Eastern & Oriental Express: Big, beautiful tapestry

Warning: If you really want to see most of the places that the Eastern & Oriental Express cuts through in its path from Singapore to Bangkok, this isn’t the trip for you.

Reason is, of course, you’re on this five-star hotel with wheels to be pampered. That the staff does, and does it very well. That aspect is what makes this a legitimate trip of a lifetime, IMO.

But to say you’ve really been to Malaysia and Thailand? Barely. The outside world’s too fleeting. It’s a feast for the eyes, to be sure, but goes by in a big whoosh. There’s no interaction because you’re hermetically sealed.

At best, it’s a nice, safe introduction to sights on a map. Here are some of them.

After boarding  at the Singapore-Malaysia checkpoint, I barely had time to put my feet up in my cabin, and we were in Malaysia.

Here are Malaysia and Thailand in microcosm …

… taken from various train perches.


Rice paddies.


Southwest U.S. meets Southeast Asia.

Towns small …

… and big. Passing at night through Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur,  with its old railway station done up in what’s known as Mughal architecture — a combo of Persian and Indian styles. We got out and walked around, and the station was all but deserted. So you’re looking at the highlight: that spellbinding design that said come hither, and made me want to know more.

This is how the real world travels the same route.

It was a high to have experienced this luxurious, if very fleeting introduction …

… to this part of the world. Just enough to whet the appetite for a bigger helping someday.

Up next: Off the tracks, for some slightly closer encounters.

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