Return to Home Page

July 2, 2003

Remembering the Hippie Trail

TomoryFor independent travelers just now beginning to travel in Asia, the legendary overland “Hippie Trail” of the ’60s and ’70s is a natural source of fascination and envy. Unlike today’s Lonely Planet-toting backpackers, the counterculture wanderers of the hippie era pioneered their Asian routes by word-of-mouth and trial-and-error. Hence, in indie travel terms, Hippie Trail travelers are to present day backpackers what the Ancient Greeks were to the Ancient Romans: larger-than-life legends, who once wandered a wilder world.

Legends can exaggerate, however — and that’s why it’s nice to have a book like David Tomory’s A Season in Heaven: True Tales from the Road to Kathmandu, an oral history that sheds a personal, realistic light on the Hippie Trail. In interviewing 35 people who once wandered the roads between Istanbul and Kathmandu, Tomory reveals the complexities within the travel culture of this era. After all, the Hippie Trail wasn’t the first independent travel phenomenon in modern Asia; it was the first mass independent travel phenomenon in modern Asia. And, like any mass movement, the Hippie Trail was defined as much by its reputation as its reality.

Thus, while hippie-era wanderers were creative, intrepid pioneers in a certain sense, they also tended to be petty, competitive, self-ghettoizing, and self-deluding. In short, they had the same charms and weaknesses as any self-conscious, authenticity-seeking counterculture movement of the last half-century — including the travel-hipsters of today. Behind the pretensions of the “movement”, however, were real travelers, having private, inspiring, life-changing experiences — and that’s what Tomory’s book best reveals.

Before I get into the narrative details of A Season in Heaven, I might point out that the book represents a purely Western-slanted look at the Hippie Trail. Asian locals at the time — while friendly enough — were not known to have been terribly impressed with hippie seekers: Indian writer Gita Mehta has referred to the Hippie Trail as “that long line of loonies”, and V.S. Naipaul wrote off hippie fascination with Hinduism as a “sentimental wallow”. Western expatriates and Asia-experts living along the Hippie Trail at the time were just as sardonic — and the New York Times had reported as early as 1968 that “Laos has grown disenchanted with the flower power folk, Thailand will not let them in without a haircut, and Japan now requires a bond of $250 as proof of financial stability.”

Thus, in interviewing only the Westerners who took part in the Hippie Trail, Tomory’s account is more of a nostalgic dialogue amongst middle-class travelers than it is a balanced social history of the movement. Still, it vividly captures the mindset of the young people who dropped all in the ’60s and ’70 to optimistically wander across Asia.

Much like travelers today, the motivation for Hippie Trail wanderers was the allure of exotic countries (Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal) and the opportunity to get away from the politicized environment of home. Unlike current travelers, there wasn’t much practical information available about Asia, or what to do when you got there. One of Tomory’s interview subjects journeyed off from England under the impression that in India “you could live in the forest, eat berries, meditate in a cave, wander around naked or do whatever you felt like and nobody would take a blind bit of notice because everyone innately understood what you were doing.” With expectations like this, it’s no wonder that the people of India were baffled and bewildered by their young Western guests.

Though the quest for Eastern spirituality is a big part of the Hippie Trail myth, Tomory writes that the movement was more about seeking freedom from the moral and social restraints of home. True to the rock-n-roll ethos of the time, the presumed availability of sex and drugs in Asia was a big travel motivation — and this naturally lent to the hipster allure. “It you were really hip — it was like being the first to wear a minidress — you went to India,” recalls one German interviewee.

With the hipster reputation, of course, came hipster pretensions. “In Kabul you saw all the people on their way back from India,” reports traveler Carmel Lyons. “The fashion was prayer shawls, the whole look, pyjamas and beads and drifting fabrics and waistcoats and bare feet and harem pants. And god, they were arrogant.”

The root of arrogance, it seems, was often money — the lack of which was seen as a sign of true travel experience and virtue. Naturally, this attitude ignored the fact that relative economic prosperity in the West was what enabled all those temporarily jobless young people to travel in the first place. Thus, Tomory notes, the Hippie Trail travelers who had money pretended not to, and legends abounded as to how cheaply one could wander across Asia. One storied Englishman is said to have hitched from Damascus to Delhi on just $6. In theory this was indeed a remarkable feat, though it infers that people happily exploited Asian hospitality in order to facilitate subcultural pissing contests. (After all, that storied hitchhiker could well have stayed an extra month in England washing dishes and traveled from Damascus to Delhi in a way that benefited local bus drivers and restaurant owners).

At the root of this traveler onedownsmanship lurked the fact that Hippie Trail travel was unavoidably difficult; dangers and sickness abounded (“Ah, Kabul,” one traveler remembers people bragging, “that’s where you found the real dysentery”). Unlike the travelers of today, travelers had to carry all their cash with them at once, and they often languished for months in flophouse hotels waiting for money transfers to come through. News from home was hard to come by, and travelers’ families often gave them up for dead (at times — far more often then than now — travelers did wind up dead). According to one of Tomory’s respondents, travelers had to contend with “traffic accidents, robbers, corrupt officials, bisexual rapists, filthy quarantine camps, Russian cholera vaccine, loss of sanity and, of course, their own penury.”

By comparison, today’s travelers — warned, wired, and ATM-ready — have it easy. Still, it would be an exaggeration to say (as many veterans of the era do) that the hippie epoch was peopled by purer, nobler travelers than we see today. Like present-day backpackers, Hippie Trail wanderers frequently stuck to traveler ghettos — often the same hotels in the same cities: Gulhane or Yener’s in Istanbul; Amir Kabir in Teheran; the whatsisname in Kabul; the Crown in Delhi; the Modern Lodge in Calcutta; the Matchbox and the Hotchpotch in Kathmandu. “Every city of the route had a budget foreigner quarter,” writes Tomory, “and everyone passed [hotel] names to everyone else.” Indeed, as exotic as the scenery was, the Hippie Trail was often a static succession of dorms, drugs, and familiar faces.

Moreover Asia may not have been in the grips of globalization during the ’60s and ’70s — but there is ample evidence that the young travelers of that era were the ones who first introduced it. By the early seventies, Bollywood had produced a hippie-themed Indian musical called Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, and travelers were reporting Jimi Hendrix-style Afro wigs for sale in the furrier’s market of Kabul. (And, for all the disdain heaped upon the pizza-n-burger menus of today’s Asian guesthouses, the anomaly of Western food in Eastern settings may well trace its origin to the likes of Siggi’s Restaurant in Kabul, which served schnitzel and potato salad for homesick hippie palates.)

Ultimately, then, Tomory’s book reveals that the Hippie Trail was not the stuff of legends, but of normal, curious, intrepid people who were making do within the travel conditions of their time. Asia has certainly changed a lot in the years since then — as has the technology that helps us travel there — but the discoveries it offers are still found on a personal level, apart from the labels that attempt to define the experience.

Posted by | Comments (94) 
Category: Travel Writing

94 Responses to “Remembering the Hippie Trail”

  1. yves potvin Says:

    I went on the Hippie Trail in 1971. It changed my life. Years after, I still think often about it.
    Part of me is still at Yerner’s and the Pudding Shop at Istanbul; Amir Kabir at Tehran,
    SuperBehzad at Herat,and all of the special places of Kabul (Khyber Pass, Marco Polo, Nuristan Hotel,
    Chicken Street, The 25 hour club etc.) It seems almost impossible that the trail dosen’t exist anymore
    as it lives in me 37 years after. It seems so close.


  2. Terry Says:

    You talk of a guy supposedly travelling on 6 dollars, from Delhi to Damascus, well, I travelled on 10 from Delhi to Istanbul, and that is further, unlike what you said, by stereotyping everyone you are painting a fake picture having no money, a result of not knowing exactly where you were going or for how long, a result of living spontaneously, not going to India to get into Hnduism or join the Hari what’sitsnames(?) but to have a life, in some way where you was not being told what to do by western society and its standards, where back then there was even less talk of complying to the reality that consumerism destroys the earth thart sustains us. Your portrait, I must say, most of it I don’t like because it sounds like you yourself was not there. For instance, I shied away from any talk of religion or God though I observed it well and respected it. Didn’t anyone tell you about visions and insight and enlightenment, and seers and saddhus and what it means to meet, occasionally, a real one?

    Travelling on 10 dollars with the three of us meant eating hardly anything which deposited back in Europe as three very humble individuals who did not take anything for granted, having gotten used to, after the first few days, not expecting so many things in a day, like spolit western people do stuffing their faces and necks all day long, getting obese. If you want to know what high is, it’s going through things like that that make you realise exactly what it is to have and not to have.

  3. paul Says:

    Cor blimey . . . . . there is a vibrancy in this thread that matches scratched graffiti on battered roadsigns at desolate road junctions on “the way” . . . wow . . . how do you reply here ?? . Bunny, when in Delhi between Nov 68 and Oct 71 i would stay on the roof of the Crown if i had money and in the temple of the Astronomy Gardens off Connaught Circus if i didn’t. If you are English, had long dark hair and travelled with a Dutch girl and maybe a kid then we met. . . Shivaan(July 23rd ’03) what happens after returning . . . in many ways there is no coming back, if you have read mountaineer Joe Simpson “Into the Void” you will know coming down a mountain can be harder than going up. I suffered real culture shock returning after 4yrs away and have never fitted back properly into mainstream society . . . . but hey, i’ve only got into computers in the last couple of years and only in the last few weeks did it occur to me to google “overland to India”. The Danish guy has a nice page with real photos, the bus drivers, swagman tours, are interesting and fun but obviously very bus orientated. My favourite read so far has been Tony G at One problem for me in returning to England was in not knowing anybody who had been out of Europe, in 4 years i had been through Istanbul 5 times, i had been in North Africa and all the countries to the East and i quickly learned that i could not really communicate with anybody about these journeys. Not that i was unwilling to talk, rather that there was not any interest. Terry, in his post above mine, puts it beautifully in his last paragraph.
    I got back at the end of ’71. By winter ’79 i realized the memories were fading, i was living on a squatted farm overlooking Loch Ness in Scotland and thought i had better try and get some of it down on paper, cos for me at least, it had been pure magic. Now Tony G’s account of the journey has inspired me to get those notes out. I am going to put them on the same site he has used, realtravel, as it seems the best place i have come across and reading the timeless posts on this thread has only given me a stronger sense of purpose to do this. I am thinking it will be fun and nostalgic and probably a glorious waste of time . . . . but, you know . . . we went travelling and we see things a bit different to those that didn’t . . . loadsa love , Paul.

  4. Anne Says:

    I have staid Fire Brigade Lane at Benerjee from 22 sept.1969 till 7 oct. 1969. It was 5 roupies the bed. While regastring I had to promise “not to smoke”. There I met two American boys named James and Gary Gary plaid flute. After some days I staid with them in the habitation they in the yard. I slept in a bed outside. After, I went to Hardward and Rishikesh (staying at Shivananda ashram. I visited Maharashi Mahesh Yogi.
    I staid again in Delhi with a Lady I met at Shivananda. She brought me to visit Ananda Mayi at Mathura where I spend a fasting week very “tipical”.I traveled to Rajasthan and to Jim Corbett Park. I went back to France on 15 february 1970.

  5. Les Poyner Says:

    I travelled that road in 1966 through yenners in Istanbul and through the east of Turkey which was the wildest place Ive ever been. The Kabul Hotel I remember well with all the overland vehicles, many for sale! On through Peshawar another wild place with gun stalls in the markets and customers trying them out with live ammo. In katmandhu we ran into trouble with a guy named Rana who ran one of the hippy cafes, cant remember which cafe. My girlfriend got pneumonia and ended up in American hospital outside the city with a ward full of hepatitis casualties. Went on from India to Bangkok which was like toytown in those days, we even hitch hiked taxis! Anyone remember the Thai Song Gheet a chinese cafe cum flophouse, amazing place. Went on to Singapore across to an island called Tanjungpinang and through Indonesia to Portuguese Timor and Darwin. Did the return trip 2 years later. I wrote a book about it but didnt really try to get to get it published. Please contact me if you wanna chat

  6. Jean Says:

    Hi, Oh the memories come flooding back. Me and my man did the trail in 68 hitching from England to India, Ceylon and Nepal, out via southern Iran and Pakistan and back via Afghanistan. Spent 3 months living in the tourist police station in Colombo waiting for money which never arrived. Ended up in Calcutta robbed of our last £10, but the same day our money turned up – instant karma? Did a second trip in 69 and made it to Sydney where I worked for a year before heading back to uk again. Met wonderful people in Oz, Don (ex Chartered Accountant), Rob (he picked up malaria in Cairns)beautiful Angelica(Jelly)and Dick (diabetic), American lady Maggie, Paul, Jock, Jill, Don and Marilyn – a really wild couple – where are you all now? Les Poyner mentioned Thai Song Greet, great place to get work as a film extra. The Chinese owners cooked up fantastic food but my first experience of bed bugs. As Paul (#24) and others have said it’s hard to share your stories with people who don’t really understand and can be judgemental. I had the most amazing experiences of my life and hope to write that book someday so my children at least can get a clue what it was like.

  7. sidharth Says:

    Hi everyone,

    Came across this fascinating website and enjoyed all the comments. I am writing a book on Indian cinema and the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna is a major part of that. I notice many of you know about the film (Hannah, you are even researching it.) If any of you have personal memories of Freak Street, kathmandu, The Bakery (again Kathmandu), the shooting of Hare Rama Hare Krishna, I would love to hear from you. Any pictures of Kathmandu/Bakery in the 1970s would be greatly appreciated.
    You can write to me directly at

  8. Janet Says:

    Traveled this trail and one of the few who did not go for the drugs or to break-away. My purpose was to see the Taj Mahal but got so much more then I ever expected. Memories and experiences of a life-time. Dysntary was a reality, our bus was shot at in Eastern Turkey, broke my hand over a Pakistan’s head, bench seats with chicken’s under our feet on a Afgan bus, selling our blood in Tehran, Khyber Pass was a white knuckle bus ride, etc., etc. Having reconnected recently with one I began this journey with we have relived this adventure with my journal entries. We departed from Istanbul April 10th, 1970. The best part of this journey was we did it with no books, everyone talked to everyone, politics were not discussed, traveling with no date or time restraints. Adjusting to a traditional lifestyle after returning home was very hard. My only regret…I didn’t travel longer and further. P.S. The Taj was all I had hoped it would be!

  9. Pat Says:

    I wrote the 9th post, and a little over 4 years later Bengt (aka Eric) wrote the 16th. Hey, Bengt!! The last time I saw you we were staying for free at the Four Seasons in Istanbul (aka Sultan Ahmet). I had a corner room looking down on a butcher shop where we’d drop a shopping list and money into a basket at the end of a rope, lower it through the window and the butcher would run our errands for us, come back later that day and fill our basket with food. Forty years can make one nostalgic for that beautiful old marble ceza evi. What an experience. Bengt, do you want to know a secret? Write me in La Roque Gageac, 24250, France.

  10. Ant Stone Says:

    Truly fascinating article (found it through As a traveller in the modern day it’s fair to say I take a lot of inspiration from the ‘movement’ of the Hippie Trail. I wouldn’t say I look up to it, but I certainly enjoy reading about it.

    There seems a certain kinship between the travellers of the era, which I don’t believe we’ll ever see again in travel circles, unless the individuals are attached to a formal movement i.e. volunteering, teaching etc. Which seems to me, to be the diametric opposite of the ethos behind the Hippies.

  11. tom Says:

    Well, i stayed just in istambul, and was a mess in the hotel many people died in the hotel rooms,
    opium was chep, the crazy police sometimes came to pick people and jail them for nothing, so when I saw
    people beaten for nothing that came fron the east I said, back.
    Thre were all kind of people, even from japan.
    I can tell you many stories.
    I was a kind of anarchist beatnick.
    Love is all you need.

  12. sandra moore Says:

    we visited Istanbul last year and visited the Pudding Shop. I was reading the newspaper cuttings on the wall when an old man asked me what my interest was. It turned out to be the owner . THe waiter took our photos infront of the restauraunt , me plump, 60, dodgy knees, my husband dogy with a walking stick, oh so so different from our original visit , in our 20s , the world at our feet, final destination Australia.

  13. Rob Ring Says:

    I had £45 when I left the UK in Sept 1977 Was very unprepared naive and optimistic, but it was enough to get me to India, still had £15 when I arrived in Mauritius some 6 months later. Admittedly I had Trailfinders pre-paid vouchers covering my journey from Instanbul to Delhi:-) Sold all I could on the way including a Zenith EM near Bombay for $150 this paid for my flight to Mauritius.
    This is the first time I have looked up other peoples Hippie trail trips and to be honest makes me feel quite emotional. I life changing event for me in 1977.

  14. Tom Says:

    I traveled the route in 1969. I have many memories that this thread has cause me to start writing down. Why isn’t there a site where we can all share our memories? Someone needs to start a blog type thing, where people can post stories, photos etc. Maybe connect with old friends. Here’s my email

  15. Nick Says:

    40 years this month before a couple of likely lads set off for Australia from Liverpool in a dodgy old Commer van ,Get your Ya Ya’s out,Janis,Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Jimmie Hendrix

    It wasn’t the dope,or doing it cheap it was the sheer freedom of it ,coupled with adventure.

    All those that had to drive into Iraq and wait for the Shah of Iran to have his 2500th birthday party and reopen the borders,hello and what a time.
    For me Aghanistan stands head and shoulders above everywhere else for the people ,the country and the exotic nature of the place felt in’71.

    I still get the Bombay squits but small price to pay for an experience that changed our lives and can never be taken away

    Thanks for the stories

  16. Yogavacara Rahula Says:

    There seems to be a lot of intetrest in tales from the ’70s Hippie trail overland to India.
    I made that journey in 1973. I am am now a Buddhist monk (since 1975). I have written an autobiography, One Night’s Shelter, which largely documents my overland travel from Amsterdam to Morocco, across North Africa to Greece and then on through Turkey to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Though the last half of the book is about my religious conversion, not hippie travel.
    The book is posted on my blog: (on the books page) and can be downloaded for free.
    If you care to use any of the material describing my adventures on the hippie trail of the time, you can do so.
    Feel free to e-mail me if you have any comment or questions.

  17. Robert Says:

    I went overland to Nepal in 1975. I rarely talk about it but the places I saw are with me to this day. The following words of T.S.Eliot, from his poem ‘Little Gidding’ may be of interest:
    ‘We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.’

  18. Johan Flybring Says:

    Hello everyone!

    My name is Johan Flybring, I am currently studying Contemporary Media Practice at the University of Westminster in London. I am passionate about travelling and the Hippie Trail has been a fascination of mine for a long time. I am actually in the early stages of making a documentary about the Hippie Trail, which will culminate in my recreation of the journey next year.

    The itinerary and essence of my trip will be based on the stories of people who travelled the Trail back in the days. I would therefore like to interview as many people as possible to create a comprehensive chronicle of this wonderful part of history. These interviews would be filmed and would constitute a major part of my documentary.

    Would any of you original overlanders consider letting me interview you for my project? :-) Interviews can only take place in London unfortunately, but any contribution at all (e.g. old photos and videos, Skype interviews, etc.) would be greatly appreciated. Please contact me by email at

    Thank you for your time.

    Best regards,

    Johan Flybring

  19. Rod Says:

    My mum cried as I left for my trip in April 1972. I stayed at Yucel, ate at Yenner’s and the Pudding Shop, Amir Kabir. and the Kesri in Delhi. Although the Kesri closed many years ago, the sign was finally removed in 2010 during redevelopment in Pahr Ganj. Anyway I’m off to old Stamboul next week (Nov 2011) to see what remains of memories. Peace and Namaste

  20. Rod Says:

    and it cost me £9 in transport costs to get from Preston to Kathmandu. and I found a lump of Afghan black as big as a fist in a drawer in the YMCA in Calcutta. and was blown away by Gamelan……..ah

  21. L'Aussie Says:

    Hello, I’m a hippie from way back but never left Australia for the hippie trail. I’m writing a mainstream fiction novel set in Afghanistan, mainly Kabul where the main character is a hippie who arrived in the mid-70s and never left. As you can imagine she has a story to tell. The setting is in modern times so there’ll be plenty about the Taliban and the warlords and the Western forces. I’ve been enjoying reading this article and the comments and have found some interesting information for my main character’s backstory. Thank you so much for the post and for everybody’s first-hand accounts of the hippie trail.


  22. DEK Says:

    My only direct experience was with a nest of stragglers who had fallen away from the main column and were holed up in caves on the southern coast of Crete. A depressing, dirty, glassy-eyed bunch, though what I found most disturbing were the few among their number with sharp, feral eyes: wolves among somnambulant sheep.

    My actual dealings with them went well enough. After a few attempts to panhandle or sell me stolen property they decided that I was part of what was wrong with the world and left me in peace.

  23. Tom Says:

    Regarding what DEK says. There were certainly many on the trail who were took advantage of both the people of the country in which they were guests, and their fellow travelers. I was so sick of seeing these abuses along the trail, that I did not go to Nepal when I got to India, which I regret. But I just didn’t want to see any more hippies, even though I certainly would have been considered one. But I had my own money and didn’t scam anyone, I got stoned but went out and tried to meet the local people and see the world I was traveling in. Too many getting stoned all day and hardly leaving the hotel. Too many ripping off whoever they could. Too many with an arrogant attitude of “I’m a Westerner and superior to these people”. I guess the majority of travelers were Ok, but when I got to India, I just wanted to go places that weren’t flooded with hippies. So I missed Nepal….shit!

  24. Christopher Munt Ryan Says:

    69-70 Australia via SEASia, India, Nepal etc. overland to UK.would love to hear of anyone who inhabited the Bakery between Feb-May 70, our little place up by Swyambunath above the rifle range; Nakal’s, Bishnu’s Chai and Pie palace, and of course Ling Kesar Tibetan Restaurant, where I left my rucksack, meaning to return…

  25. Dave Sumeray Says:

    Travelled the trail from London to Srinigar in 1974! It was as much an inner journey as an outer one. A picaresque adventure that changed me forever. The culture shock, the heightened awareness from such a discontinuity from one’s usual life exposed me to more of myself than I’d yet known. It was transformative!
    Also, one would meet so many people! You’d bid farewell to someone you’d met and spent a few days with in, say, Afghanistan and bump into them again a week late in Pakistan and it would feel like meeting an old friend you hadn’t seen for months! Such was the intensity of travelling the trail. I haven’t been back since but, for better or worse, I’ve never fully left. It made quite an impression!

  26. Gerry Says:

    My girlfriend and I travelled from Kathmandu to London in 1973, the outbound bus [Frontier International] which was due to take us crashed in Pakistan and we waited 2 months in Kathmandu for another.
    Anyone on this trip reading this, I’d love to hear from you.

  27. Paul Says:

    I traveled from 1969 to 1971 from Eastern Europe through Istanbul, then overland to Pakistan (Gilgit), then back, through Greece, to Germany; then via Egypt and Lebanon overland to India, including Nepal and Bhutan, then back overland to Europe and then from Luxembourg to the U.S. Part of the time I stayed at the places frequented by others, like the Amir Kabir Hotel in Tehran or the others I forgot, the Pudding Shop in Istanbul. I traveled four times between Turkey and Pakistan, and I managed to vary the route. Iraq was impossible for me to get a visa. There were two border crossings between Turkey and Iran; I crossed the northern one at Dogubayazit three times and the southern one once. I crossed the single Afghan/Iranian exit three times and the single Iran/Pakistan crossing once. Across Afghanistan, I went the usual Herat-Kanadahar-Kabul route once, the Herat-Chaghcharan-Kabul route once (very difficult), and the Herat-Mazar (by air)-Kabul once. In India I traveled through the North, as far as east as Shillong and Gauhati, and was in Bhutan as well as Nepal. I encountered hippie travelers mainly in Istanbul, Tehran, Herat, Kanadahar, Kabul, probably Delhi, and certainly Kathmandu, but not in these more out of the way locations. Goa was becoming “the” destination, and there was a silly rumor that Jimi Hendrix would be there on Jan. 1, 1970. I share the sentiments of others regarding the arrogance of many of the travelers. A lot of them seemed to dislike Muslims and would idealize Hindus (probably because of the Beatles, pop culture, etc.), thinking that once they got to India, they would live on the generosity of others and not need money. Enjoyed reading about similar experiences—-dysentery, waiting for money. It took a long time to adjust from the trip.

  28. Tom Says:

    What puzzles me is that with so many of us having made the journey, why isn’t there more written about it? Why isn’t there a website, dedicated to our stories, travels, photos, memories? It was an important part of so many of our lives. Where are all of you?

  29. Sean Jones Says:

    There is a website – ot’s called The Flower Raj.

  30. John Says:

    Tom asks about websites and writers. There is – or was; it’s still there but looking a bit quiet. And writers? Check out Travelling For Beginners, an ebook on

  31. mimi Says:

    I traveled that route from Istanbul to Nepal in 1964/5. We stayed at the Gulhane. A private room was 5 lira – about 50 cents and we ate at Yenners – I remember those books. People would leave messages in them for friends who may cross paths. I have some photos of the hotel and I went back there in 2007 and took pics to compare then and now. Pretty interesting. Of the people I travelled with – some have died, some of us still around and at least one that I know of is still on the road these many decades later.

  32. Martin Says:

    In 1973 I was 18 years old, just out of high school and was a white water river guide in Utah. I met some Aussie’s who planned to cross the US, go to Europe, then overland back to Australia. I thought that that might be a grand adventure. So after river season I hitch hiked from Utah to Montreal, flew to Europe, and then traveled anyway I could from Europe to Nepal. Took about 9 months. Incredible sights, foods, people along the way. My favorite was Afghanistan…spent about 6 weeks there…nice cold crisp nights, pleasant days…incredibly handsome and independent people…..reminded me of the “wild west”. After the trip I went home to Utah and running rivers. I remember telling my mother one day that I was thinking about doing another trip….and she looked at me and said “Either don’t tell me or do it when I’m dead”. The next year I went to Papua New Guinea for the winter. Well the years have slipped by, I quit being a river guide, went on to get and undergraduate degree and two graduate degrees and I’m just finishing a 34 year career as an economist and will retire this fall. Luckily may profession enabled me to take my bride and family (two sons) on a plethora of trips around the world….but the first thing that I’m planning when I retire is a 5 month trip in southern Africa – Mostly in Botswana & Namibia…..and my mother is still alive….at 95 years young she still worries about me.

  33. joy Says:

    i’m now 60 and in 1972 aged 19 went overland to india – from Herat in Afghanistan took the route north via Mazar Sherif to Kabul – as soon as I crossed the border into Afghanistan in a bus from Theran a guy at customs passed a rather large piece of dope to me through the window! – travelled all over India, Sri Lanka, Nepal wonderful memories loved Afghanistan and saw the amazing buddhas of bamiyan. Yesterday i saw a photo of Boudnath stupa where i was living in a room in 1972 just outside of kathmandu and next to it was a photo of what it is like today – i am so glad i travelled when i did because it was so beautiful and unspoilt then. Those memories will always be in my heart – still love to travel and have been to wonderful Oman, Botswana, N Zealand and recently back to Goa India Calangute now unrecognisable. Now i am nearly a pensioner feel like hitting the road again as it’s too expensive to live on a pension here these days!!!

  34. Doug Says:

    I will soon be 66. Forty four years ago I hitch hiked across Europe from my native Scotland and spent some time in Athens. My mate Fred and I stayed at the Hotel Marion, a kind of rundown place five minutes walks from Omonia Square. The attraction was being allowed to sleep on the roof. I think it cost about ten dracs a night which, in UK money, was the equivalent today of about twelve and a half pence. The place was packed and it was pretty central for the American Embassy, congregating place for all students, travellers and hippies at the time, and the Placa plus associated markets.We moved on to Crete and lived for the whole of September, 1969, in the cave colony at Matala. Fred and I parted company because of a cash flow situation. He moved on to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India before returning home, fairly sick, the following years. I eventually hopped the Magic Bus at the Greek Yugoslav frontiers and just managed to get back across the Channel, arriving in the UK with just pennies in my pocket. It was the best thing I ever did. Met loads of people from all over the world. Went back to Athens two year later and on to Istanbul and the Pudding Shop. Topkapi, the Blue Mosque, he Bospurus; have great memories. Hitch hiked back across Europe with a lovely young lady from California, Adrienne Love. We split up in Spain. I moved on to Morocco and eventually in to Gibraltar where I stayed for two and a half years. Have now written a book on my first trip, See You In Omonia which is out on Kindle and have started work on a second. Tremendous times.

  35. Patty Peterson Says:

    i traveled to Nepal in 1969. I was 20 years old at the time. I went with a group of people that left London in two Land Rovers. We camped most of the time except when we were in a city. It was a rugged and primitive trip which I preferred because it felt like “real” traveling. It was a remarkable experience.
    One of the most challenging things I have done. We trekked into the foothills of the Himalayas and stayed in a Nepalese village for 3 weeks.
    Would love to hear from anyone else who made this trip.

  36. Tom Says:

    I’d like to here more of your experiences. I went overland from Europe in 1969 as well. I have a bad memory for the names and places, I took trains and buses.

  37. Vivian Says:

    I was an 18 year old blue eyed blond American girl.

    I traveled overland from Europe leaving about October 1974 through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, arriving in Old Delhi on 12-24-74 my first Christmas away from home. At the time I was traveling a cranky English boy. We broke up in India. I ended up spending 18 months in Nepal.

    Amazing times.

    What I remember most is hanging out with other travelers and sharing our stories. I was still just a messed up kid but didn’t realize it.

  38. Vivian Says:

    I remember people but not sure we ever knew last names

    Robert from Sydney Australia — we hung out in Rishikesh, India together for a few weeks. He smoked non-stop and was always coughing and was funnier than hell and I wish we’d stayed in touch. He shared a very sad story about his Dad

  39. Tom Says:

    Speaking of first names: A guy named Patrick, I met in Iran and again in Afghanistan.I think he was an American but had a Belgian passport and a very nice French girl friend. This was in ’69 and he obviously had travel the route before ( we all though he must be some sort of smuggler, but then again wasn’t everyone?). He arranged for a bus to take us from Iran to the middle of no where between the Iran Afghan border and we sat there for an hour or so until miraculously another bus showed up to take us to Afghanistan (where I wasn’t allowed in and had to return to Iran, but that’s another story)

  40. lieschen Says:

    yes, there were arrogant hippies…but isn’t arrogance quite common among non-hippies as well? Funny enough, usually those that complain about arrogance suffer from the same affliction…And many of us got along with the locals better than any other white people did before…do you think the british during the raj traveled 3. class unreserved on trains? let us not forget that the movement started 13 years after the end of the raj, and not yesterday…do you think your average white non-hippie traveler at the time shared meals with the locals? They spent their time in 5star hotels and the obligatory tours of the Taj etc, and never spoke to any Iranis, Afghans or Indians other than shopkeepers or waiters…most of the locals were absolutely thrilled to be taken serious as human beings and not just subjects… and don’t you dare put down asian traditions of hospitality which are sadly lacking in ‘modern’ countries.. Sure, there were those who had no money, and some that would beg or steal( from other westerners and not from the locals!), but they were a minority…most of us had a little cash saved up, and you didn’t need much…a cup of tea was 10 paisa in india, which means you got 75 cups for a dollar, or 30 simple meals…and we obviously had an enormous influence on the world; who do you think made yoga popular in the west? or vegetarianism? or put current big tourist destinations like Goa, Bali, Ibiza on the map? And who was against excess of greed and abuse of resources?…it is a pity that too few are able to see this connection…and re drugs, some got very heavily into them, but might have done the same in the west, or become alcoholics, but most had a fairly decent grip on them…but you know, scandal sells…who talks about those that weren’t strung out? anything to put down that which you feel threatened by or envious of…and re Gita Mehta, she knew the slant of her book before she met the first hippie…i happen to know everyone she talked to…she comes from a family that is infamous for its corruption ( her father and later her brother were chief ministers of Orissa), twisted everything she heard in the style of a cheap tabloid, and lost the respect of everyone she interviewed… as i said before, scandal sells, and that was the purpose of her book, she wanted to establish herself as a popular writer. The trip overland was special, and everyone who did it treasures it in their memory…we all have that common ground, we have experienced the dangers, have found strength and information thru the friends we made, and lived the external and internal adventure, and as far as i’m concerned all our critics are envious because they didn’t have the courage to do what we did so they have to put us down as a bunch of dirty long-haired losers…their problem, not ours…

  41. Brooks Goddard Says:

    Travellers on the Hippie Trial should know about two sites:
    The web in now allowing written accounts and photographs and memorabilia to graviate towards sites that can and will accumulate many of the stories that folks have so that we all do not have to re-create the wheel. And who is to say that this site cannot function in this cooperative way?
    I travelled Ethiopia to India overland to Europe in 1968 after completing my teaching tour for Teachers for East Africa/TEA in Kenya (Kampala, Kitui, Nyeri). In 1972-1973 my wife and I reversed that route, spent 3 months in India, took the S. S. Karanja to Mombasa and then switched to planes for Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Spain, UK, and home. Two journals to prove it.
    Be well, all.

  42. Rob Says:

    Did the trip twice in 1975 and 1978 – Started in Greece and went through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Ended up in Perth Western Australia for 6 months and where I returned to, 15 years later. At the ripe old age of 65, I am just writing up a daily diary I made on the first trip. Highlights were Kashmir and Nepal and lowlights Iran. Fond memories of both trips though especially the first which I did on my own. Met so many people though and what I found fascinating was how you met up with the same people in various places thousands of miles away from the last place you saw them. An example was a guy Joe I met on a boat from Istanbul to Trabzon and then I saw him a few weeks later gliding by our house boat on his Shikara.

  43. Wally Says:

    Enjoyed all of the above, nice comment Lieschen. Will try to write a bit more later. Did trip in 1965-7. Life changer, and am still at it!!!

  44. Yvonne Says:

    Hippie-trailed twice: 1973-74 & 1975-76 Both times from Greece to India, Nepal.
    I have been thinking about those days recently, so coming across this site seems so fitting. Such wonderful memories; full of youth and promise – personally and globally. Remember fondly a “cake” they baked for me on my 21st birthday in Kabul.

    Rode in a VW van from Kandahar to Kabul in ’75, yet usually (nothing usual about it though) by local buses with local people. Always a wonderful vibe. Spent a wonderful winter in Puri – a fishing village on the east coast of India, eating fish the local fishermen caught daily and the chai shop baked for me.

    Second winter in Goa – Vagator Beach.

    The journey was a life changer indeed. Still reflect on the magic of traveling anywhere, meeting wonderful fellow travelers and locals alike. We just all seemed to get along!

    I’ve been trying to locate a friend from then, who I had shared some wonderful times with – Michael from South Africa (Belgian passport because of SA travel restrictions…) Anyone have contact with him would really appreciate your letting me know ( Thanks so much. Shambo & Namaste

  45. Andre Says:

    Like many here, I too, traveled east. First time in 64 when my friend Jean-Paul and I ended up in Eilat for some work and returned to France before we could realize our dream on getting to Katmandu. The second attempt in 1967 opened the road to Teheran through Istanbul. This time we managed better. Where the term “hippies” was not familiar to us in 64, things were now quite different on the same trail. In places like the Hamir Khabir in Teheran, the crowd there seemed much more wealthy than some of us who had to survive near the RR station. Although, we used more drugs than in the first trip, we also had deeper respect and reverence for the locals and their culture. That was not always the case with many of the other travelers we met on the road. Eventually, I, for the sake of better survival, begin to avoid the “spots” although necessity often obliged us to make visit. I remember a Christmas night at the Maiwan in Chor bazar, Kabul and some visits to the hotel next to the khyber restaurant. I remember starving but always managing enough smokes. Some special memory of dreaming to make it to India but once again getting stuck in Karachi with a bunch of people because of the tensions between India and Pakistan. Finally returning to France with some hash and getting the courage to start once more in May 1968 before the students uprising force the government to temporarily close the borders. I met Patrick in Milan. I met him again crossing Yugoslavia as he was being deported back to Italy, I carried his message to his girl friend in Istanbul. Things were quite different at the Gulhane and somehow, we had been transformed into semi legends. The “tent” was now the feature on the roof and Amir and his cronies were running all kind of scams at the expenses of the “freaks” who got stranded there. This trip was easier than all previous ones and everywhere I went I seemed to bump into some old-timers. We were able to really trail the places north of Kabul. The road to Pamir and pass into Pashtunistan to Chitral and hang out up there awhile and still be welcome. Eventually I got to India and traveled around there for the next two years. My last overland trip was to return to France in 1970. So much had changed and I knew I would not do it that way again in my life. I was right.

  46. Andy Roberts Says:

    Does anyone remember Michael Hollingshead? He was the guy who turned Leary onto acid and later spent time In Nepal in 1969/1970, in Kathmandu and at the Kopan monastery. I’m writing a his biography and would welcome contact with anyone who knew him in Nepal (or in the states or London.

  47. Chris Says:

    Thanks to all who shared their stories – brought back so many great memories. Like many, the trail was a life altering trip for me (an 18 years old privileged kid from Southern California looking for something and not knowing what it was) Had been in Israel for 6 months and flew to Istanbul in 77 with a woman named Joy from Berkeley, CA. Took months to get to New Delhi, spent a few months in Delhi and then back to Istanbul to fly home – all on about $500. I had a well used copy of the “Overland to Asia and Australia” book as my only guide (75 edition I think). Took the train into central Turkey, hitched most of the way to Herat, bus to Kabul and later Peshawar. Remembered the Amir Kabir and Chicken Street well. Hung out with the Children of God but they didn’t have what I was looking for either. They seemed to be everywhere along the trial. Met many locals too, some good, some not so much – jult like anywhere in the world. Took that rickety train (3rd Class) from Peshawar to New Delhi and hung out at the Olympic Hotel in Pahar Ganj. Never did get to that vague undescribed place I was going to, but man what a journey! To me it was the people along the way that made it special, even after everyone had gone their separate ways. I am older now and travel for work a lot, usually staying in the types of hotels I might have disdained back in the day. I was in New Delhi a year ago and had some free time between meetings so I asked the driver to take me to the Pahar Ganj so I could walk around. He looked at me (a guy in a wool suit) as if I were crazy. I told him I used to live there but he was having none of it. Eventually I pointed the place out on a map and we found the main entrance to the market area. As I got out and walked around I saw some young Westerners who seemed to be on the same trip I was once on. This brought a great smile to my face as I walked by – I’d like to think they knew why. The Trail isn’t completely abandoned, there are just a few detours one must take due to current geopolitics, but wasn’t that always the case?

  48. Tom Says:

    What was the name of the hotel in Herat were everyone stayed? It had a balcony overlooking the street were everyone hung out.

  49. Gerry Says:

    Does anyone remember a Swiss couple [Fritz & Maya] who ran a restaurant in Kathmandu in 1973? I recall dining there on “Rosti”. Also remember fabulous cheap meals at the Camp Hotel, The Hungry Eye etc., mainly goat I think. Great Days remembered! we stayed at The Travellers Lodge [after spending one night at the Paras Hotel at the exorbitant price of $5 per night!

  50. Bruce Thomas Says:

    It is good to find a gathering of so many who actually made the journey. I too did so in 1969, when with a friend, I drove from Colombo to London. To me it was not the Hippie Trail, it was the Asia Overland route and a tradition dating back to before the Second World War. We were a diverse lot, but genuine hippies, in my experience, were a colourful minority in the travel community. Most of us were more like antecedents of today’s backpackers (minus the electronic aids and guidebooks)taking advantage of the open borders of the time to explore a strange and exotic world. We called ourselves ‘overlanders’. I have commented further on the Hippie Trail Project website (see Brooks Goddard’s post above)and recently posted some of my photographs from the trip on Flickr which may bring back memories –
    My story is told in the photo captions.

  51. Marjorie Kircher Says:

    I was one of those over-landers (or world travelers) in 1973 and just published an illustrated memoir of my own tales, The India Traveler, available via (paperback and Kindle, by Marjorie Kircher). I went east from Istanbul in a rickety bus, over parts of the old Silk Road through another Afghanistan, age 22. I returned to India two more times for the love of the place and the people. David Tomory’s introduction in A Season in Heaven offers insightful, historical context of the times.

  52. David York Says:

    four lads from Dagenham myself Eddie Scott,George and Tony Griffin drove our 1966 diesel Landrover U.K. to Katmandu, we left in March 1969 I do not think we had any maps other than Europe? probably the best move in my life (saved me from Dagenham),we ran out of money in Nepal sold the rover and continued to Calcutta then on to Singapore where we bought a one way ticket to Freemantle aboard the “Centaur”.That little cruise was interesting as we approached the first Aussie stop Broome quite a few waterproofed suitcases went overboard no doubt to be picked up by divers who knows what was in them???.
    I stayed with my uncle in Melbourne and moved around Aussie I believe George Griffin is still there somewhere turned 21 in November and by May?1970 I made it to Darwin to start the reverse trip back to U.K.first stop Dili.I met many Canadians on this trip and moved here in 1972 now retired (Train Driver/engineer CP rail). I only have photos of the return trip many B&B negatives and Agfa slides some have never been printed my contact email is happy trails Dave York Granville Ferry N.S.

  53. John Nuanes Says:

    Writng for my monthly calendar photo story (www., under calendar)for april in a rambling story including my growing up with travel information which of course for us hippies and overlanders was mostly word of mouth collected here and there. Wanted the name of Siggis in Kabul so I ended up on this site. My wife and I traveled overland to India 2 times. The first time as newlyweds in 1972. That trip ended in Kathmandhu when I (we) was travel insured repatriated by air with hepatitis, a tape worm, gardia and chronic prostatis (sp?). What luxury. We eventually returned to the overland trail with a short city bus (about 2/3 of a normal bus) from left hand traffic Days of 1964 in Sweden. The idea was to be nomads on the Trail back and forth but Revolution in Iran and civil and eventually continual war in Afghanistan made our trip of 1978-1979 our first and only India passage with our beloved “Nstra. Sra, del Rocio” bus and our Maddogs & Maddogs bus Company.
    No need to glorify the overlanders. We were (and are) what we were and have in general in no need for shame, especially in context of what everybody else was & has been dling instead. I still to this day Long for that freedom as hard earned as it was at times.
    My wife and I have over the last 11 years traveled extensively in S.E. Asia 3 to 7 weeks at a time but as older flashpackers, but the World is still a Place of entertaining and Beautiful things if you are open and priveleged enough to experience them. Last year I returned for the first time since 1979 with my brother & son to Kathmandhu and Pokhara which was a very bitter sweet experience. I remember standing outside the Kyhber Restaurant in 1972 and listening to a traveler assure me that I should have seen Kabul in 1964 when it was unspoiled… so I hate to say such an inane thing but really you should have seen Kathmandhu and Freak Street and the Himalayas in 1972 when it was still the Magic Kingdom without paragliding and Whitewater rafting. Overland to India is such an essential part of my soul and character as much as my wife and Children. We were such holy fools & Children driven by the times of Shivas chaos. Ihope to see the Ganges once again Before I die.

  54. Bert-Jan Says:

    I travelled in 1971 in 3 months overland from the Netherlands to Kathmandu and Calcutta and back with 600 dollars, hitchhiking through Europe, by train from Istanbul to Erzurum in Turkey, then by bus through Iran to Kabul, from Kabul to Pakistan and by train to the border of India. By bus to Delhi and Srinagar, Daramsala, Agra, Benares, Kathmandu and Calcutta; from there back in 2,5 weeks, lost 15 kilo’s. Best remembrances: Istanbul, Ararat, sleeping in the desert between Iran and Afghanistan, smoking pot in Kabul, Khyber Pass, Connaught Place and Chadna Chowk in New resp Old Delhi, House Boat in Srinagar, the food, the singing children and the Dalai Lama in Daramsala, Taj Mahal, the temples in Benares, the trip in a Truck from Muzaffarpur to Kathmandu, Kathmandu itself, on the way back mailtrain from Calcutta to Delhi only 7 hours late, the tour through the desert from Kabul to Iran when we stepped out to pray and bow to the west with a funny imam and a group of Iranian students, the people with whom I hitchhiked in Europe and who gave me food. Culture shock, but reconciled with my life here in a quiet, orderly, hygienic surrounding. This year I went to Nepal by plane, too fast, too crowded, too many well equipped mountaineers, but with more money you see a lot more and I felt myself 40 years back in time.

  55. Graham Brown Says:

    Facinating stuff. At just 19 years old I left Singapore in 1967 with just $50, travelling alone and on a mission to get to the UK. It took me 4 months, sold vitamin tablets in Thailand, and borrowed a quid here and there. It’s a long story but briefly I took a route through Malaysia, Thailand, Burma, India, Pakistan, Afganistan, Iran, Turkey, Greece, Jugoslavia, Austria, Germany, France and arrived in London 2 stone lighter and very much a changed person. Wonderful memories, one day I will write them down.

  56. Tom Says:

    Graham, do write it down. You traveled through a world that no longer exists. No one has those memories except you. Write them down. It’s important. Same for everyone else on this list.

  57. Graham Brown Says:

    Hi Tom re hotel in Herat. I did stay there for a day or so, don’t remember the name but I do remember after not speaking to anybody since leaving Kandahar and feeling very frustrated I lost the plot and stood up in a cafe and said out loud ‘what’s the f….ing time!! A gentleman in the corner stood up and, in beautiful refined English said it was ‘a quarter past three’. He was from Bristol and lent me six quid which I repaid having hitched to Bristol some months later. And… I will write it down, cheers graham

  58. Yves Potvin Says:

    A comment for Tom :

    Your are asking about an hotel in Herat. Il I recall it was the SperBenzad close to a tailor’s boutique held by a Young Afghan named Nader. It was also close to a place where the cooked the nan bread the old fashioned way. I may be wrong but there were not many hotels in Herat in 1971. The Superbenzad was not a real hotel, more the auberge style joint without flush toilets! Each time a girl went by the lobby the owner in white pyjamas in his bed was shouting : I want to fuck! Many girls freaked out. Please note thaht English is not my first language so excuse my writing. I did write a novel and short stories on the subject : Nuits afghanes (Afgan nights) in 2000 and Les contes du haschisch (haschisch stories) in 2003. Both in French however.

    Nostaligics of the era can e-mail me at

  59. Janice Says:

    Hi, kiwi girl who travelled 1973/74 and 1975/76, Love it, big part of my life for sure, was in Aleppo Syria 1973 Arab/Israeli war very freaky time, arrested in Latakia and taken back to Turkish boarder, then ended up in Greece Nov 73 for the uprising overthrow of Papadopoulos, first job I go fired from was in Athens a hustling bar “Ha GI buy me drink”
    ( became very anti American) I wasn’t a good hustler, then the VW Van we got in Athens for our European travels, was on the road for 8 years, travelled public transport first time across then jumped on Magic bus 2nd time from Greece, go catch in a really back snow storm in eastern turkey 75, then across to Thailand, you know the road, Khyber pass, Delhi, Kathmandu, what a time I had.

  60. Maureen Clark Says:

    Sitting here tonight talking about a trip overland in 1974. Booked with Frontier International. When we arrived in Kathmandu we were told that Frontier International had gone broke and had had their buses impounded. Here with our driver (who was sent to rescue this stranded group) and his wife.(Dick and Celcie) Left Kathmandu and met the “rescue” bus in India, arrived in England early May, 1974. Fascinating trip, of course. We would like to contact any of our friends from this trip
    Maureen and Darryl Clark
    Dick and Celcie Mead

  61. Ira Heinrich Says:

    “In 1974 I went around the world in about three months with a girl named Lisa. We began by hitch-hiking through the rice fields of the Sacramento Valley, traveling east across the U.S , through Europe, the Middle East, India, Asia, and coming from the west across the Pacific, landed in San Francisco, then hitch-hiked again but from the opposite direction, through the Sacramento Valley rice fields to our starting point. We did this for a total of about $3,000, including air fares. It was like a dream.” First paragraph of something I am currently writing. The Orient Express through Europe, Volkswagen bus with a memorable British couple through Turkey, strange hotel over a tire-shop in Tehran. Although we had no idea at the time, the Hippie Trail was part of our journey, from Tehran to Delhi. We rode on a bus mangaged and sometimes driven by an amazing German named Fritz Prang. This happened in the fall of 1974. Does anyone remember being on that trip, on that bus at that time?

  62. Gerry Says:

    Just reading Maureen’s comments [12thMay2014], My girlfriend and I had a similar experience with “Frontier” in 1973 when we waited from the 2nd of May 1973 until the 28th of May for our bus to turn up in Kathmandu.
    Our Frontier bus had crashed en route from London and we had to wait for another one to be organised. Great experience though in Kathmandu/Pohhara!

  63. Dorje Says:

    Hi all. I was born in Kathmandu in ’71, my father ran the Rose Mushroom and Spirit Catcher bookshop on Freak Street-John Chick. Anybody here got any memories of that time? Would love to know as I’m writing up a book and would be most grateful for any extra info. email me at

  64. sandra moore Says:

    my husband and I visited Istanbul a few years ago and looked up the Pudding Shop. It is still there, albeit, a bit upmarket now. There are many photos of the ‘hippie on the trail’ around the walls. Whilst I was browsing around the photos, an very old old man sitting at the till asked in English what my interest was. I explained that it was here that everyone visited to swap information, find lifts etc. It turned out he was the original owner. So we had a cup of tea with him and spent sometime reminiscing. He then took our photo outside the restaurant, we had a real laugh, my husband and I are pensioners, him on a stick now, a far cry from being 20 something on an adventure of a lifetime.

  65. Bunny Says:

    I see that some of the comments have been deleted. Mine included that I made about 2008. (Comment number 3 is in response to mine). Why is this?

  66. Anna Hall Says:

    Hi, I have recently found my mum’s journals from a couple of trips she made from Amsterdam, through to India in 1975 – one was abandoned owing to the terrible snow in Feb 1975 but the other made it . Sadly, she has passed away and I was wondering if anyone travelled this route in 1975 on a bus driven by Barrie Moreton? – a long shot I know but it would be great to find him and fill in some gaps! Also, Janice in comment 59. you mention the snow of 1975 – my mum was Margaret Hall and I wonder if possibly you could have been on the same trip? Again, a long shot but worth an ask.

    Thanks. Anna

  67. Susan (was)Oliver Says:

    Travelled to Katmandu from Gravesend (Kent) inApril 1965 with the Overlanders run by Janet and her partner Roger. There were 18 of us —- Rupert, Rodney, Desmond, andOliver, Ruth, Cathy and Cathy, Betty(from Ireland) Pat, and several more. If anyone knows of any thing about this trip please contact me on ssn_ forster @ Betty and I would like to arrange a 50 th reunion!!

  68. Marjorie Kircher Says:

    Hello, I was touched by your entry, Sandra Moore (#64, 8/3/14), that you recently shared a cup of tea with the original owner of the Pudding Shop in Istanbul and had some laughs. Your sweet description of yourselves now, “pensioners, on a stick,” made me smile. I traveled overland in 1973 (see #51 entry above), the great adventure of my young life. Imagine we were really in those places like Afghanistan with those wonderful people, whose lives and countries have since been so disrupted. I just got back from a mini book tour for my recent book ( giving my account of those days, with friends who were home awaiting aerogrammes posted from Darjeeling, etc.

  69. Paul McIntosh Says:

    I have discovered a link to my past in the last 48 hours as I have begun surfing “Hippie Trail” posts and archives. I didn’t know it was out there. I was no hippie but I traversed the trail in reverse from Singapore to London in 1978. I was barely 18 and Calcutta tore me wide open the moment we arrived from the airport with a grizzled veteran of the “scene” , a guy named Howard Smith from NYC. He took us to the Green Guest House and introduced us to the chillum and we spent two weeks there before we had the strength to move on . We met all the characters in the stories above. The careful almost eco traveler of the day whose mission was to meet the continent on it’s own terms and leave it unscathed. The angry young men scarfing it all down and feeling superior. and all the others in between. None left the trail in the same state of mind that they arrived in though, it would be impossible to do. I left a huge piece of myself out there and always in the back of my mind felt like I could return to that state of mind and state of being. Of course I was so wrong. It has been hard on me to read these accounts. I have had nobody to talk to about it for 35 years and had bottled up a lot of feelings.I am slowly taking all of this in and I would like to get in contact with others to discuss how it felt to make that journey long ago. Peace, Out.

  70. Alun Says:

    Hi, I travelled from UK to Turkey in avan in 1972, and left southern Turkey heading for India with just £20. We hitched across Syria, bus to Baghdad then to Tehran, hitched across Iran and stayed a few nights ona n opium farm then on by bus through Afghanistan and the Khber Pass to that shit-hole Pesahwar and train to Lahore, flight to Amritsar and hitched to Delhi. From there I visited Agra, then Hardwar and Rishikesh, where I got sick with dysentry and hepatitis. Over the next few moths I was hospitalised in Delho, Kabul and Tehran on the way back to the UK. I nearly died. Two people I met in those days, I wonder where they are now – Dianne from Uk and Miriam.

    I am just finishing the first part of my memoirs of thos days “All About My Hat” – I will be putting it on kindle and also on Facebook for free – check it out late 2014, 42 years later

  71. Tom Says:

    Glad to hear people are writing their memoirs. Alun, please alert this list when yours is available.

  72. karma geddon Says:

    In 1974 I deviated a little from The Trail in that I branched right at Bangkok and entered Indochina.
    I’ve written a 99 cent kindle ‘Explaining Cambodia’. The free sample LOOK INSIDE details the chapter contents and the first 10 percent of the book if anyone is interested. It offers an insight into the travel experience of the time, and should you be considering a visit it details Cambodia’s recent past.

  73. Peter Says:

    I left on a Bedford Indigo bus with about 30 others, driver John, bound for Kathmandu on November 19 1972. This was the greatest adventure of my life; luckily I wrote a full diary of the journey. I have tried to find other contributions by my fellow travellers without success. I arrived back in my home country New Zealand on February 12 1973 with 5 cents Australian in my pocket. Would be great to make contact with others on that trip.

  74. karma geddon Says:


    I’m Karma Geddon from the post just above yours and I’m also a New Zealander. There were a disproportionate number of us wandering around in those years.
    In Phnom Penh 1974-75 there were very few travellers but it seemed that about a quarter of us were from New Zealand and had all entered Cambodia separately.

  75. Elaine Odgers Norling Says:

    After a year and a half I have finished my first draft of our Overland 1966 London Bombay trek in a VW kombi.
    I have told the story with reference to the many 35mm photos we took plus the car diary and all our letters home. It has been a bit of a marathon but I am pleased to have gotten this far.
    Our many 8mm movies are being made into DVD format, we have not seen them in years !
    Any feedback would be welcome especially if you were one of the many who’s paths crossed with ours.
    Elaine and Robin Norling.

  76. Ali Seraj Says:

    For all those who travelled through or to Afghanistan from 1970 to 1978, I wish to introduce myself. My name is Prince Ali Seraj and I was the owner of the Twenty Five Hour Club as well as the Golden Lotus. For those who visited my establishments I send my greetings and wish to hear you. We lived in the best time of the Century and our memories live on. I am writing a non-fiction novel about the era. It is called “The Lost Kingdom” memoirs of an Afghan Prince. Please email me at

  77. Ulf Eberbach Says:

    I did the overland trip 3 times, between 1975 and 1978. Like with so many others whose comments I just read these experiences first changed, and later shaped my life. Travelling to Asia became my life’s passion and purpose. After doing this for 35 years in an endless succession of trips, some long, some short, I finally managed to make the big leap, actually live in Thailand now.
    Travelling has certainly changed since the 1970’s. I’m especially glad that back then there weren’t any electronic means of communication around. When you were away you were away, no matter what. You were able to receive mail via some big city GPO Poste Restante, or you could try to place a phone call to your family in a telegraph office. But that was it. Nobody was worried about this (well, our parents were…), which would be nearly unthinkable these days.
    The nearly non-existing means of communication resulted in a feeling of absolute freedom. Looking back this freedom is one of things that made these overland travels so incredibly valuable for me. And being really away and on your own also automatically made for living in the “here and now”. Since you didn’t get any news you didn’t think about them, were only concerned with the daily chores of travelling.
    It’s great to know that so many people have lived the overland experience so consciously, dope notwithstanding. And sure, some memories might be a bit more colourful than actual events back then. But the mere fact that 40 odd years on some many people commented and shared here certainly speaks for itself.

  78. Alan Dimen Says:

    In August 1968, age 25, I was in Prague (dubcek summer), met an ex peace corps guy who told me about hiking in a mountain kingdom called Nepal. And how I could get there for overland cost of 25.00 US Istanbul to Kathmandu. I had never read about any of what lay ahead. Everything was a surprise. I had never heard of Nepal.

    That image of hiking in a land I had never heard of, took me on a transformative journey: my Y in the road.

    No travel guides, no internet. I -all of us- exchanged information about the road ahead with other travellers from everywhere. That, and the experiences most of us had, as we traveled on – strangers in strange lands, interacting with cultures largely unspoiled by commercial tourism (OK, Mostly unspoiled. especially compared to now) It changed us forever. And there was a consciousness we shared that this was special. We networked, yes,we smoked, talked and caught each others experiences and dreams, on paper, in our hearts. The sounds filling the hostels and cheap hotel rooms – often dorms- were the sounds of the street outside, people having conversations, selling, sparse traffic – conversations with people we might never see again (but would remember).

    Ulf- I walked into the American embassy in Delhi to get more pages for my passport: they looked at my name and said “your parents are looking for you”. What a twit I could be. So into the experience flow I had forgotten to write for months.

    Fish sandwich by the Galata Bridge, sleeping on the luggage rack 4th class train out of Istanbul, the wonderful Turkish people, the obelisks outside Herat under the full moon, Kandahar at night, Kabul, Bushkazi, the Kyber Pass, Amritsar, The Taj Mahal in the October full moon – the memory still sends a chill up my spine – the first awe inspiring glimpse of the Himalayas 100 miles distant – trekking Helambu. All the good AND the bad. I discovered myself, came to understand and appreciate my parents and how their past created their present.

    It was magic. And it still is.

    How fortunate we were.

    The Camp Hotel( Kathmandu)- I wrote a rumination with self-portrait outline about imagination and existence on the wall above my bed,second floor near the window , Thai Song Greet (Bangkok) 3 baht omlet, Hotel Amir Kabir (teheran) hot showers!, #2 Hailey Road (new delhi), Jennet Hostle or was it Jenners? (istanbul)- I forget the hotel in Kabul – Dak bungalow (peshawar), rajasthan guest house (run by an Aussie expat) & red shield guest house (calcutta)

    No one I knew in my hometown of Great Neck, NY had ever “jumped out of the rut”. I now live in Berkeley, California where I have met many, many people who have had extraordinary experiences similar to mine. I have been incredibly lucky.

  79. Rebecca Mellor Says:

    Wow! I just found this site. Why? Google!! I was recalling a trip , summer 1971, and little bakery on a muddy alley in the outskirts of Kathmandu. The bakery was run by a local guy who had worked in Vietnam , learning French cooking. The “guest house” in Kathmandu was next to a literal fenced pig sty. Some day, somewhere, I hope to find the now faded slide i took there. My local friends and coworkers ( in Oakland, California) laugh when i tell them of riding a bike through a field between Kathmandu and the Tibetan settlement. Apparently that trail is now a proper paved highway.
    OK–back to reading these marvelous reminiscences. Thanks to all for sharing

  80. veronica shanks Says:

    i’ve never travelled the “hippie trail
    ‘ but recently bought an 1968 English caravan who did. her 1st owner, a retired british army officer brought her from uk to australia in i think 68/69. i only know they came through europe, the khyber pass, india and [then] ceylon, thence by boat from colombo to aus. i would love to know more about her journey because she is a remarkable old van and it is a privilege to be restoring her. all the above stories are very informative, though i imagine her original owner would have called himself an ‘overland traveller’ and not a hippie

  81. Brooks Goddard Says:

    Readers in the eastern USA will be glad to know that there is a short video on the Hippie Trail at the Rubin Museum of Art on 17th Street in Manhattan. The museum itself is devoted to the arts of the Himalaya areas and is an absolute jewel.

    Kudos to Alan Dimen and his shout-pit to the Camp Hotel. I spent 10 magical days there in 1968. But the Red Shield is in Bombay not Calcutta.

  82. Les Poyner Says:

    I have published a book on Amazon kindle of my overland travel from England to Australia in 1966
    It’s called
    LIFTING THE BLUES by Les Poyner
    It covers the whole journey through to Calcutta and then via Bangkok down through Indonesia and across to Australia from Portuguese Timor

  83. Rosemary Kirkby Says:

    On May 25th 1964, I left London and travelled to Kathmandu with 18 other intrepids in a 1948 AEC Bus. The girl who organised it was JANET HAMMOND, a nurse from Gravesend. Well, the bus didn’t quite make it up ‘the hill’ to Nepal, so we had to leave it in India and hitched lifts on lorries – what an horrendous experience – our lorry carried steel stauncheons for hydo-electric works, and they kept slipping off the back, so our driver would simply reverse into the rock face and push them back on, nearly decapitating us in the cabin! We had fantastic adventures on the way, and I am now writing up my experiences with the aid of my diary and slides, so my grandchildren have a record of their eccentric old grannie’s trip! I would love to know if any of my fellow travellers are still around or have written up anything about our trip. Our driver was Tom, a mechanical genious, who patched the bus up so many times. It finally died on the wharf on the Asian side of the Bosphorus on it’s way back to the UK. So if Susie,Tom,Dianne,Barbara(from Melbourne),Ian,Barry,Christobel,Janet Hammond (trip organiser),Hugh,Nick,Warren, Chris(who joined us in Amman),Janet,Pauline,Rosemary,Judy,Sue(who spoke German and was a handy translator)and Terry are out there somewhere, I’d love to share my photos and memories with you. We were definitely not hippies as I don’t think they had been invented back then. Five of us finally made it to Perth, Australia in September 1964 via Thailand, Malaya and Singapore, and I’m still in Oz 50 years later!!
    Rosemary Kirkby (nee Harries)

  84. Cheryl Says:

    Just want to talk to people who were there…not many people in my circle who have the slightest idea…in fact…nobody I have met in the past 40 Yeats?

  85. Cheryl Says:

    Please contact me…

  86. Cheryl Says:

    I can see the was just fantastic……just memories..

  87. Cheryl Says:

    Well…f there’s anyone out there would like to talk about old times…

  88. Bob Says:

    Hi Cheryl. would love to talk but no contanct info.

  89. Mark Sandell Says:

    Hello, i’m putting together a Magic Bus/Hippie Trail documentary for BBC Radio 2. It’ll be a celebration of the journeys and music of that time. Rory Maclean is taking part- would any of you like to as well ? All best, Mark Sandell

  90. Alan Dimen Says:

    Hi Brooks Goddard. And to all.

    Love reading about those days. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to remember exactly where and what.
    In calcuta perhaps it was the Salvation Army guest house? Lights out at 10:00. I remember biting into a cake in pitch dark and feeling-hearing a CRUNCH. I wrapped it up and dropped it in the trash. I didn’t look and didn’t want to know. Probably a cockroach.

    In ’71 my now-wife and I traveled overland (flew over the Darian Gap) from California to La Paz, Peru for 10 months. There was and is something about being on the road that switches me on.

    I would love to hear from others and exchange memories. my email is

  91. Alan Dimen Says:

    late night posts…. La Paz Bolivia

  92. Barney Vaughan-Knight Says:

    Hello, My mother, Janet Hammond – mentioned in a couple of the replies on your blog – ran overland trips for 10 years along the ‘Hippy trail’ from London – Kathmandu. I spent a childhood listening to untold stories of adventures of broken down buses in far off lands. It is not much wonder I now run overland trips myself and so far have a life full of memories of broken down buses in far off lands. My trips are very much unchanged since the early days of the Hippy trail and my mother, Janet still often comes along for the ride. Our latest journey took us in a 25 year old school bus across the Sahara from London – Gambia and back in 2008 we took a similar vehicle across Russia to Mongolia. The hippy trail is alive and well!
    I’d be interested in getting my mother involved in your BBC Radio 2 project Mark Sandell if it’s not already been and gone?

  93. Barney Vaughan-Knight Says:

    My email is

  94. Mark Sandell Says:

    Thanks Barney- have e-mailed you. Anyone else ?

Leave a Reply













Vagabonding Audio Book at

Marco Polo Didnt Go There
Rolf's new book!



Mark Sandell: Thanks Barney- have e-mailed you. Anyone else ?

laurea: Hello I called Laurea. I am 26 years old and I am a teacher in a school in the...

irane: Hello I called icrane and I come to speak to you of this great witch doctor,...

Mike: You only have one country on the list I can agree with: Israel I live in SE Asia...

Eric: Great case study. Hope Cat enjoys Japan when she gets there … it’s...

Barney Vaughan-Knight: My email is

Barney Vaughan-Knight: Hello, My mother, Janet Hammond – mentioned in a couple of...

Adventure Cowboy: Thank you for sharing such a thoughtful story regarding travel...

Jon: Maryanne, Wonderful information about your travels to Indonesia. I’ve...

Alan Dimen: late night posts…. La Paz Bolivia






Vagabonding Case Study: Cat Gaa
A couple ways to avoid travel burnout.
A chance to study writing in Paris this summer
How to give ethically after a disaster
Vagabonding Field Report: Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
There is no conflict between tourism and traveling
Review on Tortuga Air Carry On Backpack
Dancing at the Blood Festival
Vagabonding Case Study: Troy Whitmarsh
Breeze through U.S. airport lines with TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry

Subscribe to this blog's feed
Follow @rolfpotts