Train travel is without doubt the best way to see a country. Why fly over it when you can travel right through it. Better still why not travel right through 2 countries to get to a 3rd! We recently had the pleasure of travelling on the luxury train from Orient Express called the Eastern & Oriental Express, from Bangkok to Singapore. In part one of our review we checked out the elements that make this journey so appealing, in part 2 we explored Kanchanaburi in Thailand and Penang Island in Malaysia during our 2 off-train excursions. We’ve been kept well entertained off of the train but what about the entertainment on board?
Keeping the guests entertained
Enjoying the view as the world glides by is just one of the entertaining elements of this luxury train journey. The Eastern & Oriental Express also has a number of carriages where you can enjoy a good book, get a better panoramic view of the world or sit and chat with other passengers.
The Library Carriage
Windows from the corridor of the library carriage entice you in to this quiet and comfortable retreat. Books on shelves and an array of magazines mean if you didn’t bring your own book on board you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. This carriage is also the location of two activities you can partake in. A reflexology foot massage specialist was on board and available during the day to remove those aches and pains. Although most of the walking you’ll do is between carriages on your way to lunch or dinner. You can also meet with the fortune teller in the library who will attempt to reveal your fate. Both these activities seemed quite popular, especially with the female passengers. The beautiful luxury interior of this carriage made for the perfect environment to relax outside of your private room.
Tropical fruit presentation
One activity that caught my attention was a presentation by the train staff taking place in the main bar carriage around 2pm on our first full day. With the sun shining outside and the world speeding by, I headed to the carriage and joined 20 or so other guests. Ornate bowls of unusual looking fruits were presented on tables and 2 carriage assistants gave us a very interesting presentation on the names, tastes and sometimes nasty smells of these Asian delights. We got to sample slices of everything from the stinky but oh so tasty Durian fruit, tasty Pomelo, Duku langsat and the exceedingly spiky Rambutan. It was a very informative hour and we were invited to try more of our favourites afterwards. It’s amazing how different fruits are here compared to those we can buy in Europe and America. I have to say I much prefer them in Asia!
Lunch on board the Eastern and Oriental Express
While dinner is the main event on this train, lunch is definitely not something to be overlooked. Our 2 full days meant 2 days of fantastic food, including 3 course lunches. The dress code is smart casual for lunch so there’s not too much dressing up to be done. Being seated with new friends gave us the chance to compare our days, ask fellow travellers where they’d been and where they are heading to next. All the while the faultless service brings us food that you just can’t turn down. In hindsight I think 3 courses for lunch is probably too much for me but when the food is so good it’s just impossible not to want to eat more.
Dinner and drinks
The highlight of any Orient Express train is without doubt the evening meal. The 2 beautiful dining carriages look pretty in the day time but really shine in the evenings. With perfect table settings, curtains framing every window and warm lamps on every table, it’s a wonderful sight to see the men dressed in smart suits and the ladies looking glamorous in cocktail dresses. Making an effort here really is worthwhile as it sets the atmosphere off so well. Sipping a glass of champagne or wine while you dine with other passengers is such a great way to spend the evening. As the drinks flow, tales of the day’s adventures are told and we actually found it hard to leave on our first night!
After dinner you can retire to your room if you want but a much better idea is to head to either the observation carriage or the piano bar carriage. The atmosphere in the Piano bar was fantastic and the resident pianist on the train entertained the passengers while we ordered bold and colourful cocktails, my favourite being the Shanghai Express. On our second night we were also entertained by traditional Malaysian dancing from 2 women who had not only mastered the art of weaving between the crowds in the narrow carriage, but also intricate dancing on a moving train! Very entertaining and got everyone chatting once the show is over.
Life on board the Eastern and Oriental Express
With such luxurious surroundings and very well sound proofed carriages, it would be all too easy to slip in to a world of luxury travel without acknowledging the world outside. Thankfully the Eastern & Oriental Express does a great job of taking you out in to that world and also bring in with you on the train. The entertainment really made this an Asian experience and the amazing views coupled with heat and humidity from the observation carriage on the train mean it’s very easy to feel a part of an epic railway journey.
Our short movie
Enjoy highlights from our epic train journey on board the Easter & Oriental Express
Thank you to all the staff on board the Eastern & Oriental Express and to Orient Express for their hospitality. If you’d like to know more about the luxury train visit the Eastern & Oriental Express website or call +65 6395 0678. You can also see the full range of trains, tours and hotels at www.orientexpress.com.