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.
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.
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.