First Overland: The Story of the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition

By Tim Slessor

Why no longer? finally, no-one had ever performed it prior to. it might be one of many longest of all overland trips – part method around the global, from the English Channel to Singapore. They knew that numerous expeditions had already attempted it. a few had obtained so far as the desrts of Persia; a number of had even reached the plains of India. yet nobody had controlled to head on from there: over the jungle clad mountains of Assam and throughout northern Burma to Thailand and Malaya.

Over the final 3,000 miles it appeared there have been ‘just too many rivers and too few roads’. yet no-one particularly knew …In truth, their difficulties begun a lot in advance of that. As mere undergraduates, they'd no funds, no vehicles, not anything. yet with a funky audacity, which was once to develop into attribute, they started working – wheedling and cajoling. First, they coaxed the BBC to return up with a few movie for a potential television sequence.

They then lightly persuaded the brands to lend them factory-fresh Land Rovers. A writer used to be even sweet-talked into giving them an increase on a booklet. by the point they have been able to pass, their sponsors (more than eighty of them) ranged from whiskey distillers to the makers of collapsible buckets. In past due 1955, they set off.

Seven months and 12,000 miles later, very weary Land Rovers, escorted via police outriders, rolled into Singapore – to flash bulbs and poo. Now, fifty years on, their booklet, ‘First Overland’, is republished – with a foreword through Sir David Attenborough. finally, it used to be he who gave them that movie.

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Occasionally there have been small dust villages, and round the in moderation shaded water-holes flocks of dusty sheep lay blinking within the sunlight. teams of donkeys stood immobile aside from one ear which twitched opposed to the flies. the line wound out forward, on and on like a bit of dusty string. The hills have been angular and treeless; the one eco-friendly we observed used to be via our tinted glasses. the daylight was once like a sabre. We handed a camel, the 1st that we had noticeable. yet, within the phrases of my diary, “Did now not cease, as there’ll quickly be lots extra. ” By past due afternoon the Taurus Mountains have been low within the haze of the horizon. steadily as we drove on they grew clearer and better. Then the line curled clear of the obvious and ran below their deep shadow. We climbed up a steady spur after which, losing during the gears, all started the lengthy, twisting climb to the Cilician Gates. those skinny gorges throughout the rocky Taurus were utilized in exchange and conquest for millions of years. one of many few strains of entry among the arid plateau-lands of Anatolia and the fertile Mediterranean seaboard, this sequence of passes types an excellent course of background - and prehistory. The early migrations from the Tigris and Euphrates, the Persians, the Romans, the Crusaders - conquerors and armies prior to Alexander and lengthy after him - all have undergone the Cilician Gates. On one facet of the mountains is an inscription left by means of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, and at the different aspect, seventy miles away, is one left by way of the 92nd Punjab Regiment in 1919. In precedent days one of many defiles used to be so slender that even encumbered mules needed to be unloaded ahead of they can be led properly via. at the present time glossy engineering and explosives have blasted the cliffs good transparent. Our vehicles, airborne dirt and dust- and travel-stained through now, wound their means slowly around hairpin bends, up darkish ravines, among the pines, after which during the ultimate slim hole. We paused on the best to observe the final of the solar streak the night sky. Then we all started the descent. It was once darkish, and we switched at the head-lights. I stood during the roof-hatch. there's something so much fresh in using at evening between mountains. aside from the dual crimson lighting fixtures of the prime motor vehicle as they moved out and in alongside the twisting street, we have been on my own. Unashamedly, I felt as though the entire global was once earlier than us. millions of miles lay forward, and but for us they have been nonetheless yet an insignificant line around the map. A tribe of nomads had pitched camp the place the mountains met the apparent. Their black tents have been surrounded by means of herds of goats and hobbled camels, and the dung-fires glowed in that evening as they have to have performed hundreds of thousands of years in the past whilst those humans pioneered the direction. So in a single incomparable night we had swept down from the grim plateau-lands of Anatolia, during the mountains, and out into the dirt and warmth of the center East. The excursion lengthy remembered the following morning, for in getting ready breakfast it was once came across that we had run out of porridge. “Well,” introduced B. B. , who was once the breakfast cook dinner (as against “Luigi” Pat who ‘created’ the night meal, and as a result known as himself the Chef), “you’ll have soup and prefer it.

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First Overland: The Story of the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition
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