On 8th September, Belmond’s Eastern & Oriental Express embarked on a four-day journey from Bangkok to Singapore. But this was no ordinary train commute. The famously beautiful and elegant passenger train collaborated with global charity initiative ‘Save Wild Tigers’ for a special edition ‘Tiger Express’ train. With as few as 3,800 tigers left in the wild, time is running out to save this majestic species from extinction. This trip’s primary aim was to raise awareness of the plight of the world’s critically endangered wild tigers. As part of the Eastern & Oriental Express’ ‘Art in Motion’ series of carriages, the ‘Tiger Express’ was specially designed to celebrate the beauty of this majestic species. At each stop from Bangkok to Singapore, guests and ambassadors worked to spread the word about the importance of this cause. Here we recount the magical journey that took place on the Eastern & Oriental Express this week.
[All images courtesy of Belmond Co. and Save Wild Tigers]
All aboard the ‘Tiger Express’…
This train marked the third of Eastern & Oriental Express’ ‘Art in Motion’ series. The external livery of the ‘Tiger Express’ was graced with a tiger flair created by renowned British-Chinese artist and Save Wild Tigers ambassador, Jacky Tsai — the name who’s also behind Alexander McQueen’s iconic floral skull.
Tsai explains his thinking behind the designs for the ‘Tiger Express’: “I wanted to create a visual reminder of the majesty of tigers that — in a similar way to this train — travel through Southeast Asia. I have done this by curating tiger-inspired artworks along the external livery of two of the carriages. The design fuses traditional eastern artistic techniques and imagery with western references to create an original style that seeks to establish balance and harmony. Inspired by my Tiger Art on Canvas, it’s a powerful reminder of the beauty of these majestic creatures.”
Guests on the ‘Tiger Express’ travelled in Belmond’s signature luxury from Bangkok to Singapore, journeying through historic wild tiger territories in Thailand and Malaysia. On the eve of the train journey, guests stayed at the 5-star The Siam Hotel in Bangkok and attended a cocktail reception hosted by the hotel and Save Wild Tigers. During the journey, guests also embarked on several excursions, from visiting the River Kwai Bridge to touring Kuala Kangsar.
The special journey took on board several Save Wild tigers ambassadors and celebrities who are passionate about protecting our wildlife. Kim Jones, Global Artistic Director of Dior Men was one such guest. The designer comments, “This magnificent creature has been an influence to the artistic world for centuries. We can’t let it disappear forever without a fight.” Melanie Blatt, singer from All Saints, was also on board, as was actress Jaime Winstone, and Shanghai Tang’s Creative Director Victoria Tang-Owen. In Bangkok, the sending off party at The Siam Hotel also saw familiar Thai faces from Vatanika to Von Sugunnasil in the crowd.
The on-board experiences
Travel, of course, is an experience for all the senses. Guests on board the ‘Tiger Express’ delighted in delicious food prepared especially by UK MasterChef winner Ping Coombes, who curated a unique menu to channel their geographical settings. The room and facilities, of course, continue to impress with the glorious taste of Belmond’s artistry.
Reaching journey’s end in Singapore, guests retired to the newly refurbished Raffles Hotel where a closing reception was held. Entertainment included performances by Jazz Singer Alemay Fernadez, as well as an auction of Jacky Tsai’s original Tiger Art on Canvas. The Raffles Hotel also put on an exhibition to display 14 photos from the acclaimed ‘Eye on the Tiger’ exhibition that was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London last year.
With all the artistry and glamour, let’s not forget that this luxury journey has a highly significant cause at heart. ‘Save Wild Tigers’ is an organisation that works to inspire the public to work together in ending illegal trade in tiger parts, an unethical practice that generates around £12 billion every year. “If no action is taken,” says Save Wild Tigers founder Simon Clinton, “then tigers could be extinct in just 10 years. The ‘Tiger Express’ is set to raise awareness of this tiger crisis. Generating support for wild tigers from such high profile personalities reminds us all how special wild tigers are and why it’s essential we collectively all do our best to protect them from extinction.”
For further information on the Eastern & Oriental Express and to make bookings, please visit www.belmond.com/eastern-oriental-express. To learn more about Save Wild Tigers, please visit www.savewildtigers.org.