Tuesday 27th November 2001, Singapore.

The alarm went off at 6.15am, which was an unpleasant shock to the system, as we had not slept particularly well. Somehow we had it fixed in our minds that the airport shuttle was due at 7.15am – we were therefore still in the process of packing when we got the call to say that the bus was waiting. In our haste, we deliberately left behind a number of awkward-shaped items, which we could not find space for: pots of yoghurt, cans of beer, a souvenir mug from Hawaii, a box of tissues, etc.

The flight to Singapore was, quite simply, the best we have had to date. The air hostesses were the prettiest and ‘smiliest’, the service was the most attentive, we had the best food, and the landing was so perfect that we didn’t even feel the wheels touch down! Without a doubt, we would recommend Singapore Airlines’ business class above any of the others we have tried.

The Albert Court Hotel was also a nice surprise (especially with Brigid’s record on Internet bookings …). On our limited budget, it was easily the grandest hotel we have stayed in this trip, with its marble foyer and courteous reception staff. We particularly liked the intricately carved dark wood panelling and furniture that is used throughout the hotel. Our deluxe room cost us only S$140 per night (about £53).

We had a brief snooze, and then (when John had grown bored of listening to Brigid’s snoring) we asked at the reception desk for directions for an evening stroll.

We wandered through the night market, taking in the sights and smells of ‘the Orient’ – feeling the batiked cotton and silk, and inspecting the fake Rolex watches!

Eventually we found ourselves at the Raffles Arcade, a huge and exclusive shopping plaza, backing onto the famous Raffles Hotel, and built in the same colonial style.

After posing for photographs outside the hotel entrance, we treated ourselves to cocktails in the bar.

We rejected the pink and fruity ‘Singapore Sling’ in favour of a Manhattan and a Margarita!