Monday, October 19, 2015

Pakistan - Heading south

Getting something simple like a new horn for the bike... wasn't that simple. The first place we stayed at replied that they weren't qualified to work on big bikes...? It's the same simple horn as fitted to every other bike, you know: one nut and two connecters?!? Not easily giving up I said ok, sell me one then and I'll fit it myself... only to be told he wouldn't sell me one...! The next shop I tried was a carparts store, who wasn't allowed to sell me one as it was for a bike... The third shop tried to sell me a 6V horn and was adamant it would work...!

Of course it would work, for a short while anyway. In the end I did find a 12V version though, original Honda, made in China! Never thought getting a simple thing like that could be so complicated. The total sum was 400 rupees, or 4 dollars. All we had to do then was get breakfast, which consisted of white bread and jam as there was nothing else available. 

I quite like Pakistan and so does Mike, although Mike had some serious reservations about the driving... which I thought was quite ok. Of course cars are on the wrong side of the road and people do the most amazing things in a vehicle, indicators aren't used, brake lights don't work and they slam on the brakes for no apparent reason... but apart from that it's fine. What I luckily haven't experienced yet here is the aggression we saw in Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Lithuania for example. That makes all the difference for me. The speeds are much lower too.

What makes it also much more fun for me is all the little motorbikes we see on the road here. I had truly missed them! The trucks are works of art too and their drivers courteous compared to other countries we have been through. Meanwhile Mike had almost 4 head-on collisions today... he is still riding like a European :-) which doesn't work here.

Slowly but surely the unbelievable landscapes of far northern Pakistan made way for more mundane mountains. Still quite high but the spectacularity had somewhat disappeared as we were going further south. We were also heading for a more dangerous area, although we were told the unsavoury elements that once occupied the region had been, as they said, 'switched off'. One of the tell tale signs of stricter control was an increasing number of Police check points. So far they had waved us on but now we had to show our passport, of which the details were noted down in a ledger. Not sure if anyone ever looks at those hand written ledgers though. After the first stop I asked the policeman what the speedlimits are in Pakistan as we had not seen a speed limit sign yet. 'Oh it's quiet on the roads today so you can ride a little faster' was the reply 'Yes but how fast?' I asked 'Oh 60-70-80... or as fast as you like...' Really? I said, he nodded. What about 130-140-180? 'Yes fine!' was the reply. There seem to be no speed limits in Pakistan then. The only thing we have seen a few times in towns are signs stating the road has been designed for 40 km/hr, but no limit as such.

As we were going further and further south, we no longer found ourselves in high altitudes and thus the temperature started to rise quite markedly. The vague plan had be to have a look at Fairy Meadows but when we got there the road turned out to be a steep narrow goat track suitable for jeeps and horses. We have done enough roads like, to be honest, and gave it a miss. One of our group went up and came back with photos which reinforced my feeling that it wasn't that spectacular anyway. I'm sure there are people who have hiked further up and have superb photos to show but further north we had seen better, in our personal opinion, so I'm glad we hadn't battered the bikes up that mountain. There is after all so much more to see.

As the next part of the trip through Pakistan would lead us through an area where in the past had been quite a few serious problems, we were not allowed to continue further that day. We had to be there early the next morning, so that we could ride through it during daylight. Camping was not an option, while the only hotel in the area was rather expensive compared to the previous two. We thus decided to share two hotel rooms between the 6 of us, which worked out at a reasonable $11,70 per person. The bikes were stored in a lockup garage, which was apparently necessary...!