View previous topic | View next topic

Magic Bus

Page 1 of 6
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

894203.  Fri Mar 16, 2012 7:55 am Reply with quote

For the majority of you youngsters a completely unknown phenomenon.
But I'm curious to know if there are older forummers who have actually travelled on that marvellous piece of transport, and from where to where.
I would love to hear stories.
My only experience was in the mid-70s travelling from Amsterdam to Athens* on my way to Haifa, so I didn't even get to Istanbul where it all started. But on the bus (which started its journey in London) I met quite a few who were going 'all the way', either for the first time or to fill in the gaps that a smoke-filled first trip had left in their memories.

I've managed to find the probably only book written on the subject. Hassan el Kebir suggested looking at the Rolling Stone magazine site for related articles, as they were already around in the Magic Bus's heyday. No luck so far.

Reviews of "Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India" [They again make me wish circumstances had been different, so I could have stayed on the bus till the final destination. It must have been awesome, daunting, unsettling, but truly amazing.]

Thanks to Rory Maclean the bus still runs, and I was able to catch it a generation and a half after the departure of the original Intrepids to the once-wild East. That East that was the world of dreams for a tired Europe whose kids desparately needed vision and freshness, for whom there was nothing at home that could hold the imagination, and whose parents' lives had been consumed and formed in the horror of war, the collapse of empire, incredible technological changes and the struggle to hang onto something familiar.

Rory Maclean balances the sentiment of the original journeys, thousands of them, gained by a brave attempt to trace their route under very changed, and more dangerous circumstances than they once were, with an updated perspective on the trail as it appears today. Those early travellers were gullible, naive and inexperienced. They were also passionate and committed to a new world of real relations - and of pleasure.

It may be that the passage of those early hippies laid something of the foundations for the present tensions and unhealthy religious and political conditions. Yet this too will pass. Maclean's account, meanwhile, consists in the main of encounters along the way with a brilliant Afghan rug of characters, from the ancient hippie soulmate he meets in Turkey to the Iranian city guide who opens his mind behind closed doors, the Englishman who converted to Islam in Pakistan and created for himself a spiritual path from the land and the people and the ecstasy of the meeting. Old hippies, musicians, their admirers along the way, NGO employees who wished they had been part of it... they are all here. And in each case there is a true encounter, a meeting of minds - surely the purpose of all travel, then and now and henceforth.

For anybody who did not travel on the first trail, this is a superb synthesis of many strands that gives a good picture of how it was. For anybody who has visions of a closer world and a new paradigm for living, this account shows much of what was achieved before, and some of the mistakes, and inspires one to try again. For those who did travel the Trail, I doubt that they will have much to argue with Maclean about.

Many books have been written about the sixties, but Rory Macleans "Magic Bus" is the first to my knowledge which describes the journey many thousands of us made in those tumultuous years, overland from Istanbul to Kathmandu. The author retraces the route, describing with accuracy and humour the old haunts that many of us knew so well. From the Pudding Shop in the shadow of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, the Amir Kabir in Tehran, the cafes on Chicken Street in Kabul, the magnificient statues of Buddha in Bamyian tragically destroyed by the Taliban, to the dope filled dives of Freak Street in Kathmandu. For me the book brought the memories flooding back as I am sure it would for others familiar with the "hippy trail" But the book is not just for those who made that journey in the sixties and seventies, it's a fascinating travelogue in its own right, a piece of our cultural and social history, and a wonderful description of an era and a journey which will never be repeated in quite the same way. A five star read.

*I had a Return Ticket, which freaked out quite a few fellow travellers as that smacked of an Organised Life.
"Hey, that is so square, lass!"

Last edited by 'yorz on Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:29 pm; edited 3 times in total

894207.  Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:10 am Reply with quote

I considered using it to get to Athens in '75 or '76, but used Interrail instead -- you paid a basic fare, and filled in your destination in a little book that served as a ticket. Covered all of then Western Europe and parts of the East, too.
Not quite up to the wild adventure of Magic Bus, but it scared the beejaysus out of my Mum!

894209.  Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:34 am Reply with quote

By Gum - we may have sat next to eachother on the Plaka. :)
I do not think my parents were aware of the Magic Bus's reputation, but even if they were, I had already flown the parental nest.
I just remembered sitting next to this young lad from Florida on the Bus. He was all dressed in white, with ironed (ironed, I say) jeans and t-shirt. That image didn't last long. Wonder whether he stuck it out to the very end and gazed at the Roof of the World. I hope he did.
My younger brother travelled to Afghanistan. Not sure if he used the MB. He did see the Buddhas of Bamiyan in all their stupendous glory. He even climbed up to the caves behind the statues.

894211.  Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:36 am Reply with quote

Not a thread about the big blue things that travel the streets of Manchester then? :P

I'm one of those youngsters who's never heard of this magic bus, and I'm a bit confused. From the sounds of it there was a defined route/timetable and you bought tickets, so what made it different from any other long-distance bus service?

894213.  Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:43 am Reply with quote

O my good lord - look at this!

My heart sings :)

Meh. Googling 'Magic Bus to Afghanistan' opened up a treasure trove of articles and travelogues. Here's one.
Does that answer your question about what the difference is, Moosh? :)

Last edited by 'yorz on Fri Aug 07, 2015 9:28 am; edited 1 time in total

sally carr
894460.  Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:33 pm Reply with quote

Years ago my parents took an evening Magical Mystery coach trip from Hastings. It took them round some beautiful Sussex and Surrey countryside but finished up at the pub across from their house in Leatherhead! So Mum nipped home and watered her garden.

894479.  Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:19 pm Reply with quote

My experience of the "Magic Bus" was as a semi-mythological experience - talked about, referenced but somehow never met anyone who'd actually used it.

I guess it probably existed - but its' cultural value is probably more to do with the widened experience that it engendered.

I also never met anyone who was present during the Summer of Love.

894486.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:26 am Reply with quote

bobwilson wrote:
I guess it probably existed - but its' cultural value is probably more to do with the widened experience that it engendered.

Good observation - although the MB as transport did exist (I was on it - and for many years kept the ticket ;), the mere mentioning of it took you instantly way beyond the earthly kilometres that laid ahead of you.

894518.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:43 am Reply with quote

I've never heard of the Magic Bus probably because I would have been too young and my parents too old.

894526.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 7:02 am Reply with quote

But - reading all this - don't you wish you had?

894570.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:37 am Reply with quote

'yorz wrote:
But - reading all this - don't you wish you had?

No! Far too scary for me. I like to know exactly what's going to happen when and have the name of the person responsible for each element. And even then I might decide to play it safe and stay at home.

894588.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:49 pm Reply with quote

Ah. No taste for the adventurous, then ;p

894597.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:05 pm Reply with quote

When I read the title of the thread, I initially thought of Ken Kesey, then The Who, but I was wrong on both counts.

894599.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:09 pm Reply with quote

The other way round there. Then I read the post and thought gosh, that's where Pete got it from.



894616.  Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:08 pm Reply with quote

Bondee wrote:
When I read the title of the thread, I initially thought of Ken Kesey, then The Who, but I was wrong on both counts.

Now Wiki suggests that Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters' bus was called 'Further', but I can see why the words 'magic bus' might prompt thoughts of that bunch.
Now how's that for a QI forum meet-up? Anyone got a PSV license? We could re-create the trip, scaled-down, of course, perhaps Brighton to Blackpool, rather than all the way across the USA.


Page 1 of 6
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours

Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group