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Michael Portillo travels around South-east Asia, guided by his 1913 Bradshaw's Handbook on a 2,500-mile railway adventure across six countries.

Genres: Adventure | Travel
Station: BBC Two (GB)
Rating: 10/10 from 1 users
Status: To Be Determined
Start: 2020-01-27

Great Asian Railway Journeys Air Dates

S01E17 - Kuala Lumpur to Melaka Air Date: 18 February 2020 18:30 -

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Michael Portillo continues his 2,500-mile rail tour of south east Asia. On this leg, he explores the phenomenal growth of Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, from muddy swamp to seat of British colonial power to the financial and economic tiger of today.

Michael discovers Kuala Lumpur's 19th-century origins as a tin mine and tries his hand crafting jewellery at the Royal Selangor pewter factory.

In a traditional quarter of the city, untouched by modern development, Michael tastes the Malaysian national dish nasi lemak before investigating the scandalous behaviour of the Britain's resident general at the turn of the 20th century.

S01E18 - Melaka to Johor Bahru Air Date: 19 February 2020 18:30 -

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Michael Portillo is in Malaysia on a 2,500-mile tour of south east Asia. His 1913 Bradshaw's Guide takes him to Melaka, for centuries one of the greatest trading ports in the world. He tastes the spicy cuisine of the Kristang community, descendants of early 16th-century Portuguese settlers who mixed with local Malays.

Continuing to Kluang amid fertile farmland, Michael joins in the pineapple harvest and discovers how Malaysia's resources of tin and tropical fruit created a global market in food.

Arriving at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula in Johor Bahru, Michael visits the palace of Sultan Abu Bakar, a canny and well-travelled monarch who became friends with Queen Victoria and used what he learned in Britain to modernise his realm. Michael learns how Malaysia's first ever railway fell prey to an implacable foe.

S01E19 - Raffles Place to Botanic Gardens Air Date: 20 February 2020 18:30 -

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Michael Portillo's south east Asian railway tour reaches its final stop - the phenomenally successful island city state of Singapore.

In the historic centre, Michael discovers Singapore's maritime origins and the vision of the 19th-century Englishman who put it on the map. In the Long Bar at the iconic Raffles Hotel, Michael treats himself to a Singapore Sling, now a world-famous cocktail. A boat trip along the Singapore River reveals how trade flourished under British colonial rule. And Michael marvels the scale of shipping today on a visit to a vast construction site, where a new mega port will strengthen Singapore's position as a global trading hub.

In Chinatown, Michael dines with an artist and his family and learns about the history of the Chinese community. And at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, he helps to keep the orchids blooming. Michael enjoys an extraordinary spectacle at gardens of a very different kind, down by the Bay.

S01E20 - Chinatown to Gardens by the Bay Air Date: 21 February 2020 18:30 -

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Michael Portillo is in the island city state of Singapore on the last leg of his 2,500-mile exploration of south east Asia. In Tai Seng, Michael goes underground to marvel at the world's largest subterranean rail depot, where self-driving MRT trains are maintained. He takes a cable car to Fort Siloso on the island of Sentosa, where he learns about one of Britain's worst military defeats and the brutal Japanese occupation which followed.

Downtown, over coffee with the regulator of the Singapore Stock Exchange, Michael marvels at the island's astonishing success as a financial centre and, in the residential district of Ang Mo Kio, he visits an urban farm for the future - on a car park roof.

At Boat Quay, Michael finds out about Lee Kwan Yew, Singapore's prime minister for 31 years, who was responsible for Singapore's extraordinary 20th-century growth.

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