August 4, 2013

A new mission?

You might have thought that after a 12500km journey earlier this year, I might have got the train bug out of my system. Happily I can tell you that this isn’t the case. In fact only seven months after “The Big One”, and I’m already wondering if I could find a new challenge on the rails. I hugely miss the satisfaction of making my journey the overland way – the people, the places, the food, and even the red tape were all well beyond my expectations.

So I have had the books, maps and brochures out again and I feel like I might be ready soon to set up operations for the next trip. A few visits to Seat 61 and I’m feeling like I need to get planning. But where next? If I’m honest I can’t decide yet.

Last year’s route out to the East

I have a few options in mind at the moment –
1) Get to Beijing (this time by plane?) and “continue” my original journey overland South, probably as far as Singapore. It’s nothing like the distance of the trip from Newcastle to Shanghai (just 3000km!) , but looks equally complex from a ticketing and organisation point of view.
2) Travel across India from Madras to Cochin on an organised train tour – for example with Great Rail. No organising to worry about, but thats also part of the fun of independent train travel.. narrow gauge “toy” trains, the Blue Mountains, and the smells of India that I haven’t experienced for nearly for 25 years.
3) Spend time in SE Asia, and use the train to get about wherever practical – for example, Bangkok – Singapore, Saigon – Hanoi.. a sort of light option (1).

I’m going to keep working on option 1 for now, to see if I’m up for the red tape again. My worry is that as I discovered last time, you can’t buy Chinese rail tickets until a few days beforehand but yet a Chinese Visa needs proof of exit travel. Not to mention that there is no rail crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia, so it would need a bit of boat and bus travel thrown in for good measure.

Any suggestions welcome!

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