22 October 2016
Many Hongkongers have no time, no energy and no place for intimacy. That accounts for a sharp decline in the quality of their sex life. Photo: Reuters
Many Hongkongers have no time, no energy and no place for intimacy. That accounts for a sharp decline in the quality of their sex life. Photo: Reuters

Too tight for sex, too harsh for babies

Miss your romantic trysts at the Romance Hotel in Kowloon Tong, with its mirrored ceilings, jacuzzi, piped-in music and on-demand adult videos?  

Get used to the idea.

These days, it’s getting harder and harder to find cheap love nests in the neighborhood, where lovers from opposite ends of town once had a convenient place to discreetly spend a few hours together.

Who still remembers that Bruce Lee used to live in Romance Hotel?

Most older people know, however, that it’s one of a dying breed of “love hotels” that have succumbed to a changing market thanks to an influx of visitors from mainland China.

Operators are scrapping hourly rates for more lucrative overnight accommodations and long-term stays.

It’s tempting to blame Hong Kong’s declining birth rates on the disappearing love nests but we can’t help at least mentioning it. 

In 2015, Hong Kong had 59,900 live births, down 2,400 from a year earlier, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

So why do many married couples, lovers or those in one-night stands prefer love hotels to the privacy of their own bedroom?

There are any number of reasons, apart from the ambience often cited by customers, but the most common are space and yes, privacy.

Unless you were born to a big home, you probably live in an average Hong Kong flat of several hundred square feet.

Hong Kong’s average living space is 161 square feet per person. More than half of private units are less than 50 square meters – virtually shoeboxes that might house four or more people.

Not as conducive to sex as a spacious, colorful, mood-lit motel room.    

Imagine trying to have sex when your parents and siblings — or children for that matter — are in the next room. Imagine not having your own room at all.

The thought is enough to depress your sex drive before you even think about sex.

The average Hong Kong home is just too tight for sex (excuse the pun).

Young unmarried couples work during the day and perhaps have dinner together before returning to their respective homes.

They leave home to have sex elsewhere.

It could be in an office, on a beach, in car, in a lavatory, even under a staircase, according to a Hong Kong Family Planning Association (HKFPA) survey.

Intimacy is hard enough in many situations but trying to have a baby while being conscious about lovemaking techniques, fertility and other considerations can be extremely complicated.

Hong Kong women in prime marriageable age (20-49) have a fertility rate of 1.24, among the lowest in the developed world.

That’s despite more married couples or cohabitants in the past 20 years deciding to have children, HKFPA said in a 2013 report.

The number of double income families with no children is on the rise because couples are either too busy or tired to have sex, or there’s no one in the family who is willing or have the time to look after a baby.

After a hard day’s work, couples hardly have enough energy left for lovemaking, contributing to a drop in the quality of Hongkongers’ sex life.

Add to this the economic consequence of bringing a child into this world at a time when Hongkongers feel less secure about the future.

That is not to mention how the child will be raised and in what kind of environment.

Nowadays, Hong Kong’s political and democratic future plays as much into these decisions as choosing a place to enjoy sex.

Things used to be so simple.

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Romance Hotel in Kowloon Tong, once Hong Kong’s best known love nest, is now a boutique hotel catering to high spending tourists. Photo: Minghong

EJ Insight writer

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