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

By Tim Slessor

Why now not? in spite of everything, no-one had ever performed it earlier than. it'd be one of many longest of all overland trips – part method around the international, 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 started a lot just before that. As mere undergraduates, that they had no funds, no automobiles, not anything. yet with a funky audacity, which was once to develop into attribute, they got to work – wheedling and cajoling. First, they coaxed the BBC to come back 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 was once even sweet-talked into giving them an develop on a ebook. 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 through police outriders, rolled into Singapore – to flash bulbs and poo. Now, fifty years on, their ebook, ‘First Overland’, is republished – with a foreword through Sir David Attenborough. in spite of everything, it was once he who gave them that movie.

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There has been no less than a cement flooring in there. This ultimatum, brought in English and signal language, left no room for doubt of their minds, and it certainly penetrated the linguistic barrier. The officers withdrew. It used to be bluff on our half, for totally to unpack the autos after which repack back used to be a two-hour task. yet we have been confident that the officers have been both obviously silly or being purposely un-co- operative. They looked to be announcing, “Don’t ask us why we're doing this, simply because we haven’t a clue.

Of Bam (305 miles) B. B. had us up at 6. 30 A. M. Breakfast - porridge and tea - over in ten mins. chilly till the sunlight obtained up. whereas I packed the automobile Nigel wiped clean the plugs and checked the springs and engine oil. B. B. , as continually, boiled the water and made Thermos tea to maintain us going for the remainder of the day. Then we have been off. Reached Kerman through mid- morning. Picked up petrol, water, bread. This Persian bread is available in lumpy, unleavened sheets approximately ft lengthy. it's gritty, and desires pots of jam. B. B.

The Lahore supervisor, Mohammed Muzuffar, used to be one of many maximum characters we met at the journey. He had the loudest snort within the Punjab, and that’s asserting whatever in a land famous for its jocularity. at any time when we referred to as on him (which was once nearly consistently) all place of work- paintings stopped, his minions have been despatched to convey chairs, cigarettes, iced beverages, and tea. actually, all through our time in Lahore his char-wallah by no means stopped; the kettle was once ceaselessly at the boil. Muzuffar mixed a very English experience of humour (unusual in a foreigner) along with his personal hearty indigenous sort, and he most likely merely stopped guffawing whilst asleep.

In this breakdown the escort had obviously taken the opportunity to head off into the woodland and bag a few duck and wooden pigeon for its dinner. the motive force refused our supply of support, so we went on. in the course of the afternoon the song turned a lot rougher because it wound its far more than a chain of excessive mountain ridges. one other 3 hours and, because the sky grew faded with brilliant shades, altering as we watched, we hairpinned slowly down approximately 3 thousand toes of wooded area hill- facet into the Salween Gorge. Then relatively unexpectedly we observed the Salween itself.

Occasionally, livid, we might motor up the line to discover them, ten mins later, ready patiently on a few such a lot ill-chosen web site with an blameless remark like, “You had a puncture or whatever? We’ve been the following hours. ”This impertinence purely further gas to the furnace. On different events Cambridge could ultimately come again and take a look at the sweetly average strategy. “Say, chaps, we’ve discovered a best position alongside there. A sheltered quarry. ” “Well, hell, what’s improper with this? There isn’t any wind, besides, and now you’ve come again chances are you'll besides remain right here.

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