SINGAPORE - They pull you by your arms and flirt openly with you. Some even ask if you can take them home for some "fun".
The flesh trade that earned Orchard Towers the unfortunate tag "Four Floors of Whores" appears to have moved to Clarke Quay recently.
Patrons have complained to The New Paper that transgender sex workers and scantily-clad women on social visit passes aggressively grab them, clamouring for business.
Their target: Mostly Caucasians.
Mr James, an English expatriate in his 40s, said: "They are quite bold - they will sit at the restaurants to get your attention. Once, one of them pulled me over and told me to take her home for $200."
We staked out the entertainment district over four weekends in July and August after a number of Clarke Quay regulars complained about those who openly solicit for business.
We spotted about 10 transgender sex workers last weekend.
An American tourist, who gave his name only as Jonathan, told TNP that one of these "women" had tugged at him as he was walking by with an offer for a "massage". As they chatted, she stroked his chest and back.
He said: "I didn't expect to see such scenes at Clarke Quay. It was quite a surprise for them to be so bold in public."
We observed one woman from afar on more than one occasion over the four weekends.
But when we approached her, the woman, who called herself Jess, insisted that she had just arrived the day before and that she was here to gamble.
Said Jess: "I come here from the Philippines with my friends to go to Marina Bay Sands to play at the casino. After Singapore, we will be going to Thailand, Macau and many other places."
A worried look suddenly crossed her face when a group of about 10 uniformed police officers walked by.
But she loosened up once the men in blue were out of earshot.
Lighting up a cigarette, she tossed back her long hair and purred: "Now, where were we?"
Upon further chatting with her, she eventually leaned in and said that she was available for sexual services at $200 for an hour.
Such transgender sex workers aren't the only ones on the prowl at Clarke Quay.
Last Saturday night, we observed dozens of scantily-clad women - believed to be Filipino and Vietnamese - outside some of the clubs.
We spoke to another girl - she insisted that she was a "real girl" - on Saturday. She whispered to us: "Be careful of the others here. Nearly all are Filipino ladyboys!"
The Vietnamese woman beamed after we bought her a drink and when asked what she was doing in Clarke Quay, she said: "I can make more money at Orchard Towers but I'm afraid to go there. Too many policemen. I can 'hide better' here."
Club owners TNP approached declined to comment on the presence of sex workers in Clarke Quay.
However, employees at Clarke Quay said these prowlers are careful not to draw any unwanted attention on themselves.
A waiter who declined to be named, said the sex workers do not cause any trouble.
He said: "They have been coming here very regularly - I see them every weekend. They come, they drink, they walk around looking for customers, then they go off."
Clubbers approached by TNP expressed surprise that such scenes could be seen at Clarke Quay.
Responding to queries, Clarke Quay landlord CapitaLand said it was working closely with the police to deter vice activities.
A CapitaLand spokesman said it takes a strong stance against vice activities.
"Our tenants are equally mindful of keeping a lookout for and deterring such activities," he said, adding that there are a total of 151 closed-circuit television throughout Clarke Quay.
CapitaLand shares the footage with the police.
Added the spokesman: "Patrons who feel harassed can contact our security officers for assistance.
"Our security officers continually monitor the situation and alert the police to suspicious behaviour.
"We will continue to collaborate with the police to monitor the situation and take actions as appropriate."
One club bouncer - who spoke on the condition of anonymity - said that's easier said than done.
"Unless they cause trouble, we don't turn people away. Besides it's bad for business to turn people away just because we think they are prostitutes," he said. "But they are usually quite discreet. If things get too rough or if they are harassing customers, then we will call the police."
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