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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