There are trains and then there are the Swiss Alpine trains. Quite a few of them, but arguably the two most celebrated ones are the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express. The latter is even a Unesco World Heritage site. Days 35 and 36 of KK 2019, these photos and videos don’t do justice, struggling to do this post!
Ran out of superlatives, two days of beautiful engineering, jaw dropping vistas and that elusive balance of precision and beauty, economics and sustainability, aesthetic and efficiency that is unmistakably Swiss. You can set your watches to train movement and their cantons and villages are postcard pristine in either winter or summer. How do they do it?
I worked for the Swiss for about 4 wonderful years in the go go 90s as head of research of UBS in Malaysia. Learned a lot from the old UBS of quintessential Swiss values of efficiency, precision, pragmatism, discretion and a certain European aesthetic, perhaps reflecting the confluence of major European styles present in their nation – Germanic, French, Italian. The best of these worlds. The topography of mountains and lakes was also a result of a tectonic collision and it seems the Swiss have mastered the art and science of harnessing the opposing forces around them.
This is the mother lode small nation, with no natural resources except perhaps its geography, and surrounded by much larger countries but yet carving out their place cleverly, and for a millenia. Took the Glacier Express from Brig (could not get to Zermatt in time), overnight in historic Chur (coincided with the very loud Chur festival) and then the Bernina from Chur to Tirano. Davos is a whistle-stop away, was too busy to see the beauty nearby over the years. Nowhere is Swiss ingenuity better represented than in its trains. Long live SBB. It has its challenges, but still much to learn and admire from the Swiss. Alhamdullilah. 🙏🏔️🚞 #kretapikir
24 September 2019
Alhamdullilah 🙏😁👶 Found a soul mate on the 10:31am from Basel to Brig in Switzerland this morning, day 35 of KK2019. Little Milas who is 3 loves trains. Not just love trains but absolutely lives, sleeps, sings for trains. Lucy, his mum says his first word was actually “Zug” (train in German). Here he sings his favorite song which is about trains of course (🎶 I don’t want to ride alone… That’s why I take the train 🎶!). Milas was not impressed with pictures of Tibetan landscape or Mongolian wrestling but instead demanded that we show him videos and pictures of trains from around the world on Kembara Kretapi! What a star! We have met many fellow train buffs on the trip so far, but Milas was just about the most devoted! Good luck Milas, off to his first camping trip for 8 days, naturally going and returning by trains!
While KK 2019 has thus far been so full of memories of trains, places, food, events, great art and architecture, nature… the best moments have been without doubt the human touch. From scheduled meetings, promises finally fulfilled of visiting friends along the way, speeches made, from the love received (literally thats what terima kasih means) in a service received or when a purchase is done, and most of all the beautiful serendipitous meetings and conversations with strangers and fellow travellers. That to many is the point of travel, to meet, to listen, to exchange and share… Food, stories, wisdom, jokes, power banks, and in the case of Milas, a love for trains! This post is dedicated to all those that we have met who lighted up our journey .. Our one regret is there were quite a few we forgot to take photos with… But the memory of the smiles and the laughter lives on. Thank you. ❤️🚂🙏 #kretapikir
18 August 2019