Having driven right down the Malaysian peninsula, we finally made the crossing in to Singapore. We’d only planned to spend a couple of nights here as costs spiralled dramatically.

After a bit of a search we booked in to the Hotel Berjaya Duxton which was supposedly in good reach of most things central. The building was part of an old Chinese-style terrace of town houses all boasting ancient verandahs and shutters.

Although beautiful to look at from the outside, inside was suffering from lack of love and our room could definitely have benefited from a damp proof course. The other minor drawback was the number of newly opened Kareoke Bars and neon-lit sex joints that were direct neighbours. It made for a colourful view at any rate.

We were on a shopping mission in Singapore trying to find some suitable gifts for Nigel’s family in Australia which was our next port of call. If you need to shop, Singapore abounds with opportunity. They have it down to a fine art and it was no surprise to learn that the whole nation dives head long in to a half-price sale every year that sees all tourist beds taken for the duration.

We headed away from the Nikes and DKNY stores and ventured in to the area know as Little India in search of some reasonably priced gold. We were immediately transported six months back in time to Mumbai and all the sights, sounds (and smells) were a welcome contrast to ‘Western living’. All the old favourites were for sale here including carved elephants and Kingfisher beer, just at ten times the price! We even got in to the swing of shopping, with Nigel causing a row in one shop over their gold price per ounce versus the cost of labour shown on the door. Quite exciting to be confronted by an angry Indian, knowing the worst they could give you was a Chinese burn on the arm.

Mission finally accomplished, we headed off to the only place in town – Raffles Hotel. It was a must I’m afraid and even though I fully expected to be turfed out due to unsuitable footwear, we were in fact shown gracefully inside and led to the famous Writer’s Lounge where a restorative glass of wine awaited. Marvellous! Raffles in Flip Flops!!

I’m sure Singapore has a lot more to offer, but as we were only there a short time I was left with the impression of noise, heat, malls and dollars. Maybe another time will show a different face.

It was a fleeting glimpse and then off to yet another airport for our flight to Australia. Rather groovy SARS machines checked you out automatically and this time we both passed the temperature check with flying colours.

Goodbye SE Asia – hello Oz...

India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa