Eastern & Oriental Express’s Rising New Star: Epic Thailand

3 Mar

Ulf Buchert, senior train manager of the Eastern & Oriental Express, visits with IRT's Eleanor Hardy (in dark blue) and other representatives from American tour operators. Behind Mrs. Hardy is Valerie Ottofaro, Director of Sales for Orient Express Trains & Cruises. Across from Mrs. Hardy is Elizabeth Calhoun of Orient Express.

It’s hard to contain my excitement: the gorgeous Eastern & Oriental Express will be my home for six nights. I’m on its first Epic Thailand itinerary—a 7-day escorted tour to jungles, tiny villages and temple-studded cities—and I am thrilled to be on board. Hualamphong station in Bangkok, Thailand, buzzed with activity as we boarded at about 3 p.m. on Feb. 20. A troop of young musicians and dancers dressed in bright yellow and red led us on board.

But now all is quiet, and our train, readied for departure, is a haven of peace and beauty. I open my cabin door and am amazed:

My state cabin on the Eastern & Oriental Express was roomy and comfortable with plenty of storage. All photos by Eleanor Hardy for IRT

Spacious and cool, my state compartment contains a long sofa, upholstered chair and velvet chair and matching ottoman. The sofa and upholstered chair make up into comfy twin-sized beds at night. In the middle is a small table and lovely lamp. Along the two large picture windows is a long, folding table. On it is an orchid-filled silver vase and a light green Celadon porcelain dish full of fresh fruit.

“Welcome on board, Madame Hardy!” says my steward.

I admire the details:  silk curtains, embroidered valance, marquetry in light blond and dark wood, whose border around the top of the room picks up the theme of a medallion on the wall: lotus blossoms and jungle vines. It’s a light, fresh look of the orient.

I admire the ensuite bathroom: mahogany seat, granite-topped sink, mirror,  and cabinet with four shelves; Bulgari shower gel, shampoo and soap; large fluffy white towels with E&O logo. The foot-wide closet with padded hangers has two shelves at the bottom. Another cupboard has a safe and two shelves, plus two brass luggage racks.

The fabric on the sofa and upholstered chair is a rich combination of rose and green, coordinating beautifully with the rose velvet. And the lamps and light fixtures pick up those colors, not only in my cabin but throughout the train. They are lovely.

Despite my excitement, I’m determined to unpack. I stack shirts on one brass shelf, pants on another. I hang dresses in the closet and cram my underwear in a cupboard which also contains a safe. My steward whisks my suitcase away. (I can have it back whenever I want, he promises.) In this little home away from home, there is a place for everything. Even the ottoman opens for storage. And hooray! There are two great plugs for recharging, complete with converters to match my equipment.

This tray arrived daily about 5 p.m., always decorated with an orchid.

Soon, the train is rolling out of Bangkok, and it’s tea time. My steward arrives with a lovely tray: a crisp linen cloth is laid with a silver tea set, decorated with a ginko leaf pattern. The porcelain cups and plates are pale green, and the little linen napkin sports the E&O logo. A basket of traditional Thai sweets tempts. Tucked into the sweets: a bright fuchsia orchid blossom .

“This train,” I think as we edge out of Bangkok, “well deserves to be in our pantheon of the World’s Top 25 Trains.”  But, at this point, little do I know the main reason why.

Here is the link to our photo album. https://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=39059&id=146283798751515

If you have been on the train or to Thailand, let us know about your favorite experiences.

2 Responses to “Eastern & Oriental Express’s Rising New Star: Epic Thailand”

  1. Bruce Anderson March 4, 2011 at 7:21 AM #

    I always wondered what those safes on the train were for! Can’t wait to read more about your trip.

    • Eleanor Flagler Hardy March 4, 2011 at 8:31 AM #

      The safe is for money and passports! HA! I revised the posting. GREAT trip, though! Let’s talk.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: