Shopping online for a soulmate
If you are still single by next Valentine's Day and want to look for a companion, click on www.taobao.com and you may find your true love.
Taobao.com is a popular shopping website on the mainland. Not only can you find goods for sale but also real people. Many singles 'sell' themselves not for money, but as a more interesting way to present themselves.
Helen runs a 'shop' for single men and women. She is known as a 'Web transporter', whose duty is to present and hopefully hitch unmarried men and women. She claims she opened her web-shop out of desperation.
'Two years after graduation, my mother kept arranging blind dates for me, but none were suitable,' she said. 'Annoyed by having dates set up by my mother, I decided to find one myself. I'd been shopping on Taobao for some time, so I thought, 'Why not promote myself as a way to meet someone who I might find interesting?'.'
And so started her online singles market. She uploaded several good-looking portraits of herself, attached her personal information and MSN address. 'Many netizens came to my shop and some even contacted me for details,' she says.
Some dating agencies grasp this opportunity to extend their business as well. The owner of one online dating service said there were many single people of marriageable age around her and she wanted to help them.
'Clients just need to offer me their personal information and pay a 50-yuan [HK$57] service fee,' she says. 'Then I will meet the prospective partners in person to better understand their preferences. Later, I will arrange for them to meet each other.'
Registered on Taobao.com since 2008, her shop has not profited much. But she is still confident of the prospects.