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Edinburgh – Singapore

A Bridge Even Further

You might well have been wondering what I have been up to since I returned from my United States coast to coast adventure late last year. The answer is simply that I have been working flat out on my new book. A Bridge Even Further is the second book in my Trans-Siberian trilogy, and I’m pleased to be able to say that it was finally published this week. Your feedback on my first book has been really helpful in deciding how to approach writing A Bridge Even Further. I wanted to keep all the detail of my experiences of the individual trains, […]

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Singapore

Distance: 18 440 km – the finish! I’m writing this a day after my arrival – some time to decompress from the ups and downs of train travel. I know that not everyone loves the manic sense of order in Singapore, but I love it – more and more every time that I visit. If you know me you will perhaps understand why I like such a well planned and organised place. Things go from one extreme to the other on this trip. I hopped off a dirty train yesterday at Woodlands, and one hour later I was sat in […]

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The Rakyat Express

Distance so far: 17 340 km. Distance at Singapore: 18 440 km. Weather: 32 degrees, sunny. Train number 1 from Butterworth to Singapore is known as the “Rakyat Express”. Its a 14 hour daytime trip leaving Butterworth at 08.00 and arriving at Singapore Woodlands at 22.00 the same day, and my final train trip of this journey. 06.00 An early start by taxi to Georgetown to catch the ferry back to Butterworth, then a short walk to the new station platform. Almost every train station in Malaysia seems to be newly built. The train is shunted into the station at […]

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Pith Helmet

I have checked in at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Founded by the Sarkies Brothers in 1885, and once described as “the finest hotel East of Suez”, it is a past home to many famous people, including two of my heroes, Kipling and Conrad. Don’t forget of course that “Apocalypse Now” was based on Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness”..! It’s all very old school, and I’m sure if I spent very long here I would begin to think Great Britain still had an Empire. If you are travelling on my route and you have a big bag (or better still […]

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The International Express (Part 2)

Total distance so far: 17 340 km at Butterworth. Weather: 28 degrees C, part sunny. 06.52 I wake early, as before we hit the border the Thai restaurant carriage will turn back for Bangkok. Mr Grumpy converts all the sleepers back to seats and refits bedding ready for the next use. My purser sets up a table in front of me and advises me that my “full Thai” breakfast is inbound. No problems to report in the night other than using the toilet, which is so wet that it might have a leech problem. I wish I had bothered to […]

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The International Express (Part 1)

Distance so far: 16 504 km (at Bangkok). Weather: 31 degrees, part sunny. 13.30 Bangkok Central Station is “old school” and pretty small, so despite a resident army of a few thousand protestors waiting to mobilise in the concourse, it was easy to get through. I was expecting to see an Army presence here but it’s clearly not a target, as the protestors have vowed not to close the railways. No security, no ticket checks and straight onto the platforms. Then behold, there at Platform 5 – the “International Express” (aka “Special Express”) was already there and waiting, more than […]

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Bangkok

Having arrived at Hua Lamphong railway station on Sunday night it began to dawn on me that I had got into the centre of town in the “eye of the storm”. Less than 12 hours later Bangkok was due to be totally shut down as the opposition party do their best to oust the care taking Prime Minister. This is politics Thai style, and I only hope it remains peaceful, both for the people and for my own personal well being. There is talk of further action if Suthep does not resign by Wednesday and the General in charge of […]

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The Cambodian Express

Well I finally got my wish today – I am sat in a seat next to an open window with the breeze blowing freely in my face watching the sun set very slowly. No windows have been hurt in the making of this blog, and my secret key is not required on this train! I’m on the twice daily “Cambodian Express” that travels between Bangkok and Aranyapathet, which as you might have read in my recent post, is very close to the Cambodian border. It’s also a train first for me – as I’m travelling in third class – here […]

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Poipet

Okay, just to bring you up to speed, I have been travelling through Cambodia by bus to connect from the rail head at Saigon to the one on the Thai border at Aranyaprathet. This has meant a day on the bus from Saigon to Phnom Pehn, another day on the bus from Phnom Pehn to Siem Reap, and then a taxi today to the border at Poipet. That is about 600km by roads, that to be fair, are not quite finished in places. This morning I took a fast taxi (a Lexus no less, “the Japanese Mercedes”) to the Cambodian […]

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Phnom Penh

Good evening from the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, Phnom Penh. My first time here for nearly 25 years. The draught Anchor beer is on happy hour and I’m in poll position – my “usual” seat by the window at the end of the bar. Sadly though its a dull, limp and cloudy evening looking out over the Mekong. All in all, a reasonable day’s progress on the travel front though. Good to be feeling well and on the move again! My first day “on the buses”. Like a new kid at school I didn’t want to be late for the bus, […]

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