Pakistan

Landed

Well, we made it.

An easy peasy border crossing stalled only by the four Indian checkpoints that all had to write down passport and vehicle details and we were on the other side; Pakistan.

The same but slightly different is how you could compare it to India, but even just those nuances, those little extra touches of civility, they’re enough to make a whole heap of change.

Walking around no one bothers you or tries to sell you something you’d never want. I suppose that’s because they don’t have as many tourists here so none of the local folk are dependant on Foreign Joe to earn a living like they are in India.

Some are even quite rude, which is nice…. shows they aren’t just interested in you for the money. The traffic is also a little calmer, less horn, more skill, with people seemingly happy just to pick their path through and not disturb the world in sqyeezing through.

The only thing is it’s hot again, roasting, in the 40’s and with power that by government control goes on and off every hour. Fan on, fan off, fan on, fan off… it’s how it is all through the night as the bed absorbs your sweat through the pillow and you wake up in the morning with oyur fest wet in it.

Met some cool people as well. A couple – one oz, one pom, are half way around the world in their Land Cruiser, another fella’s doing similar in a Hi Lux and a real nice Dutch chap is almost at the end of his trip on a BMW GS1200. I’ve got some pics of that and Dorothy sat together. Poor old Dot’s only half her size but I still maintain I’m on the bike. I wouldn’t trade my little Dorothy in for anything else.

The guys with the 4x4s I just mentioned are all trying to get Iranian visas, all with limited luck. The couple might get a green light tomorrow but that’s with a bit of a pleading and grovelling at the embassy who do seem to be softening. I’ve been thinking maybe I should have waited rather than parting with all the cash to get through China, but I’m actually looking forward to that route now.

I have a guide and a week of three star hotels which should be absolute bliss after the camp sites and shit-bog squallers I’ve stayed in recently.

Some of the Stans seem a real hassle so one option I’m seriously considering is China to Kyrgystan, then Uzbek into Kazakhstan, and from there Russia, Georgia, Turkey. It’s the route with the less visas. (Just heard the border between Russia and Georgia is closed – bugger!)

Not been up to much, just picking up a few bits and bobs for the trip like a roll of black gaffer tape to patch up my panniers that are already falling apart having made the mistakeof buying a set in India. I had them patched in Manali by a boy on the street who fixed it with his dad’s old leather jacket. I might already have told you that, it sounds familiar.

The other night though me and the other biker went back to the border to watch the border ceremony. An incredible thing. A bit Monty Python, a bit Andrew Lloyd Weber, with bearded baddies in big uniforms and metal footed boots they all did stamp.

It was cracking, the best stage show in the world and I reckon so much nicer seeing it from this side of the fence. You get that sense of the underdog. A smaller nation, less pomp and bravado, but defintely more soul. An old man, looking for all the world like Rocky’s white-haired trainer, shuffled up and down the road waving the Pakistan flag while the crowd in the stand all cheered.

The sun was setting, the crowd were singing ‘jump, jump Pakistan’ and there we sat, me and biking chum, watching a triumphant display of national Pakistani pride. Early impressions are that it’s a warm and decent country, far from deserving of the reputation the international media gives it.

The stories of mischeif and mayhem are one thing, the reality is quite another…

Over and out for now.
Nate and Dotty.

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