Topic: PBK Bus England to India 1970
PBK Tours, London to Delhi, Departed 12 December 1970
Jumbo Whaley and Dave Small
Sailed away from England with loaded ruc-sacks, boarded the overland bus in France and speedily set off across expensive Europe heading for the “east” where everything was cheaper. Soon got to know each other and bagged our preferred seats. Complement included Poms, Aussies, Kiwis, French, Swiss and Americans, mostly in our 20s. Spent Christmas in Istanbul (where it wasn’t Christmas!)
Visited the Topkapi Palace where we saw the world’s second largest diamond, John the Baptist’s arm and hair from the beard of Mahommed! Many of us had presents from home, not to be opened until Christmas Day and we celebrated with Xmas pud, chocs and other goodies. Our bus was broken into and all the cassette tapes stolen, except for the one in the player - we had to listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival thereafter! The end of Europe. No bridge in those days so a ferry took us to the beginning of Asia.
Pat, our drunken driver mysteriously departed, leaving our Courier, Frank, to drive the rest of the way. Hero. Another bus was going our way and we’d have occasional meet-ups along the route. The roads got rougher and the weather got colder. In Erzurum the diesel pipes froze but with the help of locals we lit a fire under the bus which got us going again. Luckily we had Blackpool Tony, a mechanic, on board. We reached 7,000ft and minus 12 degrees C, snowchains were often necessary.
Celebrated New Year in Tabriz but our antics got us thrown out of a club by the police. Wherever we stopped we’d be surrounded by small boys and other onlookers, we were an unusual sight for them. Donkeys and camels were the local transport.
Some of us took a donkey trek to an Iranian village where we were given a great welcome. Local soldiers appeared and quizzed us in a room - passports please. When they were satisfied we were safe they emptied the bullets from their guns!
One day a lorry pulled up sharply in front of us and we crashed into it. Radiator damaged. Volunteers went back to Tehran and procured a new one while the rest of us stayed in a cafe, sleeping on the floor.
We met another PBK bus returning to England, that was a celebration! They told us stories of the route ahead - collapsed roads, traveller’s cheque thieves, hashish shops in Kathmandu, and the famous Khyber Restaurant in Afghanistan - a must!
We nearly sold Leslie, one of our girls, to a rich local. We reached $300 before we realised he was serious, we weren’t!
Afghanistan was amazing, you could buy anything from cigarettes and hookahs to guns and hashish. We also got nearly double the bank rate for our currency. In Kabul the lorries are highly decorated with paintings on every panel and frills round the windows. They carried animals, freight and people.
Through the Khyber Pass with its old fortifications and the much more impressive Kabul Gorge then into the more civilised Pakistan. The weather improved as did the roads and we entered India, our destination. To Delhi. What a busy place, bad roads and even worse drivers, sacred cows everywhere, ox-carts pulling huge loads and many cases of Delhi Belly in our crew (also known as the green apple quickstep!)
That was the end of our bus ride and our crew departed to various places - some to Kathmandu, some flew on to Australia and New Zealand, some back to Europe. Jumbo and I travelled to Malaya via Burma then sailed to Perth to build up the funds again.
An unforgettable trip. Thanks Mr Beasley!
I can’t remember all the names now but the standout ones for me were: the Lovely Leslie, Blackpool’s Dennis and Tony, Larry the Yank, West Ham Pete, Yorkshire Ken (Cine film?), Aussies Trev, Paul and Julian, Kiwis Sonia and Dennis. Please add to this if you can!