[Overland drivers were a resourceful lot and often had to supplement low wages (or no wages) with side trips until they got paid. They held the trump card – the bus itself. The Derek referred to in the diary was Derek Amey, another driver for Asian Greyhound whose overland trip had set off a little before ours. I signed up for his day trip to the Tibetan border – that mysterious land under Chinese control that had fascinated me since reading ‘Seven Year in Tibet’ by Heinrich Harrer.
In the 1920s my mother had been a baby carried around on a makeshift carriage through the Himilayas on my grandfather Bob Gorrie’s forestry work. A family story tells that some high up British diplomat was piqued to discover that some British baby had beaten him into Tibet!
Derek Amey, who now lives in Australia, has set up a brilliant overland website covering many trips and bus companies from the 60s and 70s. http://www.indiaoverland.biz/]
SUNDAY 19TH DECEMBER, 1976
“Up early – Derek’s bus trip to Chinese border (ie Tibet). Misty to begin with. Lovely scenery into foothills – wooded winding gorges, green rivers; stopped at one which begins in Tibet and flows into Ganges! Stopped at fantastic waterfall – another division between Tibet and Nepal.
Saw brown mountains of Tibet peeping between green slopes at border. Bridge with Chinese guard in green sentry box at the other end. Had passport stamped on Nepal side. [Kodari]
Stopped for lunch by river and hot spring baths (grotty concrete affair) – good KC’s packed lunch.
Stopped at swing bridge for fools to rush across (ie I didn’t!) Grandmother, mother and happy kid – old woman with huge earrings in ears and big discs in nose.
Saw rice paper factory at side of road – mill to grind corn then muslin screens which woman used to sieve water and pulp mixture (bark pulp and ground corn) then left to dry in open air and then paper peeled off.
Lovely villages – mellow orange brick and dark thatch. Women breast feeding by road. Little kids carrying even littler kids! Got back sixish.
Went to Shangri la with quite a few of the others – so service slow. But nice when it came – shared a Tibetan dish with Di (like omelette) and also Buff Bean Curd (Buffalo meat) Nice.”