Why Woodlands to Woking?

This is a trip I have considered since I’ve moved to Singapore in March 2010. So with a change in jobs giving me some time off, I’m very happy to be able to do it!

I’ve been interested in travel since hearing about my uncles’ adventures in South America, India, and Southeast Asia when I was a boy. I was especially intrigued by one of my uncles’ stories about being robbed very skilful. They cut his wallet out of his interior jacket pocket in a busy Bangkok market. It seemed as though there was a very interesting world out there to explore.

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I have done a few long distance rail trips before. London to Istanbul (which is a great 2 week holiday), Singapore to Chiang Mai and around parts of India. Travelling by train (I don’t mean the crushed commuter rush into London) is a great way to see the world . Your moving slow enough to appreciate the changes in landscape, architecture and people but still fast enough to cross countries, sometimes in a matter of hours.

There are the numerous advantages to travelling by train. Flying relies entirely on its one positive of shorter travel time. From getting to the airport, then getting checked-in, then waiting around in overpriced duty-free shops before being herded into the cramped uncomfortable seats of the flight itself. If you have misfortune of flying with the world’s favourite airline, Ryanair, you’ll spend the majority of the flight being harassed to buy smokeless cigarettes or scratch-cards. Unless you fly in a business/first class bubble, air travel is a chore and really something that is to be endured rather than enjoyed.

However, if you can start to consider the journey to your destination a part of your holiday, then train travel becomes an altogether better proposition. Less stress, more room, less waiting around and altogether a bit more civilised.

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It’s interesting how different people’s reactions to a journey like Woodlands to Woking range from indifference to horror to interest. Mainly though, everyone has lots of questions. How much does it cost? What visas do you need? How long does it take? Do you get a bed? Is it safe? And so on. Hopefully this blog will help answer some of those questions.

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13 thoughts on “Why Woodlands to Woking?

  1. Look forward to receiving regular updates on this fantastic tour!

    Ravindranathan, Ottapalam

  2. I had been dreaming about this trip from long back and your blog gave me a positive look. Your trip is just a perfect example of an adventitious inspiring journey across half the world. I hope to go on this by next year, the only difference will be that I will stay for lesser time in the cities and I hope to go through Ukraine from Moscow so that I can meet my friend in Lviv…thanks for your exciting blog for I already had a virtual tour. Hope you post your future trips too.

  3. What an adventure! I’ve done solo trips myself (flights, to US, Europe, China) but being a Chinese girl travelling solo, Singapore to Europe sounds a bit too much risk to take. I’ve done a 12hrs train ride from Singapore to Ipoh and already felt it was way too long.. how do you endure a 130hr train ride?!! Read? Sleep? Walk up and down the train?

    • All those things passed the time and the stops lasted for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours, so time to get off the train and have a wander around the stations. You make a few friends on the train and go for a chat. down to the resturant cart for some food or a few drinks. Time flies! lots of books though.
      Happy travels Tom

  4. Dear Tom,
    My wife died a few months ago. Although I am getting on in years now 70 you have inspired me to do something similar — an escape and an adventure to help look on the brighter side of life.
    Questions how did you go about getting all the visas needed ? and how did you manage with the packing to keep it simple and yet practical ? and what security issues did you come up against ? — what would you do differently when recommending someone to follow your footsteps ? — also when is best time climate wise to do such a trip ?

    Look forward to hearing from you brian

    • Dear Brian,

      First of all sorry to hear about your wife passing away.

      I’ve met a few retired “backpackers” before and thought I hope I have the energy to do that later on in life. So go for it. In answer to your questions, a lot of answers are, it depends.

      How did you go about getting all the visas needed? It depends on what passport you have and where you are living. As a British passport holder I had to arrange for China, Mongolia and Russia before leaving. I used a agency in London, http://www.realrussia.co.uk. My advice is to get them done as early as possible as it will be cheaper.

      How did you manage with the packing to keep it simple and yet practical? Less stuff, less stress so pack light. Obviously what you take will depend on the time of year, by try to schedule a stop for 2 nights once a week as an opportunity to get some laundry done. also means you have to take enough clothes for 6 days. As ever layers keep you warmer so take stuff you can wear on top of each other.

      What security issues did you come up against? Thankfully none really. You’ll need a small bag that you can fit your valuables in easily to take with you when you move on the train (toilet, restaurant, walk on the platform) and then I locked and chained my bigger bag (which was just full of clothes) in my cabin. The cabin you can double lock when your sleeping so no one can get in.

      What would you do differently when recommending someone to follow your footsteps? Do it a little slower if you can, I would have liked to spend a bit more time in Mongolia, Russia and China. also on the Trans-Siberian I’d not go in first class 4 berth again, there is no value there, with go 2nd class or first class 2 berth. Also for a more social trip I think going from Europe to Singapore would be better.

      When is best time climate wise to do such a trip? Not sure about best, but I think there is probably only one time of the year to avoid when the thaw is happening and the ground is covered with slush.

      Happy Travels, Tom

  5. This is amazing…! Three months for the whole trip is fast (is it not??) I would probably take double the time….if I don’t run into serious trouble….hehehe. Amazing stuff here. Nice pics x

  6. I enjoyed reading your page! Would like more of it. The most impressive is the difference in cost (i.e. crossing from Malaysia to Thailand compared with Sweden to Germany). I noticed you often took 4berths cabins, the 6berth ones are way cheaper so that would have brought your total cost lower at the end. Did you have time to do much sightseeing? What about a page about your travels themselves? I’d like to know what were you impressions about the different countries you visited. I believe renting a camper van is the way to go in Europe, trains and buses being so expensive.
    I am myself in Malaysia at the moment, you can check out my blog.
    All the best!

    • Sorry this was not me on this trip — like you I only had questions.

      I am based in Penang and retired here

      As for train journeys I think I am right that there is a book called ” The man in seat 61 ” I have not read it but was told it has lots of good recommendations for train journeys anywhere.

      Cheers Brian

      Sent from my iPad

      >

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