Popular restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City have hired good-looking and well-educated girls to converse with customers, especially foreigners, but some places may be having their hostesses work as prostitutes.
The eateries often advertise their girls as competent in English and knowledgeable about Vietnamese traditions in order to attract curious foreigners.
The service on Pham Ngu Lao Street costs up to $100 an hour while on Tran Hung Dao and Suong Nguyen Anh Streets charge $50-70 for a couple of hours of conversation.
At the Japanese-styled Ngoi nha tinh yeu (Love Home) restaurant on Ngo Van Nam Street, District 1, Japanese customers flock to choose from around 20 girls who follow them to VIP rooms and chat during meals. The customers chose the topics: politics, economics, culture and love.
Love Home ââ‚¬Å“chat girlââ‚¬ Tran can speak Japanese and Trang is fluent in English.
ââ‚¬Å“Some customers misunderstand our job and act improperly,ââ‚¬ said Trang, a college student who has worked at the restaurant for a month. ââ‚¬Å“But then they usually figure it out and enjoy the serviceââ‚¬¦they come to learn about our culture, learn Vietnamese and they often hire us to talk with their business partners.ââ‚¬
Customers are charged US$15-20 for around two-hours of conversation at Love Home.
Trang said her salary is just over VND1 million a month, but her tips are enough for her to make a living and study Japanese.
Lonely city life
Le Minh Tien, a lecturer on urban studies from HCMCââ‚¬â„¢s University of Social Sciences and Humanities, said face-to-face conservation was disappearing from modern urban society.
Thus, people in such societies often yearn to find someone to share things with that they canââ‚¬â„¢t tell their spouses or friends, Tien said.
ââ‚¬Å“The chat-girl service meets this demand in some ways, but the service can easily turn into something else when a man and a woman get close.ââ‚¬
Professionals in disguise
A restaurant identified only as KV on Pham Viet Chanh Street, District 1, also offers chat girls for $15 an hour, but customers say the girls are not much for talking. Instead theyââ‚¬â„¢re just pretty and wear sexy clothes, insinuating something else may be going on behind closed doors, customers said.
Restaurant owners in HCMC said chat girls have become so popular that they have to rush to hire new ones, often handing out jobs purely based on looks.
The owner of a restaurant on Le Thanh Ton Street who wished to be named only as T.M.H. said many restaurants in downtown were now offering ââ‚¬Å“chat girlsââ‚¬ merely to disguise prostitution.
H. said she had sacked five of her girls after they made appointments to ââ‚¬Å“talk moreââ‚¬ with their customers at hotels after hours.
Some talk girls at KV and the B restaurant on Hai Ba Trung Street were also willing to make hotel calls, customers said.
Source: Tuoi Tre