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15 000 miles to go. By bus.
September 17, 2007 3:42 AM   Subscribe

The first OzBus left London last night. A latter day Magic Bus, the new service will cover 15 000 miles in 12 weeks and cross 20 countries before reaching it's destination. Follow one pasenger's journey here.
posted by brautigan (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I want to do this! I hate buses. I still want to do this!
posted by knapah at 4:04 AM on September 17, 2007


Mt. Everest base camp!
That's a heck of a bus.
posted by MtDewd at 4:05 AM on September 17, 2007


This is insane. I love it.
posted by liquorice at 4:06 AM on September 17, 2007


This is rad.
posted by Tullius at 4:07 AM on September 17, 2007


This would be awesome... on one's own. I'm not sure being forced in a bus would be the best way to enjoy all these awesome places.
posted by shokod at 4:12 AM on September 17, 2007


Man, that looks like an ordeal. 12 weeks on a bus? Starting around week 8 regrets will be high, and they'll keep right on growing.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:22 AM on September 17, 2007


Are we there yet?
posted by oh pollo! at 4:28 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It would be more fun in a nuclear-powered bus.
posted by MtDewd at 4:58 AM on September 17, 2007


Well, you should have gone before we left.
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 4:59 AM on September 17, 2007


just a kontiki tour on weak steroids - ie travel for people who cannot work it out for themselves, and prefer to be shunted around in a bus with people just like themselves.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


duties will include steering the party across some of the toughest borders in the world: Turkey-Iran, Pakistan-India and Nepal-Tibet.

that's gotta be the lamest list of tough borders i've ever heard.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 AM on September 17, 2007


There's a similar bus which goes end-to-end in Africa. That was all rigged out with specialist gear for setting up an effectively mobile field kitchen type deal.

UbuRoivas - harsh much? From the Independent story linked to, there's a real cross-section of ages and social backgrounds aboard, including one Australian chap who's moving back there after 25 years in London. I get really, really tired of the assumption that any people who don't go somewhere else in the world as free! independent! travellers! are teh greyfaced sheeple tourists in nylon travel jackets and silly wide-brimmed hats. Especially when the pony-tailed backpacker contingent cluster together in grotty hostels, get drunk and try to impress each other in the hope of a lay every night. Your choice of company, mode of transport and luggage doesn't make you any more or less a 'real traveller'.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:11 AM on September 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oh, I forgot this is wear we bow down to Ubu and his travel-weary wisdom. It's like "Get Off My Lawn!" for tourists who take the road more travelled or something. Sorry we don't all spend three months trekking through the Himalayas with nothing but a donkey blanket to protect us!
posted by liquorice at 5:13 AM on September 17, 2007


just a kontiki tour on weak steroids - ie travel for people who cannot work it out for themselves, and prefer to be shunted around in a bus with people just like themselves.

Yeah, I hate poseur travelers who can't figure out the details of London to Sydney on their own.

Yeah, this is gimmicky, but I don't see any reason to shit all over someone who wants to do this. I imagine there could be a great communal experience for the travelers. And Pakhistan-India isn't hard-core enough for you? Sorry, not everyone is Indiana Jones.
posted by bluejayk at 5:15 AM on September 17, 2007


I like how the website makes it sound as if the company has been running for years and there are many lessons they've learned from all the many tours they've run.

I had the same Contiki thought (though bush camping does seem a little different than drinking in your hostel bar all night long).

And yet, I found myself calculating how much money I have and when I can get it together to fly from Mexico to London and do this. So, when's the Metafilter trip scheduled for? I spend enough time with you guys already; a 20 week bus trip would be nothing.
posted by mosessis at 5:16 AM on September 17, 2007


that's gotta be the lamest list of tough borders i've ever heard.

Your favourite tough border sucks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:18 AM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


The 1970's journal entries on the Magic Bus linky-link are also very readworthy btw.
posted by brautigan at 5:18 AM on September 17, 2007


meh, whatever. good luck to them.

Especially when the pony-tailed backpacker contingent cluster together in grotty hostels, get drunk and try to impress each other in the hope of a lay every night.

those kinds suck too. avoid 'em like the plague.

And Pakhistan-India isn't hard-core enough for you? Sorry, not everyone is Indiana Jones.

we're talking about the wagah border, right? the toughest thing there - apart from all the forms in triplicate - is preventing yourself from dying of laughter.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 AM on September 17, 2007


I'm sure some would find it a great experience. Sounds like my idea of hell though... have you seen the bus they use!! 2 hours in a cinema has my knees crying out for a bit of space.
posted by twistedonion at 5:25 AM on September 17, 2007


actually, iran to turkey (not vice versa) was quite an ordeal. the turks shut down for lunch, and we had to wait in a room for an hour for the visa booth to re-open. there were no windows, and i only had half a kilo of walnuts & dried mulberries to tide me over....hard times, hard times.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:28 AM on September 17, 2007


actually, iran to turkey (not vice versa) was quite an ordeal. the turks shut down for lunch, and we had to wait in a room for an hour for the visa booth to re-open. there were no windows, and i only had half a kilo of walnuts & dried mulberries to tide me over....hard times, hard times.

This type of smug 'oh, the things these tired eyes have scene' bullshit is ten times as annoying as sandal wearing Lonely Planet devotees trying to simultaneously get laid and find the 'real' Malaysia/India/Ecuador.
posted by bluejayk at 5:43 AM on September 17, 2007


Well I hope it's a RouteMaster and they pick up all kinds of craaaazzzy people on the way...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:48 AM on September 17, 2007


sorry, bluejayk, but the article (thankfully, not the company itself) was the one that hyped up normal, totally ordinary border crossings as "some of the toughest in the world". that totally deserves a WTF comment. getting into australia is a million times tougher. the only reason they called those ones 'tough' is, presumably, because the places sound exotic, and - more likely - the journalist had no idea what they were talking about.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:52 AM on September 17, 2007


All these people are interested in today is how much foreign currency they can lay their hands on, and the old traditions are all dying out.

For example, gone are the days when you could count on a Turkish border guard to bugger some Western hippie, Midnight Express stylee, for having the audacity to try and enter the country with his long hair and his tight, young buns. Not only did you get a colourful story to tell the folks back home, you got a damn good assraping into the bargain.

I miss the old days...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:53 AM on September 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


It probably would be pretty ghastly. Most travellers (never tourists!) are far more interested in themselves than they are in the places they visit. And Backpackistan is the same whether you're in India, Indonesia or on the Inca trail.

My girlfriend and I used to play a game when we were travelling. See if you could get someone to tell you their entire life story before they asked your name. Eventually we gave up - it was too easy.
posted by rhymer at 6:01 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


rhymer puts the golden rule of travel in a nutshell: one is always completely switched-on & with it, whilst everybody else is an idiot, reducible to a laughable stereotype. the flipside is that everybody else feels exactly the same way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:09 AM on September 17, 2007


No this is cool. I've traveled alone and I've traveled in groups (with strangers) - group travel is very rewarding. You forge common life-long experiences and can make lasting friends. The solo vagabond hostel travel life is great, but people are in and out of your life pretty rapidly. A tour like this has more depth, socially. Also, it's nearly 3 months to cover 15,000 miles which works out to about 160 miles a day, not exactly living on the bus all day long.
posted by stbalbach at 6:09 AM on September 17, 2007


Far out! Glad to hear people are traveling overland again.

Did most of this trip in 1975 and looked a lot like the pic included in the link. From Paxos, Western Greece, hitched pretty much all the way to Afghanistan, bussed from there to Pakistan. Trained across Pakistan to the Indian, hitched up to Kashmir. Worst border definitely between Iran and Afghanistan, where the corrupt official, eyeing my ass wouldn't let me cross unless he supposedly inoculated me (or else I'd be put in quarantine he said). Crossing the Attari Road border between Pakistan and India (a cinch), fell in love with India and after a 6 month stint back in the USA to make money, returned to India and didn't leave for a decade.

In the olde days the BIT overland guide from London to Sydney was the thing to have.
posted by nickyskye at 6:10 AM on September 17, 2007


I am like, totally, britneyfied ! There's the LOLposeurs saying they can't organize a 10Km trip to Sydney so they can't probably find their asshole, the LOLPonytails having envious fit of people having fun while being wasted (the two go well togheter, you now) , the couple making fun of people feeling so alone they spell their bank account before their name, and there's me the armchair psycologist grandasting and yakking. Obviously none of the above ever did such a trip.

Who needs a trippy trainwreck smelly trip to Sydney, when we have a team like this !
posted by elpapacito at 6:14 AM on September 17, 2007


Travellers are such bitches.
posted by brautigan at 6:14 AM on September 17, 2007


No! No! I was different of course.

Seriously though. There's nothing worse than going somewhere really remote and finding it full of twats like yourself.
posted by rhymer at 6:16 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Because I don't see it mentioned yet: The Long Way Round.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2007


You know, it seemed like such a cool idea before I started thinking about body odor. I'm guessing showers are infrequent during periods of camping in the bush, and one (many) is bound to run out of deodorant sometime before the end of the trip, and I doubt deodorant is easy to come by in some of these remote stops on the tour. I don't think I could hack it on a bus with a bunch of stinky people for 12 weeks.
posted by birdlady at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2007


I was traveling through Mongolia some years ago with a group of friends who suddenly had to leave me. Tired of the usual tourist traps and tacky souvenir shops, i hailed a cap and asked the driver to take me somewhere i could get a real sense of the country's heart and soul, somewhere i belonged.

Two and a half hours up the road he dropped me off in a vast wilderness that i later recognized as the Great Gobi Desert. A few days later when i collapsed from hunger and severe heat stroke i realized it was one of the most authentic travel experiences i'd ever had. Unforgettable!!!
posted by ItsaMario at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2007


Jesus christ that sounds like a blast.
posted by notsnot at 7:05 AM on September 17, 2007



Follow one pasenger's journey here.

I often Scoff at Tourists constantly checking their email at internet cafes, desperate to stay in touch with home. When i leave on a trip i tell my family and friends that they wont be hearing from me for months.

And you know what?

They've never complained!
posted by ItsaMario at 7:06 AM on September 17, 2007


ItsaMario, that's gotta to be the lamest Great-Gobi-Desert wilderness I've ever heard.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:08 AM on September 17, 2007


Yeah, looks fun and all, but I'm still holding out for my goddam jetpack!
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:50 AM on September 17, 2007


I am generally against coach travel. Not because I've ever done it. My late grandmother did a lot of it-- her and her friends traveled as great groups of old people on an air-conditioned bus and saw all the great sights of Europe, the US and Canada at 60 mph. It sounded slightly cool to me, but mostly not as much fun as it should.

And now I contrast it with the travel I've done. I've lived out of an internal frame pack, hitch-hiked and slept in hostels. I've slept on friends' floors from Oxford to Helsinki to Tashkent. And in contrast, I've rented nice cars, stayed in excellent hotels and ate in nice restaurants while my wife and I carefully mapped out the days to come. And I have loved all the traveling I've done, whether I was dirty and broke and making small-talk with transients or freshly showered with full pockets talking to other folks like me.

None of that gives me the authority to make proclamations about coaching holidays. But I do have The Knowledge-- I worked as a porter and a bartender in a hotel that catered to bus tours. I carried your bags, coach tourists. I served you pints and babychams and listened to your stories. I've gotten totally plastered with coach drivers and heard their stories too. And I would almost certainly NEVER take a bus tour. The safe generalization about bus tours is that they're for people who want to see things they've read about, without having to adapt to anything.

The OzBus seems like it has nothing in common with a bus tour/coaching holiday. These people want some adventure. They're going to get some. And I would never do the OzBus either, but not because it's a bus tour-- I just don't want to do anything for that long.

The point is that I know what a capital bee tee Bus Tour is, OzBus isn't it, and people comparing its patrons to elderly people herded off the bus to gawk at L'Obelisque for three minutes are very wrong. A Bus Tour, unlike the OzBus, might be the opposite of adventure.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


tourists... with their "Watney's Red Barrell" (/pythonfilter)
posted by anthill at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2007


Let's hope they don't just end up as 'human shields' in Iran.
posted by Flashman at 9:26 AM on September 17, 2007


I've lived out of a sea bag for the past year and a half. I wash my clothes at the church on Sundays before service. This would be a pleasant upgrade.

Sandle-wearing hippies aside - this seems like it would be kind of fun. Also, I would add (and I don't know if this is meaningful or important but it's true) that "travel" takes on an entirely new meaning when you don't have a home to return to.

I'm moving to Bethlehem in February - today I was talking to my boss and he wanted to know where I'd be living. And I realized that I was totally planning on just doing the same thing that I do now, which is hanging around until someone shows up with a couch I can mooch for a night. (I also have a really great tent). This past year has really taught me that you don't even need to leave your hometown to have an amazing, life-changing "travel" experience. Just sell you house and all your shit. You will be amazed at the stuff you learn.

Unless, you know, you have kids or something. Don't do it if you have kids.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I spend enough time with you guys already; a 20 week bus trip would be nothing

..except getting a post deleted means being abandoned by the side of the road.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:06 PM on September 17, 2007


Mayor Curley: this would be somewhere halfway between a bus tour & adventure travel. They've been running these kinds of big overland things across the Middle East to Africa for ages. Pretty much like a Kontiki tour (young Aussies, Kiwis & South Africans getting pissed together & shagging each other through the major sights of Europe), but in a big military-style half-bus, half-truck thing referred to as the shaggin-wagon.

The itinerary looks fun, if a bit rushed, and no doubt there would be adventure activities thrown in - a camel safari, perhaps, maybe a night in a tent under the stars & some white-water rafting, but otherwise it almost certainly would be like the seniors being shunted from tourist sight to chosen restaurant to chosen hotel. Little scope to explore for oneself, even less to change the itinerary on the fly. Safe, planned & coccooned.

Having said that, It's great if people get to visit places they would otherwise not want to do on their own, but the group mentality & lack of freedom would have me running a mile from this kind of thing. Each to their own, I guess.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:32 PM on September 17, 2007


(De turistibus non est disputandum)
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:46 PM on September 17, 2007


Those of you that like this kind of story should get a copy of the readable and amusing Top Deck Daze. A double-decker bus touring company that travelled from England to Australia in the early 70s and was the beginnings of the Flight Centre travel company. They're having another reunion in a couple of days.
posted by tellurian at 6:08 PM on September 17, 2007


There was a company that used to do this (and similar ones of epic length in Africa and South America and everybloodywhere) back in my glory days of wandering in the late '80s/early 90's, but for the life of me I can't remember the name.

I often thought about doing one of them, but I was always a solo budget traveller (with friends and co-travelers in rotating co-star spots, usually), stopping when I ran out of cash wherever I was to find work, and never had enough money upfront to pay for one of the Grand Tours, which were pricey. Probably for the best, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:55 AM on September 18, 2007


What a bunch of wusses, what about a gentle 36,000 mile 7 year stroll from Chile to London?
posted by Damienmce at 2:37 AM on September 18, 2007


Damienmce thats gotta be the lamest Goliath Expedition I've ever heard.
posted by ItsaMario at 2:48 AM on September 18, 2007


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