Great Asian Railway Journey

Michael Portillo continues his exploration of Thailand by rail, steered by his 1913 Bradshaw’s guide. He steps into the ring  to learn Muay Thai boxing. taking his courage to assist in a surgical operation on a deadly venomous king cobra. learns the history of the Southern Railway and hears how royal patronage kickstarted today’s Thai tourist industry. He meets the niece of the present king.

Michael also visit Bangkok, midway through his rail tour of Thailand. He learns how the late 19th-century King Rama V built a grand palace and introduced railways to his country.

At the colossal new station under construction in the city, Michael hears how its four levels and 24 platforms will transform Thailand’s transport infrastructure. He circles the Grand Palace by tuk tuk, then boards the 21st-century skytrain for a wonderful view of the city.

Michael dines on the water in a floating market, where purchases are made from boat to boat. Following in the footsteps of writers such as Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene and John Le Carre, Michael checks into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, built just before his guide.