FOR $12,800, Singaporean men can visit Vietnam, pick a virgin bride among 200 young women, and round off their week-long trip with a celebratory wedding feast.
The quickie matchmaking service was spawned by 40-year-old Mark Lin, who has been providing Singaporean men with a new source of brides, and in his words, has been a roaring success.
His matchmaking company, Sin Ye, in Katong Shopping Centre, has paired up 30 Singaporean men with their Vietnamese partners aged between 18 and 25.
Each of the men will go on a trip to Vietnam where Mr Lin and a partner will introduce him to more than 200 women from the villages there.
Mr Lin will arrange for two or three of the women, and their chaperones, to meet the would-be groom in his hotel room, where they will be interviewed.
'Our client will take a look at them and talk to them through a translator and then decide whether he likes them. It is not unlike a beauty pageant,' he added.
If no one catches his fancy, more will be introduced, and so far, the process has been foolproof.
'All our clients who have taken the trip have found someone they like,' Mr Lin said.
Once four or five prospective brides have been chosen, they are invited to have lunch or dinner with the would-be groom, who will spend more time with them to see who he likes more and feels more comfortable with.
And when he has decided on who he wants as his partner for life, Mr Lin and his partner will turn wedding planners.
Mr Lin said he has three packages ranging from $12,800 to $22,000.
The packages include a wedding gown for the bride, processing fees for her visa and passport application, rental buses to ferry her relatives to and from their homes and even a medical examination for the bride.
Mr Lin said with a smile: 'Many Singaporean men who come to us feel that virginity is a very important quality.
'So once they like someone introduced by us, we would send her to a doctor who would then examine her and see if she is healthy and a virgin.'
A woman attendant will also be employed to bathe the bride and check if she has any scars on her body.
The client will be informed of the reports from the doctor and the attendant before he decides who he wants to marry.
Asked if there were instances when some of the men had changed their minds after finding out that their prospective wives were not virgins, Mr Lin admitted that there were, but declined coyly to say how many.
Asked if the women would face any language difficulties when they moved here, Mr Lin dismissed the notion with a laugh.
'Once the man decides on the woman he wants as his wife, we would get a teacher to teach her Mandarin so that she can talk to her in-laws,' he said.
The week-long crash course in Mandarin allows the women to communicate their basic needs such as eating and sleeping, and greeting their new relatives.
Mr Lin said that Vietnamese brides marrying foreign men is not a new phenomenon, as many have hooked up with men from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea for the past 10 years.
'They have heard that Singapore is a safe country and that the men here love and pamper their wives very much,' he said.
As for the men, who range from clerks to hawkers, to factory bosses, Mr Lin said they looked for Vietnamese women because they wanted someone 'demure, conservative and has simple needs and expectations'.
But matchmakers like Mrs Ho Koon Choo were concerned about the cultural and language differences between Singaporean men and their Vietnamese brides.
Mrs Ho, the co-director of D'Match Friendship and Marriage Agency, said: 'It is rather scary because they would have to overcome their cultural differences, and with their different backgrounds, it means they have different value systems.'
She added that marriage is a serious commitment, and she screens those she pairs up thoroughly to see if they are indeed ready for a relationship.
Receptionist Neo Chee Tiong, who found his wife Dinh Su Xim on Mr Lin's tour in Vietnam last December, believes that marriage is a life-time commitment - even though his courtship lasted just three days.
Mr Neo, 28, was introduced to Madam Dinh, 20, then an apprentice hairdresser in Ho Chi Minh City. He married her and brought her home to Singapore.
He said: 'When I met her, she looked very shy but I was attracted to her.'
He married her three days after meeting her because 'it was love at first sight'.
Mr Neo, who has had several relationships before, with the longest one lasting four years, said: 'I wanted a conservative girl with simple needs.
'I wanted to settle down early and have a child before the gap between me and my child is too big.'
But what does his wife have to say?
Madam Dinh bowed her head, smiled and said: 'kai xin (happy)'.
THE SEARCH: From hunt to wedding
THE matchmaking process is a complete one. On arriving in Vietnam, a bride-hunter will be introduced to more than 200 women from the villages there. Two or three chosen ones then get to meet the hopeful husband in his hotel room for an interview. Once four or five prospective brides have been chosen, they are invited to a meal with him while he makes his final choice.
Packages, priced between $12,800 and $22,000, cover accommodation, a wedding feast, processing fees for her visa, passport application and even a medical examination for the bride - to check her health and virginity.