelled  by whisky and promises of a possible adventure ahead, I decided to go with Jay.  I could always bail later if things started to go downhill.

We jumped into his BMW and after a short ride pulled up to what looked like a small warehouse with flashy neon lights and posters of expensive whiskys at the entrance.

“Wait moment”

I sat in the car wondering if this was a good idea when, a few moments later, he popped his head out and beckoned me inside.  All right!! Here we go!

I walked into what looked like the lobby of a mid-range hotel.  There was a counter with 2 people behind it.  Milling about were a few security types.  Jay went up to the counter and after talking with the guy put down 5000 NT (about $166 Cdn.).  This is a LOT of money in Taiwan, so I tried to offer him half but, of course, he refused to take it.  I was very intruiged at this point because I wanted to see what a 5000NT bar offered in Taiwan.

We were ushered toward a corridor.  Down the hall, there were a number of rooms; all doors closed.  One of the steroid monkeys opened up a door and motioned for me to go inside.  It was pretty dim and quiet, so I was wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into.  The door closed behind us and as my eyes were adjusting I saw a giant TV screen attached to a sound system and a few microphones.

Ahhh damn.  No people, dim lights….ummm was Jay going to try and seduce me with his wicked awesome karaoke skills?  I was very let down, and was about to leave, when the lights came on.  Ok…a bit better, but still not staying for any type of man-romance.  Jay motioned me to sit, put on the TV (blue screen) and  started fiddling with the stereo.  I remained standing.  I guess, at this point, he sensed my unease and tried to comfort me.

“Beautiful Taiwan girl. Wait.”

The door then opened and servers walked in with a whack of different dishes on snack sized plates, a case of beer and a bottle of whisky.  Ohhh…Jay wanted to hang out, get drunk and sing karaoke.  I was a little confused about why he kept mentioning girls (although I had a dawning suspicion), but I decided…what the hell…this guy paid for all of it so lets hang out and have a good time.

He throws on “Poker Face” and hands me the mike.  Oh ya, Lady Ga Ga is HUGE here.

I’m a horrible singer but feeling pretty good, I gave ‘er a shot.  I was getting into it when,  right in the middle of a rousing “P..P..P..P..P..Poooooker face”, the door opened again, and 4 long legged beauties strolled in.

I looked over at Jay. He had a fool’s grin on his face and he gave me a salacious wink.  I’d never experienced anything like this before so it was pretty Awesome!

The girls danced on in as I was singing. They opened up the beers and topped up all the glasses.  Then, they did the whole whisky+water mixture thing and started drinking with us.

The night pretty much continued in that vein for a while…I’d sing an English song, then everyone else would take turns singing Chinese songs.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’m pretty sure that the lights started slowly dimming down.  The beer and whisky kept flowing, and since Jay and I were well ahead, the girls were downing the booze like champs.  It was like partying with rockstars minus the coke.

I don’t remember how much time had passed, but at one point, I was singing something and trying to focus on the TV screen (the words kept moving for some reason) when Jay came over and sat beside me.  He grabbed my hand and put it on something soft.  I turned to look, and saw that my hand was on one of the girls’ (well endowed) bosom.  Instinctively, I snatched it back, embarrassed and started apologizing to the girl.

“Méi wèntí…is Ok…is OK.” she replied putting my hand back on her real estate.

Jay was grinning like an idiot again, as he fondled one of the other girls.

As much fun as that may have been, I was definitely at my limit for debaucherous behaviour that night.  I regretfully pulled my hand back.  This earned me confused looks from the girls.  Obviously oggling and fondling were included in the transaction, but I just felt way too weird.  Again, perceptively, Jay sensed my discomfort, so, with obvious anguish and heartache he tore himself away from his budding ménage à trois and came over.

“You no want?”

“Ahh..no. Sorry.”


“Ummmm…very tired.”


To his credit he quickly got rid of the girls, and we left the place.  He took me back to the bar where we met, said goodbye and drove off.  I wondered if I’d offended him somehow and if I’d ever see him again.

On the walk home, I was still reeling from the excitement of the night.  While I was caught off guard by the whole hand-on-boob thing, I’d had a great time.

This total stranger had paid for the whole night serving up drinks, food and possibly prostitutes to show me a good time because I was a foreigner to his land.  Or maybe he just wanted someone else to binge with.  I don’t think the latter was the case, because 5000NT is a lot of dough to pay for someone to get drunk with.  Regardless, the fact remains, he treated me.

I now knew that my initial impression of KTVs was totally off base, thanks to Jay.  He’d shown me a night to remember.  While offering up hookers isn’t the most socially acceptable way to say “welcome”, I’m sure that he was trying to show me what he thought was hospitality.

A small, troubling thought did linger though.  Some foreigners have a reputation here for being pump-and-dump fiends with the locals. Did he do this because he thinks westerners are rabid with “yellow fever”, and all we want is to have a taste of  Taiwanese girls?  And if he did, then how many other locals have the same impression of us?  I’d hate to think that behind the smiles and welcomes lies such a low opinion of foreigners.  Or maybe I was just overthinking.

Whatever the reasons I had a ballistic time with Jay.  The splitting hangover that was awaiting me in the morning was well worth the exposure to a seamier side of Taiwan.


14 Responses to “A close encounter with Taiwan’s KTV girls”

  1. 1 oj August 11, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Great story, there are many such similar tales in and around Taiwan, the combination of Lau Wai and Taiwanese girls is endless. I would agree though, I hope that the reputation of “pump and dump” is not overly exaggerated, as I have found many Taiwanese girls very open to talking and showing foreigners around their lovely island, and I’m married. I can say this though, I’ve had the good fortune in my life to travel around the world many times, North / South America, Europe, all parts of Asia, and I can say w/out a doubt, that Taiwanese girls are the most beautiful, full of grace, coyness, class, exotic / erotic, w/out even knowing it (or maybe) they do? But, this island is chock full of gorgeous, accommodating ladies, for that reason alone, foreigners should respect and indulge (I know your feeling, first time) but many of my friends (single) have dabbled, respectfully, and believe me, the glad tidings make the Olympics look like grade school PE… OMG! Anyway, loved your story, keep up the blogging!

  2. 3 chesty September 24, 2012 at 12:30 am

    While you must have your reasons, I think with the kid of money your friend was throwing down, you could have indulged him by indulging yourself. Did you have a girlfriend? I’m sure there was a middle ground between raw-dogging a hooker and straight up bailing on your friends hospitality (which is what it sounded like). Maybe get a blowjob for the sake of intercultural differences? Just an observation, suggestion. Keep blogging stories like this please! Every post here is insightful! Thanks

    • 4 islandsidechronicles September 24, 2012 at 1:28 am

      Intercultural differences eh? You know what?…if I had thought of it that way, I might have been able to justify it in my head. I didn’t have a gf at the time, but I was in a state of debauchery overload. I’ll remember to do it for “intercultural differences” next time! Thanks for the comments and kind words.

      • 5 James September 25, 2012 at 5:17 am

        As an expat who understands mandarin, unfortunately that does seem to be the opinion on us, as there are enough bad expats ruining our reps.

        So I think you made the right choice. If you did “indulge” a bit, then he would have another story to tell and of course the girls at the KTV would also recount how they met “just another lao wai who wants to play & run.”

        By abstaining, at least it’ll set a good example that we’re not all like that and then we might get some more decent/good women who are interested in us, rather than those that specifically seek us out because of our race.

        • 6 islandsidechronicles September 25, 2012 at 5:43 am

          I have come to realize that this rep is more prevalent than I thought, mostly from my current gf and her friends. When I told her that I had been to KTV’s, but hadn’t partaken in all the “offerings”, she was genuinely surprised (this was before we officially hooked up – I was still in the “being judged” stage). She thought that the only thing foreigners wanted was a bit of the local flavour. It took a lot of convincing on my part to change her opinion. I’m sure that her friends still don’t believe it, even after knowing me. Anyway, thanks for reading, and commenting.

          • 7 TaoSexy April 23, 2013 at 7:19 pm

            I think you’re being a little immature and overly puritan about the whole thing, and people are being overly generalizing – Expats or not.

            And excuse me, but just because you’re fondling some boob (and by the way it doesn’t go WAY beyond that with most Lady KTV’s as far as I’ve heard) does not make you an “asshole expat”. You were not there ALONE, and you were not there with other EXPATS. Hello?? You were there with a local TAIWANESE man! And the wonderful person that he was, he was trying to show you some good time and you not only spat in his face by behaving like a boob, you probably made him feel uncomfortable and awkward (and that’s probably why he left with you so quickly and took you to the bar, probably feeling awful about “subjecting” you to all that sleazy fun and maybe “degrading” you, a good boy from Canada that you are?! maybe son of a pastor?).

            Just call it what it is: You were young, inexperienced, and one day you will look back at this experience and regret your behavior and admit to yourself you were not “ready”, which is totally fine! Just don’t make other people look like assholes just because they are more mature and ready than you were at the time.

            There are cultural differences, and there is common sense. Even the girl took your hand and put it back on her own “rack”, didn’t that mean anything to you? If you are not having fun, she is failing to entertain you and host you. And again, most Lady KTV’s are not “prostitutes”, in that there is no sex/intercourse involved. For them it’s just harmless fun, they make good money which probably goes towards their university tuition, they have drinks, they sing, they are several girls so they enjoy a good time even if you are a lamer, and without sexual intercourse they are mostly safe from STD’s (unless you have herpes and force kiss them somehow) – So where’s the harm in that?

            Jeez, lighten up man. And If I was lucky enough to encounter an awesome guy like Jay, I would have kept in touch with him and surprised him a week later by putting down the same 5000 $NT or more, in the same KTV place, to show him that I both respect him and enjoy his company.

            • 8 islandsidechronicles April 26, 2013 at 6:57 am

              Wow. I’m flabbergasted. Your wisdom is overwhelming. Thanks for the detailed response. Well done. Tell me, as a KTV expert, have you ever actually been to a KTV in Taiwan?

              Firstly, It is absolutely possibly to hire a woman for sex at many KTV’s. They are not all benign places for college and university students to make a little extra cash, as you claim.

              Secondly, the “asshole expat” is not necessarily a KTV visitor, it’s someone who leads on, sleeps with and dumps women – just an asshole. If you read what I wrote, you would realize that.

              Third, your comments on my level of maturity are based on the fact that I didn’t want to partake in paid sexuality. You are free to have an opinion and judge, but again, I’d think a bit before you speak. I doubt maturity is defined as paying for rubbing womens breasts.
              A woman putting my hand on her rack doesn’t automatically mean she wants to “entertain” me. Some of these girls owe vast amounts of money and are working here to pay it off.

              • 9 euroguyde September 16, 2014 at 3:38 pm

                I totally agree with the previous comment from TaoSexy. If you ever evolve and learn something from being around the world, you will definitely regret of your behaviour. There is nothing dirty in touching some meat, especially in that context where the girl has explicitly agreed for that. And there are other ways to say no, rather than having such reactions.
                I dunno what is going on with many people in States or Canada, you have a very wrong view about right and wrong. As I said, if you mature/evolve/learn in the future, you will deeply regret of your behavior that night (not of what you did not do, but of what you did). That was very rude from your side, tell yourself whatever you want in your head.
                And yes, I know Taiwan, I am married to Taiwanese and I know those places. You should learn to understand the context, relax and do not overreact, but behave politely. There are other ways to reject without insulting your host.

  3. 11 Dan Chapman May 17, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Hi islandsidechronicles. I can totally understand your hesitation, and you are entitled to have whatever reaction you want. However, Tao is right: many of these girls are students who are doing this simply to get some quick cash because they don’t want to work in the 7/11. Sorry, the whole they are paying off debts thing is a western stereotype and is in fact condescending. In the west people are naughty and lazy; guys become gangsters and girls strip. Asians have a right to be naughty as well. For everyone that is paying off debts there are 5 who just like gucci bags. Again, not knocking you as i felt like you did when i first arrived, but slowly learned. You can read some of my articles at the betelnut equation covering these subjects. http://www.betelnut-equation.blogspot.tw/
    I will add you to my links.

    • 12 islandsidechronicles May 17, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Hello Dan. I’ve read, and actually learned a lot from your blog (which is fantastic!). What I’m writing here is mostly my experiences, and I’m sure that my knowledge will evolve over time.

      Like the working girls back home, the motivations for doing what they do here are, I’m sure, varied. People are people everywhere. The owing money part comes from a girl that I’ve befriended who works at one of these joint. Based on what she’s told me, I’ve gathered that (at least in and around the small town where I am) some of the girls are working due to debt that they or their families have incurred.

      On the other hand, I’m sure that there are others who are working for those Gucci bags, you mentioned.

      Mostly I was responding to the claim that my perceptions of what goes on in a KTV (in terms of picking up the girls for the night) is exagerated – which are not.

      Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. Cheers

  4. 13 Scully Channing September 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I had a similar experience, although I wasn’t nearly as shy as you. Solid post, nonetheless.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


%d bloggers like this: