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Memories of my travels between 1972 and 1982

Sunday, 26 September 2010

September 26th: Peshawar

On September 26th 1978, I was in Peshawar.

I stayed in Peshawar after a great ride from Kabul in a fast bus, sliding through the bends of the Kabul Gorge and wandering the earthy streets of Jalalabad; then I was afforded the view from the top of the Khyber Pass of the line of green in the plain approaching the desert and the hills. Where else to stay, after the Amir Kabir in Teheran and the Green Hotel in Kabul?

The Rainbow Guest House was a world on its own, full of all sorts, freaks and non-freaks, many who had flown direct to Pakistan or India and had not come overland. The better rooms were downstairs, 8 rupees a bed. Upstairs the rooms were 6 rupees and that was where the junkies stayed and those who always chose the cheapest route.  The rooms themselves were OK, quite spacious and airy, a little like the wards in a hospital with 3 or 4 beds, but it could never be an ordinary hotel. For outside was a railway line and a truck repair yard with the brightly painted trucks and constant hammering, and at your feet, inescapably a morass of mud. In many ways this was one of the most characteristic places on the hippie trail.

Beyond was a bright busy city, full of lights and high buildings, incomparably rich after the closed down, almost besieged, gloom of Kabul in the last days before the Russian invasion. I liked the Qissa Khwani, the Bazaar of the Story-tellers and the backstreet souks around it. I found good food, vegetables and dhal, guavas and bananas, garland sellers and wandering holy men, and in the background in the side streets, the mud-built houses of a more traditional Pathan life.

Modern Pakistani Trucks.  Picture by Amir Taj, CC


  1. I also stayed at the Rainbow but one year earlier (Sep to Dec, 1977). Upstairs with the junkies and the freaks - I guess that I was one.
    My 2 friends and I would sell hash to the guests to help pay the bill. We we get about 1 kilo per week from a chicken farmer / hash factory. 1/2 we sold and the other 1/2 we smoked, usually putting about 3-4 grams in a chillum and passing it around the room. Peshawar was a trip. Hippies from all over the world came through there and we had a blast.
    I remember discovering Tolkein by reading the Hobbit up on the roof. Distractions came in the form of gun fire from up and down the tracks. It was really the wild west there.
    Amazed that I can remember any of it - but good memories they are.

  2. I come from France...I was 19 in january I left ...hitchiking to Istambul..then magic bus to Teheran "amir kabir"...Mashad...It's a shame ,I stayed only two weeks in Afghanistan..only the main road Herat , Kandahar , Kabul , Jalalabad, Khyber april 1978 the pro-communist coup ended the golden age ..& soon the war started..that is still going on now....when I came back overland by the same route in june 1978 ..I only could get a transit visa....I remember also that I was short of money & I sold my blood in Kaboul...I remember very well the road going down the Khyber pass & Pehawar bazaars...chappals/sandals typical of that very special place...
    I stayed also at the rainbow guest house in the middle of lorries repairs garage...I remember the evenings there , smoking chilums...unforgettable time!!!...I fell in love with Peshawar & came back several time in the early 80's...took the steam train to Landi Kotal to see Afghanistan through the door of Thorkham border...last time in Peshawar was 1993...I still visit India every 5 years...but I am missing very much Pakistan...hope I will be able to return one day.....thanks for your blog Jacques


  4. In August 1977 i was also in the rainbow guest house for 3 weeks. I was one of thr junkies in the first floor. In 1980 Jesus Christ set me free from heroin and morphin in one moment. Thank you JESUS!! But at this time i was a drug addict from 1972 on. After i bought some black afghan and a lot of morphin in peshawar i went to indai and nepal to stay there fo nearly 3 years...
    today i am a happy married man with 4 children and i thank thank god, that i didnt die in these days..