It is on most people’s wish list to experience luxury train Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O). For this writer, her wish came true, even if it’s only for a short while.
I recently boarded E&O for a two-hour journey from Bangkok Hua Lamphong to Nong Pladuk train station. The ride is filled with breathtaking views that was elevated by two colourful carriages designed by Chinese pop artist and Save Wild Tigers (SWT) ambassador, Jacky Tsai.
“This high impact ‘Tigers in Wonderland’ art by Jacky Tsai will remain on the train for the entire season travelling through tiger range countries. I look at this as a travelling art exhibition that will provide countless opportunities to connect, and I hope to inspire all guests to get engaged with the cause,” said the Founder and CEO of Save Wild Tigers Simon Clinton.
Tiger Express is an extraordinary train journey which raises funds for the Save Wild Tigers charity. It’s part of E&O Express initiatives for their corporate social responsibility and environment which includes helping to protect the threatened species of tiger native to the rainforest along the train’s route.
“With potentially as few as 10 years left to save this iconic species from extinction, the clock is ticking. We are extremely proud and grateful to be working with the E&O Express once again in providing passengers with a chance to experience a trip of a lifetime, for what surely must be the cause of a lifetime. Profits from our campaigns go towards creating global awareness campaigns for the cause and funding targeted tiger conservation projects,” added Clinton.
During a six-night itinerary ride, guests got to travel in luxury from Bangkok to Singapore. During the journey, they embarked on several expeditions including a guided visit to the River Kwai and a tour of Kuala Kangsar.
The wood-panelled interior with warm lighting marked a warm welcome towards my exciting journey. Life on board is not as rigid as I thought it would be, as they had prepared tons of activities on the train comprising bars, restaurant, salon and observation deck.
I walked directly to the piano bar and entertainment located in the centre of the train. It’s open all day and late into the night where guests can enjoy cocktails, mocktails, aperitifs and liqueurs. This is a social place where people grab some spirits while enjoying classic jazz piano tunes by resident pianist, Peter and engage in conversations through the night.
My personal favourite would be the observation car located at the end of the train with its bar. I enjoyed the changing views from daylight to night time at the outdoor observation area. Since the E&O is a non-smoking train, the open-air area is the only place for smokers to smoke.
Clinton agreed that the view is spectacular. Still, there are more of the Tiger Express journey that he wanted to share: “From a tiger perspective, the situation in South-East Asia is now more urgent than five years ago when we ran the last Tiger Express. The illegal wildlife trade & poaching in this region has now become a critical crisis, and wild tiger populations and their habitat are now under threat like never before. As a result, this Tiger Express journey needed to create more exposure for the cause. This time we included a high profile launch function at Bangkok station in September involving our celebrity supporters and ambassadors such as global creative director for Dior, Kim Jones, All Saints singer-songwriter Melanie Blatt, SWT ambassador actress Jaime Winstone, and creative director for Shanghai Tang, Victoria Tang.”
“Onboard the train, SWT ambassador and UK Masterchef winner Ping Coombes created an exceptional menu for the passengers. Additionally, a select range of stunning tiger photos from the highly acclaimed ‘Eye on the Tiger’ exhibition held at London’s iconic Royal Albert Hall was displayed on the train. The journey ended with spectacular reception and a Jacky Tsai Tiger art auction in aid of Save Wild Tigers at Singapore’s Raffles Hotel,” explained Clinton who spent 15 years of his childhood in Malaysia.
Where food on E&O was concerned, dinner was a real treat. The Tom Yam Cappuccino with fennel has intense flavours that gives a refreshing start and we ended our four-course meal with a refreshing dessert. All in all, the short journey was beyond my wildest dreams. It’s a great way to give a first-timer a glimpse of Bangkok and I hope to be back on this fantastic train