Kathmandu to London
24th March - 10th June 1977
Afghanistan - Iran
The people in the group got revised along the way:
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
Plus we had four join half way through Afghanistan
David Stone, Lyn’s partner - New Zealander
Lyn Colvin, David Stone’s partner - New Zealander
David Bryant - Australian
Joyce Sterelny - Australian
It’s now mid April. After a bit of bribery to some boarder officials, Bob’s cholera vaccination wasn’t up to date, we left Pakistan via the Khyber Pass and entered Afghanistan. Up the Kabul Gorge I spent most of the time vomiting out the back of the truck and by the time we reached our destination in Kabul I was in a pretty bad way at both ends!
Dragged off to the local hospital I remember lying on a wooden bench in severe pain and just wanting to die. The doctor asked me for a stool sample, I couldn’t work out why he wanted me to sit on a chair? He then produced a coke can that had had the top ripped off for me to supply a sample! The diagnosis was I’d picked up a Trichinosis bug. A course of Flagyl to kill the bugs and vile of opium for the pain. Two drops of the opium in water and in a couple of hours I was fine.
Gai also had the same treatment but she took a little more than the recommended opium dose and did go a little loopy!
A few of us also had to get our cholera vaccinations updated to get into Iran. We were told to go to the local WHO office, but be sure to get there early. Why? They only used one hypodermic needle for the day, so the earlier you were there the sharper the needle would be. (This is in the days before HIV/AIDS)
Afghanistan had a totally different feel to the other countries we’d been in. More wild and less civilised, but in a better way, I loved my time there.
After a few days in Kabul we headed north in tandem with a second Intertrek truck. Stopping at Bamiyan were the two very large 6th century statues of Buddha were carved into the hillside, now infamously blown up by the Taliban in 2001. And then on to the spectacular lakes at Band-e-Amir. Here we were reminded how dangerous the area could be when we told two British girls had been killed two months before because the went for a swim in their bikinis. All the locals we meet were very friendly but, as elsewhere, you must respect local customs. We saw numerous Afghani horseman most had an old rifle of some sort on their saddle, I guess today it would be an AK47.
Backtracking a bit we took the road on to Doshi. Very rugged and totally spectacular, my photos don’t come close in capturing the area. Drove through Mazar-i-Sharif to ancient Balkh. I remember two things about Balk. It was near here that Alexander The Great married Roxanne around 326 BC, and the locals beat us at volleyball, although they did cheat!
With Pat getting very cold feet we continued west tracking the boarder with the USSR. A desert feast was had between the two trucks, we bought a whole sheep and there was plenty of red wine from Kabul to be drunk. Some recent investigation has found that most of the snakes in Afghanistan are poisonous so the traditional swift Aussie despatching of the ones we came across wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
In photos at the store in Qaisar Pat & I had a long conversation with the young school teacher, and a very nice cup of chi. The absolute cultural difference in our lives was the topic, I hope he is still with us. By now I was getting back in favour, if we weren’t on truck duty we would walk up the road an hour or so in front of the rest absorbing the country as we did. I found it easy to understand why so many invaders had failed there, the British and others, it was still another 18 months before the Russians invaded, another 10 year disaster and look where we are today, do politicians ever learn from history, I don’t think so.
It was around here the other truck broke a half-shaft and was stuck there for over three weeks. We picked up four of their travellers who had deadlines in England. So Lyn, David, Joyce & David joined us and Bob transferred over to the other truck, we were now 18.
Heart was memorable for two reasons. Pat running after some fat tailed sheep trying to get a close up photo of their tails. And her telling off a local Afghan boy for following us, I’m not sure who was scared the most, him or me!
We scooted across the boarder into Iran thanks to a bus load of Pakistani men coming the other way. They were all dressed in new denim jeans and jackets, the Iranian border guards eyes lit up when they saw them, they quickly stamped our passports and waved us through. Iran was still under the rule of the Shah at this time.
Five hot days followed crossing sand and rocky desert county before the oasis of Shiraz. Rose flavoured ice cream was very welcome. We were in more ancient lands of civilisation. At Persepolis we were starting to run into “normal” western tourists for the first time and American technicians working for the Iranian military in Isfahan. Pat and I got lost in the Ghaisariyen Bazar, we sort of kept walking past all the shops and then we were in places that hadn’t be opened for years, eventually we found an exit out.
As usual we always tried to find a camping spot away from roads and towns and the final night in Iran was no exception, except after we had pitched tents and set up the truck it became the crossroads of the region for every shepherd and his sheep, or goats, or donkeys or all three. Again they were all very welcoming to us, we even got a big pot of fresh home made yoghurt, lovely. By now it was mid May next we go to Turkey and Europe.
Below is another 14 min Quicktime movie of the slides we took.
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.