Monday, November 24, 2008

Pimps, Prostitutes & Laws against chewing gum!

Though I wasn`t REALLY scared--- my experience in Singapore was probably the closet I came along my travels to feeling "uneasy" in my environment. When I arrived at the airport in the evening, I was sold on "the best value hotel" in the red light district. I admit that I must have been a little bit naive. I really just expected the red light district to mean I`d be in a high traffic area with lots of bars, restaurants & hotels.... haha!

Firstly- I was asked upon check in whether I`d like to rent my room by the hour or on a nightly basis. I was confused as to why they would offer such a thing... hehe (boy- I really am naive). Also, as a woman alone- I felt as though the hotel staff treated me as though I was dirt beneath their feet (now I realize that it was because they thought I was a prostitute in their hotel... fair enough). Anyways, it really wasn`t until morning that I realized just where I was when I went to cross the street to go to the drugstore and an Indian male approached me asking me how much I would charge him (at this point- I was still confused- thinking what a jerk he was for being so direct! hehe.. when really such a question would be perfectly normal there). To make matters even worse- the tattoo I got in the Philippines was badly infected and I could barely get around!

The strangest experience occurred even later that afternoon when I was walking down the main strip & was called over to one of the tables by an older Indian man wearing all kinds of jewelery. He was sitting at an outside table at one of the restaurants with several white men. I figured I had to at least say hello back, as it was the middle of the day. I couldn`t just run away! He fell in love with my blonde hair and refused to believe that I wasn`t a prostitute. He was sure I must be a Russian prostitute to be all alone in this area. He was determined to make me one of his girls & kept trying to make me offers. He kept telling me how much money I could make and was determined to get a yes out of me. I just kept laughing at his suggestions. He was quite the character! I doubt I`ll ever again meet anyone like him! Imagine- sitting in the red light district of Singapore with one of the main pimps! Next thing I knew- two older German men came to sit at the table and the pimp called over two Thai women who obviously worked for him. He starts asking the men if they`d like these girls and the men comment on how ugly & fat they are (to their face while we all sat there). I couldn`t help but laugh, thinking to myself "this really cannot be happening- this is all just a dream." A group of men come running across the street from the back alleys where they`ve obviously been doing some illegal gambling or drugs (or both). It`s 10am and yet there is a young Asian women wearing a mini skirt, high heels, and fixing her make-up on every inch of the main streets--- hoping for some business... Honest to god- I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I really was witnessing all of this. You see movies with this stuff & you read about this stuff- and yet you don`t believe it`s reality until it`s there very real before you! Later on, I went into the downtown bit of Singapore where it`s all very posh boutiques and the contrast was so shocking! It was literally like stepping out of one world and into a very different one...

Two nights later, after being told by a taxi driver to change hotels because I was crazy to be staying where I was as a white woman all alone & getting sick of all the attention I was getting from the men- I checked into a hotel closer to downtown Singapore for some peace of mind. I walked around Little India, checked out the markets, and watched some television in the evenings. I was glad to be away from the craziness of the red light district & to escape my new "friend".... but I was also happy to have seen that side of things. It truly was an "experience."

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