Reference: World

Title:Travelling light.

Length: 5000+ words.

Publishing rights available: All rights

Travel operators: numerous

Copyright: Derrick Grover.

(Please click on thumbnails of photographs on this page to see enlargement, there is sometimes distortion when they are reduced.)

Six extracts.

(NB This article relates to backpacking around the world in 1963.)
Chinese temple.

The Fatsun line regularly steamed through the night to Macau. Deck passage was spent sleeping in a deck chair. There was no moon but the stars shone brightly. While the ferry ploughed its way through the blackness of the sea, I spent the night with my canvas bag looped to my wrist. It was as pleasant a way as any of spending a hot and humid night in June.

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Native dress

I was only allowed to stay in Saigon for 48 hours and within the area cordoned off by the police. For similar reasons I had to fly out without the opportunity to explore the rest of the country. Nevertheless my memories of pre-war Saigon are ones of elegance with French culture much in evidence. The hotel had a veranda on which to drink coffee after a meal and I would sit entranced by the elegance of the Vietnamese women. Their dresses consisted of an ankle length smock slit up to the waist and underneath were pantaloons, in a vividly contrasting colour, which were visible as they walked.

Longhouse terrace.

A cooling swim with the native boys in the swiftly flowing river was welcome before being entertained to dinner. The evening in the long house was spent in conversation in a covered communal corridor that ran the length of the front of the house, with doors to the accommodation behind. The headman had been well tutored in English and we conversed much of the evening by the light of tiny paraffin lamps, which were placed at intervals along the corridor.

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The Khyber Pass.

The vehicle's suspension (if any) was not resilient and the progress up the Khyber Pass was uncomfortable. This however was nothing compared to the route further up the mountain when the driver appeared to strike out over barren rock, no doubt guided by the scratches of previous journeys. At one stage everyone stood up and on bended knees held the rail of the seat in front as the bus jumped about underneath our feet like an unbroken horse.

Hanging gardens of Babylon

... second class was expensive but the third class was only about 10% of the price. For such a difference, I concluded, I could suffer the discomfort. I realised why there was such a difference as we gathered speed across the desert. The train threw up a fine dust of sand. The first and second class carriages were sealed but the dust seeped through the third class until it was not possible to see more than half way down the carriage. The dust settled on everything and all the occupants became yellow from head to foot.

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View over Golden Horn.

I had some curious travel companions on the journey from Syria to Turkey. The train was full of men wearing immaculate new suits. The incongruity lay in the unshaven chins and collars without a tie. On reaching the border, the Turkish customs boarded the train and ordered all the men to take their suitcases off the train, with the exception of me. What was different about me I wondered.

Other topics in this article - as for photographs.

Photographs supporting this article.


Hong Kong


S Vietnam.



Sarawak, N Borneo.


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