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World's weirdest railtour?


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Picked up from a short reference on Ian Hislop's series...

 

https://lupinetravel.co.uk/all-tours/wigan-to-pyongyang-tour-april23/

 

Will suit pie-eating communists; it may not be a railtour that you'd normally visualise. A few disparate services, buses and a bed and breakfast. Most odd.

 

The tour seems to end with no return leg after 4 weeks of misery; that may not be surprising considering the final destination.

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8 minutes ago, AY Mod said:

Picked up from a short reference on Ian Hislop's series...

 

https://lupinetravel.co.uk/all-tours/wigan-to-pyongyang-tour-april23/

 

Will suit pie-eating communists; it may not be a railtour that you'd normally visualise. A few disparate services, buses and a bed and breakfast. Most odd.

 

The tour seems to end with no return leg after 4 weeks of misery; that may not be surprising considering the final destination.

 

With complementary novochoc on your door handle!

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Seems like the thing some of the kids in our school used to do in the early 1980s as their parents were Communists and/or union reps. Usually organised by Socialist Worker.

 

Alexei Sayle has mentioned them a few times over the years.

 

We would go to Wales or if you were lucky a fortnight in Spain. They would go to the places the other side of the Iron Curtain for six weeks. Funnily enough none of them ever talked about it, so no idea what they got up to. No comments like "We saw  the Kremlin and Lenin's Tomb" so I don't think they were doing the touristy things.

 

I can't recall any of the kids being particularly political though. They did always seem to come back with the East European football tops that you couldn't get. Things like the Bulgarian national team, Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Moscow.

 

 

Jason

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In the old days, things like this were so heavily subsidised by the USSR as to be effectively free (for the price of being deluged with propoganda), so it is a bit disappointing to see that (a) if costs three grand, and (b) that price includes a pub lunch in Wigan.

 

 

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Aviation enthusiasts will already know about the regular tours to North Korea to fly on Air Koryo's "heritage" fleet.  AK has effectively been banned elsewhere for safety reasons so their active fleet of relatively recent Tupolev TU204s are concentrated on a Beijing-Pyongyang service, but they still keep an example of Soviet built aircraft of IL18, TU134, TU154 and the "VC10ski" IL62 types ready to fleece daredevil degenerate Western capitalist enthusiasts of their dollars and euros.  If flying on old Soviet metal with one of the world's most notorious airlines isn't bowel loosening enough for you they even have the option of a microlight tour over Pyongyang.  I must admit if it wasn't for Covid and all the uncertainty and masking up that entails, I could be tempted although I would pass up the chance to see Pyongyang from a North Korean powered kite.  I'm not that suicidal.

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35 minutes ago, Jeremy C said:

I rather like their tour to Syria travelling in and out via Beiruit: https://lupinetravel.co.uk/syria-holidays-and-tours/#!

 

Well, maybe not travelling back out. It isn't clear.

 

Beirut was fine. Very friendly.

 

We were supposed to go to Syria when I was an Archaeology student, but for some reason we ended up in Egypt. Something to do with funding as few of us were studying Egyptology. But we were just shovelling sand anyway. Then doing a bit of measuring. Nothing exciting.

 

That was the late 1990s though and we were meant to go to the temple they destroyed. 

 

 

Jason

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3 minutes ago, Steamport Southport said:

Beirut was fine. Very friendly.

I am pleased to hear it.

 

Actually, I have a lot of affection for Syria and it's people. I travelled there (by rail as far as Adana) in 2011, leaving just a matter of days before the beginning of the civil war (although travel in most of the country would have been fine for several more weeks). The people were very friendly and I am so sorry for what befell them.

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@AY Mod

Interesting topic dear leader!*

my last holiday (adventure) was to DPRK via Beijing in 2019 and a flight in a very dodgy air koryo aircraft that had no air con. Obviously it’s a guided tour and if you watch the Palin series it gives you a flavour of what it’s like in the worlds most secretive (and repressive) state. The guides were friendly, the food interesting and the weather hot. 

 

We we returned to Beijing via train from Pyongyang. After our visit we read up on the true nature of the place, it’s government and regime, the things they get up too...

 

A few few years before we did Chernobyl, a trip to Kiev, beautiful city, friendly people, with an overnight excursion to Pripyat and the plant. Pripyat is a fascinating ghost city but really falling apart now. The new containment over the old sarcophagus is huge. 

 

Outside Kiev is a museum dedicated to the soviet airforce, I test my wife’s patience spending hours photoing the hundreds of aircraft parking up there, plane enthusiasts heaven! Kiev station also has a mini railway museum at the far side too.

 

i work for an American firm and they have a list of countries they don’t trade with, Cuba, Syria, Iran, North Korea so we were ticking them off in pre-Covid times.. 

 

*the north Koreans refer to their leaders as either founding father, dear general or dear leader for messers Kim Il-Song, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un.

think i’ve remembered  that right. 

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It could be George Orwell themed. You start off in The Road to Wigan Pier and effectively end up in Nineteen Eighty-Four (in North Korea). Perhaps it could go via Catalonia and feature some visits to (animal) farm railways as well to tie in with the theme...

 

20 hours ago, AY Mod said:

A few disparate services, buses and a bed and breakfast.

 

It seems as though it’s more of a guided tour using trains, rather than a railtour (in the sense that they seem to be using existing service trains for most of it). It seems that it actually ends by returning to China (not in Pyongyang), but doesn’t say whether you fly back and whether they arrange that, which is odd. I’m pretty sure there’s a blog somewhere online by someone who did London to Pyongyang by rail, entirely overland by train (there is a Vienna to Pyongyang one in any case, the extra bit from London within Europe is probably pretty straightforward: http://vienna-pyongyang.blogspot.com/?m=1).

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55 minutes ago, 009 micro modeller said:

It seems that it actually ends by returning to China (not in Pyongyang), but doesn’t say whether you fly back and whether they arrange that, which is odd.

I doubt they could finish in Pyongyang as tourists are kept under constant supervision - far easier if they all arrive and depart at the same time and place than expecting them to make their own way back. I guess that the tour is probably one-way so that it is equally convenient wherever you live in the world - unless you are from the UK it is probably just as easy to get yourself back from Beijing (one of the largest cities in the world) as it is to get yourself back home from a town in Lancashire.

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1 hour ago, DK123GWR said:

unless you are from the UK it is probably just as easy to get yourself back from Beijing (one of the largest cities in the world) as it is to get yourself back home from a town in Lancashire.

 

Is the company based in Wigan? I’m slightly struggling to understand why they specifically chose that as the start point.

 

 

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Just now, 009 micro modeller said:

 

Is the company based in Wigan? I’m slightly struggling to understand why they specifically chose that as the start point.

 

 

Yes. Look at the Google info panel on the right here:

https://www.google.com/search?q=lupine+travel&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GBGB819GB819&oq=lupin&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0i271l2j69i60l4.1967j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

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On 10/09/2021 at 16:20, Steamport Southport said:

Seems like the thing some of the kids in our school used to do in the early 1980s as their parents were Communists and/or union reps. Usually organised by Socialist Worker.

 

Alexei Sayle has mentioned them a few times over the years.

 

We would go to Wales or if you were lucky a fortnight in Spain. They would go to the places the other side of the Iron Curtain for six weeks. Funnily enough none of them ever talked about it, so no idea what they got up to. No comments like "We saw  the Kremlin and Lenin's Tomb" so I don't think they were doing the touristy things.

 

I can't recall any of the kids being particularly political though. They did always seem to come back with the East European football tops that you couldn't get. Things like the Bulgarian national team, Red Star Belgrade and Dynamo Moscow.

 

 

Jason

With the exception of the North Korean leg and the China section being done many years later it looks very much like a trip SWMBO did, but many years before the 1980s and of course only starting from East Berlin.

 

Marx had the right idea. Like SWMBO he moved to England.:lol::o

Bernard

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On 11/09/2021 at 13:56, 009 micro modeller said:

 

Is the company based in Wigan? I’m slightly struggling to understand why they specifically chose that as the start point.

 

 

Because a one way trip to North Korea is more appealing than spending the rest of your life living in Wigan? 

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On 10/09/2021 at 22:20, Jeremy C said:

I am pleased to hear it.

 

Actually, I have a lot of affection for Syria and it's people. I travelled there (by rail as far as Adana) in 2011, leaving just a matter of days before the beginning of the civil war (although travel in most of the country would have been fine for several more weeks). The people were very friendly and I am so sorry for what befell them.

We had a fantastic visit to Syria in 2010. The tourist trade seemed to have just begun to get going and the people were very friendly. It was not a railway tour, but we surprised our guide in Damascus by asking to include a visit to the station. 

1264637684_16MayDamascus07.JPG.84c4f5a8bff5ca5e62d9a757b92c4638.JPG2101862635_16MayDamascus08.JPG.0d8e1464271b33fd9e228306a44342d0.JPG

The rather splendid booking hall, which had lost its platforms and backed onto an area that was about to be developed. 

1667040107_16MayDamascus10.JPG.4e135471625a30c9d87cdba505f116e3.JPG

The plinthed loco that stood outside.  

The civil war was/is an absolute tragedy. I often wonder about the people that we met: the fate of much of he archaeology is well known. 

Best wishes 

Eric  

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I'd love to visit Pyongyang out of morbid curiosity. Trouble is, I think I'd have trouble resisting the urge to stir things up. "Hey, there's that guy again, do you think he's following us?" "How come there are no photos of Kim Il-Sung's other side?" "So, Kim Yo-Jong, hot or not?" Either I'd "disappear" or my guide would get sent to re-education camp. Or both.

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