Singapore was our first overseas destination. A little more than a decade ago exchange rates favoured the Aussie dollar. We missed the good years but still managed to get an extra 19 cents for our dollar. These days I believe the Singapore dollar is stronger than ours. We visited chiefly for the shopping and did quite well. It is certainly a hub of world trade. I was ignorant of Singapore's history and world standing at the time but have learned a little recently in my readings. Our visit was a good introduction to the culture of our nearest neighbours; what we used to call the 'East Indies' or the 'Far East' but what is really, (as recently penned by our favourite ex-patriot art critic, Robert Hughes), the 'Near North'. The first impressions were of tropical heat. I had not experienced humidity such as this before, having grown up in a country that gets its meagre rainfall all in the cooler winter and only having known dry heat. The tropical trees were interesting and the airport very large. We saw a guard with what looked like a machine gun which was quite alarming. Roads and buildings en-route to our hotel indicated that the city was prosperous and modern. Certainly very much more so than our capital city, Adelaide. This we had expected of course because we knew that Singapore was an international trade centre of many millions of people. So Singapore was our introduction to the wider world and with being English speaking, clean and orderly, we felt confident that we could make our way, yet still a little unsure of what we might come across. Our hotel was the Pan Pacific and our room overlooked the Bay. We were on the 16th floor, I seem to remember. It was very high up and our elevators were on the outside of the building and were glass, affording a magnificent view and a bit of an experience. It was a five-star hotel and was very opulent. It must have been fairly new back then.