Lahore – Islamabad

18.3.2013

Km counter: 36285 today: 292 sum: 1169


N31°33’41” E074°19’07.5” – N33°42’17” E073°05’18”

Yesterday I spent a relaxed day at the regal internet inn – getting up (very) late and having Pizza delivered in the evening. Oday I wake up late again but no problem. It is less than 300km to Islamabad where I have to get the visa for Iran. The waiting time I plan to spend in the only 160km away frontier town Peshawar close to Khyber pass. I leave Lahore around 12.30 and the first thing I recognize when leaving is that the second mirror is missing. So now I am completely blind to the back. Bur I see many Ford Transit on the road that are even older than suryananada so I am full of hope to find a mechanic tomorrow who can solve the small problems I have at the moment. Like the tire I need and the mirrors…

When the sun sets I have only 30km to go to Islamabad so I stop at a chaishop the second time today. I searched for a shanty place for the first chai shop as I expected the people there to surround me and ask me the usual questions but the people here are much more polite than in india. It might be my new dress but they treat me just like one of them. I enjoy that a lot! Short after the chai shop the police stops me and wants to search my car for security reasons… We all know they are just being curious about me and so I have fun showing them my sleeping room and then I leave in the direction they told me to go. I only get lost once and soon find the camping area but nobody there but two police officers who stand on the highway in front of the gate. After talking to them and waiting for five minutes they ask me why I don’t just open the gate to go inside…. I didn’t recognize it hadn’t been locked so I drive inside and in the same moment the guard from the camping area comes. I check in and go to the market to get some food. Tomorrow embassy and mechanic!

PAKISTAN! Wagah border to Lahore!

15.3.2013

Km counter: 35993 today: 29 sum: 877


N31°36’21” E074°35’06” – N31°33’41” E074°19’07.5”

After getting back my car and my papers the Indian customs search my car once again. Then I am free to go. After passing the gates and crossing the white line that marks the border I am stopped by a soldier on Pakistani side who wants to see my passport. I hand out my passport, open the doors, go down on my knees and touch Pakistani soil with my forehead. Then I stand up to hug the soldier who is completely confused. Within 30 seconds all border area knows about me. 50m further I am stopped again and my passport and the carnet the passage are checked by some soldiers. Another soldier wants to look in my car and when he sees the instruments asks me to sing something for him. We have a nice talk and then I go to the next building which is immigration and customs. Immigration is done within two minutes and the customs officer is just having food. All his desk is covered with different meals. He offers me chai but there is only one cup he has so I refuse because I don’t want to take his. Then he checks my chassis and engine number and the car. He asks if I have any alcohol which I deny and then sees my guitar. Again I have to sing a song and after I am cleared. No searching at all! I love Pakistan!

I change some money and leave the border area. To my right side I see some shops so I stop to get chai. As soon as I get out of the car a shopkeeper who knows a little german invites me to have chai. I buy some toothpaste at his shop and then he invites me to use his internet – no problem. Yet I did not stop smiling from one ear to the other since crossing the border. Did I already mention that I love Pakistan?
I expected to get an escort to bring me to the hotel but there is nobody near or far. I am free to go on my own. I stop at the first petrol station and get some cheap petrol. Traffic here is really different than in india. More organized in a way and so I enter a crossing by mistake at red light. Police stops me and wants to fine me. I give all the papers I have to the police officer when he sees the guitar next to me. We chat a little and then he tells me my fine: I have to sing two songs for him. Pakistan is amazing!

20 minutes later I find the regale internet inn – the place recommended by lonely planet. I go inside and like Malik who owns the place from the very first second. I check in before I have seen the room and meet some nice fellow travelers when entering the roof top. Here its different kind of people than in india – no tourists but real travelers. We go to have food together and then I go to bed soon. Very happy to be in this incredible country I fall asleep.

16.3.2013

Km counter: 35993 today: 0 sum: 877

N31°33’41” E074°19’07.5”

Next day morning I wake up at eight o clock. I have to put the car at another place as it is standing in front of a shop now. At the regale chowk there is parking space now as it is early in the morning. I put my car at a place where police is watching it all the time. Perfect place. Last night Malik told me that some people might feel offended by my (indian) hairstyle. I feel attached with my jiyoti and as soon as I felt the attachment the decision was made. After parking the car I went directly to the barber. He shaved mey head and gave me a nice Muslim beard style. Now I just need a sim card to get phone and internet, a proper dress and one of those amazing crochet cabs people wear here.

But before doing this I need to go back to the hotel to recharge my cellphone. On the way there I stop at the flower shop to get some roses. The shop keeper invites me for chai and gives me roses for free! I still keep smiling since crossing the border for so much hospitality! As I arrive at the hotel I am pretty hungry already. The guys tell me about a super market just around the corner so I go there together with Thomas from Graz who just arrived from india. When I enter the super market I cannot believe what I see. Its incredible! They have everything! Chocolate from Switzerland, cheese and diet redbull from Austria! Spaghetti from Italy. What you like my friend? I am blinded by the choice and spend about 20 euros for and amazing lot of nonsense. I enjoy the cheese sandwiches a lot back at the hotel!

Next I go to get a Pakistani sim card together with Thomas. Sim card is no problem it just takes half an hour and we are not allowed to take cameras inside the building. First I go in and Thomas is waiting with the cameras and then he goes in while I want to unlock my Indian internet device for the computer. I go back 5 minutes to a building with hundreds of mobile phone shops. The guard takes a look at the cameras and lets me pass smilingly. I try a few shops but they tell me they don’t know how to unlock an Indian vodaphone device. They send me to another building to get a device from a Pakistani phone company. I am confused and leave the building. I am already half the way to the other building when I find out I don’t want a device from another company – I want an unlocked one! I turn around as I am sure to find one in the building I just left. Trying to go back inside fails as the guards do not let me in because of the cameras. Mirror cameras seem to be extremely dangerous. I have to go back to the first guard who is just smiling. I do not even have to open the bags as he smiles at me again. I am in.

Getting some clothes makes us search a long time in rail way station area and I just manage to find some shops half an hour after dark. I get some local dress, one of these nice caps to cover my now bald head and then see the tobacco store Malik recommended. Its crazy! They have everything but bic lighters. For these I will have to wait until Turkey. Tired but happy with my success today getting everything I need to be ready for Pakistan I go back to the hotel. When I arrive there I find out my sim card which was supposed to be working until Monday (today Saturday) is working already. Pakistan is not only cheaper and friendlier than india, it is cleaner and the supply with everything u need is better. Pakistan is amazing!

Sorry for the quality of the pictures – I am still fighting with the new lense and some of the pics are taken secretly.

Amritsar border

Next day in the morning I go directly to the customs counter. I am told to wait for “five minutes” as the assistant commissioner (Amanjid Singh) is just taking a look at my case. Minutes and hours pass as short before the border is closing at four a fat guy appears in the hall. He comes directly in front of me and tells me that my car is detained if I cannot pay 350.000.- rupees (5000 euro) penalty. I cannot pay and he says the car will be detained then. I am totally shocked and ask him what I can do as the engine was broken. He tells me to wait for 5 minutes and to sit down.

Again an hour passes. I need insulin so I stand up and go to the car as the fridge cannot keep the temperature forever in the boiling sun. I barely went 10m when a soldier with a gun stops me and orders me to sit down. I am confused and tell him that I need insulin – in English and hindi. He ignores me and tells me to sit down again as the assistant commissioner will be there in “five minutes”. At this point I ask the first time ever in my life to let me call my embassy. Still I am being ignored. Again I ask for insulin and for to call my embassy. Around twenty minutes later I ask this question to everybody coming by. The border was already closed so it is only people who work there passing by – and of course they keep ignoring me.

More than 4 hours later the fat guy comes back. “No way”, he says, “you have to pay”. I am forced to sign the detaining papers and then we go out to suryananda. I am allowed to inject insuline finally and to take it out of the nicely warm fridge… I quickly pick up some stuff I need. I don’t know what to do yet, I am exhausted and shocked, but I know I will fight!
Amanjid Singh (the fat guy) looks at me and says:”No problem we are only interested in the car, the chassis and the engine” and then he looks at the solar panels, “You can take out whatever you like”. These two sentences he will say to me several more times in the days to come. At this point I maybe need to explain that solar panels are not available all over india. Even though there are power cuts half of the day…. Solar panels? No possible! The solar panels on the roof of suryananda provide 220V and 200W max charging capacity. I have been offered crazy prices here to sell them. He says we can talk about the case tomorrow and I try to get a rickshaw to Amritsar.

After some time I can get a shared rickshaw and take a seat on the backside. Looking back at the border suddenly a KTM bike appears behind my rickshaw. For a second I start smiling and make gesture to the driver that I like his bike. He makes a gesture back if I want to come with him. 2 seconds later I sit on a KTM Duke behind a guy who will become a close and precious friend in the coming days helping me to get whatever I need in Amritsar.

We quickly find a cheap hotel and I fall asleep even more quickly. Next day in the morning I pack my stuff and go back to the border. Immigration officers ask me to come in their office and to tell me what happened. Before I am aware that they can’t help at all I tell them the whole story again and they even write down some of it. At the end they give me a phone (no cellphone network at the border) and suggest calling my embassy what I do. The embassy is really helpful and within minutes things seem to change. I am asked to come into Amanjid Singhs office. Chai is being offered and they speak about a much smaller amount of money. I am ready to pay a few hundred euro by now if they would just let us go so I am happy.

After this, again I have to wait for “five minutes” but it is not even 12 so I hope to cross the border today. Half past three an officer comes back and asks me to follow him. The new calculation is ready. We sit in his office and he takes out a letter. At the bottom I see a handwritten 6 digit number starting with a four. Ok that must be something else. Then he starts telling me that they have already applied at the indian automobile association to pay the custom and now I will have to pay 6000 euro (413.000 rupees). “We have to go strictly by law” he says. And then he rips of the head from the letter from the Indian automobile association and writes the exact amount of money he wants down by hand. The car detyaining letter took “five minutes only” but they are not able to give me a proper letter with the amount of money properly written down in a letter to me. Very strange.
I am shocked again when the guy starts asking “Why don’t you just leave the car and go without – you Europeans can afford this – no problem” (…)- I know your boss wants the parts of my bus, but you are not going to get it, I think and ask for a copy of the laws about this case. First he ignores me. He wants me to leave his office but I insist threatening to call my embassy again. “Five minutes” later I get a pile of paper but 20 minutes later I know what to do. I go back to Amritsar and start to work – first I have contact my group of warriors.

At this point I have to put special, huge “THANK YOU” to all my friends and readers who supported me in this situation. Very special thanks go to my mother, Robert, Elmar, Kurt, Sebastian, Karan, Claudia, Mukesh, Stefan, Waltraud, Stefan, Simon and Carina. Thank you for your support! It was a hard fight for a few days and I spent many of them in a hotel room without a window. But we did it! I did not pay one single rupee! Amanjid Singh, Bachelor of int. human rights at the army school, desperate to “be someone” (like a politician), has to get his new solar panels and the money to buy his next golden necklace somewhere else!

And I? Well I left india… probably forever this time.
So we can relax! I am in Pakistan!

If you read this and you have that problem with your car or bike being too long in india. Send me an Email but do so before you approach the border.

Lunkaransar – Wagah border

6.3.

Km counter: 35870 Today: 404 Sum: 754

N31°06’21” E074°58’37”

Waking up early I try to repair the tyre and find somebody who will help at the 3rd attempt. Driving through Thar dessert is amazing again. I know the street as I was here three years ago by motorbike. Suryananda is fine and the only one thing slowing us down is the street condition. By late afternoon it appears to become a boring day but then in Abohar a bus scratches along the right side of suryananda. No major damage but the painting and the back mirror are damaged. No fun to drive left with no mirror right but what to do…. At the next stop I recognize the tyre is done again. As I have twin tyres in the back I decide to remove it and continue on four wheels. It takes me quite some time to explain what I want to the tyre wallah. Again he wants to sell a non existing tyre and after removing the broken one he wants to make me go on using 5 tyres…. I take his tools and start removing the tyre that is too much on my own. What to do….

The sun sets while we do this so it will be a night ride again to the border which is little more than 200km to go. Two hours later the main road is blocked and I don’t want to take the detour as I am tight on petrol and Indian currency. I spend the night in a small village 60 km before Amritsar. As soon as I stop close to a chaishop people start surrounding suryananda knocking and trying to open the doors. They manage to open the back door which makes me jump out of the car a stick in my hand threatening to give a bamboo massage to everyone who touches the car. People step pback and I lock myself in the car. I don’t want chai anymore and go to sleep. Many mosquitos in the car make it impossible to sleep properly – what to do… Not one of the best days of my journey.

7.3.

Km counter: 35964 today: 94 sum: 848

N31°36’21” E074°35’06”

After waking up I do not bother to get a chai but get on the road immediately. I know a chai shop where I stop whenever I am in this area. The guys there remember me so I get breakfast, shower and clean the car for crossing the border. A little before the border I stop one last time to go to internet and get chai. Internet not possible as there is no network close to the border…. I enjoy chai and samosa and go on to find out Wagah border is only 4 more km to go. They made the border completely new on the Indian side so I go wrong on the first attempt. Soldiers tell me which way to go. I enter the border area and no one stops me so I continue very slowly having no idea where I can get the stamp in my carnet de passage. Only a few meters before the border line a private car overtakes and stops me. Obviously I have missed the custom area and need to go back.

They put a stamp in my passport and then start to examine my carnet the passage. In the meantime I go out with an officer to examine the car. He takes a short look and tells me to remove my luggage so they can x ray it…. To do this he gives me a small airport trolley. I open the bus and start to take out the kitchen first. The officer recognizes that it will take ages to take out all luggage and enters the car. I show him everything and he decides to take an xray of some of my clothes. I put all he wants in a few bags and on the trolley to go back to the custom building. The guys who are working at my carnet found out that the car stayed much too long in india by now. I tell them about the engine problems and that it was not possible to fix everything before my last visa was finished. At that time I had to leave the country for two months so it was not possible to get the car out of india within 6 months. They understand and start the required paperwork. No x ray is taken as the carnet seems to be more interesting. After my clothes standing around in the hall for 2 hours I take them back into the car. By then the border closed so I have to stay for the night which made one more problem: I am not allowed to spend the night inside the border area, neither can I go to Pakistan and I already left india. No possible to go back on a single entry visa… They suggest to spend the night just outside the border post so the soldiers can guard me. I am invited for two meals, chai and everything I need by the border post. (I have no more Indian currency as it is not allowed to take rupees out of india.) Late at night I ask if its possible to drive a little direction Amritsar to get internet as it would be comfortable to get some information before leaving india. No problem. Coming back 2 hours later I fall asleep quickly.


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Pushkar – Lunkaransar

N28°32’08”, E073°46’18”

Km counter: 35466

Km today: 350

I wake up early morning and get chai. After a little argument with the hotel owner close to my car park I leave quickly. The first 50km being no problem, the engine running very smooth and full power but then the light for the charging control lights up. I stop at a big TATA workshop and the guys say they don’t have the parts but they will do their best. I wait in the car while the temperature climbs up to 38°C – outside in the shadow. They removed the battery charger and I have to wait. The manager comes round and tells me to make myself comfortable – I am his guest! I get chai, food and everything I need. After food he offers me to take a shower. Hot water? I ask … YES! I take a shower in a nice hotel room and as the repairing takes longer (no power, coming after half hour) I also use the bed and take a little nap. 4 hours later the carbon inside the battery charger is replaced and they wake me up. Everybody wants to take a picture so I forget to take one myself… Never mind, I chalo.

10 km later the engine has no more power. I stop and call the guys again. Ten minutes later 2 of the mechanics arrive and fix the charger – it was loose and as the fan belt is connected to the cooler too the engine became hot. Done within 2 minutes so I can go on. A little later I stop at a petrol station and recognize that the tubeless tyre in which we put a tube in Pushkar doesn’t look good. Some of the stitching had broken, so the next thing I need is a tyre wallah. At sunset I stop in Nagaur to see the tyre wallah shaking his head: No possible! I could do it myself so I know it is possible. He asks me for tools to take down the tyre but they had disappeared – I hadn’t found them when cleaning the car in Pushkar. However what kind of tyre wallah is this who doesn’t have tools to do his work? I jump into the car and go 200m to the next tyre workshop. Guy there says no possible and brings me back to the first guy who is suddenly ready to help… 2 hours he says – No problem I reply and go to the chaishop to order chai. Suddenly the mechanic comes back and tells me to get a new tyre. I tell him this kind of tyre is not possible in inda as I had tried everything in Pushkar to get one. He insists so we have to go to a tyre shop where he finds out this kind of tyre is not possible in india… We buy an old tyre to use as a patch and go back to the car where I get my chai finally believing they will start to work now. When I come back to the car everything is like before and he again asks me for tools! I start getting a little pissed as he suggests to go to Bikaner where they have the right size nut to take down the tyre. I jump in the car and chalo. He was right this had taken exactly two hours! But I had expected the tyre to be fixed by then! What to do I will find a place where people can help and not only want to earn commission for selling me a new tyre. (And if I had bought a tyre there he still wouldn’t have been able to change the tyre).

A little later I relax and enjoy the street. 50km before Bikaner after overtaking a few trucks the engine has a sudden loss of power again. I stop, switch off, switch on again and no problem… My guess would be either petrol filter blocked or carburetor dirty. I have a spare petrol filter with me so I call a friend at home who is mechanic. He confirms my guess so I go on and decide to change the petrol filter tomorrow – no problem. I pass Bikaner and about an hour later I reach my daily target which is 4% of the way home. Finally at a chaishop I can take out my guitar and play one or two songs for the guys who roam the place. When I start writing the blog its well past 1 o clock. No problem I got a shady place so I can sleep a little longer tomorrow. Happy that only minor problems occurred on the first day driving after suryananda was standing in the dessert for a year I fall asleep soon.



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Hampi – Pushkar


≈2500km

I leave Hampi at saturday morning having no ideas about the day of the week. The train ride is joyful as the train is nearly empty. Unfortunately my phone does not get any connection even after leaving hampi so I believe the sim was switched of – would not be the first time. The train is late in Belgaum and before I arrive there I recognize its Saturday so I will have to stay one day before I get the bike. What to do. Sunday I move to another hotel closer at the enfield showroom and get a mobile device so I will have internet everywhere. I find out there will be a train to Delhi at Monday evening. As I am in a hurry to get my spare parts for the car from the custom in jaipur I take the train up to Gwalior.

Before getting on the train I have the occasional fight about the price with the chai wallah at the station – “One chai fifteen rupees!” – “ You know that’s why I like Pakistan so much – In Pakistan people are welcome and in india only money”. People are suddenly silent around me and looking at me – I pay five rupee and leave. I have a general ticket and the train is overcrowded. The first night I manage to get a bed but then I spend 20 hours without even really a place to sit… At this day a guy who has been at the chaishop in Belgaum invites me for chai to prove not all Indians are greedy. A few hours before arriving I meet some Russian girls I had already seen in Hampi. I join them and the last hours on the train go by fast while chatting with them. I arrive in Gwalior which is about 300km from Jaipur at 1 in the morning and its freezing cold 1800 km further in the north. There is no way to get on the bike before sunrise. I do 10km and then I spend hours at a chaishop with the biggest rats I have ever seen in india. I got internet so no problem.
Sunrise I spend at the next chaishop already – I have a lot of fun with the very nice chai guy there. Then I take a short cut and the landscape becomes amazingly beautiful again. Somewhere out in the dessert suddenly I recognize a loss of power. My diagnosis is ignition which probably needs to be adjusted which needs a mechanic who knows enfields. I stop in the next village and soon a mechanic is found. Within minutes I am surrounded by people who ask me to play my guitar and make music. I order chai but before the chai is finished the bike is. My diagnosis in general was right but lucky enough only the spark plug needed to be changed. I sing a song for the people and in exchange I get chai and spark plug for free.

Well there are places with nice open hearted people in india still. But you will need to visit the countryside – like places where people have hardly ever seen foreigners before. I didn’t sleep last night so I stop a little later at a chaishop to take a nap. Waking up very late I don’t manage to reach Jaipur and sleep again in the same filthy guesthouse where I was a few weeks before on my way to Agra. Next day morning I go to my guesthouse in Jaipur and to the post office then. They need the receipt which was sent to Pushkar so I can prove to be the owner of the parcel. Takes another two days but Sunday evening a bus driver takes the paper for me from Pushkar. So I wait a few days in Jaipur and get the parts Monday afternoon. Nighttime I arrive in Pushkar. I sleep inside suryananda. The repairing takes a few days but after it is finished I am still kind of stuck in Pushkar. “Leaving day after tomorrow” I tell everyone until people are only laughing about it. When the car is repaired I take a room to clean her completely and after I take a place at sunset ghat – which is probably the most beautiful place to park in Pushkar.