Michael Eierle - Germany to India, Pakistan and Iran, Germany to Turkey - Pakistan (I)
I crossed the border to Pakistan on the 24.Oct. Needs 2,5 hours, because the Pac-Emigration had a lunch break. Spent the night in Taftan in the PTDC-hotel. You can also pitch a tent there.
The only problem I faced was the dinner. It seems that all the pac-chicken are a little handicapped. I ordered half chicken, but there was no leg or wing on my plate. The taste was excellent.
Next morning I started early. The first 200 Km are four lanes and under new, fantastic condition. After that the road changes to one land only and sometimes half of it is covered with dessert sand. The countryside is fantastic. You"re riding through the dessert and starting in Nashki through the mountains. The road is a bit bumpy. It's a long stretch to do Taftan - Quetta (ca. 650 Km) on one day.
The hotel Bloomstar in Quetta is good, clean choice for 300 Rs (1$ US = around 60 Rs) and you can also pitch a tent. Air pollution is heavy in this busy town. I rode the famous Bolan pass. The description in the Lonely Liar promised more. Serviced the bike and left Q. for Fort Munro the next morning. Till Loralai the road is okay From Mekhtar to Rakhni the road is sometimes a disaster. Lots of deep potholes. Guess an offroad bike would be better - more suspension. My front fork often cries. And my special friends the unmarked speed breaker. Sorry Guzzi!
With doing some wrong ways I made 500 Km this day to Fort Munro. The Family hotel (200 Rs) is not bad. Food was also okay. Make sure you don't get the room beside the kitchen and kill the mossi air force before.
I wanted to cross the country to Islamabad. Needs me 2 days. The way out of the mountains is much more spectacular than the Bolan pass. Then it's a ride through flat, green countryside. Had to stay in Jhang. If possible miss it. Spent the next days on the campground (50 Rs) in Islamabad. There are all the overlander and you can change the latest infos. I tried to get a new India visa, because mine was nearly half expired.
"Not possible" was the only comment from the assh... at the embassy. On this camp you meet a lot of people waiting for parts or visas.
On the 2.11. I headed north to the KKH. The mountain area is beautiful and the roads are okay. Sometimes a bit slippery. I reached Besham at the evening.
Little dirty spot, hotel Prince (200 Rs) clean and friendly people. All the places I slept had a safe park yard for the bike. Next day I went through lovely countryside up to Gilgit. Approx. 350 Km is a long stretch on this road. Just before you enter Gilgit, there is a short piece of very good road. Warning!!! I had 120 on my speedo, when I passed a river crossing. That means the road falls immediately down (this is where the water goes) and comes up again. Good luck for me, it was dry and my bike has an eagle in its label.
I was just cruising around Gilgit, searching for the Madina Guest House, when I saw 4 bikes on the other side. It was Ken and Carol, Australia, Connor and another couple from UK. We spent the night in the Madina. Good traveler place (250 Rs), clean and good food. Next day I headed to the Kunjerap pass. Crossing the Hunza Valley was like riding in paradise for me. It's a dream. I have never seen such a majestic place before. The sun was shining, the leaves had already golden color.
Woah! But the pass remained a dream. A huge landslide 13 Km after Soest was the end of my KKH story. No way to pass on own transport. So I spent the night in the friendly Skybridge hotel (300 Rs). It was one of the only open places.
The food was also excellent, but Sorest is already on more than 3000 m height and there is no heating system in whole town. I was freezing my balls off and the only comfortable place was my sleeping bag.
Next morning I went to the landslide. Really no chance. Because in this countries like this I developed never to believe any information, because nobody really knows.
So I made a photo and returned to Gilgit. On the way back I meet the English couple from Gilgit and a German from Quetta. I visited also the Baltit Fort in Karimabad, found it not worth the 250 Rs. The little way up to the fort was great, but not very friendly to my clutch.
I was too lazy to walk and your luggage is unattended this time. Had to clean my tank bag in Gilgit, because one bottle of oily octan booster was broken and spread around my tank bag. Very nice.
Next day was cloudy and I didn't like to go all the way back to Besham. So I spent two more days in Madinas and decided to go to Chitral, close to the Afghan border, next day. It is only a small road, no tar, 350 Km long. Looked like adventure.
Left Gilgit early and jumped my way direction Chitral. It's a lovely countryside too, but you have to stop for a look. It needed all my attention to ride this way. Connor gave an interesting description of this way (he can do it better than me in English). You have all the pleasure: rocks all kinds and sizes, water holes, shit all kinds mud and sand. Sand was the reason for my first 'touch down'. Was a little too fast, lost control, slipped meters in the sand and luckily stopped some centimeters away from a big rock.
I switched of the engine, my brain also registered in the horizontal, that there is no major damage. The cloud of sand slowly settled I looked up and realized a small old serious looking woman, standing beside me and shaking her head. I still remember the only left tooth up in the middle of her mouth saying something like: "Idiot, don't you see that's a jeep track and what are you doing with this 'much too big push bike' here?"
I lifted up the bike and kept on going, sorry jumping. I spent the night after 150 km in Phander. It was lousy cold already and it starts snowing already. Still 50 Km to the Shandur pass; you remember Connor? The guy from the hotel meant: Shandur pass no problem, I wasn"t really sure.
Whatever, I was happy having a room warmer than 0 degrees and daal with spinach (smelled a bit like cowshit). Next morning my bike was white frozen.
Shandur pass no problem, he said again. Feel yourself kicked, idiot. After some Km the way became more and more white. In the first frozen waterholes the front wheel broke through. Later also this stopped and it was only slippery.
Wished to have a smaller bike. I guess the Guzzi had altogether close to 400 kg and the front and back wheel did what they want. I had some more touch downs and it costs me a lot of power the lift the bike up. But I made my way.
Slowly the snow level increased to little less than one foot (this is for English guys, Ha Ha). Then, short time before the summit, is a stretch, maybe 300 m long, very (what means 'steil' in English) and slippery. I did the first 150 meter, but then I stuck. No chance. I loaded my heavy tank bag on the back of the bike and made 20 more meters. Stuck again. The clutch started smelling.
I unloaded the tank bag and hoped that no Jeep will come down from the opposite side. Three Pakistanis walked along the way "what the hell are they doing here?"; and helped pushing the bike. I got it moving slipping from one side to the other and finally reached flat terrain. No touch down. Yeah! My map says it's already 3800 m high and I felt that old, when I picked my heavy tank bag up and carried it uphill. I stood in my sweat. After two touch downs (maybe 3 km) and one broken pannier on the right side I reached the summit. I was so powerless, that I decided to stay the night on the police station there.
I changed my wet clothes (sweat) and slept two hours in the afternoon. It was more than cold and later we sat around a table. The table was covered with a huge carpet and we slipped under it. Under the table was a pot with hot and warmed us. We had chicken,daal and tea. The people on the summit station didn't speak any English but it was not necessary. They fed me and gave me one more sleeping bag and I survived the night.
Next day I had only one more touchdown downhill. I left also my left pannier on a rock. Slowly the snow became less. The last Km had tar on the surface.
It was dark when I arrived in Chitral. I met Ken, Carol and Connor again.
After the Shandur act Connor named me MGM. Mad Guzzi Mike. Why? Happy to survived the Shandur-snow-adventure I thought it's a joke,when Ken told me that they are trapped. The bloody Lawari pass had 2 feet of snow and I didn't realize before that there is one more pass to Peshawar.
We heart that they are clearing the Lawari with caterpillars and after two days we decided to put the bikes on a truck. It needs 25 hours, ice cold hours, me and Connor on the back of the truck, to make the shitty 120 km to Deer over the pass. That was my coldest night in Pakistan. And I thought travelling is fun.
Next day we left for Peshawar and arrived there late afternoon. There was no highlight in Peshawar. Except the fantastic Chicken Karay in the restaurant beside the Rose hotel (350 Rs the double with park yard). After two days we left for Islamabad again. One day later I went down to Lahore to pick up my girlfriend Rosy from the Airport. The road is very good and it needs less than 4 hours for 270 km.
Two days later we came back to Islamabad and further to Peshawar. I found an Afghan guy in Peshawar who was doing leather panniers for me. The leather was imported from London, because they do not have that strong quality in Pakistan. I was surprised,when I saw the panniers. Exact the measurements and design I gave him, very well made and at the time as promised. Woah! And this in Pakistan. It cost me 100 $ US only and I'm still very satisfied with it.
Next day we visited Darra. The gunsmith place. It is like the description in the Lonely Planet. We visited companies not bigger than a garage, doing guns, pistols and shooting pens. Later we shot Kalashnikov and pump gun. Altogether it costs us ca. 15 $ US for two.
To Darra we had to pass two police posts. Smile, wave your hands and speed up. Maybe that will not work all the time, but for Principe it is possible to go to Darra on your own transport. Do not believe hotel owners, they only want to make money.
From Darra we went back to Islamabad to spend some more days with Ken and Carol. Little info: Islamabad, every Thursday evening in the old Australian embassy - good steak and beer.
Days later we left for Lahore. Hotel Orient is good choice, but 600 Rs the double, with safe parking.
Next day we visited the Red Fort in Lahore. Suddenly we heart a loud bang like a gun. The guide meant it's a bomb. And again. It were two bomb blasts in the close bus terminal, 2 people died and 25 injured.
The day later we crossed the border to India. The guy on the Pac custom had no idea with the Carnet. The Indians were more friendly and controlled everything. But you also have to watch what they are doing with your carnet.
Altogether we need 1.5 hours to cross the border to India.
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