S'pore is where you go to earn a lot of money

She knows the risk of walking the streets of Geylang at night, offering sex to men.

If she's caught, she can be jailed and deported, never to be allowed back into Singapore.

But she doesn't care because the lure of easy money is too strong.

To Amelia (not her real name), Singapore is the land of milk and honey.

The 23-year-old Indonesian said she came to Singapore because "you can earn a lot of money".

"I've had neighbours who came here and made enough to buy a home in my village, so why shouldn't I do the same?" she said.

Amelia, who used to run a food stall in her native Sumatra, operates as a streetwalker in Geylang Lorong 12.

The night I met her, the petite woman with long black hair was dressed in a top with a plunging neckline and a short skirt.

She came to Singapore on a social visit pass, which does not allow her to work here.

Unlike licensed prostitutes in brothels who go for regular checks for sexually transmitted diseases, Amelia, like most freelancers, doesn't.

The fact that she has to play hide-and-seek with the police nightly doesn't bother her.

She said she just wants to "hook as many men as I can to make money, because that's what I am here for".

Observing her from a distance before approaching her, I could tell she was one of the more popular women in the area.

The moment she stepped onto the street at around midnight, she immediately attracted the attention of a group of men.

They hovered around even after I approached her.

We made small talk. But Amelia did not ignore her admirers, smiling at them before turning to me with a laugh.

"It's quite easy to make money here. You can find a lot of customers as long as you are pretty enough," she proudly proclaimed in Bahasa Indonesia.

"This is my second time here. When I first came here last year, I made a decent amount of money," she said, but declined to reveal the sum.

Warned

She's back with a clear goal: Earn enough money to buy a three-bedroom house in Sumatra to live with her younger sister.

"I am looking to save up to $5,000 this time around and I am out of here," she said.

"My friends have worked here and they made a lot of money. But they also warned me of the risks.

"I'm doing this only because I want to buy my own place and have enough money to support my younger sister, who is still studying."

Amelia, who is single, said this is how she can earn money fast.

"I am not educated so this is the only thing I can do where I can earn a lot more money," she said.

"I don't make much selling food, maybe about $50 in a good week."

But on a good night in Geylang, Amelia said, she can make up to $400.

"You have to work hard and I have sex with up to 10 men for $60 each at a nearby hotel," she said with a smile.

"For each client, $20 goes to my boss (her pimp) and I keep the rest."

Since April 1, home for Amelia has been a small hotel room close to Geylang, which she pays for.

She packed light to come here - two sexy "work" outfits, a pair of jeans and several T-shirts. Her hotel room is kept bare in case she is forced to leave in a hurry.

Amelia said a Singaporean she met in Sumatra paid about $300 for her return fare on a budget airline.

As with her first visit last year, her pimp picked her up at Changi Airport and took her straight to Geylang.

Some of her family members think she is here to visit her ex-boyfriend, a Singaporean she met during her first visit.

"For the first week, I worked for free to pay back the loan, but I was lucky because a lot of men wanted me," she said with a hint of pride.

After the first 10 customers, she started earning money for herself.

While "business" has been good, Amelia admits she has to constantly look over her shoulder to avoid arrest.

"There are too many police officers patrolling the area now.

"It's hard to make money sometimes because I have to stay indoors to avoid capture."

That is but a minor inconvenience when there's money to be made, she said.

After we said our goodbyes, Amelia walked away, smiling at the men who had made eyes at her earlier.

This article was published on April 18 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.