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Southern AsiaTopics specific to Southern Asia, from Iran and Armenia east through Pakistan and India to China / Vietnam / Indonesia.
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Right, so those overlanders were free to travel on their own and they strayed out of the safe road and got kidnapped. Therefore they now enforce an escort to make sure those stupid white guys don't get in harm's way. It all adds up.
We recently crossed from Taftan to Lahore, took us 9 days total but we aren't that fast on the Vespa (two people on one 125cc). The processing time for the NOC was 1 day. The route was from Quetta to Sukkur then up to Lahore. Had escorts almost the whole time, they disappeared for 30 km here and there, and then had no one from Sukkur to Sadiqabad. We were told the recent deviations to Karachi were due to the September flooding in the region close to Jacobabad. Also met a guy who tried to cross the short route on his own to Lahore through Loralai and he was fired at by some 'Taliban', (luckily he turned around and wasn't hurt).
Generally, I found Iran & Pakistan quite safe. The only thing is that from Pakistani border in Mir Javeh or Taftan you will be accompanied by some security guys that will slow down your trip considerably and some times foce you into staying where they want. However, it could be fun too. You will not be allowed to go wherever you want. We could not go from Quetta to Islam Abad as you need a permission and it´s not given to overlanders. So we had to head for Lahore and we were escorted till Multan. In some cities we had problems finding a hotel as they were told to inform the police and the police would take you the hotels that they would consider safe and we would consider expensive. But in Quetta there was no problem at all and in the rest of country either except for Karakoram highway that due to some ethnic problems we were not given permission to continue either. Anyway it was to snowy and cold to be on the road.
Pakistanis are very nice and friendly although camping will be a bit difficult in populated areas as you will never be alone. The emptiest part is the Baluchistan, where it will be only you, your bike and maybe the escort.
We crossed Balochistan December 2012 and I was not too convinced about the work of security organizations there. In Iran the escorting was mostly theater. What can one serviceman do if he has to hitchhike on a truck.
In Pakistani side same thing continued. Levies escorted us with mopeds in the villages and we rode long distances without them. I don´t think that bad guys are waiting you in the desert. But if there´s not proper escort, why do they make us to wait and get attention at checkpoints ?
Ok, I don´t have the intelligence data which they have, but after fast car escort from Dalbandin we had to wait so much that night came before Quetta, and we had to spend a night in check point. They we´re very hospitable, captain even gave his own room for us.
When we we´re in Quetta there was a hand grenade incident in bar, two got killed and after some weeks this major blast in billiards hall so you never know...
Officers in Foreign and tribal affairs office promised car escort all the way to Jacobabad when we applied LOI´s. In reality we rode through Bolan pass without and even military asked in their checkpoint how we can be there alone...
And even if you have the escorts... Bad guys shoot levies in Mastung after one week we we´re there.
I guess that is because lack of resources. We had very effective and fast escort in Punjab which is one of the safest and most peaceful places in whole country and you really don´t need escorting.
Crossing from Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan to India over China
We plan to travel by own car over Iran and Pakistan to India (we are pair), but based on news from yesterday about two kidnapped Czech girls we have decided to change plans and get to India thru China.
Please does anybody have experiences with crossing of China from Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan? We have heard about high fees for attributed guide in China but don t know where to find some details about this area.
I agree, if it really happened on the main road between Taftan and Quetta (that´s how I read from that link), then it is very bad news indeed, and should probably be put as a new thread in the "Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road"-section as well.
"The incident happened some 100 km (60 miles) east of the Iranian border in the province of Baluchistan at around 6:30 p.m"
That´s right about sunset over there, and it is common knowledge to NOT travel in the dark there.. and if the location is correct, that is still about 2-2,5 hours away from Dalbandin, the next village of any size. I don´t know what they were doing there at that hour.
Previous security related issues, that foreigners have had in Pakistan, have almost always happened somewhere else than on that main road, that the authorities guide overlanders to follow (usually Taftan-Quetta-Sukkur-Multan-Lahore).
I don´t think that´s possible for a foreigner. Those countries have less than friendly relationships, and you´d be entering the disputed Kashmir region. Travellers go Kyrgyzstan-China-(Karakoram Highway)-Pakistan. To get into China you will need a guide, but the topic is widely discussed on this very site.
Difficult to defend/avoid targeted kidnapping when there is only one road, and the ransom outweighs any risk to the kidnappers. A real risk for all travellers, especially if the bad boys get away with it time after time, kidnappings will increase
I do regularly Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan & China overland but in a contracted tour with a Chinese guide. We have been trying to get permissions to get some bikes and permits to China to do a motorbike tour in China, Nepal and Tibet. In the end we decided to do it over an agency and with their own bikes instead of ours. If you need to know the name of the 2 agencies I normally contact plz let me know. For crossing Pamir highway in Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan you have to make sure that it´s summer and the borders are open both ways. As some times it´s only 1 way traffic! You can check some info about the border crossing on my blog at Country info in Central Asia, Silk Road, China, Pakistan & Iran | Not Just a Tourist
As for the danger in Pakistan, I guess if you go with your own vehicle and don´t drive at night it won´t be a problem. But you never know. This is actually the easiest, fastest and less problematic way (if they don´t take you hostage of course) to get to India over Iran & Pakistan. You might be able also to take a ship from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Dubai and then India or even maybe directly from Bandar Abbas to India (I have not tried this option).
visa procedures may vary
security situations may be little tough in some places, but still people are ling evry whr, if its tought you wld be supported by excorts or any other possible support.
but again thats not the issue that you enter a disputed kashmir without any alarm or you face . . . .
thousands of tourists cross pakistan, most of them after feb to oct, specially to enjoy north. otherwise from iran, pakistan india or if roads are not covered with snow some from iran to pakistan to china too
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