Welcome from Jan

Hi there!
This blog is for those who love both books and travel. I'm starting by travelling back in time to the 1970s and the overland trail to India which I took as an 18 year old. Have a look at my daily diary entries and photos. Some of these places are impossible to visit at the moment, but I can give you a flavour of what they were like in the golden age of the hippy trail.

The experience has inspired my new mystery novel, THE VANISHING OF RUTH, which is out now as an ebook. Find details and extracts at The Vanishing of Ruth

To buy: The Vanishing of Ruth

Also take a look at Facebook Page Overlanders for more memorabilia.

Cheers, Jan.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Diary of an Overlander

How many people out there went on the overland trail to India - from London to Kathmandu or beyond - in the heydey of the 1960s and 70s?  I was one of them!  The summer of '76 was known for its heatwave and water shortage; I had just left school and was singing School's Out For Ever along with Alice Cooper.  I was off to India - the place where my mother had spent her early childhood and my grandparents had worked and lived in the '20s and '30s.  I had flared jeans, a rucksack, new sleeping bag from Blacks Outdoor Shop, an instamatic camera, a bright orange cagoule with the flexibility of chainmail and a bottle of Kaolin & Morphine to ward off the squits. 
Nobody seems to remember that the autumn of '76 was one of the wettest.  My family waved me off from a rain-splashed Durham station.  The next day - a drizzly, cold early Sunday morning in late September - I embarked on a three month camping adventure across Asia with a group of total strangers.  The coach was an old Bristol bus; I sat in a seat facing backwards.  The company, Asian Greyhound: Swagman Overland Tours, was run by an Australian known as Uncle Norm.  Looking back, I'm amazed my parents let me go.  My Dad said he prayed a lot.

With over 30 years of gestation, the experience has moulded itself into a novel; a travel mystery called OVERLANDERS.  But more of that later.

This week, one of the former passengers, Rob McKay got in touch wanting to trace our group and call a reunion.  So I want to share some diary entries and photos - and hope that some of my former Swaggies might get in touch.

I'm taking up the action six weeks into the trip, so that I can give a daily flavour of what was happening this time 33 years ago.  It's a vanished world - a privileged one for Westerners who could travel at will, strike up transient friendships and drink in all the amazing sites en route (or in some cases just drink).  I never stopped being amazed at the generosity of strangers or the persistence of kids.

Travel back in time with me ...

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