Michael Eierle - Germany to India, Pakistan and Iran, Germany to Turkey - Pakistan (II)
Islamabad to the Iranian border!
In Islamabad we had a heat period with 42 C the day and 35 C at night. Good for a nice sleep.
After 8 days we received our Iran transit visas (7 days) for 32$ per person only. We met Klaus and Sonja from Germany again and Ben and Nick, two British guys coming from Australia on their way back home.
One afternoon, we just made a little sightseeing with the bikes, a heavy hailstorm cleaned Islamabads roads. We made it to a little restaurant and after two hours the game was over.
But parts of our tent were wet and dirty. It was our last day and we spent the night in one of the 'family rooms' at the campground. Nothing in it, dirty and 3.7 million mosquitoes. It was one of these nights you are happy when it's over.
Next morning around 7 am we left Islamabad and rolled easy on good roads to Mianwali. We made a little corner to see the Chasma dam. There they block the free run of the Indus river and pull some watts out with power plants sponsored by Korea. Nothing really famous. It was always sand and dust in the air, the sight was close to 0. Around 5 pm after 550 km we reached Dera Gazi Khan. Took an AC room for 14$ in the D.G. Hotel with save covered parking. Outside we still had 40 degrees C. The Chinese food there was fantastic and we slept very well this night.
Next day at 6 am we were already on the road again to Jakobabad. This time is comfortable to ride. Around 9 am you start boiling in your jacket. The first 100 km were some bumpy piece of shit track but after Rajanpur it was like German Autobahn over Shikarpur to Jakobabad. After lunch we put ice water into the helmets. It works. So we survived the 53 degrees C and 200 km through the Kacchi desert. It was so hot that I had to put on my gloves otherwise I would have burned my hands on the handlebar. How many degrees needs a x-mas-goose to be done?
Rosi had her first little touch down. Mud on the road but nothing happened.
We mastered our heater tour and belive it or not - no traffic so far. Finally we wobbled over the beautiful but slippery Bolan pass and reached Quetta at 7 pm.
Again Hotel Bloomstar, 8 $ the double, clean, quiet with car park and a little garden where you can pitch a tend. We met Klaus and Sonja, the Germans with the Unimog, again. I met them first time in Islamabad on my way to the KKH last year. We serviced the bikes, went shopping and nothing else.
At 7 am on the 9th of may we started our 630 km trip to the Iranian border through Baluccistan.
The 'LP' says you must be crazy to do that. We never had any trouble. Mostly the road is a wider single lane. From Dalbandin to Not Kundi it's a new road, double lane.
100 km before Dalbandin are plenty of Sand dunes covering parts of the road. This is nearly desert feeling.
Mostly there is strong side wind and it looks like a carpet when the wind blows sand 30 cm over the road. There are also what we call little sand trousers like a mini twister (baby hurrican). No problem to drive through Mr. Sandman. Besides, take plenty of water with you there is no shop.
But you can drink also the cool water out of the terracotta bowls at the 'rest houses'.
Petrol, called Benzin, is available in every village. The casks and canister are placed beside the road. The closer the Iranian border the cheaper the petrol ( down to 15 PRs / liter). My tip: make sure to reach Nushki (170 km from Quetta) and fill up petrol there - it's much cheaper. Normal prize is ca. 33 PRs per liter, in Nushki it was 20 PRs.
It was already dark when we reached Taftan. A little dirty border village at the ass of the world, no electricity, no running water - only heat. We stood at the only PTDC hotel. Don't take a room.
Just sleep outside. It's much cooler, cheaper and in the desert are no mosquitoes. They can cook for you but everything needs lots of time and no cold drinks are available.
We had oil light dinner with tasty chicken karahi and warm coke. Better than nothing.
The border opens at 9 am. Friendly and helpful stuff on both sides. In Pakistan you can go to the custom first if you want. It's the building next to the PDTC. Needed us two hours to enter Iran.
Now some basic information about Pakistan:
Take cash $ with you. ATMs are only in big cities (Master, Visa no problem, American Express is a problem). Best is Islamabad. I never changed T-checks.
Exchange rate was 1$ = 58 to 64 PRs.
When you enter or leave the country via Taftan change at the moneychanger on the Pak side.
58 PRs/$ are possible and there is no other choice. Next exchange is in Quetta only.
In Iran the bank on the border is closed, so the next exchange is in Zahedan. If possible try to avoid this smuggling-shit-hole with it's strange inhabitants.
The rate in Iran is 1$ = 8000 Rial. Fill up petrol in Iran, 10 KM after the border in Mir Javeh. It's only 5 Cent the liter, quality okay.
At the border to India is no problem to change money. There is a bank at the border and Amritsar or Lahore are just 35 km away.
Petrol is mostly bad quality. Often they stretch it with Kerosene and water.
The octane level is around 80. Octane booster are available only in a few petrol stations.
Dear Ladies, maybe you will find Pakistan is the hardest country of your journey. All the women I was talking to told me that. The truth is that it's a male country and there are rarely women on the streets.
Men do not talk to you and if they do, they mostly have something special in their mind, or better trousers.
The porno pages in the Internet are not a help for better understanding. (Check explorers 'history' in Internet cafes!) Sheeps get lovelier treatment than women. You try to buy something and they do not respond or just answer your 'husband'. But that's okay I think, HaHa.
Only in Islamabad you can get in touch with Pak women. Rosi found surprisingly more respect at the countryside in rest houses. Maybe because she rides her own bike. A hair scarf is not a must, but in some cities (Peschawar and the Nortern Territories) it's easier to wear one.
Maybe it's the best to expect nothing, so you can get something.
The Hunza valley at KKH was my personal countryside highlight of this Trip.
I found Pakistan not so crowded and dirty like India, the traffic was less and people friendlier.
Okay I'm a man. That's easier in Pak. All in one it's a rough country and I would go there again, but without a woman.
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