In at the deep end

A country behind

November 10, 2008

Warning: andy area ahead
‘Andy area?’ I thought to myself , ‘What the fuck is an Andy– Holy shit!
I leaned hard on the right hand handlebar and narrowly missed the massive sand dune that flared up in my headlight only metres away.
‘Ah.. that would be a sandy area…’

As if driving on the left after 6 months of driving on the right wasn’t enough to contend with!
Getting from Zahedan (the closest large city on the Iranian side of the border) to the border itself took me 4 hours due to a highly inefficient relay of escorts that seemed more geared towards preventing me from leaving the beaten path than actually protecting me.

On the way to Zahedan I overtook a tourist bus rocketing along at some 70mph behind a pick-up with a belt-feed fully-automatic machine gun mounted on the back, comforting!
But… Other than that the crossing itself was hassle free and relatively quick.

On the Pakistan side….
‘Wow… Pakistan is a 3rd world country man…’
Whereas on the Iranian side it had all been neat offices with airconditioning and tarmaced roads connection them, when I traipsed into the Pakistani Immigration Office I nearly slipped over on the shifting mini-dunes that skittered across the cracked tile floor.
The customs office was little better, hidden behind a power-substation it took me a while to find, but when I did, I met a fellow overlander; a chap from Germany with ‘Everest 2003′ emblazoned on the side of his transit-van, apparently he’d been travelling for some time!
‘The road from here to Quetta is in very bad shape, the engineers who planned it were stupid people who didn’t put drainage in, so the first wet season came and it all washed away’

This assessment was to prove unfortunately correct.
Although it had been many years since the road was originally built, since then its re-designs and re-builds haven’t improved matters much, and I was faced with Moldova-syndrome, where the road would periodically plunge into unsealed gravel roads with rocks the size of my face dancing gaily under my wheels.

Still, after a few near misses with sand dunes, unlit cyclists and even the occasional camel I descended upon a road-side truckers ‘hotel’ after the smell of hot curry drew me inexorably towards its source.
‘Cor… First curry in 6 months’
I had been starving myself all day for this… 3 full plates of curry and rice, 3 pots of tea and an unknown quantity of Naan later I drove my bike into my room…
Yes.. Literally, was a bit of a squeeze but it fit eventually!
… And I settled down for the night.

*Knock knock*
‘Salaam Alaekum’
‘Alaekum Salaam’ I replied sleepily.
One after another the entire village walked curiously into my room, careful to remove their shoes first, even though my muddy, sandy, oily bike had already made a complete mess of the floor.
Fortunately one of them spoke English and he proceeded to introduce every, whose names I immediately forgot, and their roles in the village, the only ones I remember being ‘Barber’ and ‘Militant’.
‘Militant? For whom?’
‘Baluchistan National Party’
‘Aaah, the BNP’ I quipped, a joke mystifying to my friends.

We talked until midnight over tea and hashish; which I was sole partaker of worryingly, I was starting to  expect a drug-bust!
Sleep, then up a swig of tea and benzine (siphoning is harder than it looks) and an 11 journey to Quetta, where East meets, uhh.. Middle-East…

And here I am!
Next time on TKTV:
Can I find a cheap second hand camera at Quetta’s renowned market?
Will I be able to sell the 80l of petrol left on my Iranian quota card.
Is there in fact anything interesting in Quetta?

All this and more.. NEXT TIME!!!

  • Graham

    Oooh, a cliffhanger…

  • Jamespa

    This is so fanstastic Sam! I’m enjoying it through you, it really lives! See you on MSN sometie Wednesday night if you can make it,