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!


Re: PBK Bus England to India 1970

I travelled Twickenham - Delhi, Oct 1971 with PBK and 3 friends. Bert was the driver, mentioned in another post. He saved our lives at one point when a tyre burst (common!)while we were on a raised highway. How he held it on the road without a collision I shall never know.
We got off to a bad start as the bus broke down immediately and we had to sleep in Twickenham, but we made it all the way including Srinagar and the Golden Triangle.
Trip of a lifetime. Me and 2 mates caught the train to Bombay as we had run low on cash and were heading for S Africa instead of the intended Oz. After 2 weeks there we caught a ship to Mozambique via the Seychelles and flew into Jo'burg where we got work after initially being refused entry.
Highlights: Goreme, Kashmir, Herat, Fatepur Sikri, an English ship with good food, Seychelles, flying fish, Mombasa.
I have some first names of passengers if anyone is interested. Al Schulman from Cincinnati is one.
The world is a much smaller place these days!

3 (edited by marwalker 03-Jan-2016 00:32:31)

Re: PBK Bus England to India 1970


Re: PBK Bus England to India 1970

Sorry about the previous post .

I took a PBK bus around April 1971.
I'm afraid time has erased most of the names of those who travelled on the bus except my friend Guy and an American girl Martha Kurtz.
Seems a break down is obligatory and ours happened in Munich where a new engine was required , still more time for the ( rather expensive ) beer kellers.
My fellow travellers were Americans, who overnighted in budget hotels , Kiwis and Aussies who camped in their tents, and the English who tended to sleep on the bus !
It was always good to arrive in a major city and go to the Post Office and pick up our letters from home at Post Restante.
Like most I had a few narrow scrapes but when you are young you are so resilient.
We did make the mistake of going to sleep on an Indian train and losing our cameras and passports on our way to Katmandu. I didn't want to go all the way back to Delhi to get a new one so slipped over the border to Nepal and onwards in the back of a truck to Katmandhu. I was allowed to read the Ambassadors personal copy of the 'Times' while getting a new passport at the embassy.

I always loved to travel but , there was another love also that made me take that PBK bus , a NZ nurse who I had met in London.
Sadly when I arrived in NZ it didn't work out but fate was to change my life.
I managed to get a job there with the NZ Film Unit ( with a bit of bluff )
When I returned to London a year later I managed to get a job with the BBC Film Unit.
The Manager was much impressed with my travels and work experience ( not many did that sort of thing then )
So I was able to spend the rest of my working life  with many trips abroad filming.

Many thanks Mr.Beesley !

Bit of a message in a bottle but I would love to hear from anyone who was on that bus with me.


Re: PBK Bus England to India 1970

I went by PBK from London to Delhi starting on 14th September 1970. A really enjoyable trip. The bus fare was £75, side excursions, food and accommodation were extra. There were about 50 of us on 2 old buses. The trip was London, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan to India. A 6 week trip that took over 2 months as the buses kept breaking down and on occasion we had to wait for spare parts to be sent out from London. Although the delays meant we missed some places, they also meant we saw places we wouldn’t have otherwise seen. The drivers were good but hadn’t done the trip before. The courier on our bus was the driver’s girlfriend and didn’t know anything about the places we were going through. Nor did many of the passengers, some didn’t even know which countries we were going to visit. An American passenger, Irene, brought a suitcase full of guide books with her, so I spent hours reading up on the sights that we could see or detour to see.

After the first 20 miles the engine boiled. We crossed the channel and had a puncture not long after. The first major breakdown was in Austria, so the passengers of both buses all crammed into one bus and drove down to Thessalonica in Greece to wait two weeks for the other bus to catch us up after it was repaired. A number of us used the time to hitchhike down to Athens and back. In Thessalonica we were approached to give blood as there was a shortage at the local hospital – several from the bus went and one of the fellow travellers (a nurse) came back a bit shaken as the needle was very blunt and hadn’t been taped down so it bobbed in her arm.

In Istanbul PBK provided an excellent local guide. The bus broke down again in Turkey and we managed to get road grader to tow the bus to the nearest town. Fortunately the locals there were quite adept at keeping old machinery working. The repair garage was in a town away from the main road and had not seen tourists before. The girls were told to be well covered so as not to offend the locals but one girl ignored the advice and wore a miniskirt. We had to form a rugby scrum to rescue her and there wasn’t a square inch of her that hadn’t been pinched by the local men.

While driving in Turkey there was a group of locals walking on one side of the road and a woman by herself on the other. The woman suddenly darted across the road right in front of the bus to join her friends. Our driver didn’t have a chance to avoid her. Fortunately she wasn’t killed. Some of our passengers were nurses and they were immediately out of the bus looking after her. One of the locals told the driver not to stop until we were a long way away or he would be lynched by the locals even although she had run in front of the bus.

There was a major cholera outbreak in Turkey while we were there and Iran closed its borders to anyone without a very recent vaccination certificate so we had to visit several places to find enough vaccine for those on the bus whose vaccination was not recent enough.

At the Afghani border the locals walked around the outside of the bus inspecting the passengers and offering us money for the girls in the bus.

In Pakistan the other bus while overtaking an army truck was forced off the road, the shoulder gave way and the bus rolled in slow motion on its side. One girl had two stitches but no other casualties. The bus body was write off, but as it was recorded on the driver’s passport when he entered Pakistan he couldn’t leave the country without paying import duty on it. So we all got on the other bus to finish the trip. Unfortunately the other bus then put a piston through its sleeve on the way from Lahore to the Indian border. Some hitchhiked onwards immediately and the rest of us followed on the next day.