Apart from its splendour and luxury, year after year it is at the mercy of the whimsical weather of Malaysia and Thailand. This is where trees fall, where floods, accidents or traffic diversions happen. And this is why, despite the times of the aristocrats and kings having long been forgotten, travel by the Eastern & Oriental Express is not only extremely sentimental and sumptuous, it is like a journey into the past, but equally interesting, it is still an adventure with a thrill of emotion.
The train came into being in 1972 in Asia’s response to Europe’s charming Orient Express. Its 31 rail carriages are not just compartments with seats but a fully equipped hotel. It went down in history as the first train transporting passengers directly from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. Today it travels through Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Passengers can choose between a classic grand style journey, that is, travel between metropolises, or a version with amenities en route. These thematic journeys were named after fables: the Ancient Lanna Kingdom and the Fables of the Peninsula.
The first trip takes us to cities of northern Thailand, such as Lampang, famous for the Burmese temples or Chiang Mai, rich in waterfalls. A six-day journey on the peninsula is a very select form of entertainment. It is available to 60 guests only at a single time. These requirements are set by standards: beginning at the legendary Raffles hotel in Singapore from which trips in presidential cabins are organised to Kuala Lumpur for sightseeing in the modern centre of Malaysia. Next, there are the green hills of Cameron Highlands and Penang - a unique merger of the West and East with the centre of George Town listed by UNESCO. A spot of relaxation in the crystal waters of Huay Yang can be an excellent ending.
The above-mentioned routes are, of course, examples, because as happens with trade, new, better offers appear regularly, e.g. Singapore and Bangkok with the temples of Angkor.
The line connects Singapore with Bangkok. The cities it runs between match the elegant splendour of the train interior, giving the impression that the route was designed here on purpose. On one side, there is the Lion City - Singapore with one of the highest incomes per capita in the world and outside Japan, the highest standard of living in Asia, perfectly communicated, modern, and at the same time with well cared-for colonial buildings and lush vegetation of numerous parks. It is a dream place to live. On the other side there is Bangkok - the capital city of Thailand, full of temples and palaces, the heavenly seat of the Emerald Buddha erected by the gods in the kingdom of marketplaces and entertainment.
No sandwiches and instant soups are served on board the Eastern & Oriental Express. The chef takes care of the guests' palates with the utmost diligence. A combination of spectacular specialties both from Eastern and Western menus will satisfy even the choosiest gourmets. Two restaurants serve dinners and hot meals, while breakfast, fruits and snacks are delivered to bed just like in any good class hotel.
During the journey we can see a now rare view - men with old-fashioned impeccable manners wearing elegant tuxedos which are only bearable in such conditions thanks to air-conditioning and elegant women showing off their family jewellery.
Apart from the restaurant, there is still a lot worth taking a walk to: two bars, a reading room, and a lounge. It is a priceless experience to spend an agreeable evening listening to piano music and drinking wine surrounded by beautiful, singing ladies and gentlemen. It can be compared to being on board the Titanic. In addition to the fact that all carriages are fully air-conditioned, one of the bars has a beautiful viewing terrace outside from which one can watch, from a slightly different perspective, endless palm plantations, jungle, rice fields, people at work and other scenes of human life. We can participate in them for a short while before the view disappears as the train moves on. Subsequent views appear one after the other. The route is very long - 1,930 km of beautiful exotic landscape.