Being entirely at night, the flight showed us little of southern Pakistan. On arrival at Karachi, the KLM office (KLM being agents for Garuda Indonesian Airlines; the actual carrier on the second leg) accepted our baggage, with no haggles over weight. The officer called us 'very reasonable people' for trying to eliminate a 2kg excess, and let it on free. He said that many people come with nearly double the free allowance, and become angry when it is not allowed in free. He also made arrangements to have our baggage automatically routed on to the Singapore Airlines flight in Singapore.

A (free) bus took us to a hotel for the stopover (3 hours). The same KLM officer had endorsed our hotel passes for 'dinner', saying that, although we would be after hours for dinner, we should still get a free snack.

We took a snack of the sandwich and ice-cream variety, and then went to bed. Not for long, however, as the hotel staff called us an hour early! They then tried to charge us for the snack. Since the snack-bar cashier had taken our free voucher, and then gone off duty, we couldn't prove anything. However, after a brief argument, and Keith swearing we had no money, they let it go.

The second leg, on a DC8, started some 20 minutes late (the flight had started in Amsterdam). We saw nothing of India, being night-time, and were served a good breakfast at dawn, somewhere over the Indian Ocean. Keith has not been served any vegetarian meals; which has meant rich pickings for me!!

We had a brief view of some of the Indian Ocean islands shortly before our first stop at Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft continued to Singapore, where I am now writing this.

Keith was not allowed into Singapore on account of his hair length, so we have some six hours to kill at the airport. I can find no useful contacts in the phone book here, to try to contact Andrew (if, indeed, he is still in Singapore), being confined to the airport we probably would not be able to meet him anyway. Alas, our confinement here means the loss of two free meals at the hotel, which are also prepaid on our tickets.

We are advised that our flight to Perth will leave at 2345H, and not at 2030H as originally advertised.

Keith later contrived to talk a free dinner out of KLM, on the strength of our not taking normal lunch and dinner, and of the delayed flight. My first grilled steak since I don't know when! Keith had an allegedly vegetarian Chinese dish, we think it contained some meat, though.


The final leg (Singapore Airways) was late arriving, we left at 0014H. S.A. service was excellent, with many 'perks' that I would normally expect only in First Class. Keith missed out completely on his vegetarian meals, despite having ordered them in advance. The stewardess managed to fix him some fruit, etc., from the crew's own rations.
Unlike Keith, I sleep readily to a background of noise and vibration, and hence got some 3 hours' sleep, waking just after dawn, just in time for breakfast. Hence I was much less affected by 'jet lag' than Keith.

We reached Perth at 0630H, having no clear views of Australia due to cloud cover. Keith realised while aloft that he had inadvertently left our X-ray films in Sikandar's flat; so lacking these, we have been given 30-day entry permits, and instructions for obtaining X-rays in Perth.

On our declaring the presence of (medical) drugs in our kit, this was marked for Customs inspection. However, when I began unpacking my kitbag, the officer let me go; he couldn't be bothered. Keith, however, had his kit quite thoroughly searched (after he had produced the drugs), though no body search. Fortral and one other drug were confiscated.

A phone call from the airport confirmed that the YMCA could put us up, so we took a taxi into the city.

September, 1976

Rik and Brian arrived a week after us, having spent several days in Lahore, as house guests of a Government minister there. Shadowfax was dismantled and sold piecemeal on the black market, retaining just enough to dump with the Customs and so clear their Carnet. They got a total of Rs5000 for it.

We all spent several months on the dole here in Perth; eventually Rik, Brian and I landed jobs in Perth, while Keith went to Melbourne to try his luck there.

Brian became disillusioned with Perth last August, and went North. In January 1976, he left Darwin, to travel overland back to Britain, this time without a vehicle. His adventures do not properly form part of this tale, with one exception:

April 1976 found him again in Peshawar, this time headed West. On looking up our old friends again, he discovered that Sikandar had successfully exported Orodruin a few weeks before (as he had our authority to do), and having driven to Istanbul, had sold it for $400. Then, of all things, he went to Beirut, to join the fighting there! We can only hope he survives.

Brian has just returned to Perth, having become yet more disillusioned with Britain. He came back the easy way, by air and ship. He reports that affluent tourists have largely spoilt the Asia Overland route by now; and inflation is rife. It seems we made the run just in time.

Was it all worth it? Speaking for myself, the answer is an unhesitating affirmative. In purely financial terms, the cost was high (about £2000 for Keith and myself); higher indeed than was strictly necessary. This cost purchased, for me, two of the happiest years of my life. During the rebuilding of Orodruin, and the other preparations, the Expedition became the overriding goal of my life; and happiness was found in immersing myself totally in the project. During the journey itself, the Expedition was our lives.
Yes, I would do it again, albeit not in exactly the same way (there is no sense in repeating evident mistakes). Much of the cargo we carried was unnecessary, as were many of the gadgets carried in Orodruin (which were, admittedly, included as much for the fun of developing them as for any anticipated practical value). A lightweight version of the journey, with a bare minimum of equipment and stores, would be an interesting exercise.

Copyright © 1974 - 2004 David R. Brooks

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