SINGAPORE - A poster at a small provision store in China advertising jobs in faraway Singapore altered Ms Li Xiu Ying's (name changed) life forever.
On a whim, the impoverished mother of one decided to apply, an act that entangled her in a web of danger and deceit that she is not free of even today - so much so that some family details have been withheld in this story for their protection.
What she can reveal is that her husband earns around 20,000 yuan (S$4,000) a year from running a small business. With their young son growing up fast, money had been tight.
She had been keen to work in a factory in Singapore as she knew someone who had done so before.
But when she met the employment agent who advertised the jobs, he suggested that she try her luck in Singapore's fast-growing food and beverage sector instead.
"I was told to apply for a job at a pub as there were plenty of vacancies," the 33-year-old tells Insight in Mandarin.
The job was described as serving food and drinks, and cleaning the pub after hours. Her monthly salary: $1,000 plus tips.
Ms Li had to pay 20,000 yuan in agent's fees and another 5,000 yuan for her flight ticket to Singapore, which she borrowed from friends and relatives.
She signed the contract and was soon on a plane to Singapore.
However, her workplace proved to be a Chinatown KTV lounge. On her arrival, although it was early evening, her "colleagues" were decked out in garish makeup and sexy short dresses.
Ms Li was given a similar dress and told to sing and entertain clients.
She also had to drink with them, straightaway.
"I was upset, I had never dressed that way before, but decided not to complain since it was my first day," she says.