Coming from China or read our previous visit to Pakistan
23/4/97 A bit of an anticlimax now to be heading back down after yesterday. Sust to Gilgit. Seeing mountains and glaciers from a different direction is like seeing them for the first time.
24/4/97 Settled and resting in Gilgit for a couple of days to recover from constant day after day travel is great. Went to see the local polo match played on a field surrounded by stone walls which prevent the puck from leaving the area. Very spirited play.
25/4/97 Another relax day in Gilgit talking with other travellers and a short ride out north of the town. The food here is wonderful. Dried apricots, almonds and pistachio nuts all locally grown, also fried chicken in a tomato and onion sauce with hot fresh naan bread can't be beaten. More meat and not as spicy hot as India. They also have a nice cucumber and curd salad. If I rest much longer, I will be fat.
26/4/97 Two days of rest is all I can handle so it is off to Besham with a diversion to look at the Nanga Parbit massif. It drops 7000m on the north face, in steps, and a sheer 4500m drop to the south east, where no snow sticks. A very impressive mountain. Otherwise a slow meander stopping at villages for rests and to look at their lifestyle.
27/4/97 Besham to Chakwal via Islamabad. After leaving the desert region of the KKH, it was a welcome sight , the greenery and pine area down south. A catch up on who was going where at the Islamabad Tourist Camp and on to Chakwal for the night. There have been many problems with people obtaining Iranian visas since the German courts condemned Iranian officials over the murder of Kurdish leaders in Germany. Also it is unclear what reception tourists may get in Iran if they get in. People are still travelling to the border but I have met no-one coming from Iran since the problem developed.
28/4/97 Chakwal to Lahore via the Salt Range. An area of water trapped by the two land masses of Asia and India which subsequently dried leaving enormous deposits of salt. The range itself is quite unspectacular but it's history is fascinating.
29,30/4/97 Two days of relax, sightseeing, clean bike, minor maintenance and getting ready to cross to Iran. Kay is flying back to Australia and I am continuing on to Greece.
1/5/97 Despite leaving at 11 am, after seeing Kay off, there was no traffic on the road. May Day holiday. A great advantage as I was travelling the main Lahore - Karachi road to Multan. A patchy road with some excellent sections of divided highway. I attempted to stop the night at Khanewal but while there someone threw a piece of fruit at my motorcycle. It was definitely intentional as the locals stopped to see my reaction. I left to stay in much more friendly Multan for the night. It is a shame that one negative action can undo many positive reactions in a country, making you suspicious and nervous, particularly as the Lonely Planet refers to southern Pakistan as tribal and lawless
2/5/97 Multan to Rakhini via D. G. Khan. I managed to buy the worst petrol this trip in D. G. Khan, it must be almost all kerosene the way the motorcycle is running and my 10 litres purchased somehow became about 8.5 litres in the tank. After the bad fuel came two flooded creek crossings. It has been raining in this area for two days. The first was OK, fast flowing, leaning the motorcycle into it like a tight corner. The second was fast and deep, 40 cm and hitting the motorbike on the right side building up deeper. With the exhausts and air filter under water and me trying to manoeuvre over river rocks, I expected the bike to stall at any moment but she plodded through even with the shitty fuel. Then a steady climb up the mountain road, really a single lane half sealed goat track. It was here I realized the rear tyre was half flat and leaking air despite the liquid sealant inside. It's no fun on a rough winding mountain road with no air in the rear tyre. I managed to limp into Rakhini, 30 km, and use the tubeless plugs I had. It was now 6 pm. Again my guide book calls this section the robbers road, not to be caught out after dark. An interesting day.
3/5/97 After checking the tyre in the morning, it had gone down slightly and I found two more nails, probably picked up when riding with the tyre under inflated. I hoped with the liquid sealant they would not be a problem. The road to Lorelai was quite good and the hospitality amazing. It is custom to offer tea to strangers and I accepted many offers. One tea place, the owner had a piece of paper from each foreigner spanning back several years, detailing where they were from, how they were travelling etc. I added another paper to the pile. Whilst the tribal people are incredibly hospitable, they all carry rifles and I wouldn't like to cross them or get into an argument.
4/5/97 Ziarat and Quetta on the worst road for a while. Almost 180 km of dirt but they are currently working on it. The modern nomads in this area have tractors and large trailers, moving in groups of 12 or more tractors with everything in the trailers - animals, wives, children, firewood, house materials, food, etc. They chase the grass for the animals and cultivate areas if there has been enough rain. Nearer to Ziarat and the largest Juniper forest in the world and tribes people live in low walled stone houses with bark roofs. Both groups allowed me to take photos but neither would let me get within 100m of the women. Nor would the women look in my direction.
5/5/97 Rest day in Quetta and the rear tyre had gone down, removed one nail and inserted a plug. The rural hospitality extended to the city but inviting someone to tea became a problem. Because I was the guest they must pay. This protocol was so strict that if they did not have the funds they would not have tea despite my profuse offers to pay.
6/5/97 Off to the Iran border, first day to Dalbandin through some of the most inhospitable country. The wind was blowing and sand covered most of the road in places. While stopped for a rest next to a waterhole, I noticed a group of women and girls bringing a herd of donkeys to water. Not having seen women here in the open before and without men, I was interested in their reaction to me. But as they approached, a man materialized from nowhere keeping my attention while some women watered the donkeys and left. Such is the close watch men in this area keep on their wives and women.
7/5/97 Taftan and the Iranian border. 320 km of excellent road and there by 11.15 am. For a motorcycle the Quetta - Taftan road is very good, but being single lane with potholes, it is not so good for the two motorhomes I met on the way. Petrol is also better, coming now from Iran and if purchased from 44 gallon drums on the roadside, it is cheaper (10-11 Rupees) as the tax is not paid. The cross wind again ferocious, I guess about 40 knots, as I could hardly stand and the motorcycle was leaning as if in a tight corner. The sand stinging my face from the side and I was wondering how the air filter was coping. Each time a truck passed it would block the wind and drag me towards the truck, no fun on a single lane road. Twenty kilometres from the border, the tyre spat the third nail, so much for the sealant inside the tyre, flat within seconds. Another plug and this time pumped up by hand with a bicycle pump I carry, 600 pumps, good for the biceps. Less than 20 minutes and rolling again. Easy border crossing, usual, less than two hours and only a cursory search of the motorcycle.
Pakistan Summary. Petrol 18-19Rp per litre, good and bad depending on how much kerosene has been mixed. If you have an enricher not a choke it can help the situation by increasing the amount of fuel to air mix. The roads range from very good to non-existent and traffic from steady stream of never ending trucks to no-one. Food was basic but nourishing and the scenery incredibly varied from irrigated farmlands to deserts, desert mountains and snowy peaks. The best part was the people if treated politely they respond politely, are generous, hospitable and because so few tourists the usual over charging and rip offs are rare. The big minus, women are no where to be seen and it is almost impossible to find out by observing anything about their lives. Costs about $A 12 per day for petrol, accommodation and food.
Move with me to Iran or go to our next visit to Pakistan
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