Forty years ago, on September 3, 1974, I boarded a bus on a trip that would take me through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan on our way to India. After dropping off its passengers in Delhi and giving us five weeks of “free time” in India, it began the journey back.
The entire trip took over three months and covered 18,000 miles – three quarters of the circumference of the Earth. No – it was not marijuana, or Indian gurus that attracted us, but a chance to see a world beyond Europe.
During this journey we got to see and experience places and roads that would soon be closed to travelers. Roads that have not reopened in the same way since then. It truly was a moment in time. Little did we know then that the Shah of Iran would fall in the winter of 1978-79 and be replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, that Afghanistan’s relatively peaceful society would be replaced by a Soviet-backed tyranny, then the Taliban’s brutal rule, and then war again, -- making the Khyber Pass dangerous in more ways than when we crossed it.
I was an amateur photographer armed with a Nikon F Photomic TN, a 35mm-wide angle lens, a 200 mm zoom, a Rollei 35, 40-rolls of black & white film, and half as many rolls of Kodachrome 64. For almost 40 years these photos sat in a box that traveled with me through various apartments in Sweden and then to America, where I’ve lived since 1989.
That was until last year when I bought a new scanner and started the long and arduous process of scanning, retouching, fixing, sorting and selecting over a thousand photos from this trip. Six months later I produced a photo book and realized that it was not just a “nice story” to document for my sake – and my family legacy - but an adventure that others may also find interesting.
I have searched the Web for other books about other 1970’s travelers of the modern Silk Road, but very little seems to have been published – either in photos or words. The route was called the “Hippie Trail” by some and there were even companies specializing in the overland journey from Europe to Asia. One company was actually called Overland.