Great Rail Journeys

It is said that a big part of any experience is the getting there. Flying for the first time is an unforgettable experience, and making the most of the journey means that your holiday is great from start to finish. Another way to make a trip memorable is to ditch the car and travel by train. Some of the great rail journeys in the world make for the best holidays, and whether you use them purely as transportation, or as an integral part of your holiday it will be an experience that stays with you forever.

Trans-Siberian Express

One of the most famous long haul train journeys is made by the Golden Eagle across the Trans-Siberian railway line that goes between Moscow and Vladivostok. The journey takes 13 days and used to be the only means of transport across Russia. Now the train is the method of choice for many tourists wanting to make this journey and enjoy the scenery along the way. The train stops in several locations en route, so you can soak up some of the culture, landscape and history on this age-old line.

Rocky Mountaineer

The Rocky Mountaineer makes sightseeing in Western Canada easy, as it only runs in daylight hours, so you can see everything from the comfort of your cabin. There are two different routes, one longer than the other, that take you on an adventure through snow peaked mountains, phenomenal lakes, lush green forests and river canyons. There are natural sights unlike anywhere else in the world here, all topped off with the infamous Canadian hospitality.

Eastern and Oriental Express

This is the sister train to the famous Orient Express. It travels from Singapore to Bangkok through Malaysia, stopping in Penang where you can experience Malaysian culture at its best. On this journey you will travel through the palm plantations of Singapore, Malaysian towns and their beautiful architecture, southern Thailand’s jungle, and the small villages and temples before Bangkok. The train also stops at the famous River Kwai, and you can find out all about its history on a guided tour of the area. It takes 3 days to travel from Singapore to Bangkok, or four days to do the journey in the opposite direction.

Taking one of the great rail adventures is nothing like travelling by train in the UK. There are luxury options, and your every need is taken care of aboard the carriages. Travel in real style whilst experiencing parts of the world you would usually fly over, oblivious to what is beneath, by incorporating a great train adventure on your next holiday.



Thailand Reworked

Thailand, 2001. One of the last trips I took with a friend. Later that year, with everyone I knew all out of vacation time and me with 10 days still to burn, I hit the backpacking trail solo. And never looked back. There#s a lot to be said for solo travelling. No compromise. One hundred per cent your holiday. But that’s not to say I didn’t have a great time in Thailand with one of the best friends. I sure did.

We landed in Bangkok and headed straight for Pattya, a beach resort, at the recommendation of a fellow passenger on our flight. The flight, incidentally, was a Garuda Indonesia plane with smoking and non smoking sections. One of the last of that type, surely? Our original plan to go down the peninsula had been derailed by tropical storms. We got to Pattya, realised why it would appeal to middle aged and elderly gents, and headed straight out. We hadn’t come for ladyboys and ‘teenage Thai wives’.

We rented a driver, guide and minivan for a ludicrously low price for 10 days of touring Thailand. The price even included hotels. We went into the jungle clad hills. To wildlife parks. To British war cemeteries. And to the infamous Bridge Over The River Kwai. You may have seen the film. If you have, you might know that the film was made in Sri Lanka. A country I posted about recently. And yes I did, I saw the ‘Bridge Over The River Kwai’ there too. Well, I saw a few bits of concrete and metal that made the foundations. They blew the bridge up at the end of the movie, after all.

The biggest highlight of the trip was a hotel built into the side of a river along the River Kwai. Paradise. One of my favourite places on planet Earth. We were due to stay just two nights. We stayed four. It had all the modern luxuries. But with none of the modern blights. Open plan wood was the theme, not concrete blocks. If only I could remember the name of that hotel. Nevermind. I’ve recently re-processed the photos I took and uploaded them to Flickr – click here.