Matthew Woodward finally escapes from lockdown living to explore the land of smiles by train. Working from a 1928 Bangkok guide book he sets out to explore each of the railway lines in Thailand towards its borders with Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia on his very own Grand Tour.
At the heart of the story is the station at Bang Sue, a humble junction now next to a vast newly built station, where the old meets the ultra-modern.
Woodward’s perceptive accounts of travel mix his experiences both on and off the rails with the bigger picture. His adventures, told with his own brand of quirky observational humour, lead him from moments of near-disaster to railway nirvana.
Nothing beats a ride on Thai train. Join him from the comfort and safety of your own armchair.
Matthew Woodward is going to America! An idea born in a school film club becomes a real-life adventure more than 30 years later. Seduced by the glamour and excitement of the 1976 film ‘Silver Streak’, Matthew always knew that one day he would embark on his own railroad journey around the United States.
His travels around America by train tell a story not just of life on the rails but also his love of modern cinema, and a sweet spot emerges through his discoveries of the people and the places where some of his favourite Hollywood films have been made.
Woodward has a keen eye for detail, not just of life travelling by train, but also for the people he meets along the way. He embraces cultural differences in a quirky and insightful way that only an Englishman travelling alone can achieve.
‘Silver Streak is a delightful homage to America’s railways: a love story told through fleeting encounters unique to trains. Along the way Woodward weaves in some of TV and film’s most familiar locations, a pairing that will fire your deepest wanderlust.’
Monisha Rajesh, author of ‘Around the World in 80 Trains’
‘Hooked on this book – films & trains around the States, what’s not to like?! I hadn’t spotted that you can still catch a train from Yuma – just not at 3.10!’
Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61
Travelling over 20,000 kilometres on trains across Europe and Asia, he sets out to reach his objective via the little-used Trans-Manchurian route across Siberia to Beijing, and from there to the Qinghai–Tibet railway across the Tibetan Plateau – the highest railway in the world. Unprepared for what he is to experience in Lhasa, he discovers a city in modern-day China, but a place still largely living in the traditions of a truly mythical past..
Those that know Woodward’s writing will appreciate his honest and humorous reflections of life on the rails, and his efforts – sometimes successful – to decode cultural misunderstandings. He tells his story with the thoughtfulness and introspection you’d expect of a solo traveller and gives you the detail that makes an incredible journey like this feel possible for you too.
‘I thought I’d done a bit of travelling until I read Matthew’s wonderful book! Travel with him and experience his rich memories of some of the most fascinating railways in the world’
Chris Tarrant, Extreme Railway Journeys
‘So psyched to read “The Railway to Heaven” – it’s a truly great work of travel writing. I loved it!’
Josh Weinstein, television writer & producer, ‘The Simpsons’ & ‘Futurama’
‘A marvellous adventure’
Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, author of ‘Land of the Dawn-lit Mountains’
Has Matthew Woodward decided to go a bridge too far? Buoyed up by his success in reaching Shanghai via the Trans-Mongolian railway in the middle of the Siberian winter, he couldn’t help but think about what might come next on his path to becoming a full-time rail adventurer.
After a rail-based epiphany whilst on jury service, he thought it might be possible to go by train from his home in Edinburgh as far as Singapore, setting in motion his next big solo rail journey. A Bridge Even Further connects the hundreds of bridges and 18,000 kilometres of track across the thirteen countries that separate his home from the furthest point in mainland Asia.
Woodward’s intricate details of his journey will fire your imagination, whether you’re an armchair explorer or thinking of embarking on your very own rail adventure.
‘Matthew Woodward understands what makes a great adventure – he clearly relishes the unknown and appreciates the downright oddities of long-distance train travel in faraway lands. Mixing the personal with the bigger picture, he knows how to weave a good story and does so in the same way that he travels – with humour, an open mind and a keen eye for the peculiarities he encounters along the way.’
Lois Pryce, author of ‘Revolutionary Ride’
‘Nicely observed train rides. The author has an eye for detail and his adventures are at times comic and at times rather concerning. But he travels through with equanimity and a cool head.’
Christian Wolmar, author of ‘To the Edge of the World’
It’s just a big train ride – what could possibly go wrong on a 12,500 km journey across Russia, Mongolia and China in the depths of winter?
Matthew Woodward resolves to escape from his desk and rekindle his childhood love of travel by train. Knowing little of the red tape, cultural differences and climate ahead, Matthew sets off alone across the North Sea bound for Shanghai. Trans-Siberian Adventures follows his exploits as he learns the ropes of becoming a long-range train adventurer. This is a captivating insight into the reality of life on the legendary Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian railways.
“Long distance rail adventure – what could be cooler? Matthew Woodward lives life to the full by exploring the abundant and awesome world we live in by riding to the end of the line…and further. Follow his adventures and be inspired!”
Robert Twigger, author of ‘Lost Oasis’
“A highly entertaining tale of plotting, planning and making a Trans-Siberian trip-of-a-lifetime from Edinburgh to Shanghai – and in the chilly depths of the Siberian winter, naturally. After reading Matthew Woodward’s account, you might just find yourself buying a ticket!”
Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61
Matthew Woodward @ 2022