Kathmandu to London
24th March - 10th June 1977
Nepal - India - Pakistan
After I had returned from the Everest Base Camp Trek the next part of the plan was a Kathmandu to London overland trip travelling in a 4 x 4 truck. This was possible in that brief time in history were you could go in relative safety by road through Afghanistan and Iran. I was originally booked on an Intertrek truck that was to leave Kathmandu on 21 March, but there had been a change in plans and I was to leave on the 24th on Intertrek INT34c. With a few extra days up my sleeve I flew to Burma and spent a week there.
Back in Kathmandu, a couple of nights at The Hotel Star, a few meals at KC’s restaurant and we were off.
The people in the group were:
Bob Harrison - Australian
John Haberly - Australian
Geoff Truden - New Zealander
Joe Thompson, our driver & guide - British
Jenny Tomlin, Joe’s girlfriend - New Zealander
Fred Stepchuk, married to Marianne - Canadian
Marianne Ritchie, married to Fred - Canadian
Brenda Halverson - American
Jenny Little - Australian
Margaret Miller - Australian
Patricia (Patti) Richardson - American
Gai Little - Australian
Gerda Huis in Z Veld - Dutch
Cathy Weir - British
Noel Macwhirter - Australian
With just two couples that left a ratio of 4 single blokes to 7 single girls, we were going to be in for a tough time!
Starting in Kathmandu on March 24 our first night was in Pokhara. We missed out on Chitwan National Park as the King had booked the place out to ride his elephants! Over the Indian border near Butwal and on to Varanasi. We spent quite a few nights camped in the grounds of various Dak Bungalows, bought our provisions along the way and cooked for ourselves. The routine was set for four groups of three. For two days one cooked, another cleaned and washed up, another cleaned and set up the truck site each night and the forth had the day off. Once we had organised the groups a little better, sorry Gerda for the stress and tears at Agra!, the system worked very well. Shopping was a terrific experience, visiting local markets and bargaining over different veggies, we ate very little meat, those who have been to these parts and seen the local butchers will understand.
After Varanasi we followed the traditional hippie trail (although there wasn’t a drug taking hippy amongst us, we might have drunk a little alcohol though) on to the temples at Khajuraho. Some of us finished up being invited to a local engagement party, the hospitality of the locals is just fantastic in this part of the world. Next stop the fort at Gwalior. Shamefully we had a paper aeroplane throwing competition from the top, this despite the average age of the group being 26. Agra and the mighty Taj the next stop, what a majestic building. We tried to set up camp outside the front entrance, we wanted to get in first thing after sunrise, but were told to move mid way through cooking dinner.
Fatehpur Sikri next and then beautiful Jaipur and the Amber Fort. We detoured to the Sariska Game Reserve to find Bengal Tigers. Luckily we spotted a family of six, 2 adults and 4 cubs, at night. Geoff nearly gave our guide a heart attack when he jumped out the other side of the truck for a pee, the tigers were only 20 meters away! After poachers wiped the tiger population out in the 1990s recently there has been a partially successful relocation program to bring tigers back to Sariska.
A few days in Delhi for some rest, new foods, even ice cream. The dynamic changed a little here as Miss Richardson and I started to share the little no.7 tent, which we continued doing so for the next 25 years until my use by date expired, but that’s another whole story.
Then the long and dangerous drive up to Kashmir. Joe did all the driving while Jenny T kept the finances and food organised. We encountered a situation that turned very nasty along the way. If you look through the pictures the are a couple taken from the back of the truck with hundreds of mainly Sikh men looking at us. We’d come across a small accident at a cross road in a small town, the single local policeman was being assaulted and couldn’t get the traffic moving. After two hours the mob turned their attention on us, luckily two locals on their Indian Enfield motor cycles arrived in the nick of time and led us out.
There were student riots in Srinagar which prevented from going into the town but four nights on Dal Lake in the beautiful house boats was luxury. After buying the traditional bad suede jacket (green) and a table cloth for my Mum we drove back down to Amritsar. Pakistan was a little disappointing, and as will be revealed in part two, not the healthiest place to eat. We end part one with us driving up the Khyber Pass to the Afghanistan border.
Below is a 14 min quicktime movie of the slides we took.
Remember it was 1977, no portable video cameras, iPhones or digital cameras, just good old fashioned slide film.
As per the Everest Trek my camera gear consisted of my Minolta SRT-101 35mm SLR camera. Minolta f1.8 50mm, Elicar f2.8 28mm and a 75-200mm zoom (can’t remember the make) lenses.
Film was Agfa 100ASA slide film, slightly grainy and a bit ‘brown’. The zoom overexposed most shots by 1-1 1/2 stops which I didn’t discover until the film was processed in London 3 months later.
Plus here we have pictures taken by Pat using her Miranda 35mm SLR and Kodak Kodachrome film.