Taftan – Golbaf

4.4.2013

Km counter: 39224 today: 550 sum: 4108

N28°58’34” E061°33’14” – N29°53’26” E057°43’45”

When I get up I have chai and sing a few songs first. No hurry the Levies here are nice guys and I expect that not to get better on the other side of the border. I go to the shop, with escort of course, to spend my last few rupees and after cross the border. Pakistani side I only need the stamp in the passport which I get in a minute so I continue to the Iranian side. They direct me to the front of the office building, take carnet and passport and tell me to wait. Less than an hour later the guy who took the papers comes back with an army guy and tells me the army guy is my escort – that’s it! They don’t even ask for Alcohol or whatever illegal stuff somebody could bring from Pakistan…. I get 20l, at 1000 Toman per liter expensive petrol (1euro is 4260 Toman) and on we go to Zahedan which is 55km away. On the way there we stop once to change the escort. I wait approximately an hour and then two guys come to sit next to me until Zahedan.

They direct me into town and I have to stop at a roundabout where I already had been waiting for a long time when I was here last time. Again I wait more than an hour until a police car comes to take me to the next roundabout where I am supposed to wait again. They still have passport and carnet so what to do? I lock the car and take a walk through the city. The police man tries to tell me I am not allowed to go anywhere without escort and I tell him I don’t want to sit in the heat in the car for anpther hour to wait to be taken to the next roundabout… My walk makes him work a little faster so the next police car comes within a little less than an hour to take me… to the next roundabout. Again my papers change hands, again some of it is copied by hand. After that I tell the guy to give me my papers and he is confused enough for a moment to do it. I straightly go back to the car and tell the guy I will leave in 5 minutes. After exactly five minutes the next police car comes to take me…. You guessed it right but this time I don’t stop.

My navigation system tells me the way and I go direction Highway to Bam. Police follows me and asks me to stop on the highway as the escort will be here in 5 minutes. Again I tell him I will wait for exactly five minutes and again the escort comes exactly after five minutes. They ask me to hand out my passport but I refuse to do so as I know I will not see it again until I am in Bam and they will let me wait as they like. We shout at each other for a moment and then he threatens to take me to the police station because I refuse to prove my ID. What to do…. I give him the passport. He goes to his car and wants to start but I don’t go to mine. When he comes back I tell him I will not go nowhere if the passport is not in my car. He sends a (very) young guy with a kalaschnikow to sit next to me and take care of my passport and the Taliban. I feel sorry for the guy and need petrol soon so I accept the solution but make up my mind about my tactics on the 400km to come before the escort will end in Bam.

The idea to keep my passport in my car by taking a soldier with me works out. In the confidence of having control because having my passport the third guy who sits next to me starts to give me orders. The first one or two I obey but then start to ignore him. At the next guard change he tells me to stop. I tell him to give me my passport passing the police station not reducing speed at all. Again he tells me to stop. I get more slowly and tell him to give him my passport and while he starts searching in his pockets I stop the car around 500m passed the police station in the desert. When I stop he stops searching and tells me to turn. Again I accelerate and hit the road. I tell him he can either jump out of the driving car with my passport, give me my passport and we go back or stay in the car until the petrol is finished which will be the case in about 450km. He chooses the second one and we go back. I hand out my passport again getting the promise to get it back before leaving but the officer hands it to the next soldier.

I feel sorry for him already now so I give him a chance and tell him to hand out my passport which he refuses. I go back to the car very fast and the engine is running before he is there. When he has one foot inside the car I go and before he is sitting properly on his seat he finds us on the wrong side of the street with a bus coming towards us pretty fast. I see his wide eyes and tell him again to give me my passport. He refuses for less than a minute and then I have my passport back. Sorry to the bus driver and the two truck drivers but I indicated on which side I will go so it should not have been too much of a problem for them…

Late at night we arrive in Bam, the escort at my side in another car and the passport in my pocket. I get some food at a restaurant while police is waiting outside. I ask them what they are waiting for and they call somebody who speaks English. He is telling me that the escort is finished and they just want to make sure I don’t sleep in front of the restaurant because this is directly at the Highway and dangerous…. I tell him I will relax a little and leave after half an hour. You make me wait I make you wait I think, and I really need to relax after all day driving. Around 11 p.m. I leave with the police guiding me to the next roundabout showing me the way to Kerman, where I told them I want to go. I hit the road! Finally free! (I believe).

A few chai shops later I reduce speed thinking about having another chai to celebrate freedom after more than 1000km stupid guards around me avoiding me having any contact with the local people. In that moment a plain white car shows up next to me with two guys waving their arms like crazy. Ok, we are in Balochistan, it is in the middle of the night somewhere in the desert…. I don’t stop asking myself if these guys are drunk idiots (not very probable in Iran) or fucking police. I go 50km an hour with them only meters behind me for a few kilometers. Then I make a pretty sharp brake and go on driving 30. Soon they turn up next to me and tell me they are police and I should move on. Damn! No freedom, I think and think about a tactics to get rid of them. I continue going not faster than 50 annoying them a lot. After the next guard change we go steep up a mountain. The police car has changed to an official one which is easy to spot in the mirror for the red flash light. On the steep road I reduce speed to 30, after 20 minutes the red lights disappear around 130km before Kerman. I keep on going and after 20 minutes I see the flashlight again but disappearing then. So they just checked if I don’t park on the roadside as soon as they are gone and then went home to sleep.

We are at an elevation of 2400m by now and it is too cold here to sleep anyway. Soon a side road to the Kaluts appears. An amazing desert recommended by friends and travel guides. I take the side road but being very tired already I think about finding a place where to sleep. After the escort I get a little paranoid and think about the place a long time. I’d like a place not to much hidden and not too much jumping in every ones eye. I am lucky to find a petrol station in a the small town of Gobalf at 1700m above sea level. Directly at the main road with a dark corner for me. I fall asleep at 3.30 a.m. only minutes after turning of the engine.

Only 2 pictures today, sorry I was not in the mood to take too many….

Dalbandin – Taftan

3.4.2013

Km counter: 38674 today: 287 sum: 3558

N28°53’13” E064°24’20” – N28°58’34” E061°33’14”

Again an amazing landscape and again security guys keep me too much up to speed. From Dalbandin to Nok Kundi the road goes slightly down and is in the best condition I have seen since…… being on this road. Its less than 300km now until we will see a real road again! Petrol is tight but under this circumstances I keep going. I take 10l after one hour rolling down through the desert and go on. We approach the area where the girls were kidnapped so I start asking my security guy about it. As far as I find out the Taliban and the BLF (Balochistan Liberation Front) had been attacking a police checkpoint two weeks ago. They were about to fight against the police when two more police guys turned up with the girls…. It was not about kidnapping at all and if the girls wouldn’t have had an escort they would still be on the road. What I always say seems to be true – its not the area and its people that is dangerous. Its dangerous to be with the police because they are no democratic force here, they are more like Pakistani occupants who try to rule Balochistan. Of course the Balotchis are pissed!

At Nok KundiI see the entry of the girls in one of the books all foreigners have to register… 16 entries before mine at march 18.. I need to get some PetroI in Nok Kundi too which unfortunately became more expensive after Quetta while I am running out of Rupees.I am lucky too find a nice Petrol smuggler who gives me the cheapest petrol I got this time in Iran! “Mehman hai” – you are a guest! I love Pakistan! I arrive at Taftan by afternoon. The battery is charging again so a better mood comes back with the music. The escort brings me directly to the customs building even though I tell them I want to spend the night here. No problem customs is done today so I can leave early morning and don’t need to wait here. And while the customs is done I set up my place for the night at the police station. Pakistan is great! In the evening I am invited at the police station and in this place it seems to be really nice guys. When I ask for Aspirin in the evening they bring me straight to the doctor who gives me Aspirin then…. By the way today I really needed the sun to charge my battery and 20km after Nok Kundi it was, believe it or not, RAINING!

Quetta – Dalbandin

2.4.2013

Km counter: 38387 today: 331 sum: 3271

N30°12’02” E067°01’25” – N28°53’13” E064°24’20”

My escort comes early and so we leave Quetta well before 8 o clock. I take some Petrol to easily reach Dalbandin but not much further because I expect it to become cheaper on the way. Escort is following me and by chance I find the right way out of town. Around 50km out of town the gas wire breaks. The police guys suggest to tow the car back to Quetta. I suggest to call a mechanic to come with a piece of wire. I end up fixing a rope at the carburetor pulling the rope instead of stepping on the gas. The more I pull, the faster we go and the rope comes in at the side window. Somehow it feels more like riding a horse than driving a car but I make the 15km to the next village where I get a warm welcome, free chai and a new wire. Of course I make some music for the people too and we all enjoy.

The day goes by with the escort keeping me in a hurry and trying to avoid me making any contact with local people. Rather more than less successful this time unfortunately. Some of the guys are nice some are real idiots sitting next to me and annoying me for many kilometers. The solar panels still don’t charge even though I find the fuse that is finished so I don’t even have music all day. In the evening I find out the charger is done and connect the solar panels directly to the battery. Seems to work! A day full of challenges for the mechanic inside of me. I arrive in Dalbandin at afternoon being locked in a police station again. People here really seem to panic because of the two Czech girls that were being kidnapped two weeks ago here. The landscape is mindblowingly amazing all day. Driving this land is like meditation only interrupted by the checkpoints.

Quetta

30.3.-1.4.2013

Km counter: 38056 today: 0 sum: 2940

N30°12’02” E067°01’25”

As I already expected I cannot get the NOC before Monday. What I did not expect I am not able to move free in Quetta. As I find out until the evening I cannot even move free inside the parking area of the police which is surrounded by a big wall and full of cars. I am more or less prisoner inside the car. Internet does not work anymore and I am not even allowed to go to the opposite side of the street to get a chai. Not funny. And even worse all day people coming and knocking at suryanandas windows making me feel like an animal in a zoo. And in fact that’s what I am! All the police is coming to take a look at me until I start taking pictures of the people looking inside and fix a note outside. At sunset of the first day I climb on suryanandas roof top to enjoy but seconds later a stupid idiot calls me down – this is not allowed because I see the officers house! But its no fuckin problem you pressing your noses at my sleeping room window? Fuck off I think, climb down and lock inside the car. The second day I make an attempt to get a chai in the morning but no way. The surrounding area is extremely beautiful, the people outside extremely hospitable in the few moments I have the chance to get a contact to them.

I have a flat tire again too but luckily its only the valve that is damaged so no problem. The “jack” the cops use for my car is very clever. Nice idea! Second day in the evening I get internet for a few minutes just to find out my homepage is still offline. I decide to get some phone balance and call my webmaster tomorrow. In the evening I can put suryananda on a more peaceful place at the parking area. I still hope to leave next day morning. Everyone keeps saying NOC takes only “five minutes”…. Why am I still believing this bullshit?

Next day morning we (I always have my heavily armed guard next to me – even though I promised many times not to harm anybody…) go to the ministry that issues the NOC. In the first office I apply for the NOC and as soon as I hand over the papers all people leave the office. I wait for 20 minutes and then I ask my guard what we are waiting for. “They are on strike”, he replies, “they will be back after 45 minutes”. Needless to say that they come back more than two hours later. All in all it takes more than 5 hours waiting (instead of “five minutes”) to get a stupid paper that provides “foolproof security on the way” for an Australian citizen with my name. Not that I didn’t give them my passport or didn’t explain 100 times where I am from. However, tomorrow morning at 7 o clock I will leave Quetta after three days on the police carpark.

Mach – Quetta

29.3.2013

Km counter: 38056 today: 87 sum: 2940

N29°41’58” E067°23’08” – N30°12’02” E067°01’25”

When I wake up the sun is out. I slept very well and I get chai as soon as I open the door. Seems like police officers want me to stay a little as they offer food. I take the camera and start to explore the close surroundings of the police station. At night I had to park inside the station as outside it was “Too dangerous!” As soon as I am crossing the street one guard calls me back to have chai. I go back in at the front door and back out at the side door to take a look at the fantastic rock wall behind the police station. Yesterday fishing, today rock climbing in Balochistan? Why not? This wall is incredibly amazing beautiful and has easy and hard spot very close!

I go back inside to get my climbing shoes but the officer stops me. He tells me about snipers in the mountains who would have fun shooting me down. I don’t know if to believe him but it really seems like Pakistan is on the road only. One step off the road I am in Balochistan for which I have no Visa (NOC). At around 10 breakfast is ready, I am not allowed to go outside the walls but the guys want me to stay for one or two days….. doing what?! The officers disappears to get bread for the breakfast promising to be back in 10 minutes leaving me with a boy a little older than 20 who was preparing the breakfast.

2 hours later I tell this boy I will leave now and open the gate. He smiles at me and tells me he would not allow me to go while he closes the gate again saying I have to wait for the officer who would come back in “five minutes”. I smile back at him and tell him he has three options: Opening the gate again to let me wait outside, get some firearm and keep me hostage, or get a punch in his face and I will be on the road in a minute. Even though I am smiling and very friendly he recognizes I am not joking and chooses option one. So I park outside under the palm tree and wait for the officer. During this time the friendly man from the village passes by and stops to talk to the boy. I hear him saying something about incense of which I have plenty so I step back in the car to get some. When I come back to the cockpit the officer is back. I give the incense to the village guy who is very pleased and hit the road.

Landscape is incredibly beautiful again so I enjoy the road a lot until I stop at a chai shop I remember from the last time passing by. I order chai and notice the beautiful guys around me. Unfortunately it is very hard to see Balochistani girls but judging by the men they must be amazingly beautiful. I drink two chai and find out they have diet coke at the shop. I buy two of them and go back to the car suddenly being surrounded by the people who had been sitting around before seeming not to be much interested in me… Asking the usual questions (Where are you from, whats your name, are you married, why not, are you travelling alone, what really, only one person…)I answer by taking out my guitar and sit for another chai and some music with them. A police officer arrives too and from the moment I start singing he does not stop offering joints to me… Pakistan. I stay little more than an hour before I leave to take the last 50km to Quetta where I will need to get the NOC to cross Balochistan to Iran.

The closer I get to Quetta the more the police is armed. Around 10km before Quetta I take a side street to take a few pictures without power lines. Within two minutes police is there and brings me back to the road. Two km later I get a heavily armed, permanent escort to Quetta. “Where u want to go?” they ask. “I want to sleep at the police station” I reply. “No possible, Hotel”, the guy replies, “Bloom Star Hotel!”. “No way!” I say but off he goes. He goes directly to this Hotel I ve been already last year and orders me to drive in. I refuse. I tell him I was here before and I will not go there again for what happened then. He raises his shoulders for a second and then we go to the police station. I go to a place where I can park, meet the stupid officer in charge who has a disgusting yankee accent and an even more disgusting behavior. He asks me for Viagra five minutes later! Cops! By the time I recognize it is Friday evening and I will not get my NOC before Monday! Stuck again! Damn! At night I hear a lot of gun shots and low flying military airplanes. And temperatures drop to nearly freezing at 1500m. Welcome to Balochistan!

Sukkur – Mach

28.3.2013

Km counter: 37969 today: 295 sum: 2853

N27°41’52.6” E068°51’25” – N29°41’58” E067°23’08”

I get no sleep all night as the mosquitoes in Sukkur drive me crazy again. 15 minutes before 5 my escort arrives. I am pretty pissed at the guy who wants to protect me with his ridiculous looking shotgun. Guys out there have kalaschnikows and rocket launchers. Even if they would send two heavily armed cars with me it would be 3 shots instead of one at the worst case. But nobody wants to harm me! The rebels are only fighting the police not me. The risk is more caused by the police around me which is a target more worth attacking than I am. Aazad mare Balochistan! (Free Balochistan in balotchi language) I already made some little Balochistani rebel songs so it will be no problem there. I ask the guy what he would do if 18 heavily armed Taliban would turn up on the road. If he would run away like his colleague in Nokkundi 10 days ago leaving two Czech girls at the age of 20 and 22 years alone…. His look at the floor I take as a yes.

I tell him I will not care for the escort, jump in the car and go with him following me. Way out of town is saved on my navigation system so I just go on when my escort changes several times…. Road is good at the first kilometers and I don’t see any escort any more. Suryananda is faster than ever… Unfortunately the roads in Sindh are generally donkey tracks so soon my average speed drops to below 20 and the escort has no problem keeping up with me. Still I ignore them stopping in a nice village at a chai shop. When I stop the cop jumps out of the car shouting “Go!, go!” – I shout back “No!, No!, I have chai! Chai!” He jumps in the car again and leaves. I go the chai shop, have chai and a chat with the people around.

Getting closer to Balochistan the people become more and more beautiful. I take out the camera and start making portraits. The problem here, and probably that’s why all people are afraid of this people, they smile and laugh all the time. But whenever they see a camera facing them their faces turn like they are just on the way to a fight about life and death. Still they are beautiful but still I prefer them smiling and joking! When I am just about to order the second chai the police guy comes back and tells me to go now. I don’t really want to fight with him here on the street knowing I have all the people behind me which is proven by what happens now.

I get in the car and reverse to get on the road again. One guy looking at my backside and telling my to go shouting and waving his hand. 1m later I crash into something and people hit on suryananda so I stop at the second. Obviously I had kicked down a motorbike. People that already had left the chai shop come back and a little crowd forms around us. Now the police officer is getting really really nervous. Still most of the people support me telling me smilingly “no problem, accidents happen, just go…!”. The owner of the bike appears at my window too demanding 2000 rupees (15 euro) but not being very confident as the people around us are rather shouting at him than at me. The officer is totally stressed out shouting at me “Go!, Go!” as he obviously does not really understand what is going on close around me. However I hit the road and go. What to do – I love these people here!

For many kilometers I see no escort again, seems like the guy is stuck in the crowd probably explaining why he hunts a guest away. Road is horrendous until I leave Sindh. After entering Balochistan it becomes pretty good soon so I have another shop at a chai shop. I am escorted again but the escort is just going on when I stop. They seem not to enjoy chai a lot. The chai shop is pretty full of beautiful Balochistan “Taliban”. When I come in they look at me like they look when I take the camera. “Salaam aleikom!”, I say and smile at them – they smile back immediately and the ice is broken. I have two or three chai and enjoy the hospitality of the people. Its Balochistan – no way to pay! ” I am the guest! I love Balochistan I think and sing Aazad mare Balochistan for them – Free Balochistan! They love me.

Soon I pass Sibbi and one of the most beautiful parts of my journey is starting. The Mountain road up to the Bolan Pass and to Quetta. Only 140km road and here I really don’t like to be escorted because I want to go fishing today! The first police checkpoint at the beginning of the valley I just pass leaving the guys looking at my back side. The canyon I am passing is amazing and soon the battery of the camera is finished. The second battery was damaged in Hampi so I put the one I have in the charger and continue very slowly. I arrive at a place I already wanted to enjoy the year before but then I had a levies guy sitting next to me.

At a beautiful stretch of the river, right next to the road a few guys were standing, some with kalaschnikows, waving their hands at me from the river bank. I take the next possibility down to the river and stop suryananda. I take some cookies with me and go to where they wait for me. Unfortunately I cant remember one of their names as it was just too many! They invite me for chai and I recognize they are fishing. I get my fishing gear and my guitar from the car and we have an amazing time there – unfortunately my camera charging during that time. After more than an hour police turns up and is very unrelaxed about what I am doing. I just had my first takes and the guys showed me one barbel like fish they caught – but no way, I have to go on.

As the battery of the camera is still empty I go very very slowly and enjoy the landscape. At the next restaurant I make a stop and get food. After eating I ask the people there for a shop as I need batteries for my torch too. They point out to the desert so I go the direction for about two hundred meters and find nothing. I go back to the restaurant to find out the “shop” is a tiny container in front of the restaurant – in a complete different direction! However the cameras battery is charged again. It is little past 5 p.m. so sun will set in around an hour. I remember a beautiful police station in Mach, just a few kilometers ahead where I had chai last year. I stop there and ask for to stay that night. No problem they say and I park in front of the police station and jump out of the car with my camera.

The landscape is crazy, the light perfect! I take a few pictures and ask the police officer for a shop as I still need batteries for my head light. He takes me down to the river shows me a waterhole where the water is filtered by the gravel and points out to the desert when I ask for a shop. This time I see something like a roof out there and go. After a few hundred meters he starts shouting at me so I change the direction but keep going. Its already getting dark when I arrive at the house I have seen. There is nobody living in there still its in a good shape. I hear voices so I follow them and arrive at a tiny little village with house made by palm leaves and amazingly beautiful people living there.

They don’t have a shop of course but they offer chai. I like the people a lot as they ask me for my language and we start teaching each other immediately. They don’t like me to take pictures of their houses even though I think they are beautiful nomadic buildings. As its getting dark soon they give me company on the way back. We nearly run back through the gravel bed of the river to met the police officer when they just leave they police station to search for me. Last years history is kind of repeating – I am sorry again. Apologizing I take out the guitar and make music for them. They enjoy a lot and some chais later we go out to have food. Still I don’t get batteries and I am not really confident about the electricity in the car. However I got up very early so I fall asleep as soon as we come back from the restaurant.

December 11. Quetta – Sukkur

[27°41´52.6“, 068°51´25“]

Km today: 384

Today I wake up late and the others are ready to go already. I quickly put some petrol in and hurry up so I will be ready too until escort is coming. Adam tells me they want to go alone too because of my low speed. I don’t know what to think, however I take the same escort leaving the hotel. (By the way I can’t recommend Bloom Star Hotel – if you go Quetta try to be there at daytime so you have time to search a good hotel!). 2 kilometers after leaving I recognize I forgot my tank cap at the hotel. I sound the horn twice and turn around. What to do, this was a quick farewell at the end.

On the way back a boy rides a small bike next to me shouting at me. I don’t know what he wants but he sounds angry and makes money signs with his fingers. I don’t care and go on while he is getting more and more angry. Only a few meters before the hotel police stops me. I feel some tension as they want my passport and have a look inside the car. I take my camera to take some pictures and in the same moment they say „Ok, go! “. Whatever the boy told them, whatever was his problem, I go to the hotel to get my tank cap and wait for another escort. Soon a police guy comes and takes me to the police station. I am being asked to come in and have chai so I lock the car and go inside the yard to sit in the sun. But what is this? Inside the police station there are two big marijuana plants…. I can’t believe it and ask the officer who got me the tea. He explains what they use them for (making hashish) and laughs at me. Pictures possible? Why not! Crazy Pakistan!

Minutes later I am on the road and as soon as I leave Quetta I am there alone – no escort! Now I take my own speed an start enjoying the drive again. I dance and sing in the car and take a stop whenever I like to take pictures and chai. So I stop at the first nice tea stall I find next to a river. The chai is not here yet when an officer of the levies arrives by walk to protect me when drinking. He is very nice though it is a little annoying to have police next to me at every step I do. The landscape is not to be described by words – one of the most amazing ones I have ever seen, but I look forward arriving in India where I am free to do what I want without bodyguard. I go on and some hours later I recognize a road leaving the highway leading to a close by village. I haven´t seen any escort for some time so I stop to study the map and think about visiting the village for lunch. I haven´t finished that thought as a levies officer appears out of the nowhere. Village nehi milega (no possible) chalo, chalo (go, go). – I have to leave immediately. From the village there is smoke rising – not unusual in late autumn but when I go on I think this might not have been a straw fire…

A few kilometers later I am stopped by police again. I grab my passport to make the usual entry in their book so they know who and where I am – but there is no book. They just want to invite me for chai so I enjoy their amazing place on the roadside and after three cups of tea I am allowed to go on.
At one of the following check points a levie officer jumps in suryananda again to join me for the next kilometers. I am not really sure if he is escort or just has to go the same way, but he is a nice guy and enjoys a lot when I enjoy the beautiful landscape which is getting better and better. He doesn´t mind I stop many times to take pictures, gives me smiles with no end and tells me the best places to stop to take pictures. When we approach a nice river I ask if it´s possible to wash there. He knows a nice place in a few kilometers! We go down directly to the river by car, I wash and we make many pictures. I ask him if he wants chai and start preparing a little picnic. I have to close the door because of the wind for cooking and when I open it again to come out with the chai I discover Mohamed has not been lazy too. My bodyguard and police officer has rolled a joint while I cooked chai. What the….? I can´t believe it and ask him charraz, police nehi samassea hai? (Hashish and police, this is no problem?) Nehi samassea – Pakistan! (No problem – Pakistan) he replies. Being like a wine farmer in Austria I have no chance but to taste a least. He likes me and even though I don´t like this there is no polite solution but tasting at least. After we go on I drive on the wrong side of the road twice so I believe he regrets what he has done soon.

When leaving the mountain area, Mohamed leaves me too and from now on I am in the Hindus flats. Quetta was at nearly 1900 above sea level now I am at 60 (sixty). I am below 29°N and it is really warm for the first time since leaving Croatia. Before sunset police escort starts again (in their own car now) changing every 10 kilometers without any stop. One car stops the next own comes, I have to stop for seconds only every time. Soon I get hungry and tired. I is 100km to Sukkur so I tell the police I want to eat and sleep. Half an hour later we stop at a big road side restaurant, police tells me this is hotel and secure because they have a gunman. I enjoy the first great roadside food I loved so much in India. But sleeping no possible here for foreigners – unsafe area, I have to go to Sukkur. I ask why it is unsafe and they explain there is an uncomfortable landlord in this area – no Taliban.

The land here doesn’t belong to Pakistan in a way – at least they have no authority here without goodwill of the tribesmen. The road to Sukkur is painful slowly as Sukkur is directly at the Hindus and most of the road has been flooded in recent years. I see several tank trucks that have obviously been attacked next to the road so I am happy to go to Sukkur for tonight. I am escorted directly to the police station and get a friendly welcome. Police officer comes shopping with me (nearly midnight but no problem) and when I go to bed this is the first night I don´t need to use the heating. I love too much!

The goodbye with the crew was strange though – I am really happy I am on my own again trying to have no expectations and enjoy. I find out I felt like responsible for the expectation the others had… I think a lot about this – am I responsible for the expectations of others? I believe I can only give my best whatever they might expect.

December 10 Quetta

Km today: 0

I sleep very well and wake up around eight o clock. I don’t see anybody of the others so I go to the market to get internet, money and the things somebody can get in Quetta. (It’s a border town to Afghanistan so wifi for example not available). At the internet café I meet Adam and Justin. We have a little chat and as I can´t connect my computer here I decide to go to the market. I come across a gun market where many shops are selling every possible kind of fire arms I can imagine. Later Adam tells me an AK47 you can get for 200U$ here. Would make a nice souvenir if it was allowed to bring it home.

I take a long walk in the center but find nothing of interest. I have tea with some hindu people who live here for years and appreciate my language. Slowly I start to learn urdu too but is very hard as all the people talk a lot and fast to me believing I understand them. I don’t! Not at this talking speed. After chai I find internet café where it is possible to connect via cable. Internet is very fast so I can update all the last week in the blog and the pictures on facebook too. No time for utube as there is power cut an hour after I come there.

After not finding some of the things I need I decide to take rickshaw to the hotel. Rickshaw guy is very helpful and organizes everything I need for me. Best food for a long time for example!. Quetta itself is a pretty ugly asian city. People are amazing but it´s pretty cool up here in the mountains. The rickshaw wallah comes to the hotel half an hour before 6 to pick me up. We hurry up to get a new horn for suryananda but there is not enough time to find the right one as I have to be back at the hotel at 6 for security reasons. I invite my driver for chai in suryananda but he has to work until 9. I suggest he should come then and he answers in inviting me to his home. I promise to find out if it´s possible and invite him for tea at my place anyway at 9. At the reception I find out nothing possible. There is no way to visit local people after 6 o clock and local people are not allowed at the hotel area after 6 o clock too. Damnit! Well I am happy I was allowed to move without escort all day at least and we were back about quarter an hour too late anyway.

In the evening the eight of us (well seven – tanja is missing, I believe she has a little cultural shock but I did not ask, I hope she is fine) have nice desert together at the restaurant to say goodbye. All of us go sukkur tomorrow but bikes and cars will go separately. I appreciate this because I will not worry about my speed anymore then. The rickshaw guy doesn’t show up in the evening so no problem about this. Road will be amazing tomorrow. From Quetta we will go Bolan pass and then we go down to Sukkur at hindus river. No pictures today but wait for tomorrow!!

December 9. Nokkundi – Quetta

[30°11´21.4”, 067°00´18.1”]

Km today: 496

When we leave today in the morning I get lost…. Police tells me to go to main street so I go the way back we came yesterday. When I look in the mirror nobody there anymore. I am glad the village is small enough so it is impossible not to find them. Five minutes later we leave. After ten kilometers suryananda has less power. The street is superflat but its not possible to keep speed in fourth gear. Maximum speed now is 65 in third gear. Out here in the middle of the dessert would be no good place for any engine parts to break. I think about it and get suspicious about the petrol I put in in the morning. It was taken from water bottles and when I put the petrol in there were still a few drops of water inside. I decide this will be the reason and go on in third gear.

After nearly three hours we arrive in the next village which is Dalbandin. We go directly to the police station. On the way there I have seen an amazing market and I am hungry. I ask at the police station if it´s possible to get some food. We get police escort and go to the market by walk to buy chapati and samosa! YEAH!. People at the market have incredibly charismatic faces. I try to take a few pictures but it is hard to find people who are not staring at us. I don’t like pictures of people who know I take a picture – if they don’t know they mostly look much better…

The road is one of the worst but still the most beautiful yet. It’s a real dessert road including sand dunes and camels on the road. I love this view and I would love to spend some time in this area. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to be possible at the moment. People are super amazing here. Everybody seems to appreciate guests. While driving today I suddenly see a new white car next to the road. I am driving alone as the others take a little break so they don’t need to go my slow speed all day. Three people standing in front of the car and I feel a little strange because nobody here but me and them. Then I see two of them have cameras in their hands to take pictures of suryananda. I give them a smile and sound horn to say hello.

We have to stop several times to register in books at checkpoints so if somebody gets lost they know at least pretty well where to search. All is much better organized than in Iran. We register in a book an on we go – if there is an escort change the new escort is already waiting for us at the checkpoint so we lose not much time. Sometimes there is only one guy with his AK47 (everybody seems to have one here) going in one of our cars, sometimes one car in front of us and sometimes one car behind us.

When the sun sets we still have 130km to go to Quetta. We have a short discussion what to do and decide to go on. The Levies (the military service that is protecting us) seem to appreciate this decision so we go on. Following kilometers we go up an awesome mountain road so soon we reach a plateau. The engine is better now as I put new petrol in so I drive around 80 on a not too bad street. I haven´t seen the others in my backmirror for some time but I don’t mind too much. Everyone of them can go twice as fast as I so if something would have happened they would have stopped me.

Suddenly a Pick up with police kind flashlight goes the other direction. As he sees me the people inside make hand signs so I reduce speed. They turn around so I stop. Seconds later we are surrounded by 6 men with scarves on their head everybody carrying his machine gun. I am not really sure what is happening. I haven´t seen to police officers here wearing the same uniform…. But as they smile at me I am sure it’s the good ones so I open the door and we wait for the others.

The night is awesome. It´s nearly full moon and in the mountains around us there are no lights at all. I have never seen a beautiful moon light night like this before!

We arrive at Quetta pretty late. The guards change several times in town and bring us directly to the best budget option hotel recommended by lonely planet. They charge 5 times more now but police is already gone so we can´t look for another place to stay. Food is very expensive too so I make illegally a jump around the corner to get some food. Again I get a very warm welcome and very tasty and perfect spicy cheap food at the local thali wallah. Nice! I can talk to them, understand a little of what they say and I love it. Unfortunately there is no internet at the hotel and all the internet places outside are restricted area at night. Tomorrow after sunrise we are free to move without escort until 6 pm. I am really looking forward to see the market, get internet and buy some stuff I need.

Mijaveh – Nokkundi (Pakistan)

[28°50´63”, 062°44´27.5”]

Km today: 137

We stand up early and have breakfast to be ready at eight when escort service is supposed to pick us up. Half past eight still nobody here so we decide to get petrol. While the others go to petrol station I quickly go to a shop and five minutes later we meet at the petrol station. Police has seen me so soon an officer comes to the petrol station to pick us up. We have a short discussion about the diesel price but soon the problem is solved and half an hour later we are at the border.

Crossing the border takes nearly all day. Money changers everywhere but we get the best rate at the bank next to the police station. We are escorted there from the border and after we still have to get our carnets stamped at the custom office. It gets warmer – I change my winter onion style dress to dothi and t shirt. Finally we leave the border direction Quetta.

A cute old military guy is our escort and he is sitting with me in the car all the way. We have fun listening to music and I find out hindi and urdu are really pretty similar. He understands me when I speak hindi! Unfortunately I understand only little of his urdu but still enough for basic conversation. Few police checkpoints and our escort stays the same – not like in iran waiting every time, guys don´t take our passports and not even want to see them. We just have to register our names when we pass a checkpointand that’s it.

At one checkpoint our escort hands over his AK47 to us so we make loads of great pictures in martial poses. Just before sunset we approach Nokkundi and pass the gate of the police station where we spend the night at the moment the sun sets. I hurry to the rooftop to take a few pictures of the disappearing sun and find out this village is really beautiful!

I ask the chief of police if I can make a little walk and he replies “no problem”. As the sun has set this very moment I ask again about safety and he tells me in this village no problem. When taking pictures I meet a few boys and soon I get invited to have chai. I think I should go back as it is getting dark but there is a police officer at the place I am invited to. He calls the police station to tell I am here and he “protects” me. So I stay for chai and make contact with many very nice people in this place. Soon another police officer comes from the place where we stay to pick me up. I quickly finish my chai and we go back by motorbike. The chief officer is a little nervous because I was out alone after dark…. I really don´t understand but apologize many times because he is a really nice guy and I don´t want to cause him any troubles. Probably some kind of misunderstanding.

Later Roberto and Marianna cook their famous pasta again – even better than last time! Our escort on the way told me dhal, sabji samosa milega! (possible) “Kaha” (where) I think but the pasta is too good to think about it any further. Before going to bed I visit the rooftop again. The stars and the moon are amazing out here in the dessert!