May 30, 2006 GMT
We landed in Oz on 13th May and 12 days later the bike was cleared of Customs and Quarantine. We had arranged for an Agent to do all the necessary dealings with them and the total bill came to 615GB , which was money well spent as far as we were concerned.
Customs, appparantly, threw up theit hands in horror when they saw the state of the bike and it had to be steam cleaned twice. Then they saw that the wood on the crate had bark on it , so it had to go off for stripping of that. The clothes were fumigated and since arrival here , we have hosed them off with a high pressure hose !
All in all it was great that we had someone to do all the running around for us and when you consider tthe cost of staying for 12 days in one place, it probably worked out to be 'cost effective'. The Agent was very good and kept us informed of all that was going on.
The Agent E mailed the paper work to us and we couriered it back to him- along with the bike docs and Carnet. Later we went to Brisbane by car with the key for the Topbox (so that Customs could inspect the contents) and the second lot of paper work for the clothing (this had come on a different flight and a later date and we had left Delhi without any trace numbers--'no worries 'as we were able to pick this up on the net.)
Quarantine in Oz is very tight ( and so it should be- they don't want any 'nasties' imported in.) You are not allowed to bring in any foodstuff - not even sealed bottles of water and loads of other goods.
The bike duly arrived on a Crane truck (along with the clothing , that by now was in the same crate)and looked pristine ! It was still in the crate and all we had lost was one tyre pressure guage and a chamois leather .
Then it was getting Insurance- 6 months for 57GBP and registering the bike for Oz. Initially we were told that we would need Oz plates but after 3 girls had been on the Computer to look up the regulations- it was decided that we did'nt. The comment was ' we don't have many of these to do'.
So we are now road legal and on the first voyage out broke the 2 Golden rules -' no more dirt roads and no travelling at night'-( due to the kangaroos that can have you off as quick as lightening ).
Petrol is 54p per litre, food about the same as UK. It's up to 25 degrees during the day and falls to 16/18 degrees at night. You need sheepskin slippers to keep your feet warm on the tiles !
In the country they rely on rain water to fill the underground tanks. If they run low on water then it has to be bought. The amount of roos everywhere is so true , also kookaburras and parrots.. yet to see a koala. It's the space that is amazing and everyone seems to really make the most of the outdoor living.
We still think that we made the right decision about coming to Oz- we later heard that the schools in the Punjab had been closed early due to the heatwave.
We still have Indian rupees to change and the Banks will not do this , so we wait till we get to a Money Exchange to do this. What we should have done was to charge the Indian men that were lining up in the Agents place in Delhi , in order to see the bike !
So now we are to travel around Australia, probably North and South of Brisbane. We are looking into extending the visas-( make the most of it whilst you are here.)
No definite plans yet as to the return but I don't think we will go to America - probably freight back to Europe and ride from there. I'll keep you posted with the trips around Oz........ perhaps the Blog should be called "Wrinklies on Winter Walkabout" now !!!
Posted by Dee Masters at 12:32 AM
May 19, 2006 GMT
Posted by Dee Masters at 07:51 AM
Back to Chandrighar on 6th May where we were due to arrange the air freight of the bike and us to Bangkok, Thailand.
We had intended to spend 3/4 days in Simla as R and R but it was not what we wanted at all. Also we suffered from the altitude, although the Lonely planets says that it is 8000 feet, it seemed much higher.The ride down from Shimla was lovely and amusing to see the moped drivers free-wheeling down the hill- or cyclists hanging on to the back of a lorry. The amount of lorries was unbelievable- all belching out smoke which we were inhaling !
Colin managed to drive straight to the hotel in Chandrighar and they were pleased to see us back and delighted when we said we wanted the R and R with them in peace and quiet.
Chandrighar is a modern city, laid out in a grid pattern. When you get to know the different Sections it does make sense- but that takes a while. The hotel cost 50 GBP per night and other goods are cheap. Labour is cheap- a gardener for a MONTH is 6.25 GBP and a live in maid is 18.75 GBP.
It is the hottest heatwave here for 5 years and the temperature in the afternoon is knocking on 50 degrees- too hot even to swim.
Through the Travel Agent in the hotel (8th may )and having sat in his office for 2 hours morning and 2 hours afternoon , we managed to arrange a Shipper in Delhi to arrange the airfreight of the bike to Bangkok. We have to go the Agents office when we arrive in Delhi and us and the bike will fly out on the same aircraft on 13th. The travel agent also arranged a hotel for us to stay in Delhi- sadly right in the centre- but there you go!
It will take 2/3 days for the paper work for the bike to be processed- so we are on a fairly tight schedule. At 5pm we still had no definite confirmation on anything- Indian beurocracy to the fore.
The visa for Thailand can be obtained on arrival.
We were milling around wasting time while the confirmations came through and the Travel guy phoned us and asked if we would mind being interviewed by the press. He filtered who we were to see and ended up being interviewed, and photographs taken, for the 'Times of India 'and the' Hindustani Times.' One interview was done whilst we were having dinner(which had to be held back whilst the photos were taken).They were both published the next day and we had the papers delivered to our room.
9th May and we left for Delhi at 7am- initially starting of at 27 degrees. There had been a huge thunder and lightening storm during the night and it had caused trees to blow over and electric lines were blown down. The roads were full of debris. A ride of 170 miles to Delhi and the ride was not too bad- but the heat gradually got hotter and hotter and by the time we got to Delhi at---- noon ( worst time going ) it was up to 50 degrees.
The thermostat on the bike was registering 8 bars which is 2 bars over normal- Colin had never seen it so high ( not even through the deserts we have done ).
We had intended to hail a rickshaw and then follow it from the outskirts of Delhi--- but, just like London- you can never find one when you want one !
We were stop, start, the traffic lights were really longwinded with a wait of 4 minutes at a time, we had to stop to ask for directions to the hotel and were directed wrongly, as it turned out. The traffic is manic with rickshaw drivers weaving in and out of the buses, cars and lorries. By this time we were well hot and I had got to the stage of easing my helmet up when we stopped.
Suddenly we both felt really ill at the same time. Colin said to me " i don't know what to do now - or where to go" (very unusual for him, as he is very decisive ) and at the same time I said" you have got to pull over to the shade as I can't carry on". He managed to get off on to a small side road , in the shade . Luckily he stopped by a telegraph pole that I had to hang on too when i got off. Head was swimming, unable to focus, unable to stand up, shaking from head to toe, nothing in your mind at all-- very scarey.
We staggered to the kerb and sat down, peeling off helmets and jackets and leaving them strewn over the pavement. Managed to get the top box open and get the extra 3 litres of water out (this was not enough.) We drank and drank and poured the water over our heads and down our backs. Remember that we also had used the Camelbacks with 2 litres of water each and that was nearly gone during the drive to Delhi.
Eventually we began to feel marginally better and a rickshaw driver pulled up with the Indian family he was carrying. They realised what was happening and got another rickshaw driver to take us to the hotel with Colin following. I went in the rickshaw with all the kit and that allowed Colin to drive without his jacket. I had my hand waving out the top of the rickshaw as i was worried that Colin would end up following the wrong one - all we needed at that stage.
It was about a 1/2 hour drive away and I was so worried for colin- he stuck right behind us- a marvel in that traffic. Later he said he had his hand on the
horn all the time and glared at every other driver.
We arrived outside the hotel, Colin managed to get the bike on the side stand alone ( not the centre stand) and literally staggered into the hotel foyer. I walked into the coffee shop and said" I want bottled water right now" ( the Indians are not the quickest to react ) and sat Colin in a chair. He was unable to pour the water himself (with the shakes )and it was then that the waiters realised what was happening and were very kind and helpful.
We slowly recovered after a tepid shower, salts and loads of drinks - but continued to feel very weak for days. It was at that stage that we said " what are we doing here? the locals are dying in this heatwave and we have been warned how quickly things can get really rough and life threatening ". All we wanted was-----out.
At breakfast next day we decided that we would skip Thailand as there was the same heatwave there and fly, with the bike, direct to Brisbane. That decision was made when Colin said to me " where would you really like to be now " and the reply was " with Colin and Judy , safe and sound, in a cocoon with no responsibilities for a while". ( These are the friends that the whole trip was about- we wanted to ride to see them in Australia.) We still think that the decision was the correct one.
So onto the Shipping agent who was not concerned re the alteration in destination. We went there in an Airconditoned car and back by rickshaw. Colin had to disconnect the battery and lower the screen and the Packers arrived at 1pm to load the bike into a van. They nearly had heart failure when they saw the size of the bike but there were plenty of volunteers to push it around to the front of the hotel where the level of the back of the van was the same as the garden. It was pushed in over the flower beds by sheer man power. All of this in 50 degrees.
We packed up the boots, helmets and clothing for insertion into the same crate ( more of that later ).We took the panniers as luggage.
In the meantime I had had to go to a HSBC Bank as the shippers wanted cash for the payment-( 1179GBP). Naturally,I was unable to get that amount out from the ATM and had to get it on credit card, as the Bank had no facilities to check the balance in the current account . The hotel offered to send a Security man with me but I went by car and he waited.
I also enquired about the cancellation of the air tickets to Bangkok. The previous hotel travel agents were happy to cancel these for us but were unable to do a Bank transfer with the money. It was sent out as cash the next day, by car. We lost about 170GBP on that- what with paying for the taxes that could not be reimbursed, the Agent's fee and the price of the car. However, we both thought ourselves lucky that we had anything in return, at all.
Colin went off 11th, with the Agent, to the airport and to Customs. ( 1 1/2 hours away ) The Agent advised that I should not go.They had alot of paper work to sign and the Customs guy was less than helpful. You sat in front of his desk for 5 hours and he did nothing-chatted, drank coffee and then disaapeared for lunch or took 45 minutes to change the refill in his pen.There was no Aircon, no one wearing a uniform or name badge and all milling around with files in their hands and doing nothing ( or so it appeared)
Rajeesh ( the Agent ) made numerous phone calls and finally tracked down the Customs guy and managed to get him in the car to see the bike in the Godown. Colin saw the bike crated and bubble wrapped. Then back to the Customs office where he started to look at the Carnet. he did not believe that the bike had been driven to India (" that is impossible" )and had come through pakistan -"it would never have been allowed through the border to India". They sorted that out and then it was " you have altered the chassis numbers on the bike", "this is the wrong Carnet'- you name it all the accusations were thrown. At one stage the Customs guy literally flung all tha paperwork on the floor and walked off in a huff. Colin said he literally did not seem to know what he should be doing. Rajeesh kept on pointing to the places he wanted a signature.
Colin finally returned to the hotel at 7pm , having got a rickshaw back and had monkeys inside with him. The driver had said at a traffic light stop " hold on to all your possessions and take off your glasses, or they will be stolen by the monkeys" With that 4 scampered in, sat beside Colin and demanded nuts ( which the driver gave him ).He saw people with leprosy and extreme poverty in this area.
It turned out the Rajeesh had returned home at midnight and had had one chapatti all day. You most certainly could not do the Shipping without an Agent- and whatever they cost it is worth it. Loads of bribes changed hands, we know.
I sat at the travel desk all day arranging flights for us to go to Brisbane. We will now go on a seperate flight to the bike and will leave delhi on 12 may. ( tomorrow ). Since 9/11 the airlines will not allow you to take a single ticket anywhere and you have to take a return flight to your Departure point- or an Onward ticket. We even phoned the British embassy to see if we could get Oneway as we were UK citizens. So we have booked the Onward flight to UK- at least that can be altered , if necessary ,but the flight is paid for. It was all confirmed 6pm and i was ecxtatic.
Next day ( 12th) back to the Customs to collect the bike paperwork, which had been carefully filed in a red polythene bag overnight !. We sat and sat and the Customs guy never turned up. Rajeesh did alot of phonecalls again and, finally, at 1pm the due Official arrived at his desk. Rajeesh piled the papers in front of him, told him where to sign, we got Colin's passport back and all the docuements and legged it quickly. I had said to Colin 'do you want me to do a dying swan act'- to try and hurry things up. 'No' came the reply"you may end up in a Delhi hospital'.
In the meantime we were told that the clothing was not to go in the same crate as the bike, as it was not on the Carnet. So we had to arrange a seperate Airfreight for that- at more cost.
Onto the plane that night and so onto Brisbane. We are very sad to have missed Thailand as it was the one place we were really looking forward too- but health and safety come first. We can always return at a later date. The whole episode in Delhi really frightened us and 'knocked your confidence'- I'm not sure that confidence is the right word - but it knocks the stuffing out of you and you begin to doubt your ability to cope.all we wanted was a safe haven and no decisions for a while.
We are now recovering and will get the bike back and travel around Oz at our leisure and decide what we are to do then. Alot will depend on finances, of course.
In retrospect I think it was a culmination in Delhi- definitely the heat, I think we were both more tired than we thought ( it's not until you stop that you realise just how tired you are- even though we had had 25 days off. ), we have both lost weight- Colin 11 Kilos,( which is alot ) me 5 Kilos,I think we picked up a tummy bug in pakistan that was rumbling around- not dire- but night sweats and loose stools.
If I had realised that our diet was to be so meagre ( no meat, chicken or fish due to lack of fridges, extensive Bird flu in each country and too far away from the sea to trust fish) I would have gone more into taking vitamin supplements and finally taken more water wherever you are and have the Rehydration powders on my person- and not in the front pannier. You are just too weak to start opening panniers-- you lives and learns--- and that was one very big learning curve.-- more to follow from 'Down under.'.... Total miles: 7917
Posted by Dee Masters at 03:28 AM
May 08, 2006 GMT
Posted by Dee Masters at 10:50 AM
May 07, 2006 GMT
30th April and exited Pakistan where the crossing was very efficient and on to the Indian border control-( who go to lunch between 1pm and 1.30pm)-- so we had our picnic too--much to everyone's amusement.
We the only europeans there and and very few others crossing either. The bike was scrutenised here and the luggage checked before the Carnet was stamped.
We gained 1/2 hour and are now 4 1/2 hours ahead of UK.
Entering India was a revelation: immediately less heat, a cooling breeze, birds singing, trees and TARMAC. We carried onto Amritzar where we stayed for 1st and 2nd May. We are both very tired and need a break.
We luxurated in clean sheets, swimming pool, comfort, beer and salutes from the Sikh guard as you enter or exit the hotel and computers that work (cheap at 25p per hour but 2GBP in the hotels ). A 4* hotel is 40 GBP per night - and worth every penny. We have decided that even if it cuts the timing of the trip down ( due to finances - or lack of finances !) we have to retain our sanity by staying in the best hotel we can afford. Pakistan has really taken it's toll on us.
In Amritzar we met up with an Indian guy who took us to see The Golden Temple at night- by chauffer driven car with VIP plates. ( Here the different catagories of status is shown on the colour of the number plate- taxis are one colour and private cars or Government another). The Temple was truely beautiful.
Next day we hired a taxi to take us back to the border to see the closing ceremony of the border between India and Pakistan. This is done every evening at sunset and is well attended (on both sides of the border )and is a well orchestrated piece of theatre. The guards are strutting their stuff, in complete unison, the crowds are yelling for their own country and it is a good spectacle. The guards on the Indian side are the tallest men I have ever seen.
The taxi driver waited for us and picked us out of the crowd at the end and the round trip for 70 K was 10GBP.
3rd May and on to Chandighar on beautiful tarmac road, hectic traffic and you really have to watch for the cars, lorries or buses that have a death wish on overtaking. The drivers just do not seem to see us- despite the fact that we are big. headlight on and hand on horn !-- I want a horn for the back - so that i can klaxon to everyone, as well.!
We left early and by midday it was 40- 45 degrees travelling. At least we have a breeze as we are bowling along. It's when you stop that the heat hits you.
There are cows in the central reservation, amongst the bourgonvillia that is prolific. It was on this section that we saw a Mc Donald's- but it was on the wrong side of a dual carriageway-- we could have cried !
We then went up to Shimla which is at the base of the Himilayas and cooler. It was a long hard drive behind lorries belching out fumes and a very busy winding , twisting road . It took 4 1/2 hours to do 76 miles. Cows in the road and monkeys scampering around.
Shimla was a huge disapointment- very touristy ( including the candy floss ) and there were loads of visitors there ( no Europeans) and was basically like a seaside town in the summer-( but no sea.)
The day did not start off well when Colin was expected to leave the bike on the lower road in an unguarded carpark and the bags would be carried up by porters.The road to the hotel was 'sealed' and after alot of arguement and Police blowing whistles , Colin lost his cool ( for the first time in the trip ) and told the Police that he was going to drive to the hotel( about 200 yards up the road ) like it or lump it and then drove off.
That evening we walked around Shimla and saw the English houses . took the walk along "The mall" and generally saw the sights and were out at 7am to drive back to Chandrigar. This drive was actually one of the best of the trip- it was cool, you were going down hill, the monkeys were dopey and the cows half asleep.
So now we are having days off ( till 9th may ) to arrange the air freight from Delhi to Bangkok. The original plan had been to drive to calcutta and air freight from there but we have been advised by many people not to drive through the areas of Bihar and Jahark due to internal troubles and very bad roads. We then thought about putting the bike and us on to a train from Delhi to calcutta but on further reflection we thought -" why have the bother of 2 lots of indian beurocrocy when 1 will do". So we hope to do the airfreight in one hop- got to negotiate our way through Delhi first !
At least here there are road signs- not like Pakistan where you had to ask for each turning. Petrol is 76 pence per litre, food is cheap (but we have not eaten any meat since we entered pakistan.) Driving is manic with rickshaws weaving in and out of the traffic. We dont know the price of ther beer as it has just been put on the bill and we will pay whatever for it at the end ! Colin desrves each one that he has. There is heavy security everywhere with guards in each shop and on every level in the hotel. we had the explosive sniffer dog at the hotel one evenng as there wasa big "do" going on.
The Punjab is basking ina heatwave - the hottest it has been for 5 years. Daytime temperature is 40- 45 degrees. Trust us !
India is a contradiction - wealth, poverty, noise, pollution and beauty. Next on to delhi and we will see if we remain sane after the arranging of the air freight.........
Posted by Dee Masters at 02:06 PM
May 02, 2006 GMT
. 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 07:33 AM
Colin has found that the non- alcholic beer is perfectlly acceptable ! The people have been so friendly and helpful. The further South we went and into the hotter weather, we were offered bread and water from passing cars.
You must be very wary of the Speed bumps that are suddenly there- I have not come off the back - yet ! There are alot of mosques on the side of the road and all hotel rooms have an arrow on the ceiling pointing to Mecca.
The shops stay open till 10pm and it is heaving with people, closed 2-5pm.Most of the towns have all clothing shops in one street, electric supplies together etc.
All towns display large posters of the military who have lost their lives in the recent wars.
18th april we went from Kerman to Bam through mountainous desert ares at 27- 30 degrees.Alot of Abobe houses here.
Bam is a city that was devastated by an eartquake 2 1/2 years ago and thousands died. people are still living in tents, corrugated buildings and part concrete areas. you can still see the houses with cracks up the sides and front. It is like a huge building site with construction people brought in from all over. Some houses have been rebuilt in concrete but now the foundations are 10- 12 feet deep with reinforced steel concrete.
Shops are selling their wares from Shipping containers- row upon row of them. One proudly had about 20 handbags hanging from hooks in the internal wall .
It is still a bustling and thriving city and a credit to the people , who have literally, tried to rebuild their lives from the rubble- and are succeeding. A tribute to human endeavour.
The Citadel ( the old walled city ) is completely flattened. The houses here were made of mud and clay. It is open to the public- and suprisingly, there is no charge. It is a place of tranquility and reflection on the power of nature.
The lady who had a teahouse just on the entry to the old city and was very proud that she was mentioned in Lonely Planet has now set up under some trees and still offers hospitality to the thirsty visitor.
We stayed at Akabar's Tourist Guest house ( the only place in town ). He told us that the quake happened at 5.15 am on boxing day and that they were living on the streets for 6 days.He still has tears in his eyes when he speaks of it. It took him a year to clear the rubble but he was offering a bed to the traveller within 5 months of the quake.
He now has 2 shower, loo and wash basin in a steel container and 3 double bedrooms in a concrete corrugated roof building. The family sleep in the courtyard on steel framed cots. he is rebuilding the Guest house along side the original. It will have 14 rooms and a restaurant .
Akbar lost many members of his family and a visiting motor cyclist from UK was killed. Akbar still has his bike and says he will always keep it.
The attitude of all the people is of great resiliance-- it has happened and now we must rebuils- and make Bam better than it was.
19th April from Bam to Zahadan. This is the Special Economic Zone area ( disputed tribal areas ) and Balluchistan . It was here that we had a police escort to the hotel and told not to go out by ourselves . Later that evening we had an armed police escort to go and buy fruit and water.
20th and onto Taftan. We had armed police escort out of town and they handed us over to the next check point.There are many Police checks and you have to be careful of the metal spikes recessed in the road and operated on a lever system. At each check we had to wait for the escort to drive back from the next checkpoint up the road and then escort us on wards. This process took at least an hour each time and there were 3 of them ! Sometimes we were able to wait tin the shade and others- not.( A very hot and demanding couple of days.)
200 K of sand duned desert at 40 degrees. At each stop we were shown the water tap to wash. The escort left us after the 1st pakistan check post and we went into "No Mans land ". Then onto Iran exit and that was a joke, as they told you to go here there and everywhere- and none of it was signposted ! And so into Pakistan where it was very efficient and we were through on 3 1/2 hours. We gained 1 1/2 hours at the border and are now 4 hours in advance of UK. Total miles 6078
Posted by Dee Masters at 06:12 AM