Magic Bus

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Magic Bus

On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India

by Rory MacLean | Viking

The ultimate destination for some travellers is the place from where you began, because most travellers finally come home. And so it is, in a way, in Rory MacLean’s new book. His is a journey back to the beginnings of modern travel, to the backpackers’ original journey – the overland route so popular with the Beat and hippie generations, from Istanbul through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Nepal, until he reaches Goa and the promised pearl of enlightenment that ought to exist at the end of such a journey.

A journey back to the beginnings of modern travel

Along the way, as he retraces the hippies’ route, he calls in at their old haunts, such as the Pudding Shop, the Amir Kabir, and Siggy’s Place, where these pioneering travellers would stop off to find out the next place to go before Lonely Planet writers had mapped the world in their guidebooks. He meets faces from the past, some of whom have made their lives in the area, some returning for one last look.

MacLean’s tale becomes more than just his journey – it’s our journey. It’s a history of travel as we know it today, a guide to how Western culture has shifted with the Eastern influence as discovered by Kerouac and The Beatles, and how the East is now returning to the West, this time dressed in DKNY.

This book is a must for anyone wanting to explore the area, indeed anyone who wants to travel anywhere, and anyone who wants to reflect on those glorious days when travellers wore flowers in their hair. It is a return to travellers’ roots and routes.

First published: Traveller magazine, Summer 2006
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