May 02, 2006 GMT
Pakistan

. 20th april and Taftan. 100 yards down the road there is one hotel here- the Pakistan tourist.(1.41 GBP !)were glad to see it - it wasa bed and out of the dust storm that was blowing., we were covered in a fine layer of white film.
As we entered there was a film crew there filming some musicians and they advised us not to go our intended route of Lorreli and DG Khan as this was terrorist area but to go through the Bolan pass and Sibi, as it was safer ( but hotter ).

21st on to Dalbandi across the desert/ sand dunes/ very little traffic and very lonely. Goat herdsand Wild camels scratching against the telegraph poles . 32 degrees. We are filling up with petrol from swollen plastic cans that are on the side of the road. It's dearer than Iran at 20 litres for 6GBP. It is poured into the tank through a cut off litre water bottle with a muslin sieve over the top.

Through this area ( until Quetta)we only stopped at the police or Military check points- never on the open road. At each check area you have to get off the bike , fill in passport details in a paper covered school evercise book and get back on again- very time consuming.It appears to be deserted but when you do stop 20/30 people materialise from nowhere.

We followed the railway line. The train goes once a week to Quetta and takes 24 hours. This is great as the people use the line to sit on to watch the inevitable cricket ( match ) that is going on in each village. We got to Dalbandin- a long dusty street with donkeys, carts, dogs,mopeds , 25 standing in the back of a Pick up truck and cattle wandering everywhere. Thunder and lightening and it poured down for about 10 minutes- and then stopped.

Food is cheap 1GBP for a meal. Electricity will go off at specified times of the day and intermittent power cuts as well. You must have a torch handy, at all times.
Very few women about and i am scrutenised all the time. We were interviewd by Military intelligence here - he sat on the end of my bed and asked loads of questions- including "what do we think of pakistan " and "what is the difference between P and england "?

22nd and what we knew was going to be a hard drive toQuetta at 35 degrees, no shade and nowhere to stop.30 K of good road and then to single lane where colin had to pull off on to the rubble side for every lorry. The lorries are beautifully decorated- some that you wonder how they manage to see out of the windscreen. Even the wheel hubs are decorated. Alot are over loaded with cargoe, people running for the buses and a place on top or hanging onto the side of the bus
.A cyclist will be holding on to the back of a lorry for a free ride. Every one waves madly and blows their horn. Lorries and buses have claxons of all sounds and will keep their hand on it- all the time it seems. Our poor little beep is hardly heard ! When the lorries break down- which they do with regular monotony , the driver will lay stones around it as a guard.

At a small town called Nushka the road was blocked by a protest ( we never found out what for ). We were told by the police to park in the shade and to enter a commandeered building. There were police and commandoes everywhere- all with AAK 47's or sawn off shotguns ( we have seen so many everywhere we have been that it is the norm now ).
A Commando guard was stood over the bike and we were given a seat and tea. Thank goodness there wasa fan in the ceiling. This was at noon and we were told that the dispute would finish at 3pm ! A load of men came through- shook hands with us and then dissappeared into the back room and started talking . Voices raised and shouting at times . we never did see the going of these men but, sure enough at 3pm when all the truck and bus drivers were jumping up and down, we were told we could be on our way.
And so on to Quetta where we had 2 days off in the cool and in a good hotel.

25th onto Jacobadad and the hottest day yet. It reached 50 degrees and the road surface was diabolical. You can be bowling along and it will suddenly be --- rubble- and miles of it.
Not good driving at all withcolin saying : oh the tyres, oh the suspension".This was across the desert and much worse than the Iran desert. No where to stop, no shade . We had been through the Bolan pass with the names still marked in the rock- "windy corner and "Fred's Folly". A sad memory of the soldiers who had marched here, in the heat ( or cold) in their red tunics.

26th Rahimyarkhan and 27th to multan where we rested for 2 days. this is a hard unforgiving country that throws all the odds at the people. They are friendly and as helpful as possible but it is a country that assaults your senses , in every sense of the word.
They try so hard with roses and flowers - but it is an uphill struggle.
Oxen and children bathing in the same water, ladies riding side saddle on mopeds- with flip flop dangling , camels pullong carts, a small town with very little in it- followed by at least 3 petrol stations that are open 24 hours.All cattle an oxen totally unconcerned re the traffic going past- they just plod slowly on and ignore it all.
There are alot of brick making places and then you are into fertile areas where the harvest is done with a scythe, the grain stored in a pile in the middle of the field and then bagged by shovel. the women will then collect the bales and put them on their head and walk with ram rad straight backs- wonderful deportment.

People will sit in any little shade that is available, as will the animals. They even let the camels rest at noon. Be aware of the man hole covers that are open !
we are away now by 7am and aim to stop by 1pm- it is too hot to carry on after that. Alot of the hotels have not been good- but it has been a place to sleep.

And so onto Sahiwal on 29th ( through a swarm of bees at one stage )and were due to stop at Lahore on the 30th. we were there early and saw the huge pall of pollution hanging overe the city and we decided to press straight on to the india border at Wagah. There was no way that we could put up with that dust.

Pakistan has been an endurance test from beginning to end. The people have been great but the country itself is so harsh, roads are really good or REALLY BAD, the heat has been trying to say the least. Apparantly we have been to the 3 hottest places in the Punjab- trust us. The town roads are non existant and you are on rubble all the way.
Colin says every day " thank god for the GS' It had been very tiring for him and he will deserve his first beer for 3 weeks when we get to india. You do not even see non-alcholic beer in Pakistan

Posted by Dee Masters at May 02, 2006 07:33 AM GMT
 


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