Looking for the Old Hippie Trail

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  01.31.12 | 9:44 AM ET

At Old World Wandering, Iain Manley has a long, worthwhile post on the classic overlander, mixing his personal experiences as a “novice traveller” on the route with a history of the trail’s literature, from “Across Asia on the Cheap” all the way back to the Romantics of the 1700. Here’s a taste:

I knew something of the old Hippie Trail by the time we arrived in Goa, but only as much as I had read in Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar. Theroux had encountered the freaks making their way out east - “like small clans of tribesmen setting out for a baraza or new pastures” - on a train from Istanbul to Tehran. He thought “the majority of them, going for the first time, had that look of frozen apprehension that is the mask on the face of an escapee,” and had “no doubt that the teenaged girls who made up the bulk of these loose tribal groups would eventually appear on the notice boards of American consulates in Asia, in blurred snapshots or retouched high-school graduation pictures: missing person and have you seen this girl?” Theroux, propped up on his first-class berth “like a pasha,” consulting Nagel’s Encyclopaedia-Guide, or lying down in the heat, “like a Hindu widow on a pyre, resigned to suttee,” was too much of a prig to characterise the hippies as anything but wastrels and strays, and it seemed a pity that the Hippie Trail had never had a Kerouac to document it, to tell us as he did that “somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.”

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

3 Comments for Looking for the Old Hippie Trail

Angela Brown 02.01.12 | 2:08 AM ET

This experience is really superb

Leon @ Eden's Rose 02.21.12 | 9:17 PM ET

Wow I always thought the hippie trail was something else. This is interesting thanks for the references I will enjoy looking into this more at old world wondering.

apartment in kiev 02.22.12 | 5:55 AM ET

Very interesting and informative article for me. The thought is very well expressed. I do bookmarks of your blog to show to the friends

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