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Overland from London to Sydney: travelling around the world by train

All right, I admit it – if you want to travel thousands of miles from A to B, flying is probably the sensible option. But if you’re travelling to see the world – rail travel just can’t be beat.

You could walk, cycle or hitch-hike around the world; you could go on a pogo stick if you’re desperate for media attention or if you’re on some spurious charity sponsorship but if it’s you and the world that’s of interest – take the train.

Whenever flying I’m invariably craning my neck from the window and straining to catch a glimpse of some exotic sounding land, so tantalisingly out of sight. On a train a simple glance out of the window can persuade me to get off whenever the fancy takes me.

That’s why on my recent trip to Australia I decided to go by train. There’s more than one route; I choose one going through the least problematic countries with the most reliable services and were places I wanted to go. 20,000 miles, 15 countries and my propensity for getting off extended the trip to three months.

I took more than a dozen trains crossing Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Southeast Asia and Australia, some were luxurious like the Eastern & Oriental Express and others were crowded compartments like the Reunification Express in Vietnam. Accommodation similarly varied from the luxurious Raffles in Singapore to a bug-infested fleapit in Bangkok.



Peter Lynch



01 March 2014









Digital Copy






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I’ve been writing about travel for the past 14 years and have travelled extensively from [A]ustralia to [Z]imbabwe. I’ve been around the world a few of times and have written widely for the international press in America, Australia and the UK, for newspapers, magazines and websites.I am also the author of a definitive guide to Wildlife Conservation Volunteering (Bradt, 2012) and have worked on volunteer projects in South America, Africa, India and Europe. Working from a riverboat on the Amazon has to be my favourite conservation project – a bit of comfort and luxury at the end of the day after getting filthy ploughing through the muddy jungle.I think the best way of getting around is travelling by train, not just because it’s eco-friendly but because I enjoy the journey as much as the destination. I’ve written a lot about train travel and am a contributing author to Great Railway Journeys of the World (Time Out 2009). My enthusiasm for travelling on trains culminated in 2011 – 2012 when I travelled around the world by train - from London to Sydney. This was the most amazing trip I’ve ever done and I spent three months because I couldn’t stop myself getting off to explore what couldn’t be seen from the window.Naturally it’s now a book!

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