Just up and about, packing, tea drinking, fixing and tinkling. Old Dorothy had a puncture as we crept up the KKH so having been refused a fix by a couple of the local spanner men I finally found one who had a new tube and a smile not a scowl.
Strange place Pakistan. In one town sublime, hospitable, warm and welcoming. Stop for directions and that’s it, you’re ordered to dismount and sit while one man brings you tea and another rips a comb through your mattered hair. Then the biscuits come out and so do the guide books to help explain to these folks up in the mountains just exactly where it is you’ve come from.
An hour later you leave with a whole village of Pakistani brothers.
And then on the other hand, in some villages along the KKH, kids try and poke sticks through your spokes as you drive past or jump out to try and scare you in to the gutter. I stopped at one shop for a Fanta and a packet of biscuits and the man almost thrust the bottle through his own counter. He stabbed the numbers into his calculator to show me the sum and sneered at me as I sat outside in the blazing sun.
So I’ve kept my head down for the most part, even taken to wearing an Omar Sharif or whatever the baggy pajama style suit’s called that everyone here wears. It’s not much cop as a disguise though. Everyone still registers you as a foreigner, even the police on the checkpoints who so far haven’t escorted me like they have the other overlanders. I think it’s because I look poor and figure no one would take me for ransom. Or see Dot and just consider her to fast to be persued.
‘Cause I have to admit she’s so far flew up the mountain. We haven’t yet reached the 4700 metre top but something tells me we won’t be having the same problem as we had in India. She just seems more sprightly, lighter on her toes. Her front ends a bit battered though. Because my left fork seal is leaking I topped it up with a bit of oil. I don’t think the level’s are now the same though so she’s a bit limp over the bumps and with a lose sheath that holds the headlight in place I ride with the most terrible clank and racket as it bashes up and down the left leg.
I’ve fixed it with a shoe lace so it should be okay til England.
Not far to go now. I met a couple on an old Beemer bike who say they’ve done 15,000kays from England to here. I’ve done 25,000 from Oz so we’re over half way. Still working on the route but having learnt about borders being closed and countries still at war I’ve hoping I can get a transit visa for Russia and sail straight through to the Ukraine.
I’d still very much like to skirt through Syria, Jordan and Egypy before crossing the Med by boat, but I’m yet to find one that’s not sunk so I might not have to bother. But we’ll see.
Exciting times though and if I’m honest these are the best. Thailand and India looking back were a real drag and really sapped the life out of the trip in many ways. Waiting for girls, waiting for visas. Both unfathomable. But now, give me a few more passport stamps and I’m free to roam and saunter whichever way the wind blows back through Europe. In fact I just sit and stare at the map tracing fingers across the page to find every time a different route. Price is the only limitation but I’m hoping to call in on a few folk I’ve met along the way and borrow their sofa for the night. That’s if Dorothy’s safe outside.
So all good here. No complaints. No pictures either. I don’t know, I just don’t feel too comfortable firing the Canon in the faces of folk who don’t want care for you being there. I flicked through a book in the hotel last night. It was pictures and words of a French groups tour of the country and you could read just what it was the photographed local was thinking; ‘oi, would you fuck off with that camera.’
And I don’t want to be like that. Not when I’m still a bit twitchy about the situation and aware of the lack of love some of the places have for a white fella on a motorcycle.
As for the KKH being better than the Manali to Leh road, I don’t know. or me the scenery was better in India, the people friendlier and the sense of cammeraderia at the tent villages just that much nicer. So India on this occassion pips Pakistan. But for free cups of tea, I’d take Pakistan any day.