Heard her on the Orient Express

My mom clutches her life philosophy firmly in a thickly stamped passport.

“God made this world beautiful and we have an obligation to get out there and see it,” she says.

I heard her on the Orient Express as we chugged along an 884-mile stretch between Bangkok and Singapore.

We returned last night from an amazing journey through jungles, on rivers, up mountains and into the most beautiful marina in the world.

Each of our stops deserves it’s own post (and I’m writing this particular one directly following our 26-hour journey home so please excuse typos and non sequiturs).

My mom, Margaret Polo, and I began in Bangkok, where our hotel balcony overlooked the mesmerizingly busy Chao Praya River. We loved Thailand and found it as sweet and delicious as its world-renown mangoes (which we gobbled up every morning).

We took a long-boat tour through the canals, saw about 4,000 Buddhas, visited temples and night markets, and rode the brand-new sky train.

Then, we boarded the magnificent Orient Express and experienced old world travel and the elegant lifestyle of a bygone era (I had to dress for dinner).

I spent the bulk of my time on the observation car, enjoying natural lessons in history, botany, geography and civics as gorgeous scenery whizzed by.

Later, I’ll write about our visit to the River Kwai, my educational climb up through the Malaysian countryside, and my fascination with Singapore, which bubbled over so enthusiastically during a photo walk that I stopped strangers and said, “I just can’t believe how amazing this place is. Can you?”

For the record, the Sultan Sri Tri Buana felt the same way when he landed there in the 13th century.

I took a few (hundred) photos and I’m sharing a very short video I took off the back of the train.

I’m looking forward to sharing more travel stories I hope you find as interesting as I did.

In the meantime, here’s a taste:

This is my mom and me on a long-boat tour, pretending we’re not a little freaked out that the engine on our boat has died and we are bobbing helplessly on one of the busiest rivers in the world. Eventually, the engine coughed back into life and we resumed our fascinating journey through the Bangkok canals.
There are so many gorgeous temples in Bangkok, and Buddhas of all shapes and sizes. We saw the enormous reclining Buddha, the gold Buddha, the emerald Buddha and about 797 others.
I took this shot on a photo walk our first afternoon in Bangkok. I asked before I shot pictures of people, but almost everyone in Bangkok is game to have their photos taken, even strolling monks.
This man is selling wares from his boat at one of Thailand’s famous floating markets.
I was sipping tea at a restaurant when I saw this truckload pass by. Thailand has a real reverence for Buddhas and there are signs all over Bangkok offering specific instructions as to how one should respect Buddha (ie: no Buddha tattoos)
One night in Bangkok.
I don’t even know what to say about the magnificence of Singapore, except to mention that this shot is completely unedited and taken just with my cellphone. I’ll have lots more Singapore shots because we covered a ton of ground — the Orchid Garden, Chinatown, Orchard Road, Little India, Kampong Glam, Gardens by the Bay, hawker stands, Marina Bay and several mind-bogglingly glamorous shopping malls.
A blessing in a Hindu temple in Singapore. (I just want to stress that I asked before I shot these photos inside this temple. This family is praying for a healthy pregnancy for their wife/daughter.)
Our train disappearing into the Malaysian mist.
My mom and I on the Orient Express.

Here’s a little view from the back of our train.

7 thoughts on “Heard her on the Orient Express

  1. Thanks for sharing. Singapore stands out as my favorite city from among the many I have see,. I did this in 2016 but though I have always wanted to ride the Orient Express I have not , YET, found another willing participant.
    I agree with Peggy’s philosophy.
    ¡Vivan las Kostelnik!

  2. WOW! Thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through your wonderful, awesome, breathtaking experiences. Truly blessed.

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