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Edinburgh – Singapore

Quite excited!

Welcome to my slightly revamped blog! You may notice that I have made a few changes, including moving to a new blog address and having a new name. This reflects my decision last week to use the blog for more than the single “big trip” that it was originally intended for (more of this in a moment). I have also added some labels – below the archive to the right – so that you can search by trip and location as well as using the monthly feed. The only downside is that if you have a bookmark to my old […]

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The Map Room

A busy weekend here at Toad Hall planning and sending emails to travel agents and hotels across South East Asia. I decided to do the decent thing and create an online map in Google. Do have a play – its fully zoomable. I should point out though that its hard to plot the train track in places, so its not exact! I have added a map room link on the right so you can look at this map at any time if my posts from places you have never heard of before confuse you! I have also uploaded some static […]

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Risk Assesment

“Contact!” outside my hotel, Siem Reap, 1992 There are moments in the day when I think about what could possibly go wrong with the latest trip. I try to focus on the positive, but as they say, it’s always good to hope for the best but plan for the worst.. I have been fortunate in having very few problems travelling around Asia in the past, but one notable exception was being part of the war in Cambodia as the UN and Vietnamese withdrew in 1992 – leaving the government to deal with the KR. I spent a few nervous days […]

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The Man in Bettplatz 42

The EN447 “Jan Kiepura” arrives on time at platform 5B, December 2012 Its been a productive week on trip planning. I have had confirmation that my first train ticket has actually been issued. It’s an auspicious sign of progress and adds some respectability to my otherwise still slightly ragged plan. The train in question is the EN447 that leaves daily from Amsterdam on its journey around Western Europe towards Warsaw. The really odd thing is that I seem to have been issued a ticket in exactly the same compartment and berth as I had on this very same train last […]

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The French Connection

The French Connection (1971), 20th Century Fox Two bits of good news this week. Firstly, my Chinese visa was issued in London on Wednesday without any further questions about my travel arrangements. This breaks the “Catch 22”, and it can now be used along with my Vietnamese visa to get in the queue ready for getting a ticket on the T5 train to Hanoi. Happy days! Secondly, the Real Russia team in Moscow have tracked down Alexey, my guide and interpreter from last year. I’m really pleased to have him on the team again as he was brilliant at supporting […]

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Games with Frontiers

Denholm Elliot blends in with the locals! Indiana Jones (1981) I’m not sure if Peter Gabriel would approve of the title of this post, but there is a valid reason for it. More on potential border crossing problems in a moment.. My travel team have been busy. E-mail is a great thing when it comes to making these sort of long distance arrangements, and I don’t think it would have been possible for me to arrange this trip, say 15 years ago, without an army of travel agents and a lot of fax paper. Possibly even a telex machine! Emily […]

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Another Cunning Plan

The title of this blog post refers to the fact that the first “cunning plan” (a plan so cunning that you could brush your teeth with it) was my trip from Edinburgh to Shanghai last December. So I now have “another cunning plan” – from Newcastle to Singapore. Sorry I haven’t posted much over the last month. I did consider it, but my only real news has been the steady arrival of tickets, visas and equipment here at Toad’s Travels HQ. I have also not been very well, so working hard to get fit for the adventure ahead. A few […]

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Final Preparations

Downtown Pyongyang. Source: TripAdvisor I had a bit of a quiet day on the work front yesterday, so some time to get myself into blogging traveller mode. I’m really quite new to blogging, and like not just the way I can diarise and share my journeys, but also interact with others who have similar interests. I have found inspiration for this trip in a few great places. Of course, as always, Mark at Seat Sixty-One. He has given me the confidence to plan the parts of the route I did not know much about – especially the crossing from China into […]

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Amsterdam

Well I’m on the move now, but looking forward to getting my first proper rail leg under my belt tonight on the EN447. Leaving home yesterday proved to be a bit more stressful than usual for some reason. I said farewell to the fish, closed the front door behind me and got into travel mode as best as I could. I can’t yet get my mind around the fact that I’m doing another one of these slightly mad trips. I’m feeling a range of emotions ranging from mild excitement through to hopefully unwarranted panic at the moment. On the equipment […]

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Warsaw

Distance this leg: 1094km. Cumulative distance: 1495 km. Weather: 2 degrees C, foggy. Having left Amsterdam on time last night, I woke at about 8.00am today after a very poor night’s sleep on the EN447. Just as well, as the guard explained we were running about 40 minutes early. The timetable changes today, so this was the last ever train to sit in Berlin for an hour – in future it will go for another loop around suburban Germany. The train is a good one – spotlessly clean with all the key mod cons. My compartment is treated as first […]

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