No.17. Pakistan. Crossing the Baluchistan Desert
At last, the story resumes....at the Iran-Pakistan border.
Pakistan. PAKISTAN! How many people can say they’ve ridden a motorcycle overland to Pakistan?! I was e-lated!…and then, very nearly e-longated. Pakistan’s traffic drives on the left. I was riding on the right. One learns quickly.
My route was to take me across Baluchistan to the 'wild frontier town' of Quetta near the Afghan border then on south.
Three days later my world would to be turned upside-down on the wind swept desert road south to Sukkur - “…not recommended if you are traveling independently.”
Click here to see the full story
Click on MORE below for the highs - and lows of this stretch of Dusty Highway...
I’d left Bam at sunrise fearful of the 600kms that lay between myself and Quetta. Crossing the border at Mijave I’d made it as far as Notkundi before I was ‘encouraged’ off the road into a police compound – for safety reasons. This stretch of road was not the place for that romantic night out under the stars. There's bandits in them there hills.
The men who'd kindly fed me (after sunset) the previous evening, had gone. I packed and rolled out onto the road and turned East, once again heading for Quetta. I arrived in 'Crazy hour', that time shortly before sunset, and the town was chaotic - doubly so after the (near) isolation of the desert road. The Lonely Planet lead me to the Hotel Bloom Star - an oasis of calm.
Later that evening I returned to the Hotel having eaten in a nearby restaurant ( I use the term loosely). Four or five locals were engaging the owner in an animated conversation. They fell silent as I walked in. " And now a cartoon?!" suggested the young man at Reception. I'd told him earlier of my skills as a Caricaturist. Looking round at the assembled 'party' - I regretted it. To cut a long story short - I survived to tell the tale...(Flick back to 'Episode 6a -Pakistan' for the full nerve wracking story).
Gearbox oil topped up and I was away at 8.00am on the road south to Sukkur over the legendary Bolan Pass. The British army had built a railway through this dramatic region in the 1800s, steep gradients and 20 tunnels - each one named. The project had cost them dearly...
The sun beat down on the road south. The tarmac shimmered, deserted. Quiet. Quiet that is, except for a nagging rumble coming through my footpegs. I'd felt it in third gear over the previous days but now I was picking it up in all gears...and now louder ...and LOUDER. I stopped. Checked oil. OK. Started the engine, engaged first gear...kkkeeEERRRUUNCHH!!! What the F*ck? Gearbox? Shaftdrive failure? This is it. It's all over. I slumped to the ground and lit a cigarette. It should have been a Hamlet cigar......
Is this it? The end of the road for our Gritty Biker? Find out in the next 'gripping' episode - coming soon...!!!
Posted by Simon Roberts at January 11, 2009 08:03 PM GMT