We all met up with our two guides, the truck and our fellow travelers at Dover. We took a ferry across the channel and very quickly drove across Europe through German, Austria, what was then Yugoslavia and Greece. The truck was a modified Bedford van and was scheduled to take us from England to Kathmandu. It took just under 80 days. I met my lifelong friend Bill Garsden at the pier in Dover. We agreed to be tent mates for the journey.
First overnight stop was in Cologne (Koln), Germany. This is the Cologne Cathedral.
Cologne Street Art
Campsite on the Rhine River
Tents and the truck at our first campsite on the Rhine River.
Munich, Germany. We had a small pilsner beer here. I remember being shocked at the price.
This is what it looked like in the truck. 21 of us jammed together for almost three months. Always the tea towels hanging up to dry. At this point we little expected the hunger, discomfort, illness and excitement that awaited us.
In the 70's there were quite a few firms offering bargain trips with various degrees of comfort between Europe and Asia. The most common route was between London and Kathmandu as it was possible then to do this entire trip overland. (This is before Russia invaded Afghanistan and before the Shah fell in Iran.)
Some people chose to do this route on their own, many using Tony Wheeler's first two books: "Across Asia on the Cheap" and "Southeast Asia on a Shoestring".
Some travel agents would book rail and bus tickets in advance and send you on your way. (I never understood the advantage of this.)
The company I chose (Exodus) offered the least luxurious all-inclusive trip: a converted Bedford van, simple self-cooked meals, and tents for camping out. Other companies towed a trailer behind the van to haul more stuff and more provisions. Some companies did the trip using luxury coaches. Comfortable, but they had to stick to the main highways and well on the beaten path.
The two drivers that came with us were both knowledgeable and experienced. They seemed to have been given plenty of leeway as to both route and schedule. They often persuaded us to make interesting detours and to skip some of the less interesting spots. We spent much more time than planned on the coast of Turkey and made a fascinating detour to Ladakh in Kashmir.
One of the first purchases they made, when we were crossing the channel, was about 30 bottles of Red Label. They had each of us put one bottle in our under-seat lockers (for customs purposes) and squirreled the rest away in various spots on the van. This stash would prove invaluable later on when crossing borders, passing through checkpoints and getting out of various other troublesome situations. I believe they sold what was left for a handsome profit in Pakistan.
Poppy Field in the former Yugoslavia
On the road again - Yugoslavia
We met this group of high school kids in Macedonia (in the former Yugoslavia) who were so happy to have their photos taken with us. One of our group, Ingrid, is fourth from the right in this photo.
The countryside in Yugoslavia seemed oodly primitive and rundown.
Greece. Note the cool car at the bottom center. Fiat Topolino?
Fishing nets Thessaloniki, Greece
Thesalonikas, Greece. My great friend and collaborator on this web site is Bill Garsden, second from the right. We were tent mates on the London to Kathmandu leg of this long trip and have remained great friends ever since. Bill resides in Brisbane, Australia.
Something happened this day that would change my life significantly. Just after this coffee break I was reading the International Herald Tribune. I noticed an article saying that the US had concluded an agreement with the people of the Northern Mariana Islands that would create a commonwealth and would extend US Federal law, including the Social Security laws, to the Mariana Islands. I wrote the Social Security Administration (for whom I had formerly worked) asking them for a job on Saipan in the Mariana Islands. It was a long shot, but two years later I was living and working on Saipan. I would spend the next 26 years and my entire Federal career there.
|India 1||India 2||Nepal||Burma|
|Thailand||Malaysia/Singapore||Indonesia 1||Indonesia 2|
Photographs and text copyright Michael Newman and William Garsden: 2020
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