Life on the Slow Track
Its pace as leisurely as life in the region’s kampong villages, the luxurious Eastern & Oriental train travels from Singapore, the Lion State, up the Malay Peninsula through historical rubber plantations all the way to Bangkok, Thailand’s frenzied City of Angels, then back again.
Tea estates and hilltop pagodas roll by your window as you travel mile after mile through the jungle, its smell heavy and damp. From the observation car, glimpses of country life are precious snapshots: rice paddies dotted with toiling farmers, plows drawn by water buffalo, children in thatched-roof villages waving as the train passes by.
Inside, your time machine on wheels is an indulgent world of opulence, its small but elegant compartments evocative of another era, its dining cars decorated with Chinese lacquer, Malaysian motifs, and Thai silks, and serving exquisite Eurasian meals. After making the 1,200-mile, forty-hour journey, you’ll have an urge to stay on and repeat the entire romantic and much-too-short experience in the opposite direction – if only to maintain the illusion that you’re in the movie Shanghai Express and Marlene Dietrich is about to step into the coach.