Read: The Great Railway Bazaar


I was introduced to Paul Theroux’s by a travel writer on Twitter. The tweet wasn’t directed at me and I’m not even too sure who it was.

The tweet made Paul Theroux sound like The Best Travel Writer in the World™. I then decided to check out The Great Railway Bazaar from the library.

Synopsis: Writer takes train after train after train from London all the way to Japan (with some flights in between), passing by Europe, the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia and back through Russia.

Who should read it? It’s a non-fiction so there’s no storyline besides the writer trying to get from one place to another. Each chapter is a train ride which makes sense. If you are looking for more action, you probably can check out Eat, Pray, Love.

I like the book. I like how he can describe the different characters he meets on his journey and make it seem like the other person is right in front of me.

From JB to KL

As his purpose was not to visit the places he pass but just to be on the train so there are a bit of description of the sights of some of the different cities he stopped by.

I also like how how he brings me to the conversations that he has had.

Train travel inspiration

I’m not a big train fan to begin with. I’ve viewed the long-distance trains I have taken as transportation that brings me from one place to another. Not as romantic as Paul Theroux’s journey.

From Paris to Nantes

Yes, the scenery was nice on the TGV with sheep and bales of hay. But in the end, it’s only something with wheels that’s carting me away.

Maybe it’s because the trains I have taken are too modern. They fly past country sides silently. Just like how plans fly with a low hum.

From Xi’an to Luoyang

But after reading his book, I’m tempted to take a long train ride just for the sake of going somewhere. Also, to see if I can be as disciplined as him and keep a travel journal full of descriptions and conversations.

The nearest train trail that I can follow would be from Bangkok to Singapore. (“The International Express to Butterworth”, “The Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur” and “The North Star Night Express to Singapore”)

I checked the train schedule. It seems like it would take 2+ days to finish the route.

One day I might just do it. Or I might just take the train from Singapore to London overland.

Rails to nowhere

Other interesting travel books I’ve read

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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