Hi there Flight Fans This Trip Report is going to go 12 Rounds, or rather days, and this heavyweight traveller is going to land home a number of [-]fists[/-] firsts. But thankfully the boxing analogy will be KOed right here. This first post is about the trip almost all being possible because of what I've learned through AFF and a number of terrific members who've helped me either specifically or in general on the various forums/threads. In particular: * SYD-SIN-DEL on SQ First, courtesy Velocity points bonus on credit card sign-ons, and then converted to SQ miles - all discovered on AFF; * SQ experience tailoring, advice and assistance by Cruiser Elite - amongst the helpful folk here, he's up with the best; honourable mention to JessicaTam for sort of foreshadowing my trip on SQ F by about a week. She posted lots of stuff so I wouldn't have to ask some dumb questions, and also showed that having only two hands is no impediment to how many glasses of good plonk you can have going at once in flight; * Advice and mentoring on fine wines (as in: served in F cabins and F lounges) by ... gosh, there are so many, but Buzzard, boomy, penegal (the budget end of the range, admittedly), Princess Fiona, TomVexeville, BlackCat, JohnM, the entire 'nice wines I have drunk recently' thread, ... and so on ... Apologies for the many I have left out ... * Indian private tour, following advice of jojen. The dilemma of choosing a tour company/guide was the main reason I'd put off going for ages - jojen put me onto what I'm sure is a great company and I have total confidence that it'll go great. Also advice and re-assurance on Indian visas - right at a time when they had their own stresses! Thanks * Advice on the current Indian currency situation and also a kind offer from leadman on the dedicated thread; others also contributing their experiences; * But of course I'll have my Citi debit card and 28 Degrees Mastercard to use, virtually no fees and very little FX margin; * Staying at the Shangri-La in Delhi, mostly on Shangri-La points. Shangri-La Jade status courtesy my AMEX plat charge card and a couple of previous stays with them; * Staying at Hilton at Agra and Jaipur, courtesy advice from jojen, and Gold status from AMEX plat charge card; * Staying at Pullman Aerocity in Delhi, got a great deal for 1.5 day stay (4pm check-in, midnight check out next day) courtesy Accor Platinum status from AMEX plat charge card; * Then its Delhi to Hong Kong on Cathay, business, using cheap Alaskan miles purchased when the dollar was close to parity. What a 'nice little earner' that was! Thank you limewood in particular in respect of Alaskan deals * HKG-Xi'an-HKG on Dragonair, economy. OK, I paid for this 100%; * Seeing the terracotta warriors at Xi'an - got myself organised with transport and tours courtesy of contributors to the thread I set up for this purpose; * A night at the Pullman in Xi'an - a great rate including exec club etc etc again courtesy of Accor Plat from AMEX plat charge card; * Ditto Pullman in HKG; free night courtesy Accor Plat via AMEX * HKG-SIN-SYD (waitlisted) MEL confirmed, again via Velocity points/cc bonuses converted to Krisflyer miles and thanks again to Cruiser Elite for helping with the SQ 'system' (waitlists). * Thanks to many Trip Report contributors - I especially love the TRs from folks who are travelling F or even J for the first time, courtesy of AFF tips. This will be my 5th airline in long haul F, and my First in SQ first, so I hope to engender some excitement too. This will be a tiny taste of India, and heavily tourist area focussed, but I reckon it'll 'go the distance' culture and food-wise. Anyway, to get us in the mood, here's the view from the top floor of the Mercure Sydney Airport: I'm sure there was a good reason as to why I chose to stay here tonight, rather than my usual, the Rydges just across from the International terminal, but I can't think of it right now. Might have something with re-qualifying Accor Plat under my own steam, now that AMEX doesn't offer Accor plat as a perk. Oh, and ~50% off dinner and drinks tonight, courtesy Accor Plus Plat membership, from AMEX plat charge card.