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Saturday December 20, 2008

Lorraine Hahn’s-ome husband

At 40-something, ex-CNBC and CNN personality Lorraine Hahn — a former Miss Vancouver Chinatown — finally decided to walk down the aisle.

Lorraine Hahn is the first to tell you to expect the unexpected.

“Like all girls, I wanted to get hitched but could never find Mr Right. I had given up all hope and was resigned to being a spinster — the word sounds so dreadful!— when Michael Wang finally walked into my life!” smiles a radiant Mrs Hahn-Wang.

The newlyweds, Lorraine Hahn and Michael Wang.

For this new chapter in her life, Hahn — born in Singapore to a Korean father and Eurasian mother — has Malaysian architect David Hashim of Veritas to thank, for it was he who played Cupid.

She was then in her hometown Vancouver and Wang was in the Maldives. Having been introduced, long distance, the two e-mailed each other casually a few times and agreed to meet over dinner.

“We agreed to dine at Indochine in Hong Kong after I returned from Vancouver but at the last minute he changed the date to the very day I arrived as he had to fly off the next day,” says Hahn.

“I was severely jet-lagged and decided to sleep that Sunday afternoon. When I woke up, it was 7pm, the exact time I was supposed to meet him!

“I did not have his handphone number and had never talked to him, as all contact was via e-mail. I hoped his Blackberry was on when I texted to say I would be running late. I asked if we could meet on his next trip to Hong Kong. He said he would wait.

Hahn being walked down the aisle by her father.

“So I jumped into my comfy sweat pants and rushed out without make-up or doing my hair. I didn’t even want to step out of the door as I preferred to continue sleeping. It was not as if I was going to meet the man of my dreams and marry him, right?” she giggles.

At Indochine 1929, the Vietnamese restaurant in Lan Kwai Fong, a slightly sleepy Hahn found she was in no mood to socialise.

“I told myself I would give David some choice words if Michael turned out to be a loser. I looked around and saw a stylish, serious-looking and bearded man chatting with the waiter. He was the only single man there so I deduced that was him.

“Ooh-la-la! He was HOT!

“I wanted to sneak out, go home and change into a cocktail dress! How I regretted not dressing up and smearing on some lipstick! As I patted my hair and tried to make it look like I didn’t just wake up, he saw me.”

The courtship had a slow but sure start especially after Bobby Bhatia, 48, a close friend of Wang’s, allayed earlier rumours that Wang might be “gay”.

Introductions

Wang and David were working on a hotel project in the Maldives in 2007 when for some unfathomable reason David blurted over dinner, “Hey, since you are single, you should meet my friend Lorraine Hahn.”

David sms-ed Hanh to check on her marital status, just in case, and got a reply.

“Oh good, she is still available so I can give you her e-mail,” he said.

The couple’s friend David Hashim.

Wang said OK and did not realise that this was the famous TV personality Hahn.

“I just assumed this was a lady with the same name as the TV personality! I never bothered asking David and he never bothered to tell! I only exchanged a couple of e-mails with Lorraine. On the way to Indochine, it suddenly hit me that she could be THE Lorraine Hahn.

“Then she walked in wearing a blue Juicy Couture sweat pants and I thought she really is comfortable with herself. Yes, it was love at first sight, and I kept talking so much trying to impress her with my wit until she asked if she could order some food!”

Wang, who had never been on a blind date before, struck gold on the first attempt.

Ten months later, Wang took his intended to Cairo, Egypt, where she had always wanted to go but never found the time. The pyramids were breathtaking and this would be where he would propose to her.

But it was not as if Hahn had no inkling. Both had got on so well that it was just a matter of time.

Wang and Hahn with best men and bridesmaids (from left) Jennifer Cheng, maid of honour Akiko Takahashi, Han Fen Chao (Michael’s cousin), Thomas Schmidt, Sam Chan and Bobby Bhatia.

“Lorraine had even mentioned that should I propose to her, I must do it ‘properly’ and said so in her prim and proper English accent, so I thought I had better get it right the first time!

“To me, love is the biggest mystery in life and the pyramids the second biggest mystery, so why not go to Egypt and propose there?” grins her beau.

Wang’s attempt — attempts, actually — at proposing “properly” proved to be more difficult than he imagined.

At first, he thought of proposing while both of them were riding on camels with the pyramids in the background, but that was not to be.

“Lorraine got on a camel and I on a horse since they ran out of camels that day. I would have had to stand on my horse to propose to her, and I ain’t no acrobat at my age. It was hot, we were sweating and the camel stank to high heaven. Nope, I was not proposing that day.

“So I decided to propose while sailing down the Nile. I had visions of Cleopatra on her perfumed, golden barge going to meet Mark Anthony. Also scenes from that Agatha Christie movie, Death on the Nile.

“The first vision was fine but the second was rather incongruous as I wanted a long, happy life with her. But proposing on the Nile still struck me as being romantic — until we boarded this noisy, rickety, cheap tin-can boat with loud music blaring away.

Wang and Hahn exchanging vows in Sanya. — LORRAINE HAHN & MICHAEL WANG

“It was too packed for me to propose on my knees and the music was so loud I would have had to write my marriage proposal on a piece of paper! The Nile was dirty and brown and reminded me somewhat of Bangkok’s river. No go.”

Other venues were then considered.

But Cairo Museum with King Tutankhamen’s gold mask was too security-conscious, the Valley of the Kings and Necropolis where the ancient dead were buried were too morbid, and the Nile Dam at Aswan too unromantic. It had to be the Pyramids, camel or no camel.

Finally!

At the end of their five-day trip, Wang took Hahn to dine at the Oberoi Hotel which overlooked the pyramids when it was gloriously lit at night.

“July 1, 2008 was our last night in Cairo and exactly 10 months after we met. I booked a table facing the pyramids, which was the most stunning backdrop you could think of.

“I had arranged with the staff in advance. At a hand gesture, a waiter walked up to me carrying a silver tray filled with a bed of red roses. In the centre was a silver jewellery box with pearl inlays containing my diamond ring.

“A violinist appeared and played Love Story as I proposed to Lorraine on bended knee. She said ‘Yes’ but she really didn’t have a choice. You see, I had booked a corner table and she had nowhere to run!”

The wedding was held at Sanya on Hainan Island, China on Nov 8, 2008 at 5pm on the Centre Lawn of the Ritz-Carlton, and the bride wore a gown by Pronovias from Paris. Malaysian Jennifer Cheng was bridesmaid.

On Nov 29, 2008, Hahn threw another party at the uber-exclusive Kee Club in Central, Hong Kong, for friends who were unable to make it to Sanya.

“Kee Club is a stone’s throw from Indochine, which brought back fond memories,” smiles a contented Hahn.

As for the pitter-patter of tiny feet, watch this space.

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