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.