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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - Singapore's Formula One race may be beset by last year's match-fixing and lower ticket sales, but many female escorts have flown into the city-state especially for the event, eyeing wealthy customers.
As bars and clubs prepare for this weekend's race, sex workers from neighbors such as Thailand and Vietnam, as well as from further afield including Russia and Colombia, say they are looking forward to well-heeled race fans.
"I timed my visit to Singapore a few days ahead of the F1 since I think it should bring me good business," said Jenny, a Chinese Russian in her mid-20s who said she is a university student and works as a part-time escort girl in Hong Kong.
Jenny was among dozens of scantily-clad women looking for customers in a bar underneath a five-star global hotel chain on Singapore's shopping strip Orchard Road.
"As a business student, coming to Singapore is like killing two birds with one stone -- making money and finding business opportunities," said Jenny, who asks for S$250 ($177) for an hour of her services and who declined to give her full name.
In the same bar, Anna, a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman from Ho Chi Minh City, said business had been very slow in the past few weeks, adding that she hoped the F1 would speed up revenues.
"Money in Vietnam is not good so I come here. But money here is not so good yet," Anna said.
Tickets for F1 practice runs and the race have yet to sell out, with the buzz from the sport's first ever night street race in Singapore in 2008 not evident this time, though the event is attracting attention from a scandal over last year's result that may put some fans off [ID:nLL726512].
The bars for Western expatriates remain bustling, but the traditional red-light district of Geylang, which mainly sees locals and foreign male laborers, has been cleaned up in the past few weeks by the police, witnesses say.
"No girls mean no business for us," a beer seller at a bar told her customers, when asked if their business has been affected by the police raids on Geylang streets.
Prostitution is legal in Singapore, but the law bans soliciting of sex and penalizes those who live on the earnings of prostitutes.
($1=1.414 Singapore dollar)
(Additional reporting by Vivek Prakash)
Editing by Miral Fahmy