Pakistan part 2

Pakistan part 2

March 26, 2013  |  Pakistan, Roadlog

Pakistan

On the 31st of December Daniel and I met in Bandar Abbas. We had our own little newsyearseve celebration since Iran has a different calendar. Their new years eve is about three months later.


guetta

The next day we rode to Bam. About halfway through the ride we passed a police checkpoint were the police thought it was irresponsible to let us ride on our own and they gave us an escort. We thought it was a bit of a theater. Even more so when it got dark. We rode through another checkpoint where we didn’t get a second escort. So on the last stretch to Bam we rode on our own again.

escort

We checked in in the famous Akbar guesthouse. This is a place where every overlander spends the night before or after crossing Pakistan. The owner told us stories about all the crazy and beautiful travel stories of his guests. Apparently he even had people that were walking all over the world with a donkey to carry their stuff. At one point they had to spend a whole winter in some Central Asian town because they were afraid there wasn’t enough food for the donkey along the way.

In the morning the owner informed the police that we were coming. We left the guesthouse and just outside of the city we were stopped at a checkpoint and had to wait on the escort. We rode with escorts all the way to Zahedan. Initially we wanted to go to [] a city just before the Pakistan border (Zahedan is still 50km a away from the border or so) but because of all the waiting on the escorts it was dark already and we had to spend the night in Zahedan.

Just like in Bam the hotel had to inform the police that we wanted to leave. We weren’t allowed to leave the hotel without escort. We waited one and a half hour but still nobody showed up. We thought the police had kept our passports so we decided to leave anyway to a police checkpoint at the end of the town. They told us that the passports were at the hotel and we couldn’t go back to the hotel without escort. After a bit of talking we could get the passports back. So we drove back and asked for the passports but the hotel didn’t want to give the passports without us having an escort. After a little more waiting they finally showed up and escorted us out of the city to the police checkpoint. Here we had to wait again on the next escort. This time it took very, very long. Somewhere in the beginning of the afternoon we were finally on our way again.

Crossing the border was no big hassle. But since it was again to late to keep on going we had to spend the night at the police station in Taftan, the border town in Pakistan. In the morning we had to push start the pick up truck of our escort and we went into the city for petrol and to change our money. There were no petrol stations only black market petrol from Iran what was stored in big canisters and sold at the side of the road. The Pakistani escorts were much better organized than the Iranian and we were able to cover a long distance. Some parts we could even ride alone. At night after we checked in in the hotel in Dalbandin we went out for grocery shopping. And with ‘we’ I mean Daniel, myself and an armed police officer. No wandering alone in towns in Pakistan

escort

On the way to Quetta we had police escorts most of the way again. When we entered the city they turned it up a notch. Instead of the usual pick up truck with some armed guys in the back we now had a pantsered vehicle in front of us and a pick up truck with a mounted machine gun on the roof driving behind us. They dropped us of at Royal Bloom Star Hotel where every tourist has to spend the night I believe.

In order to travel in the Beluchistan province (which is the province starting at the Iranian border and stretches out to a little after Quetta you are required to apply for a NOC. This is a certificate that the provincial government gives out only if they think they can ensure your safety. But because the Home Department where one applies for the NOC is in Quetta you may travel the first 600km to Quetta without one.

The next day was a Sunday so the Home Department was closed. We dedicated this day to finding a bank to get some money. There were no banks in Pakistan up until Quetta and foreign cards don’t work in Iran so we still had to do it with the money we got from Turkey. Luckily Daniel carried a bit more cash than I did. I’ve been borrowing money from him since we entered Pakistan. I have no idea what I would have done if I was alone. Unfortunately there were no banks that worked with our cards (Maestro, VISA and MasterCard). We tried every bank in Quetta without success and no banker could give us advice on what to do.

Monday morning and a good portion of the afternoon was spend at the Home Department to apply for the NOC. It involved a lot waiting between going from one office to another and at one point after I returned from the bathroom I saw Daniel sitting uncomfortably at the edge of his seat. The security guard sitting next to him had his kalashnikov resting on his lap pointing the barrel straight at his seat.

Our application for the NOC was denied. The officials regarded the situation too unsafe and advised us taking the train. So the next day we put the bikes on the train to Jacobabad. The first city out of the Beluchistan province. Due to the lack of internet in our hotel in Jacobabad and no internet cafes around we borrowed an internet-dongle from a red cross employee to contact our banks to see if there was anything wrong with our cards. Unfortunately enough there were no problems and they should have worked.

Despite of what we thought an escort was also needed outside of Beluchistan. We had to wait for a bit for them to arrive the next morning. We unsuccesfully tried several banks to get money before one banker told us it was probably the chip in our card that didn’t work with the ATM’s in Pakistan. The magnet strip on the back should work in a pay terminal where you could swipe the card and he informed us that petrol stations have such systems. We rode over to the petrol station, filled up the bikes and we were finally able to get cash again.

From Jacobabad to Lahore took us three days. All with continuous police escorts. At one time when riding behind a truck that was a bit too slow in moving over from the left to the right lane in order to let us pass. One of the guys in the back of the escort truck grabbed a pipe and completely smashed the right-mirror of the truck. First reaction: ‘Haha awesome! That will teach them…’ followed by: ‘Oh darn, I’m riding through glass, I can get a puncture!’. Later when it all settled down a bit I could not help but think how incredibly stupid it is to smash a mirror in order to teach a driver to use his mirrors.

Lahore is considered safe and didn’t require any escorts. We stayed more than a week in Lahore in which we did service on the motorcycles. We found a nice empty floor at the top of a parking garage where we could work undisturbed. We changed oil, tyres and did some other minor things. Unfortunately enough Daniels brake pipe snapped. A Pakistani mechanic that was working on a generator in the parking garage offered some advice to fix it: ‘Put a slightly bigger plastic tube around it and it will hold’. ‘Nah, thx’ was Daniels reply ‘I’m going to fix this in the German way and just buy a new brake pipe’.
He went out and returned a few hours later with a new custom made brake pipe. After installing it the following day it didn’t work properly. The diameter of the pipe was too big. In the guestbook of our hostel ‘Regal Internet Inn’ a fellow motorcycle traveler left the business card of a good german speaking motorcycle mechanic in Lahore. We searched for his shop and the mechanic was able to get a proper brake pipe but it would take a few days.

fixing

Since I liked to go to Islamabad and Daniel planned on going to India directly after he got his brake pipe we split up the next day. I went to Islamabad for a few days and rode a small part of the Karakoram Highway before returning to Lahore and crossing the border to India.

border

One comment on “Pakistan part 2

  1. Annie Nijenhuis on said:

    Finally have some adventures described, I missed it!

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