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Pakistan VIP style

PAKISTAN | Wednesday, 2 May 2007 | Views [1687] | Comments [5]

My last days in India were in Amritsar, 30km away from the Pakistane border. Amritsar is a a city known for it´s large Sikh population
and it´s temple - Golden Temple. Incredible! The temple is a number of buildings surrounding this man-made pool where devotees gather around and bathe themsleves to purify and cure of any sickness.
The people were incredibly nice, better than other areas in India. The most generous city in India, in my opinion. All the sites, including the gorgeus Golden Temple, were free to get in, free accomodations to travelers, open kitchen with free food to anyone willing to get in line (fast),sit in rows on the floor and wait for the boys to pass by throwing food on your silver platter - I did and it was delicious ...all 24 hours.
At the dormitory, where foreigners get separeted rooms with fulltime security by the dorm entrance...sort of...rooms were better than a few guesthouses i´ve stayed.
At the first night, 3 other bikers arrived - Julian(French) & Eva (Canadian), and Patrice (French). We spend 2 days exchanging stories and
working on getting some weight out of the panniers. Patrice has been riding for a long time, coming from Pakistan on his way to India and eventually Nepal, China, Laos, etc.
Julian and Eva (couple) were going on the same direction as I had in mind - Pakistan. After a couple of days laughing about our adventure and our heavy bags, we were back on the road - Patrice to New Delhi, and three of us to Pakistan. Julian, Eva and I had a pleasant ride to the border,
it was a very nice road shaded by trees almost all the way, a trully easy 30k. Arrived around 830am, we sat and waited the border to open, 10am. Crossed India´s side and it´s paper work, into Pakistan with some more paper work. Around 500km from the border gate were the Pakistanee Rangers, doing some target shooting. Amazing...soldiers were side by side laying on the ground and shooting at the targets placed in a far away mountain - rifles and machine guns. Loud noise and impressive guns were right by the road. People would stop their motorcycle and bicycles to watch...such welcome almost brought tears to my eyes...lovely aren´t they. Just kidding, Pakistanees are great people. Kindness is all I´ve received from the custom´s officer to people on the streets. Julian made a video of the target practice...hopefully I´ll be able to post it for you all.
The heat was on its peak, the next 30km to Lahore were in a open rode, not a single tree ahead of us. We stopped and stayed on the shade till 430pm;then, headed to Lahore.
Aproaching Lahore the traffic got chaotic, dusty, and the sun was on its way down, apparently to get away from that thick dust that made us cover our faces with waterver cloth we could find.
Not easy to find, we arrived at Regal Internet, a guesthouse recomended by many other travelers. Great place, great price, great people. Met a few other travelers, a couple other bikers, and the house´s staff were very nice and helpfull. The owner is a great man, very friendly, and not someone trying to rip your pockets off. He organizes nights were Pakistanee musicians come and do a 1-3 hours performance - FREE.
We were lucky to be there at the night he brought these Suffi musicians..it was just amazing! I can´t believe I got to see that...no words! Went to bed at 1am, woke at 4am, back on the road. Again, me, Julian and Eva headed to Islamabad - 250km.
We planned to do it in 3 days; well, nobody was in a hurry anyway. The heat froced us to change our schedules. We would ride from 5-10am, rest ´till 4-5pm, and continue till 8-9pm...at least that was the plan. Things didn´t go as planned.
Eva was still recovering from some stomach problems, and so was I. Unfortunaly, she developed an infecction...obligating us to rearrange our riding time. Second day and we were getting quite behind our planned schedule of three days. The heat and health were not helping. We decided to sleep the whole day and start riding around 9pm till morning...as soon as we started we stopped in a hospital where we ended up sleeping, heading to Islamabad the next day, by bus.
Islamabad...
Arrived in Rawalpindi, around 10km from central Islamabad. Dust, dust, and more dust..ohh, of course, and lots of marijhuana plants on the road.
 In Pakistan, marijhuana is nothing more than...what it actually is - weed. This was the first surprise about Pakistan;
the second, Islamabad. I cannot name any city I´ve passed so far that looks so green, beautiful, and organized (on its architecture).
My first idea of Islamabad was just as I saw in Rawalpindi - dusty, hot and dirty (not like India). I was dead wrong. Islamabad is one of the greenest city i´ve ever seen.  A Greek firm of architects drew up a master plan, triangular in shape based on a grid system. Islamabad is a rather modern and clean city, especially in comparison to other cities in Pakistan. It´s build to be Pakistan´s post card.
It is well-organized, with the city being divided into different sectors and zones. Divided into eight zones: the diplomatic enclave, the commercial district, the educational sector, the industrial area and so on, each with its own shopping area and park...Not what you expected hey!

The best of our time in Pakistan is stil to come on our next day. Looking for the camping site, we find a water well, which had its water filtered and piped to a house where Pakistanees would come and get drinking water. We stopped there, met Akbar.
Akbar was working at the Turkmenistan´s residence. He spent a good amount of time sitting with us and helping us with all info we needed, plus a delicious pot of tea in the morning. Got up, ate and headed to the Afghanistanee and Brasilian embassy.
Here things went from being good to great.
At the Brasilian embassy, I met Carlos Eduardo Armando, AKA Kadu. Before I go any further, let me tell you that I´ve never expected much help from the Brasilian embassy, based on past experiences. I went there to get a letter of reccomendation, required by Afghan and Iran Embassy. My goal was to get in, get the letter, hope to not be charged, and get out of there.
I dind´t expect to meet a Brasilian, outside of Brasil, that made me proud to say ...´look this is my friend, a brasilian guy! Really!´
He received me with courtesy and soon we were talking as old time friends. He and the entire embassy staff were impressed to see a Brasilian passing by on a bicycle, but what really grab their attention was the fact that I was planning to cross Afghanistan:
 - what´da %$#% are you going to do there. OR Do you have a wish to die...Shouldn´t you just shoot yourself...and many others that go
on the same line of thought.
It became a joke, a serious one. They were and still are very concerned about my idea of crossing Afghan. I trully understand their concern, and really appreciate the fact that they dont just give me the letter and send me on my way. They were and still are working on better ways for me to cross; also, helped me on getting a 30days visa, which was going to be a 15 days only. and if it was not enough to help me on paper work, the Vice-consul, Carlos Eduardo, took me and my friends to his house, treating us like his close friends. We got out of our tents and jumped into a beautiful house, sleeping in beds and cooking in a real kitchen. It might sounds like nothing for some people, but...
it was like....let me try to put in perspective.
You come out of your house, and there is a limousine waiting to take you to a mansion where all the confort you had in your house were tripled;plus, an amazing host was to spend time and take you around, later becoming a great friend.
MMMM...it still not a fair comparison...let`s try this:
You haven´t slept, eaten, rested, cleaned well for days. You´ve been in the heat, dirt, dust, and crazy traffic for months. You haven´t seen a clean shower,kitchen, room, couch, chair or towel for months.
Then, in less 10 minutes, you are placed in a house that changes all the above to it´s opposite. That is more like it - Kadu´s house.
Now, to describe him, Kadu...it would take pages; however, once I´m still here, let´s leave it for later, so I can give you the full story of my fun-time in Pakistan...
So far I´ve been a week and a half in Islamabad, waiting for my visas, and Kadu has been a great friend and amazing help to my recover health wise.
Hoping to get my visa by the end of the week, already missing all the confort and the company, I once again ask you all to wish me luck...
c y later!

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

Great story... Traveling from Vietnam to Spain? WOW! I'm based in Lahore so please do not hesitate to let me know if you need help or advise!

Wish u all the best and have a safe journey...

  Nishat Group Pakistan May 4, 2007 4:38 PM

2

Bon Voyage, Rodrigo.
Don't forget to update your story from Afganistan too.
Cheers

  Vahsek May 5, 2007 2:42 AM

3

what an adventure, Rod! I think it's awesome you're doing this.

can't wait to read more :)

Be safe!


  kiran May 7, 2007 3:24 PM

4

You make me dream every time I read this journal or talk to you thru e-mails. Man, should I quit my job and go meet you after the Iran's border? Yes, Yes, I know I am your older sister but we could kick some dust together. I miss you, I miss your laugh. Have fun (I know you do) and enjoy for both of us. sola

  solange May 8, 2007 1:48 AM

5

Ok. I'll be waiting for you at the corner of Iran and Azerbaijan. As I said before, you are more than welcome to join me. Best time would be on the final strecth...Compostela way. Saudades, beijo

  mutt May 10, 2007 5:30 PM

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