May 092015

Hippie Trail and a restored Volkswagen Kombi

Chalo lets us continue our love affair with nostalgia, this time from remembering old scooters let us go the Volkswagen Kombi, that literally carried a whole generation from Europe and beyond all the way to Kathmandu via countries like Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, crossing into Pakistan and then India.

A whole subculture of Hippies developed in isolated pockets like Goa, Manali, Chitral and Kathmandu etc. Not just in Hollywood and Europe there were movies dedicated to the same even in India with Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman playing brother and sister in Hare Rama Hare Krishna.

I got to learn a bit about the Volkswagen Kombi first hand when desi Traveler featured French traveler couple Sebastian and Soize, who were traveling around the world in their Volkswagen Kombi. Ever since then every time I see a Volksagen Kombi I get a bit of nostalgic and guess what of all the places where did I find the most charming Kombi in the world ? The Volkswagen Kombi had many advantages for the long haul trips it made from Europe to the Hashish producing centers after it crossed the Bosphorus strait  and entered Turkey, then continued either for a short detour to Jordan to one of its many attractions like Red Sea port of Aqaba, Dead Sea or Petra, but then they will continue route to Iran, then Afghanistan and Pakistan finally entering India where places like Chitral , Manali and Goa welcomed them with open arms and pots of pot. Finally the trail ended in Kathmandu where most of the hippies will just laze around after the long journey. All through this arduous journey they will travel mostly in Volkswagen Kombi, some will own it, some rent and some were just carrying the same to be sold in black market never to be taken back to Europe.  It is not uncommon in former Hippie heavens like Goa in India to find old Kombi, gathering rust in some remote bungalow or parked near a beach shack.

But I had no idea that some of the Volkswagen Kombis travelled as far as Thailand, I am not sure if they continued though the land route or were specially imported just like a common car would be. Though it is a bit difficult for me to think of a Combi as a common car imported in a ship in the boring way.

Volkswagen Kombi thailand food van

A retired Volkswagen Kombi called Love Cocktail @Samui

I was traveling to the tropical island paradise Koh Samui in the Bay of Thailand when one day we decided to stop at a mall to do some shopping and guess what right at the entrance of the shopping complex Central Festival Samui- stood the most eclectic of redone Kombi with its trademark

Volkswagen Kombi thailand

I loved the colors, the mock-tails and the reflection in the water of the Volkswagen Kombi

Though retired from its tough life of going on long transcontinental trips, the Kombi was still not willing to give up on life and still occupied the central stage. Dressed in colorful neons and painted with mock tail glasses it was inviting us to try some delicious Thai street food and drinks made from various fruits, like  grapes and assorted grains like barley and wheat.

Aptly named Love Cocktail @Samui the Kombi cum food van cum open bar was an instant crowd puller and I had to wait for these hurried up pictures, as the Kombi food van was never without customers.

Suggested reading about Hippie Trail

Check my earlier posts about Amazing Thailand here:

Note: I  was in Amazing Thailand on invitation from TAT New Delhi

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  4 Responses to “A Volkswagen Kombi in Koh Samui”

Comments (4)
  1. What used to be the RV of the yesteryears. I remember reading a news story last year that said VW was stopping production of these campers. 🙁 They are a happy sight.

    My little boy also has one of these as a toy, thanks to Disney for creating Filmore. 🙂

    • They were fun, now mostly you find them being used as something else and rarely for traveling. I hope to restore one and travel around one day 🙂

  2. so attractive 🙂

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