One for the bucket list: Eastern & Oriental Express

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The Eastern & Oriental Express was never one of those trips I thought of doing before, but after a recent trip on this luxury rail journey from Bangkok to Singapore via Malaysia, I’m thankful that I was lucky enough to experience it. It’s definitely one to add to the bucket list…something a little different, and a great way to see more than one Asian destination in one trip, and most importantly – in comfort. #winning

So, the adventure starts after arriving into Bangkok, Thailand where we had to brace ourselves for a bustling, populated city with crazy humidity (ice water and wet towels became our best friend). Luckily for us, we stayed at the beautiful 5 star Pathumwan Princess Hotel which is attached to the well-known MBK Center – an 8-storey shopping mall filled with stores, markets, massage parlours and food courts (perfect access to everything we need without having to leave the air conditioning).

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MBK Center, Bangkok

Now, we obviously couldn’t leave Bangkok without exploring the city a little, so we ventured out to visit some of their temples and saw alot of Buddhas, including the biggest Buddha I’ve personally seen in my life! Here’s a little snapshot of just some of the things we saw…

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I looked at this and all I could think of was the movie “Night at the Museum”

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Gold, gold, and more gold!

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So much discipline…

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Wat Pho…huge

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After sightseeing, savouring local cuisines and getting bargain Thai massages, it was time to check-in to our train trip…

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Amazing service by all staff of the Eastern & Oriental Express, many thanks!!

As soon as we arrived at the train, it looked to me like a scene from a Harry Potter movie and we were about to take a journey to Hogwarts. The green carpet was rolled out to welcome guests and the other end of the train wasn’t even in sight – it was so long! But here it is…in all it’s glory.
IMG_3439IMG_3443 IMG_3444 Now, take a look inside…

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These corridors were pretty narrow, it came in handy when the train was moving side to side

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The bar carriage

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The State Cabins

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The piano man…our entertainment in the bar carriage before dinnertime

IMG_3448 This State Cabin was my home during the journey. It was cosy and comfortable, a tiny little bathroom with Bvlgari toiletries and fresh scented flowers. Plus, a steward on hand 24/7 who delivered breakfast to my room each morning and turned my day room into a bedroom each night and back again the next morning. Each night, we’d also get a different little gift on our beds…a nice little touch for guests. This is your spot for peace and solitude – no TV or Wifi but the perfect place to read a book, listen to music, take an afternoon nap or just watch the world go by.

IMG_3460IMG_3463 IMG_3469 IMG_3477 Day excursions allowed us to get off the train for a few hours and explore different places along the way. Our first stop was at the Bridge on the River Kwai where we took a short river cruise. It’s crazy to think of all the things that happened at this very spot.

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IMG_3487 IMG_3489 IMG_3498 IMG_3503 IMG_3517 IMG_3518 IMG_3519 IMG_3521 IMG_3524We also paid a visit to the prisoner’s of war cemetery in Kanchanaburi, Thailand where plenty of Australian, American and Dutch men were laid to rest. We were given fresh flowers to pay our respects there and I decided to give my flowers to one of the medics. IMG_3526 IMG_3527 IMG_3529 IMG_3530IMG_3532 IMG_3533If we weren’t day-tripping, we’d be relaxing in our cabins and watching scenery go by or taking pictures from the observation cart. If we weren’t there, we were generally hanging out in the bar carriage socialising or taking advantage of the foot masseuse.

IMG_3535We arrive into Malaysia and once we’re all cleared through customs, we’re off exploring again, next stop – Penang Island. 

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Hello Malaysia, we’ve arrived

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We jump on the bus that takes us to Penang Island and this is the first thing I notice….’no guns on the bus’, good to know! eek

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This sign gave us a bit of a chuckle…who would even think about doing this? Well, until you read this sign

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On our last night in Malaysia, we were treated to traditional Malaysian dance performances before dinner – just beautiful!

IMG_3630 IMG_3635 IMG_3636 IMG_3640 IMG_3641Speaking of dinner, brace yourself for some serious food porn. The food and service on this train was pretty a-m-a-z-i-n-g! Fine dining at its best – lunches and dinners not only looked good but our tastebuds were going crazy with how delicious the food was. On top of that, during the day we had the scenery to take in while enjoying our meals. Dinnertime every night on this train allows guests to dress up too, and I mean really dress up, so guys…be prepared to look sharp with your suit and ties while ladies dressed up in their evening wear. Unfortunately, due to the movement of the train, it wasn’t always easy capturing a clear picture of some of this food but here’s a snapshot of what they fed us on the train…

20140826_213237 20140826_214858 20140826_22230320140827_135432 20140827_140955 20140827_142638 20140827_142717 20140827_142732 20140827_143849 20140826_223849 20140827_212700 20140827_214034 20140827_215719 20140827_221809 20140827_223247 20140828_125810 20140828_131211 20140828_132559 20140828_134025 IMG_3450IMG_3456IMG_3653 IMG_3654 IMG_3658 IMG_3659After a short stint in Malaysia, it was time to arrive into Singapore. Another customs clearance for all passengers and it was time to disembark the train – where our cabin travelled with us, and we were spoilt with comfort, relaxation, great scenery and delicious food.

A few tips to keep in mind when travelling on this rail journey:
* pack dressy evening wear for dinners each night, it’s customary
* the power plugs are the same as the UK power plugs, so be sure to pack the appropriate adaptor
* it’s a good idea to pack your stuff away during the day and night, or they may end up on the floor while the train’s moving – I always found some of my belongings on the floor when I woke up in the morning or during the day
* cabins are quite cosy in order to fit in the compact train carriages, and the corridors are very narrow – just something to keep in mind if you suffer from claustrophobia
* pack comfortable light-weight clothes for day excursions, as we all know the climate in Asia is very warm and humid so you’ll want to be cool and comfortable
* don’t forget to pack some sunblock and insect repellent
* stretchy pants might come in handy, they feed you 3-4-5 course meals of amazing food you have to try while you’re on the train, you’ll be thankful for stretchy pants!

Time for our last stop – Singapore! We were driven around the city with the guidance of our entertaining tour leader, Jane from Destination Asia. We took in views of the skyline and Sentosa Island from Faber Peak and wandered around Singapore’s National Orchid Garden where we saw lots and lots of different types of orchids (since “orchids” are their national flower). A great city that was also clean and safe (which I really loved about it). Not to mention, the endless number of shopping malls! #mykindofplaceIMG_3668 IMG_3671 IMG_3676 IMG_3679 IMG_3682 IMG_3684 IMG_3686 IMG_3687 IMG_3690 IMG_3692 IMG_3697 IMG_3701 IMG_3715 IMG_3716 IMG_3717 IMG_3734

While in Singapore, we stayed at the stunning 5-star Marina Mandarin Hotel – a perfect location for visitors. It’s attached to 2 awesome shopping malls, and walking distance to Marina Bay Sands. It’s also a short drive to Clarke Quay – a buzzing little precinct filled with stores, restaurants and bars, as well as Bugis Junction – a great little marketplace to pick up a souvenir or two.

20140829_165354IMG_3745 IMG_3754 IMG_3756 IMG_3757This was definitely a memorable trip with a great group of people. We were well looked after throughout and I’m very grateful to Eastern & Oriental Express for the experience, amazing service and for opening my eyes to a journey I wouldn’t have thought of doing before. Also, big thank you’s to Pathumwan Princess Hotel, Bangkok and Marina Mandarin Hotel, Singapore for accommodating us and Destination Asia for being our guides.

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