Islamabad – Sukkur

25. & 26.3.

Km counter: 37674 today: 993 sum: 2558

N33°42’17” E073°05’18” – N27°41’52.6” E068°51’25”

Monday morning I go to get passport pictures and my payment for Iran visa done. I am ready by 11 so I take a taxi to take me to the entrance of the embassy district. I get searched several times, have to leave my cellphone and everything but money and papers there and then take a shuttle bus to the embassy. There I hand my papers to a guy who tells me to come back in 3 hours so I take a shuttle back to the entrance, a taxi back to the camping ground and relax for half an hour before I have to take a taxi to the entrance…… Fortunately all is well so I am back at the camping area starting suryananada at around 4 o clock. I will try to catch up with Abu and two Austrian guys who are one day ahead so I have a lot of motivation for driving.

A lot of traffic brakes me when leaving the city but then there is an amazing highway that I use for about nearly 100km. Then I leave the highway short before sunset to take a shortcut south. I am not quite sure about this as the police checkpoints of the highway are annoying and take time even though I started ignoring their attempts to stop me. At night they will be probably worse and I plan to drive thru the night. Surprisingly police goes to sleep short after the sun and is not to be seen until late morning. I pass a few hills at dusk.

The electricity problem still exists so I connect the batteries to have music when driving. A little after midnight the light switch is finished. For a moment I am afraid I have to stop but when playing around at the fuses the light turns on again. I take some wire, switch on the light and arrive at Multan at around 8.30 in the morning. I need cash so I wait for the money changer (only available in big cities) and then hit the road again to reach Sukkur in Sindh. I slept there at the police station the year before and the guys there where little annoying but under the score pretty helpful. On the way there I enjoy the hospitality at many toll stations in Punjab again. “Ciao” the guys say, – go. And many times I do so without paying the toll. When I arrive in Sukkur it is Tuesday evening. I have been driving for more than 26 hours and done nearly 1000km by now. And I am done too. As soon as I find the police station with a little help of some locals I get some food and go to sleep.

Sukkur

27.3.

Km today: 0

I wake up because of the heat in the car. Soon the “tourist officer in charge” comes to help me with everything I need – he even offers me hashish (!) telling me that is his duty being responsible for the tourist. Nothing of what he offers is of any need but half an hour later we are at a mechanic who repairs the light switch and refills the second battery – water was low! I hope the problem is solved now and as someone offered me to repair the damage from the accident with the bus in india I take the offer. All is repaired for less than 10 euro! During waiting for the electricity I unpack my guitar and start making some music. Within seconds I am surrounded by people and within minutes I am stopped by the police. Working area – no possible here.

I beg a little and in the evening we go to an amusement park with a nice little restaurant where I can make a little concert. Its really hot here and I need a shower which I get at the barber shop. Cold shower is just fine at beyond 35° in a very humid surrounding. I enter the recommended barber shop and find out the showers need a shower first. No problem they clean one for me so I can enjoy! In the evening we go out to make music in the park – not without heavily armed escort of course. When I start playing I see lightning in the background and when I starts raining two hours later people are not leaving before I finish the last song in the pouring rain. After rain is too much I hand out many business cards to people who want to see my homepage.

When we take a rickshaw to a restaurant from the amusement park it rains heavily. “Nice weather” the officer says, “fuck off”, I think and agree. Having told me all day it is his duty to stay with me and protect me (yeah u did I had the feeling I cannot even piss without protection) he tells me now he is looking forward to some “refreshments” and opens his hand. I don’t understand, look at him and ask myself what he wants… And then he honestly asks me for Alcohol, porn, drugs or money! I am really shocked as I had the feeling he is a good guy all day being just a little too nice (annoyingly nice). Now I find out he did this to get “refreshments” after. I bargain a few minutes and give him 500 rupees not without telling him how disappointed I am. A police officer in Pakistan begging for Alcohol, porn, drugs and money whereas the first three things are completely illegal in Pakistan! I tell him I will leave at five am and I don’t want to see any escort before Quetta. He looks at the floor, agrees and wishes me a good night.

Peshawar – Islamabad

24.3.

Km counter: 36681 today: 213 sum: 1565

N34°00’56” E071°34’56.6” – N33°42’17” E073°05’18”

Shahid wanted to say goodbye in the morning and lead me the way out of town. Today he is still sleeping so I wake him up by calling him and soon he comes. It is still raining a lot and by now the water level is not only rising in the rivers but on the land also. Pretty big and sometimes pretty deep lakes start to build up everywhere and its risky driving through one if you don’t know the depth. Anyway as soon as I am on the Highway the road is great and I am in Islamabad soon. On the way I recognize a problem with the car electricity as the music player doesn’t work. I have been parking in the shadow in Peshawar and it was rainy most of the time. Still, even though I had a room I was careless about the battery. However it should be charged by the car generator which was obviously not the case. In Islamabad I go to the camping ground and after some problems in getting electricity I charge the battery over night. At dusk I check the solarpanels and find one oxidized connection which I repaired. I feel there is electricity coming from the panels so the solar system seems to work. I relax and go to bed.

Islamabad – Peshawar

20.3.

Km counter: 36468 today: 149 sum: 1352

N33°42’17” E073°05’18” – N34°00’56” E071°34’56.6”

Again I wake up to late but still I take a quick chat with Abdullah, my neighbor from germany in his UNIMOG Mercedes, who provides me some tasty coffee before I take a taxi to the embassy district. Inside nothing allowed but the documents. I have to leave my bag at the entrance and take a shuttle service to the Iranian Embassy where the guy tells me “Holiday in Iran, you come back Monday”. Damn, I think but in the same moment I decide not to spend the 4 days I have to wait in Islamabad. I want to go to Peshawar, that fabulous city at the foot of the Khyber Pass, less than 50km from Afghanistan. Taliban area! Its cloudy nd rainy when I go back from the embassy so I have only a little talk with Abdullah and I chalo quickly. Before we exchange phone numbers as we might share an escort through balochistan if I can get my Iran visa quickly on Monday.

With mixed feelings I hit the road. The area I am going to is definitely not recommended for foreigners and there will be a lot of police, army and Taliban in town. As I expected police controls get denser on the way to Peshawar but the guys remain smiling and there is no problem at all. 20km after having my first chai I leave Punjab and enter NWFP (North Western Frontier Province). Now I am in tribal area and police power stops (if they have any at all) one step of the road. When I make a stop to have chai a few kilometers before Quetta I sit in the middle of a Hemp field next to the highway with fivr people around staring at me but not saying one word. I smile at them and they smile back – the ice is broken!

I drink my chai and a few kilometers later I arrive in Peshawar. The entry of the city reminds me more at Quetta than at, Lahore, Islamabad or Rawalpindi. I am back within the wild but very hospitable tribes man. Abdullah recommended a hotel which I have no idea how to find but before I can even think about the problem a guy appears in a car next to me speaking little English and together with my urdu I ask him for the way. “No problem, just follow me”, he answers and we go through a narrow maze of Peshawar. The hotel is unfortunately full and no place to park too. No problem, Shahid, my new Afghani friend knows another place. He brings me to a hotel where I decide to stay for one night. They have nice hot water but are pretty expensive. When Shahid found out that I have all I need to live in my van he offered me a place to park at his home. He had been driving a Ford Transit for30 years and knows the best mechanics he says. Still I need mirrors, handbreak, valves adjusted, and cockpit light repaired. A stronger horn would be nice too

After I checked in I talk to Shahid and tell him That I am hungry and that I want to go to the Khyber district which is more or less off limits for police. Firearms and drugs are sold openly on the street there. It is already dark so we stay away from those places but Shahid, who actually is Taxi driver, takes me to a nice place where we have barbecue chicken together including salad, nice bread and a very tasty garlic sauce. I really enjoy food and chai in this white brick building with many people around but a very calm and clean atmosphere compared to india. I will take my camera with me tomorrow and Shahid will hopefully tell me where I can take pictures so you can see some of my impressions. People start asking me if I am from Pakistan what I deny smilingly. Clothes can make such a difference!

I definitely want to see that market in the three days I have here – and I definitely will try to go up to Khyber pass as far as possible. I have a feeling this, and if I am lucky enough the Durand line, will be the next border I stand at with desire to cross it. But like the border to Pakistan when I saw it first time I will have to wait a few more years here too. Kabul is only 274km away but in the area in between it is too dangerous with a car like suryananda.

On the way back I ask Shahid about the bomb attacks in Kabul and from that second he keeps pointing out his finger at buildings every two minutes telling me about a bomb blast within the last year and the number of killed and injured people. Its rather fancy places. No place I would go but the amount of attacks is impressive to me. Again I remember that I am in an areas now where drones flying above the peoples heads and villages randomly blowing up a building or a group of men, children,…. Again I believe the city is peaceful and anyway Shahid will guide me here so I will have fun for sure!


Islamabad

19.3.

Km counter: 36319 today: 26 sum: 1203

N31°06’21” E074°00’56”

A little exhausted by the day on the road I wake up late. Too late to go to the embassy but ok in time to go to the mechanic. I need a new tire in the right size, the valves adjusted, new backmirrors, a new handbreak and a new light for the cockpit. The first workshop cannot help even though I ve seen so many Ford Transits. At least they can call a shop where they seem to have the tire. I find the shop in the western city of Islamabad very easy and within a little more than an hour and only some confudion about what to do they fix a new tire for 72 euros. Perfect! For the other things I need they tell me to go to the city of Rawalpindi which is in fact the exotic part of Islamabad…. In fact its one city. Traffic in Rawalpindi is hell and after only a few shops I decide to go back to the camping area. At least I got the tire I kept searching in india for a year within less than 2 hours in Pakistan. Evening time I am lazy. I have seen the rose garden on the way back but no blossoms…. I quickly go to the market eat some streetfood and after fix my bed inside suryananda.

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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December 15 Amritsar – Tal Chhapar

[28°31`30.2”, 074°27`57.6”]

Km today: 418

I get up early enough so I can go to the golden temple before too many people are there. In spring I was just walking around it because of the long queue but this time I am lucky and can go inside without any waiting. The atmosphere is breathtaking and I can take on of the best pictures of the trip around the temple. Next I go to internet to update the blog and find the shortest way to Pushkar. I can´t wait to arrive there. Its still morning time when I leave town and soon I find myself in a chaishop on the road where I already had chai in spring. People there remember me and my painted bike and we have a lot of fun.

A few kilometers further I see a biker on the road. Obviously an overlander too. I stop and give him a lift to where he wants to go today. Sam is from france and speaks better German than English. We have chai together and after I drop him. When it´s already dark I cross the border from Punjab to Haryana – in the same moment the street becomes a million of bumpholes all over. 30km in Haryana take me more than an hour and I am happy to be allowed to pay road tax as soon as I am in Rajasthan. A little later I recognize the change in the landscape when I arrive in the dessert Thar.

At 22.30 the moon rises and gives all the surroundings a real magic touch. Soon I get tired and find a little chaishop in the dessert to spend the night there. I have food, tea and sleep amazingly well. Tomorrow I will be at home: Pushkar!


December 14. Okara – Amritsar (Hindustan, Bharat, India, HOME!)

[31°37´25.4”, 074°52´44.1”]

Km today: 181

When I wake up at 9 the escort is already ready to go. I quickly get ready too and half an hour later we leave. One of my new police friends changes some money for me so I take some petrol (cheaper in Pakistan than in india!) and on we go. 150km to the border pass like nothing even though there is a traffic jam in Lahore. Pakistani side of the border is done pretty quickly even though they check all the numbers of the car – I am happy they accept that color is nothing important and smiling they write “colorful” in their documents and ignore the “grey” in the carnet de passage.

When I pass the gate to india I have to stop everything to take some pictures of suryananda at Wagah border. When I am exactly at the gate I step out of the car to make a few steps back taking a picture. The guard smiles but says “Sir it is not allowed to go back to Pakistan once you are in india”. I apologize and go back to india again. No problem. As soon as I cross the border all the people greet me saying HariOm because of my jyoti (the little longer hair on the backhead). I enjoy! Custom control invites me for chai and take a look inside (I am happy I cleaned yesterday) suryananda. They like my hindi and I enjoy hearing it again. Slowly I understand more and more of what they say to me – if they speak slowly enough. Because of the chatting it takes nearly an hour on the Indian side to pass the border. They ask me about my job and I tell them Yoga teacher and ecologists being prepared to explain that fact. They smile and say this combination fits very well…. I am at home!

I leave the border and arrive in Amritsar some time before sunset. The road to the hotel where I stayed in spring is blocked for cars so I take the closest guarded car park and walk there. Even though my room is free I am not really ready to pay this price. Not expensive for a room with this view but I know the view and I don’t really want to take my stuff out of suryananda to carry it up 5 floors and down again on the next day. Sunset is over anyway and as the sun set behind the golden temple when being in the room the most spectacular moment is done anyway. I sleep in suryananda. The next hours I spend walking around in town, going to hindu temple (finally), internet and getting some food. I see some dog puppies on the street and there was not much missing to make me be the owner of a dog again. They are supercute!

I go back to suryananda and decide to leave to Pushkar as soon as possible tomorrow morning. I want to update the blog in the morning and check google maps for the best way there. After chalo!