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Old 25th December 2020, 08:04 AM   #1
yflyer
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Default Orient Express Exhibition @ Gardens By the Bay

I recently went on a staycation at the JW Marriott South Beach. After an early check-in at the hotel, I headed to the West Lawn of the Gardens By the Bay to visit the exhibition, Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express.



This is a limited time exhibition that runs from 12 December 2020 to 13 June 2021. This is an exhibition of the history of the iconic train, the Orient Express, which includes original Orient Express train carriages, memorabilia and even a modern re-imagining of the fine dining experience onboard.

The exhibition first opened in Paris in 2014, and Singapore is the first overseas destination selected to host this exhibition.

Mrs yflyer had booked tickets to the exhibition months in advance, even before we had decided on our staycation. As it turned out, this was a stunning exhibition that made for a great start to our one-night staycation at the JW Marriott South Beach.

I believe tickets to this exhibition (At $25) are still available, and would highly recommend this exhibition to anyone with a love for the romance of travel.

Speaking of the romance of travel, as I viewed the exhibition, I could not help noticing the ways that the modern day luxury air travel experience, especially the SQ Suites experience, has been subtly influenced by the Orient Express...

Last edited by yflyer; 25th December 2020 at 08:13 AM..
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Old 25th December 2020, 08:33 AM   #2
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The exhibition itself is on the West Lawn of Gardens by the Bay, close to Bayfront Plaza.



This is located close to the Super Trees, and some distance away from the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. The linking walkway between Marina Bay Sands the the Gardens is fairly close to the exhibition.

To get to the exhibition, we parked at the Bayfront Plaza carpark. I snapped a few pics of the SG50 Lattice as I made my way to the exhibition.



The SG50 Lattice is a striking outdoor structure that I did not recall encountering before, although I had visited the Gardens on many occasions...



The Orient Express exhibition itself is set up in a large climate-controlled tent on the West Lawn.



An original locomotive, 158 years old and beautifully restored, is on display outside the exhibition tent.



We headed straight into the exhibition...



You enter the exhibition by climbing straight into a restored Orient Express train carriage from the 1930's.









A fairly steep set of stairs up into the carriage...


Last edited by yflyer; 25th December 2020 at 02:44 PM..
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Old 25th December 2020, 08:47 AM   #3
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Once inside the train, you were in another world...



This was a world of opulence and luxury...



Now this was the way to travel...spacious carriages with plush, comfortable seating...



The exhibition itself has taken great pains to fill the trains with artifacts from this golden age of travel...



You did not feel as if you were passively viewing a museum exhibit...this was an actual train carriage after all...



...you felt transported to this earlier era...



This was, of course, travel for a select few, not for the masses...



The train exhibit included snapshots of past history...



Past newspapers, enhanced with video...

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Old 25th December 2020, 08:59 AM   #4
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The Orient Express also captured the imagination of writers, who set stories onboard the train...



...including Graham Green...



...and spies, both real and fictional...



Ian Fleming's James Bond novel, From Russia With Love, featured the Orient Express. There were scenes of the movie, featuring the late Sir Sean Connery as Bond, playing on video screens in the exhibition.



Perhaps most famous of all, Agatha Christie set "Murder on the Orient Express" on this train...



This is such a well known novel, and movie (with multiple adaptations) that a not insignificant part of this exhibition covers the events of this novel!



In one of the freight/luggage cars at the exhibition, one found this...





What is fact, and what is fiction?



Another luggage car housed other exhibits from the era...

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Old 25th December 2020, 09:05 AM   #5
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Once off the train, we entered a large exhibition hall filled with other artifacts/exhibits which could be viewed at leisure...









A model of a sleeping carriage...



A Sleeper Suite for one (Or maybe 2?)...



This really reminded me of the first iteration of SQ's Suites...

Onboard dining...



Luggage of the era...no rollerboards in sight!


Last edited by yflyer; 25th December 2020 at 09:50 AM..
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Old 25th December 2020, 09:15 AM   #6
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There was a historical timeline, starting in 1845...



...with the Golden Age of the Orient Express from 1918 onwards...



I read that Rene Lalique designed the interiors of the new "Train Bleu" in 1928....yet another connection to SQ, who picked Lalique to supply amenities for their new Suites.

And then the inevitable decline of luxury train travel, probably as the age of air travel dawned...

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Old 25th December 2020, 09:21 AM   #7
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There were posters and timetables, highlighting both the beautiful art of the era, as well as the pace of travel, which was leisurely, to say the least!



Paris to Constantinople (Present day Istanbul) would take from Wednesday to Saturday...



What an adventure it must have been in those days, to head all the way from Paris (Or London...) all the way to Istanbul, and from there connecting to Cairo or Baghdad, even Bombay!

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Old 25th December 2020, 09:30 AM   #8
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Other parts of the exhibition highlighted poster art and other memorabilia from the era...



The first guidebooks...





Menu cards...



You could go right up to the train carriages for that perfect photo-op...



Apart from historical artifacts, there was also a series of very high quality modern merchandise and souvenirs on sale at the gift shop...

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Old 25th December 2020, 09:35 AM   #9
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As part of the exhibition, there is also a full fledged restaurant, complete with Michelin-starred chef (and eye-popping prices to match...)...



I would not consider dining at the restaurant to be an essential part of the experience, but this seems to be very popular.



You can dine inside a replica of the train dining carriage...



Fine dining aside, there is also a separate cafe...



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Old 25th December 2020, 09:42 AM   #10
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Overall, I found this to be a superb exhibition: Very well researched, with very high production values, and an absolutely absorbing set of historical artifacts.

The exhibition is very well planned. It is immersive, and really draws you into a bygone area. You almost feel as if you are boarding a train about to depart for a far flung destination, which is really treasurable during this COVID-19 period where overseas travel is essentially off limits to most people.

The ticket is for an entry timing of 2 hours, which is just about right (You could probably do it justice in an hour plus).

For those of us who miss travel, this exhibition might be as good a substitute as one can get until travel restrictions are lifted, although visiting may make you miss travel even more!

Highly, highly recommended!

What a great start to our Singapore staycation. While inside the Orient Express Exhibition, I received a phone call from the JW Marriott ...our room was ready, and we could now check into our rooms. Next stop: the JW Marriott South Beach!

Last edited by yflyer; 2nd January 2021 at 11:23 AM..
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