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Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail From Istanbul to India

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  227 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of young westerners in search of enlightenment blazed the “hippie trail” that ran through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Nepal. Forty years later, Rory MacLean revisits the trail, where he encounters the tie-dyed veterans who never made it home, meets locals reaping the rewards and regrets of westernization, an ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Ig Publishing (first published January 1st 2006)
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As someone who travels as lifestyle, I'm enchanted by stories of the overland journey from Turkey to Kathmandu which hundreds of thousands of young Europeans and Americans embarked upon in the 1960s and 1970s. For such an amazing scene, there are remarkably few books about it. I picked up Rory Maclean's MAGIC BUS hoping to learn more about those halcyon days of hippies and seekers. Unfortunately, the book was a disappointment.

Maclean traveled over the trail himself after Afghanistan was opened a
Jul 23, 2011 Charity rated it it was ok
The book's writing was fine and the material was interesting, but for some reason I just didn't like it. I think the author was just kind of dry and I didn't really like him throughout the book. I can't put my finger on it but to me he seemed kind of condescending. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy learning about the counterculture of the 60s, as well as any Overland trail veterans. Just because I didn't care for the book doesn't mean that someone else won't like it either.
Hit or miss. Some of the old tales from the “intrepids” who traversed the hippie trail in the '60s are pretty fun, especially considering what weirdos they've turned into since the dream of that decade got Nixon'd and Manson'd and Thatcher'd into oblivion. When MacLean is simply interviewing people and documenting his travels, he's a passionate and intelligent storyteller. But when he tries to ascribe any actual social value to the hippie trail-- that it brought liberating Eastern spirituality t ...more
Michael Andersen-Andrade
I traveled the "hippie trail" from Istanbul to India in the mid 1970's and I was looking forward to reading this account. Sadly the book is terribly written and full of cliches. It's a "journey" you'll want to miss.
Catherine Heath
I've decided to start reviewing every book I read, and 'Magic Bus' by Rory Maclean happens to be the first installment of this trend.

The colourful bookjacket caught my eye on a charity shop shelf in the old Elephant and Castle. Many days later I returned during the opening hours of the shop to purchase its golden form but unfortunately it was missing from the window display.

A short delve into the collection of books at the shop soon revealed it was still there, and I started reading it immedia
Feb 15, 2016 Beth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone recommended a movie to me called the magic bus and when I didn't find it, I took this book out of the Library. The author's premise was to travel the path that the 60's hippies took from Turkey through Iran, onto Afghanistan and farther east while finding out from those who lived in these places where the hippies had gone if hippie travels had changed their landscape or culture.

So Rory talked to people who lived in the places and got invited into homes.
He described places and what was s
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Big regret of my life was that I was too young to be a real hippie. At least that is what I’ve always thought. But the more books I read about hippies, the less interesting they are. Turns out, it seems, most people who went off to become hippies either (1) quickly realized the search was futile or (2) are still out there somewhere, probably sitting in the park in San Francisco waiting for their next high.

Maclean follows the road the hippies traveled to see what is there now and what hippies ar
Louise Armstrong
I was interested in this because I caught the Magic Bus to Athens once, - it took a week from London. It was cheap, which was why we took it, and a girlfriend and I spent a few weeks in the caves at Matala in Crete. And it's this nostalgia the author tries to tap in to. Not very successfully in my opinion because he doesn't know what he thinks. Very modern.

I think it was AA Gill, who is a superb travel writer, who pointed out that it's not enough to go on a trip, you have to know what you think
Feb 17, 2014 Rj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rory MacLean's Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail from Istanbul to India (Brooklyn: Ig Publishing, 2009) is an odd book to categorize. It is part travelogue, part oral history and part journalism. In short segmented chapters MacLean travels not only the trail but in the process discovers former travellers revisiting their own pasts. His writing brings to life the magic of the world that called out to those who traveled along the old Silk Road and he questions how they were influenced and influenced ...more
David Ward
Magic Bus: On the Hippie Trail From Istanbul to India by Rory MacLean (Penguin Books 2007)(910+/-). It sounds like a great tale of drug taking and depravity, but the book was a serious bummer. The author attempts to be Castenada-like and even features a made-up guide. The book has a great looking cover, but the inside is a disappointment. My rating; 2.5/10, finished 2008.
Dec 27, 2008 Dan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Quite shallow and superficial; I expected much more from this book. The author comes off as a real jerk, making sure to belittle the old hippies he meets in his travels by suggesting that their good memories are a product of drug intoxication. Marked by what seems to this layman to be poor editing and a frustratingly disjointed writing style. Read Karma Cola instead.
Dec 29, 2014 Helen rated it it was ok
This book just didn't do it for me. I found myself questioning a lot of the people the author supposedly met along the trail, like Penny, the burnt out hippie chick trying to reclaim the trail of her youth. She seemed like such a cliche I couldn't help but question whether or not she'd been made up. The writing is pretty dry as well. A disappointment.
Jul 20, 2016 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
honestly quite boring at times...but wow...lots of different perspectives on history, politics, culture... so, not all bad. quite a heavy read. i'm glad i read it but i'd most likely not read it again. but great effort by the author, not easy researching and trying to replicate the hippie trail, as evidenced by the book's contents.
Feb 28, 2012 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful reading although the chapter on the American army base in Afghanistan kind of made this book lose its magic - all too real and all too 2012. I definately need some sort of closure with this book. What happened to Penny and all the other characters? Would love to see a Part II to this book.
mano manoj
back then the earth was unexplored ....the hippie way to travel lonely planet guides no packaged everything is so neatly packed it just took the nirvana out of is no longer about discovery or exploring...its just another job
Natalia Pì
May 04, 2015 Natalia Pì rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india, turkey, asia, nonfiction, uk
very good book about the Hippie Trail in the 60's, and the countries it ran through. it is very well-written, and the writer tries to strike a balance between telling stories from the past and retracing that, and trying to understand the countries he is driving through. i think he manages this quite well.

it is interesting to see how, of the countries that were on the trail, some of them - mainly Iran and Afghanistan - basically bear almost no trace at all of the people who passed through them a
Amy Eighttrack
Apr 13, 2013 Amy Eighttrack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, okay. I was a little disappointed. Truth be told, I was looking for stories of drug-taking and depravity.

It did lead me to further research into the hippie phenomenon, in other books. The result? I was already familiar with most of that stuff! It's been exhaustively documented, championed, mystified and rehashed.

And it led me to one telling anecdote of sexism I found on the internet. It made me wonder how much of that got glossed over. A lot, I suspect. (See: http://ephemeralnewyork.word
Shannon Giebelhaus
This book was not what I expected, and perfectly so. Rory remade the hippie trail relevant by including the stories of the magic in the past, as well as the wonders, sometimes terrible landscapes to experience today. Travelling to India in two months, I am ecstatic to have been gifted this book. I feel free to avoid the everyday travel guides with ritzy restaurants or the 'must-sees', and just truly navigate my way following the path of my curiosity as did the Intrepids in the 60's, of course wi ...more
A Canadian travel writer aspires to revisit places that people visited in the 1960's as they traveled from Turkey through Iran and Afghanistan on their way to India. Shares people he encounters and local traditions/history while aspiring to see the places people would have visited along the way. Some swearing. Includes B/W photos at the end and a list of travel books to read.
William Shaw
Feb 12, 2014 William Shaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1960s
A great book in the tradition of Paul Theroux, using personal experience - sometimes possibly fantasised - to create a travelogue which explores the West's orientalist fantasies of LSD and guru-fuelled liberation.
May 06, 2011 Strey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remembering my (elder) brothers' exploits and my pre-conceptions I expected a simple 'travelogue' without any depth or personal involvement/interest. What I got was the complete opposite! With Mr Maclean we lived the life both then & now - with that timespan admirably blurred. His sometimes almost poetic language, brought to life the very personal travel experience he obviously experienced - seemingly bringing him and maybe the reader, to some form of enlightment - of the time then, the stat ...more
Sep 05, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the title (and acid cover) this is certainly not a laid back road trip book. It is really packed with historical and geographic detail, as such I found it really hard work. I really did want to like it as I was using it for research but it never grabbed me and the prose lacked the human touch and insight into fellow travellers I was expecting.
Mar 28, 2008 Colin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Impossible to find but worth it. A great on the road breakdown of the interesection of hippiedom and the Eastern mystique.
Claire Ralphson-cook
I really good read that can make you think about the impact of tourism on local populations. Particularly strong in the chapters on Turkey and Afganistan - but then fades away a bit in India.

Well worth a read!
Irina Callegher
Overall, not one of the best travelogues I've read - both content and writing style left me a bit disappointed. I was expecting to hear more real accounts from the hippies who actually took the trip
An Welsh couple gave me this book in a hotel lobby in Delhi. Amusing, but cheesy in the way travel books can be...a good escape from the polluted roads of Kathmandu on the way out of town.
Laila Zafar
Jan 12, 2013 Laila Zafar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if only i were born in a better time. Where travel, friendship and love transcended borders, visas and color.
One can only dream.
A well written travel book of good days gone past.
Great concept, not that well written. This is nonfiction, but the characters somehow seem shallow and not very believable. Still enjoyed reading it. Makes me want to do some research.
Agustinus Wibowo
this book made me really want to be born in the 60's and experiencing life as hippies. it should be a good read, but some errors in data is rather annoying.
Apr 23, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The traveler and travel writer I aspire to be. Dialogues created in the context of histories of exotic places...a good description of the intrepids.
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Rory MacLean is a Canadian travel writer. He was born in Vancouver and grew up in Toronto, graduating from Upper Canada College and Ryerson University. For ten years he made movies with moderate success, working with David Hemmings and Ken Russell in England, David Bowie in Berlin and Marlene Dietrich in Paris. In 1989 he won The Independent inaugural travel writing competition and changed from sc ...more
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