We get up early and have a nice breakfast right by the water’s edge. A lovely view of the river. It’s very hot and steamy. The breakfast offering is vast and very well cooked and presented, as I would expect staying at a 5-star hotel, but some I have stayed at have been very poor in comparison. The coffee was the best of the trip so far, and I treat myself to a second cup. The crew are happy and in good spirits after our night out. Sam turns up, and we head off again to get the rest of the ingredients and the cooking utensils we need to cook on the River Kwai tomorrow. We will be picking up the world-famous Eastern & Oriental Express that will take us over 3 days from Bangkok right through Malaysia to Singapore.
On the way, we will be cooking not only on the train but stopping off occasionally at certain points. So with this in mind, I need to go shopping at a local supermarket that has everything we need. I even get a chance to buy 8 pairs of shorts for the summer. 8 pairs for 48 quid, not bad eh and pretty good quality. We set off to take some footage from the restaurant on top of The Banyan Tree hotel in downtown Bangkok. It takes an age as the traffic is awful. By the time we get there, it’s way into the 30’s C. It’s also very high, and I feel a little bit queasy looking over, if I’m honest. We get some fabulous shots and then head back to the hotel, ready for a spot of lunch, pack and check-in early so we can film the train coming in and me getting on board.
Lunch is delicious indeed, and I eat from the Thai menu. Mango salad with peanuts, chilli and dried shrimp is a perfect balance of sweet-sour and packed full of fresh flavours. The main course was dry fried chicken morsels, cashew nuts and lots of ginger. Again really, really tasty. We rush upstairs and pack and check out; we are always rushing.
We get to the station in good time, as it’s only a stone’s throw from the hotel and meet Nicholas, the manager and Yannis, the chef. We mock-up getting on the train and get lots of nice stuff around the station. Everyone’s fascinated with our camera and sound stuff for some reason. We wait a further hour in the observation car to get a piece to camera, as the train next door is so loud, soundmen are never really happy.
The train is beautiful, with wood and veneer panelling from ceiling to floor. It consists of two dining cars, a music/library car, two bars, plus accommodation for 170 people. It also has an observation car to the rear of the train. The staff, as you would expect, are amazing and nothing is too much trouble. Once all the guests are aboard, we head out of Bangkok south into the heart of Asia. People wave us off, and I do a piece to the camera as the suns dips below the skyline, a truly memorable experience. It’s a pleasantly warm evening, and nice to sit in the open car and sip a well-earned beer or two.
My room is lovely also, with a small sitting area and a small bathroom. Beds are made up daily whilst you are at dinner, so leaving plenty of space all day. Dinner is a formal affair, a bit too formal for me, including a jacket and, yes, a tie. Thank god for air conditioning; that’s all I can say. We start with a foie gras terrine with pineapple chutney, sake jelly and green apple puree. Next a Tom Yam cappuccino….
Very nice full of flavour bit too creamy for my liking (a dish Yannis and I will be cooking later in the trip). Main course is a 2 bone rack of lamb, roasted to perfection, served with a nice square of roasted pork with crispy skin. This came with Brussel sprouts, creamy potato and mushrooms. Dessert was a Thai speciality, coconut ice cream with ganache and pineapple sauce which I have to say was really well cooked and presented, no mean feat when you see how small the kitchens are and they have 12 people working in there.
After the meal, I’m knackered, so it’s off to bed just before ordering my wake up call and breakfast arrangements 5.30 am eeeek need to be at the River Kwai before the train arrives to get some nice shots. So I brush my teeth and slip into bed, it is very comfortable, and the gentle rocking of the train soon sends me off!!!!