The real river, Mae Klong, was renamed Kai Yai River after the movie. Yet, the backdrop was real, and there is a descriptive Death Railway Museum providing all the facts. All the publications refer to it as the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre, as does the sign outside. However, a very large black and white banner proclaims this the Death Railway Museum. I gather the organizers are debating what to call it.
After inumerable delays, we finally made it through customs in Singapore. It was raining, but the view of the Marina Bay Sands was awesome.
Well, was it worth $3480? My initial gut feeling is no. Even the most expensive cruises are less than $1000/day. In fact, you can get a 10-12 day cruise to or from Hawaii for all of $1,000. Yet, an around the world first class ticket costs around $17,500, for which you are in the air around the same amount of time as that train. Of course, the plane takes you 25 times further. The meals on the EOE were better than that of any airline, and, while you had to pay for all your alcoholic drinks (which only added up to $104) on the train, I think I got more than 50 free drinks on my last global air adventure.
I should caution you that if you are getting old like me and are not now sure of your next step, don't even consider the Eastern and Oriental Express, for you will bounce along the walls of the hallways (the tracks are narrow, so the train rotates left to right to left as you walk), worry about crossing from one train to the next (a cabin could easily be ten trains to the observation deck) and have some difficulty taking a shower or even shaving. Yet, I don't know of anyone who seriously fell or showed evidence of an accident, and many of the passengers were older than me.
One final disconcerting thought, something that was on the back of my mind when I made the reservation: worsening terrorism. There are Islamic militants in the southern region of Thailand bordering Malaysia. In fact, two armed guards were placed on our train through this section. Over the past seven years 4,400 have died from violence. How difficult will it be, you think, for a platoon of terrorists to block a train, kidnap the passengers, for I suspect there were some rich people on the EOE, and extract some serious ransom?
I guess this train ride was something that was on my list of things to do, and I can now check it off. My next adventure on the rail will be two weeks on the Shinkansen when I eventually get to Japan for the cherry blossom season. I plan to visit Pearl's three favorites viewing locations.