Singapore, Eastern Orient Express & Bangkok

Sarah McCarthy 23 April 2010
'Trains are wonderful... to travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and rivers, in fact, to see life' - Agatha Christie

No truer words written. My recent travels brought me to Asia to experience the wonderful Eastern & Oriental Express. Here is my story.

After arriving in Singapore I spent 3 nights in this wonderful city staying at the luxury 5 Star Shangri-la Hotel. As well as relaxing by the hotel pool surrounded by the expansive tropical grounds I found time to experience what Singapore has to offer.

Singapore’s historic ethnic quarters are surrounding by soaring skyscrapers, shopping centres and natural beauty. However there is more to Singapore than the urban glitz. Ramble in the rainforest of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve to the west, and wonder at the wildlife on a night safari at Singapore Zoo to the north. Decide if a Singapore Sling is worth the hype in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, well I did the Singapore Sling, in fact I did three and they were best I ever tasted, as for Raffles hotel, wow “a sight for sore eyes”.

For those who would like to experience the city from a birds eye view, I would highly recommend you take a trip the Singapore Flyer. The world’s largest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer offers you breathtaking, panoramic views of the Marina Bay, city and beyond.

Of course no trip to Singapore would be complete unless you experience the famous Clarkes Quay where the Singapore River comes alive at night. Clarke’s Quay is buzzing with life and activity. The waterfront play host to a colourful kaleidoscope of restaurants, wine bars, entertainment spots and retail shops. When the sun goes down, you don't have to look far to discover some of the city's trendiest nightspots.

On check-out from the hotel I found it difficult to contain my excitement, I was boarding the Eastern & Oriental Express. The Eastern & Oriental Express departs Singapore’s Keppel Road station in the morning. Having been welcomed onboard, my personal butler, Kitt introduced himself and made us feel so welcome. Within an hour we departed Keppel Station for what was to be the most amazing journey.

Through rainforests and paddy fields, past golden temples and misty mountains, we travelled straight to the heart of Asia. A unique and unusual way to experience ever-changing scenes and to discover a new and thrilling world – both on board and alongside the train. The journey on board the Eastern & Oriental Express from the elegance of Singapore to the excitement of Bangkok through the heart of South East Asia and Malaysia, with visits to colonial Georgetown, Fort Cornwallis and the infamous River Kwai was an experience that I will never forget.

And what better way to end this amazing trip but by 3 nights in the city of Bangkok; one of the most cosmopolitan, contrasting and, above all, compelling of Asian cities. A city of dazzling temples, street markets around every corner, gleaming palaces, shopping malls, famous nightlife and everything in between.

We checked into the 5 Star Banyan Tree Hotel, a wonderful property with exceptional service. Dropped the bags and off to explore the city and sights. The hotel concierge organised a half day excursion to Thonburi Klong & Palace with lunch at Supatra River House. We travelled by long-tailed speedboat on the picturesque Chao Phraya River and Klongs (canals) of Thonburi. Disembarkation at Tha Chang pier, then short walk to a small fruit & flower market then to The Palace.

That evening we have dinner on-board a river cruise, enjoyed the culinary delights amongst the night lights of Bangkok.

We also took in a tour of the Grand Palace & the Temple of the Emerald Budda, Thailand most sacred site. The Grand Palace was not only the seat of the king and his court, but contained within its crenellated walls the entire government administration. The palace served as the official residence of the kings of Thailand from the 18th to the mid-20th century.

The Banyan Tree houses a famous roof top restaurant and bar called Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar. We were lucky enough to get a reservation for what was a wonderful experience, Vertigo is unlike any other bar-cum-restaurant in the world: some 61 floors above the streets of Bangkok, this open-air rooftop lounge gives true meaning to the word 'vertigo' as it grants views that simply take your breath away.

A trip I will treasure forever.....