A newsletter for all the ex Overlanders
Hi everyone, I hope you find something of interest this month, sorry its a bit rushed as Cindy & I are off to Thailand next week for a short break to check on building progress of our new house.
Regards - Derek

A Good Read for Overlanders - Crews will identify with the story & passengers will get an insight as to what went on behind the scene.

A day out of Delhi, the road narrowed and straddled a levee bank with water-filled rice paddies on either side. I was driving and a Tata truck and I came had to head. I wasn't budgeing as I had much further to reverse than he had, and felt it only fair that he should be the one to pull back. The stale-mate lasted several minutes until Screw appeared from the back of the bus and made his way towards the truck.
Screw isn't tall, but he's about five times wider in body and limb than your average Indian, and when the driver and his five mates lining the front seat saw him coming with a look of menace, they decided discretion was the better part of valour, and piled out of the passenger side in a tactical retreat. Scew mounted the truck's cab, stuck it into reverse, and then let it roll down the levee bank until it was submerged to the mudguards in the waters of the rice paddy below. He walked back past me brushing his hands and without looking up said, "okay. You can gow now."
Two months to the day after leaving London, we climbed the last and most treacherous stretch of road leading up from the kathmandu Valley in Nepal, only to be confronted by a massive landslide that might still deny us our goal, Kathmandu itself. The nepalese workers were going about their task of clearing the road with about as much speed as a snail with piles, and we were so frustrated at their lack of progress we literally shoved them aside, requisitioned their picks, shovels and spades, and formed a section of road wide and strong enough to allow Grunt to pass within an hour. Late in the day we entered the capital of the Kingdom of Nepal in triumphant mood.

We celebrated with a buffalo steak barbeque in the grounds of the Withies Hotel, where we'd parked Old Grunt, and had a traditional Chrismas dinner at the Blue Str Hotel with all the trimmings including, according to the menu, "mens" pie for desert. Fortunately, it tasted more like fruit "mince" pie.

We felt justifiably proud of being the first to ever drive a double-decker bus all the way from London to Kathmandu, but as we made friends with many of the foreign characters running various hotels and restaurants, we heard amazing stores of past adventures that put ours well and truly into perspective. We heard about Paddy Garrow-Fisher who, with a company called "Indiaman", was reputedly the first-ever Overlander. We met a Boris Voscavich at the Yak and Yeti Palace restaurant who had fled Russia after the war and, with his new Scandanavian wife, towed a caravan behind his car to India in 1947. He told us that in 1969, four English guys had driven a genuine old steamroller over the same route from London. They drove a Mini Minor as well and used this to scavenge anything combustible for the rollers's boiler. I doubted whether our effort could top that.

If we had tried to do what we'd done just one or two years earlier, it would have been impossible. The road we'd travelled via Pokhara and the Kathmandu Valley had only recently been built. Before that, the only way into Nepal was via the infamous Raj Pass, and Grunt would never have made it. Still considered one of the most perilous roads on Earth, the pass, built by the Indian army, is hewn into the sheer face of the Himalayan foothills, and falls 3000 metres to India's Valley of the Ganges below.

A Short extract from Top Deck Daze by Bill James - Published by Hal Books

Memories from John Knowles (mechanic - Swagman Tours)

I remember the time when Dave Watt had this thing about throwing water over people?  Probably around the time he tipped a whole pint over my head in the Royal Adelaide Pub. He was chasing me around a bus with a can of water, what he hadn’t realised was that earlier I had been rubbing down some panels with "wet and dry" sandpaper.

As I ran around the corner like a gazelle with a leopard on its heels, I suddenly realised there was a God after all. As Dave came racing round the corner of the bus with a big grin on his face with his little can, he was confronted by me with a large bucket of water! His expression changed to panic as two gallons of filthy water headed his way through the air. I think he said something like ‘O-Oh - Things didn’t go the way Ted planned’ - an extract from Benny Hill’s Ernie the milkman. 

Dave Watt

What about the time in Guildford when Norm turned up at the yard and no one was there. He drove round to the house he had rented for you lot and shouted through the letter box “Get up you lazy bastards” only to realise he had the wrong house!

He raced about like a man possessed at times – like a chicken that had lost its head.

One day he was moving some buses around to try and get one out of the workshop. As you know it was like trying to do a Rubik’s cube.

He didn’t talk to anyone just dived around like a nutcase, jumped into a bus I had been working on - started it up and drove down the side access road like a madman, only to be halted by an almighty crash as he totally ripped off the side doors, which I had propped open to charge the batteries.  That was Norm. He later made up some story to Sundowners about an accident on the road while test driving it, and an incident with some lunatic driver!!

John Knowles

Google Earth the Overland

Check out the places you visited on the Overland at Google Earth. Some you can just key in the name and you will be taken straight there, others you will need to find. Tilt the landscape and get a 3D view, check out Dave Tapsells great post in the forum for Google views of the Attock Bridge in Pakistan & Dal Lake in Kashmir. You need to down load the software for Google Earth from their website but it is easy and worth the effort, just take the tour to see what I mean.

The Taj Mahal in Agra (click image for larger view or go to Google Earth and cut & paste this "Taj Mahal" lat=27.1794621292, lon=78.0396430798 into the Directions tab.
Jamu Masid Mosque in Delhi (click image for larger view or go to Google Earth and cut & paste this "Jamu Mashid Mosque" lat=28.6514616079, lon=77.2327060218 into the Directions tab.
Amber Fort near Jaipur India (click image for larger view or go to Google Earth and cut & paste this "Amber- Jaipur" lat=26.9864403868, lon=75.8483677594 into the Directions tab.
Durbah Square Kathmandu (click image for larger view or go to Google Earth and cut & paste this "Kathmandu" lat=27.703415373, lon=85.3084675135 into the Directions tab.

Overland DVD - yes its still coming, I have had lots of computer trouble, you name it I've had it, but touch wood things seem to be fixed now, so work has started on the film but it is a big job.

Download an Historic E-Book about India in last part of 19th centuary



Subaltern to Commander-in-Chief







Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty the Queen

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If you have any stories or pictures related to the Overland I would love to get a copy. Lists of passengers or just the ones you can remember would be a great addition to this project
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