The diaries - 6   

13 - September

Quetta - Pakistan


With Mick’s bike up and running again with seemingly no damage done, it was a very early start on 12 September. Andreas and Paul were heading east to Multan and their escort arrived at 7a.m. We have decided to go south to have a look at some of the countryside.
Leaving Quetta is not hard;
the yellow sulphurous pollution that hangs over the town is soon left behind as we climb the Bolan Pass. It is quite spectacular with a railway running alongside us and colourful busses with their heavy loads lumbering along.
The armed guards this morning are two up on a 125cc bike of Chinese origin and have a bit of difficulty keeping up. They are good fun though and very friendly so we wait for them and at their suggestion stop regularly to take photographs – of them!
From Kandlani we leave the mountains and enter the Kachhi desert. It is hot flat and boring and our new escort in their beat up old car trundle along at 30mph, not fast enough for me to create a breeze and I am nearly frying. Every 25 miles or so the guard changes, we feel like DHL parcels again, all that’s missing is the tracking number.
Arriving in Jacobabad is, to put it bluntly, a real smack in the chops. It is the filthiest town I have ever experienced and the smell from the open sewers is nauseating. Donkeys with cruelly slit nostrils pull enormous loads,(locals think that by doing this the donkey can breathe more easily) ragged children stare at us as though we have sprouted extra heads and the gaze from the fearsome, heavily armed militia is daunting.So loo
ks can be deceptive then! The police are real gems. The two that are assigned to look after us decide to take us to their ‘office’ up on the roof overlooking the bazaar. We meet the commanding officers and ‘take tea’ served up in grubby cracked cups while we admire Victoria’s Tower, marked on the map as ‘Colonial Architecture’. Then we get a tour of the bazaar and are introduced to all and sundry, Coca Cola is brought from the fridge on more than one occasion, much to Mick’s disappointment no one has a secret stash of beer, 5 weeks without one and he is beginning to forget what it tastes like! At the Honda shop I stop to look at a hand painted bike that proclaims
it’s a ‘rebl rowzer’ the workers are sitting on the workshop floor eating dinner. They immediately invite us to join them. Quite happily we have already eaten!

Back to the hotel and the guards pull up their chairs, they intend to sleep outside the rooms, guns cocked and at the ready – that is the bit that freaks me out, they seem to expect trouble.

Trouble came for us the next day and ended up with Mick losing his patience with the police, disputing the parentage of one of them and threatening to do all sorts to him – now that in my book is just plain foolish when the other guy is holding a semi automatic weapon!The day started badly with the police taking us the wrong way. We stopped them after an hour and asked just where they thought they were taking us. They asked ‘where do you want to go?’ We turned them round and retraced our steps towards Shikarpur and north east to Dera Ghazi Khan. Our plan was to go in the direction of Multan. They had other ideas altogether and headed us towards Fort Munro on the road back to Quetta. I got the bit between my teeth and refused to go their way, a very stylish skid of the back end and I was away, Mick following, we flew back through the filthy road works and for a good half an hour we were as free as birds. Unfortunately you can’t beat radio contact though as the road block across our path showed and anyway, discretion seemed the better part of valour - they had their guns out ... and pointed at us!

We were being pushed from pillar to post, each set of guards wanting to get rid of us off their patch so they wouldn’t have to ‘baby sit’ us. Their collection and hand over was a work of art, but their ‘go, go, go, was becoming obsessive.
They wouldn’t allow us to stop, saying it was a prohibited area. It was dangerous. Personally I found it more dangerous having to follow a black police pick up, in the dark, whose rear lights didn’t work through pot holed roads dodging donkey carts with wide loads and pedestrians with suicidal tendencies.

‘How far to a hotel’? was our frequent question. ‘10kms’ was the usual reply.  This happened several times and still we rode on. ‘How far? You promised a hotel the last time’ I pressed the surly policeman. ‘Half a kilometre’ he snarled, all pretence of good humour vanished ‘Just watch, it’ll be to another bloody hand over I bet.’ was Mick’s caustic comment.  It was. His patience finally snapped and Mick lunged towards the police officer, murder on his mind. The pick up tyres squealed and sprayed gravel as he beat a hasty retreat and left us with our new guards.

We made it in to Multan at 10pm, 13hours on the road with no food and very little water. The first two hotels refused to have us – well you can hardly blame them – A wild, filthy, dust covered woman, red bloodshot eyes, a weary face streaked with road grime, presenting herself at the reception followed by four armed guards. Mick had this idea that it would be better for a woman to go in first – less of a threat! Ha!!!!!!!

My diary entry for Sunday 13 September just reads ‘what a lousy f***ing day, pushed from pillar to post. I am so cross and weary I can’t be bothered to write anything’.

Ah, the stuff of adventures!


We said our good bye’s to Paul and Andreas who were heading north east to Multan and we left Quetta an hour later. We rode south east with our armed guard and headed for Jacobabad, a wild west town if ever there was one.  To date all the armed escorts had the AK47, but the guy that took us the last leg in to Jacobabad had a pistol at his side.  He was smart and took a shine to Sue…. He later told her she was beautiful.  I mean, maybe she is, but he was young enough to be her son. He was one of two who kept station outside the room all night.

We were walked round the town that evening by armed police and taken to the police station for tea, served in grubby cups, and introduced to the commanding officer and prisoners in the cell.  I took a sneak photograph and you can just see the cell area and prisoner!

The next days ride to Multan was probably the worst yet.  We were handed from escort to escort without stopping, taken the wrong way twice, and we were on the bikes for thirteen hours.  No one wanted to ‘baby sit’ us for the night and so we were kept on the road until we finally lost our tempers with them and sorted a hotel room out ourselves.  Probably more from Sue about that!

15th September

Eventually we ‘hole up’ at the Regale Internet Inn at Lahore and have three nights here.  It’s a backpackers hostel and although it gets a good write up in the Lonely Planet Guide the book we have was printed some five years ago…. and not a penny has been spent on the place since. At five euro’s a night, for the pair of us, we can’t complain.  It is here that we find a newspaper dated the 8th September.  No wonder about the heavily armed police and army presence as we rode in to Quetta, no wonder we were guarded, no wonder the guy on the motorbike that led us in to Quetta had ‘one up the spout’ and the safety off, just two days before we got there six gunmen on three motorbikes had machine gunned six petrol tankers bound for the UN forces in Afghanistan and destroyed the lot.

We’re ready for the hills, champing at the bit.  Another day we head for the Karakorum Highway… we hear that there’s snow up there, a landslide or two, enough of this city life.


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