Reading the original Lonely Planet "Across Asia on the Cheap" (1975)
I enjoy backpacking greatly and I often use the Lonely Planet’s travel guides to do so. I read Maureen and Tony Wheeler’s history of how they came to write the first Lonely Planet in which they tell how they travelled from London to Australia. This made me curious to read the original guide from 1975 and it turns out the electronic version is available freely on Amazon. Here are my thoughts on it:
- Many countries back then turned you away at the border, if you looked like a hippie.
- There’s a lot of talk about where to get the best dope.
- Bali was back then a real island paradise.
- The change of which parts where safe to travel to then and now is quite drastic. Back then, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan were safe to go to. People thought of them as a little boring and mostly rushed through. But Kabul, especially, was exciting. Again, mostly for the drugs. Compare that to Southeast Asia back then, were it was only safe to go to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Burma.
- Nowadays, the guides are more careful with their language.
- Prices in nominal terms seem to be ridiculously cheap to us, but in real terms they were also very cheap.
- Selling blood was a good source of income while travelling. Kuwait had the highest prices. Is this still the case?
- The highway through Yugoslavia (the “Autoput”) was what my father told be about it: quite dangerous.
- Money and communication were a much, much bigger hassle back then.