Foreword (2004)

"S** it: I'm going round the world. Who's coming?"
Keith sat on the corner of his desk in a big London electronics firm, and looked disgustedly around. He had just opened his pay envelope, and along with 150 others, had found a retrenchment notice enclosed. This was the first that so-caring management had let slip about it.
Without really thinking, I agreed to come.
The year was 1970.

Dave & Keith There followed several brainstorming sessions with a large atlas, selecting places we would like to see, given the chance. Finally, we stuck pins in a world map, and stepped back.
"To see more than a few of those, we shall have to go round the world!"

So, in 1971, the planning began. The project acquired the rather pretentious title of "World Trek", or more informally "the Expedition". Appendix E outlines some of our thinking at that early stage. At that time, I was into caving ("spelunking" in the US), and to that end had acquired a rather disreputable Land Rover (named "Orodruin" - yes, that Orodruin!). In the event, we decided to fix up the vehicle to hand, rather than acquire another.
Keith and I both being engineers by profession, we indulged our fancies to quite a degree, loading the vehicle with gadgets, often for the fun of developing them.
Keith's father, a former British Army mechanic, took on the engine overhaul. He also coached Keith in first aid (as an ambulance driver, he was well-qualified to do so).
As soon as practicable (early 1973), Orodruin was back on the road, and was used regularly as normal transport, in parallel with extensive additional customisation. This meant that, by the time we left England, Orodruin was thoroughly tested.
During this time, many of my work colleagues would say to me "I wish I could do what you're doing!" My answer was always, "if you really want to, you can."

Late in 1973, Rik and Brian joined the team, bringing another Land Rover ("Shadowfax"). Departure was scheduled for June 1974, which meant they had 6 months to do what had taken us 18. Further, neither had a mechanical background. Inevitably, mistakes were made, which resulted in continuous problems with Shadowfax during the trip.

Orodruin After we left, two heavy blows were dealt us by officialdom: British and Australian.
For safety, we left the bulk of our funds in a London bank, to be wired out to us as needed. In this, we had reckoned without the British Government suffering another of their periodic currency crises, and banning the export of money. So there we were in Pakistan, without the funds to go on, or to return home.
Simultaneously, the Australian government ended the ancient practice by which British subjects could enter and work freely (in fairness, this was in response to a similar action by London). We had counted on working in Australia to replenish our funds.
As the trip progressed, we received contradictory advice at every diplomatic mission we passed: the only sure thing seemed to be that we could enter Australia before the end of 1974.

So two of our fundamental assumptions were invalidated. Combined with Shadowfax' increasing unroadworthiness, these factors ended the Expedition in Pakistan.

The following pages are from the edited version of the Expedition log which I prepared in 1978 as a memento.

Keith and I were the Expedition's photographers. We both suffered from poor-quality film bought en route: many of my pictures are underexposed and have a bluish cast, while Keith's film failed to develop at all.
With the loss of Keith's remaining film (stolen with his camera in Pakistan) our photo record is necessarily less than complete. The pictures on this site are by me (Dave), except where otherwise credited.
It should need no saying that the world of 1974 was a vastly different place to that of today (2004). The Cold War was in full swing; the Vietnam War in its final months; in Washington, Richard Nixon was hanging on by a thread.
Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain, with the two armies staring at each other across the North German plain. To travel in Communist eastern Europe was uncommon.
Turning south, a coup d'etat in Cyprus had upset the long-standing, if uneasy accommodation between the Greek and Turkish communities. This had resulted in an invasion by Turkey, and the military partition of the island (it remains so today). In June 1974, Greece and Turkey were on the edge of war, and all south-eastern Europe was in a ferment.

If Europe was more restricted then, Asia was more open. Saddam Hussein ruled in Iraq, but his name was little heard outside that country.
Shah Mohammed was king in Iran, and a strategic friend of the US. The Mullahs remained in their mosques.
In Afghanistan, the King had been deposed the year before, and his successor, Mohammed Da'oud Khan, had not made many changes. Life went on in the old, disorganised way. The Russian invasion, and the subsequent guerilla war (out of which came Al Quaeda) still lay in the future. The Taleban were unheard of.
Pakistan's main concern was with India's nuclear test of May 1974. The resulting sense of insecurity (India is 10 times the size of Pakistan, and was now nuclear-armed to boot) triggered Pakistan's crash-program to build a bomb itself.

From Turkey through to India, Western travellers were numerous and welcomed.

Copyright © 1974 - 2004 David R. Brooks

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