Hold your breath: Manila-Kuala Lumpur-London-Paris-Brussels-Cologne (traveling across Germany-Poland-Belarus)-Moscow-(crossing Siberia) Ulan Bator-(crossing Gobi Dessert)-Beijing-Lhasa (Tibet)-Beijing-Qingdao-(ferry) Incheon-Seoul-Busan-(ferry) Fukuoka-Osaka-Manila
I am fascinated with long train rides. A ride that takes a week or longer, perhaps. Not only because of the steady and leisurely pace these rides bring, but I am also drawn to the clickety-clack sound it makes as the train rolls by the track.
If lovers of these slow and sappy train rides are hopeless romantics then I am guilty as charged. I imagined long train rides to be like the ones I see in movies. Old world charm. Cramp bunk beds but with a window that empties to a vast and beautiful countryside.
At dinner, everyone is dressed to the nines and head out to the salon (though modest in size, the tables have elaborate cutlery and offers full course meals). Nothing short of grand.
In this time and age, just when most people thought the Orient Express mystique does not exist anymore, it still does. It's very much alive! The iconic train ride starts in Singapore and will snake its way to Bangkok. From Bangkok, the journey continues until Chaing Mai or Laos. Rate starts at around P100,000.00 for Pullman Superior/Single or P150,000.00 for State Cabin. Rates are per person and inclusive of table d'hôte meals, complimentary tea or coffee and sightseeing tours. Wishful thinking lang muna.
Two years ago, in two separate occasions, I actually traveled the distance by train (not via Orient Express, though I wished it was) from Thailand to Malaysia for forty three awesome hours: Chaing Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Butterworth (Penang) and then from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur.
Adventures in the Trans-Siberian Railway
A story waiting to be written in my travel journal is the Trans-Siberian train ride. Could it be an adventure or romantic comedy? I'm still clueless. One thing's for sure though, it's going to be epic (and it doesn't come close to an Orient Express comfort).
London-Paris-Brussels-Cologne (traveling across Germany-Poland-Belarus)-Moscow-(crossing Siberia) Ulan Bator-(crossing Gobi Dessert)-Beijing-Lhasa (Tibet)-Beijing-Qingdao-
(ferry) Incheon-Seoul-Busan-(ferry) Fukuoka
The Trans-Siberian Railway, the third longest continuous railway service in the world, connects large and small cities in the European and Asian parts of Russia spanning 9,259 kilometers across 7 time zones. It takes 8 days to complete this journey. But my journey does not start in Moscow and it might take months on end.
There are actually three Trans-Siberian train routes: Moscow to Vladivostok, Moscow to Beijing and Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia. The Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia is arguably the best route to take.
In the pipeline, I will take the train from London to Moscow. Then transfer to the Trans-Mongolian Railway before I take the ferry to South Korea then to Japan. I got loads of information about this trip from www.seat61.com
But of course, a visit to Tibet! I wouldn't miss it for the world!
As I said, it's an epic journey! So, instead of saving up for a condo unit and a brand-new red convertible volkswagen beetle, you have an idea already where my savings (if there's any. lol) will go! Skyflakes and instant noodles for the win! haha
Train rides. How it feeds my imagination. And it continually does. Until the next jackpot!
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first three photos courtesy: oriental express