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Hippie trail

From Academic Kids

The hippie trail is a term used to describe the journeys taken by hippies in the 1960s and '70s from Europe, overland to and from eastern Asia. One of the key facts of the hippie trail was the desire to travel as cheaply as possible, thus usually the journeys were carried out by thumbing (hitchhiking). A number of cheap private buses also traveled the route, picking up and dropping off people enroute. There were also trains that traveled part of the way, particularly across Eastern Europe, through Turkey and to central Iran, where public or private transportation could be obtained.

Such journeys would typically start in England or, for those taking Icelandic Airlines, Luxembourg, and pass through 'key' spots such as Istanbul, Tehran, and Kabul, with Goa or Kathmandu the usual destinations. Kathmandu still has a road named Freak Street in memory of the many thousands of hippies who passed (and occasionally still pass) through. An alternative route was from Turkey via Syria, Jordan, and Iraq to Iran and then east. Further travel to southern India, Sri Lanka, or points east was also done.

Many on the hippie trail were driven by the ideals of 'finding yourself' and 'communicating with other peoples' that often underlay the hippie movement. Western Europeans, North Americans, Australians, and Japanese composed bulk of the travelers. Ideas and experiences were exchanged in well known hostels and hotels along the way. Many carried backpacks and, while the majority were young, older people and families occasionally appeared. A number drove the entire distance.

The overland trail came to an abrupt halt with the political changes at the end of the 1970's. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the Shah was deposed by an Islamic revolution in Iran. These events made it impossible for travellers to cross by the ancient Silk Route any longer.

With a loosening of immigration in Iran the route has again become somewhat feasible, though the war against Afghanistan has made parts of Pakistan risky places to venture.

It might also be noted that with more affluent economies, cheaper flights and a deterioration in the standard of travellers, the overland trail has fallen out of fashion. Although the "Hippie Trail" itself developed in the 1960s, parts of this Overland Route go back far before Alexander the Great. Perhaps someday in a more stable world it will again become a trail for those who wish to experience other cultures in an intimate and respectful fashion.

See also

External links

  • Steve Abrams on the Hippie Trail (http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/hitch_hiking/93093) An entertaining account of hitchhiking across the overland trail in the old days
  • Steve Abrams' Diary (http://www.oland.co.uk/) (includes downloadable PDF file of entire diary)
  • hitchhiking to india (http://www.tomthumb.org/) - a modern day account of hitchhiking from England to India with no money
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