Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pakistan, 13-10-2011 - 27-10-2011

Our armed friends
In Bam we met a very brave New Zealand girl Danielle traveling alone on bike for few years already. She prepared us for Pakistan by giving a lot of useful information, contacts and advices.
Because of dangerous areas nearby the Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan border all overlanders traveling by own vehicle get police escort. Bam was the last safe city for us. Around 250 kilometers from the Iran-Pakistan border the first police escort joined us. Differently from the stories we heard from other travelers we needed to ask for escort ourselves, because the police didn't show up on the road and it was not so cozy to drive through the desert alone. The drive with escort in Iran went very fast and smoothly and we managed to cross the border the same day we left Bam.
The border crossing was very easy as well. Pakistan welcomed us in an amazing primitive border offices. Every office was a nice surprise for us. One officer had his 'office' just under a tree with a few plastic chairs, in a courtyard of another office hundred of prisoners were sitting on the ground and watching us with curiosity. The interior of the custom house reminded us old movies. It even had a sheep and post pigeon cages! We camped just in front of the custom house and a very kind man gave us delicious food made by immigrants from Bangladesh. We had a great and safe rest before a long and tiring ride that was ahead of us.
The long road to Quetta was in bad condition and sometimes very narrow, we changed the police escort countless times and wrote down our personal data in old note books in countless check posts. We were glad to drive only with the two of us because every stop took some time and energy. The police escorted us with pickup trucks, mopeds or cars. One time they even asked us if the police officer could sit in between us as there was no vehicle available at the moment!
The police officers were very kind to us and it seemed to be as well an adventure for them to guide us through. They offered us tea and even let us hold their guns.
We were escorted during first three days in Pakistan and most likely were very lucky, because some travelers are guided with police up to Lahore and it takes days and days for them to get there. We cannot really say how dangerous the road we drove was, but we didn't feel any fear with our armed friends.
Later during our travel in Pakistan the police stopped us quite often, but only for one and the same reason - to chat and drink coke with us.

Cultural shock in welcome Pakistan
Only a few hundred meters of border crossing between Iran and Pakistan took us to a totally different world.
First of all we faced a chaotic traffic on the road where we suddenly met everything - crazy busses which we called suicidal busses, trucks, tractors, rickshas, mopeds, bicycles, donkeys and camels with carriages, people, etc. Beside this the road was any time crossed by cows or sheep. The noise was horrible - the bigger the vehicle, the noisier the horn. If we were on the way for a bus, the driver didn't stop using his 'trumpet' until we got away. The roads were narrow and often in bad condition. The first days it felt like any time an accident can happen. But Johan showed his great driving skills!
We drove through a poor region where people were suffering from last year's flood. We could see everywhere the towns of tents, dirty kids running around and even more dirty dogs searching for food in mounts of garbage. The pollution on the road was big. All this together was so unexpected for Milda that after few days of hard driving in this different world she started crying.
But as soon as we came to the Northern part of Pakistan and reached Lahore a warm welcome was waiting for us. The Pakistan Bikers club welcomed us to one of their members' home where we could share our traveling experiences. The club members gave us many advices about our further travel in Pakistan.
We were invited as well by the head of the Tourist department of Punjab who offered us to stay for free in any of their hotels and gave us a guiding tour to see the pearls of Lahore - the cultural capital of Pakistan.
We had a feeling that everybody we met on our way in Pakistan was ready to do a lot that we could have only nice memories about this country. And they all succeeded! We discovered a really colourful country in the widest sense of the word. Beautiful green landscape, bright saris of women and nice baggy cloths of men, decorated trucks which are a piece of art each, even donkeys were sometimes decorated. People are warm and a bit more relaxed than in Iran, maybe because they have more freedom. Women don't need to hide their hair, couples can show their feelings in public and locals don't need to be afraid to have contact with foreigners. Looking to the behavior of people, Pakistan reminded us Turkey - the Pakistanis are religious but open and relaxed. Looking to the landscape and architecture it reminded us South Africa - the same beautiful green scenery, the same British colonial style houses with servants and beautiful gardens.
We even had nice experience with Pakistan health care when Milda felt bad and we went to the hospital for a check up. When we heard that a blood test was needed, Johan left to take the needle we took from Lithuania, just in case. But it was not needed - their equipment and service was even better than Lithuanian public medical service and didn't costs us anything because 'we were guests'. The next day Milda felt much better, it was just a diarrhea that almost all the travelers get in Pakistan.

Karakorum highway discovered in Pakistan village
The drive in the Karakorum highway was supposed to be our highlight in Pakistan because of its beauty and its adventurous drive. But after 50 km's in this dream road we were stopped by the police and not allowed to continue due to safety reasons. We can only guess what kind of danger was waiting for us there as the head of the police department didn't explain us that. He just said that we need to come back with a permission of our embassies - only then he would provide us with police escort. We turned back to Islamabad with the idea to go to the Dutch embassy to get this permission. But the night before our planned visit to the embassy we met an Austrian couple traveling with a big truck. They told us about the beauty of the Himalaya in India and Nepal and we decided not to waste our time and positive energy, just go to India without seeing the Karakorum highway.
But before that we accepted one of the proposals to stay over that we got from locals just on the street. We went to visit Madad, the guy who's name in Urdu means Help, and discover Pakistan village life.

Sandy roads through the villages, fields of cotton and rice, life of locals, the night in the farm hearing wolves howling behind the fences, dance with local men, the beautiful dress made by the sister of Madad with which Milda felt like a princess - all this was our Karakorum highway driven during our last days in Pakistan.
As well we were the first tourists to see the recently discovered traces of an ancient Hindu university.
We had a lot of joy seeing how warm local community is and how helpful to each other people are. People who are less wealthy than all of us enjoy their life much more and they know how to do that. We experienced that the Pakistan culture is giving culture - people gave us their time, attention, warmth, food and gifts. And didn't expect anything in return - the most important for them was our happiness and our good time in their country. Even our bike got a present and was decorated as a beautiful Pakistan truck.

Message to the world
Many Pakistanis were asking us if our experience in their country matches the bad image of Pakistan created by a Western media. We felt that they are suffering because of this wrong image so we would like to send a message to the world through you, our blog reader, about a nice, colourful and welcome country in the world where every traveler could feel like a king and get one of the nicest experience in his life.
Please say about it to your friends as well!

Now our parents can have again a good night sleep because the most dangerous countries in their eyes - Iran and Pakistan - are crossed! The countries which offered us the nicest experience!

Some numbers:
KMs driven in total: 14450
KMs driven during this period: 2450
Money spent in this period: 365 euros 


  1. Hi, guys!

    Thanks for another great post! I will visit Pakistan one day for sure, and will share your message to the world.

    Loved the picture of your bike getting painted! Very cool gift!

    Keep yourself safe and healthy.

    Lot's of love,

  2. fantastic experiences and very interesting pictures.
    take care
    we already miss you here

    Jonathan Gabija
    gabriela and natuku

  3. Good information. Lucky me I discovered your site by accident (stumbleupon). I have bookmarked it for later!

    Faiza Rehman