Asia is the original destination for overland travel as far as I can make out. You can read more about overlanding. It is perhaps therefore appropriate that my first independent trip abroad, and first exposure to overlanding was to Asia, in 1975, when I was 22. I had toured Ireland before, with my parents on a caravan holiday, but had never crossed the Channel or been in a plane. The adventure begins!
Trans Asia 1975
Pete and I decided that we would travel as far along the Grand Asia Trunk Road as far as we could. Why? For the adventure and the drive. We both liked driving. The concept of driving several thousand miles with out knowing anything about where we were going was strangely attractive. Going into the unknown as far as we were concerned.
A small point of context here. We did not know anything about the overland tour companies operating at the time nor were we able to look things up. The internet did not exist and the libraries did not have the selection of travel guides in them that you can find today, as the books had not yet been written. Our route was chosen by looking at an atlas of the world.
We bought a truck, a Bedford TK ex Kraft Foods. We converted it and prepared it as best we could for the unknown adventure which lay before us.
It was indeed a most excellent adventure.
Trans Asia 1977 (Trips there and back)
I caught the travel bug with this first trip. Although there was a delay between coming home and setting off on the next trip, it was an inevitability that there would be more.
After a less than two years back in England Pete and I were planning our next trip. We had made money on our first trip. Enough money to want this trip to be both an adventure and to make a profit. Bluebell Tours was born. We bought two vehicles this time, a truck and a coach.
The truck was a Ford with a crew / utility cab and was ex Eastern Electricity Board, EEB. It had an open back with drop down sides, but was not a tipper truck.
The coach was a fairly normal fifty something seated passenger coach. I suspect it would have been referred to as luxury at some time in its past. We advertised for additional crew. Chris, Annie and Celia joined us on this adventure.
They had planned to travel onward from Nepal. We would stay on and sell the vehicles. As it turned out we sold one a brought the second home with us, full of passengers.
Trans Asia 1978
The fourth trans Asia trip was without Pete.
I had spent some time traveling independently, by public transport or hitch-hiking in Europe and North America before returning to England. I managed to get a job with the Adventure holiday / tour company Encounter Overland. Read more about Encounter Overland and how I got the job.
I managed to skip the training trip by virtue of my previous overland travels and after a while in the workshops headed off to Asia in a bright orange truck, with a group of passengers / team members / punters / participants.