Mohammed Azhartanwer

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
Trip End Nov 15, 2007

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Saturday, September 9, 2006

Mohammed Azhartanwer

At 6:30am our Police escort arrived to move us on to the next town. With the Police escorts we did not need to stop at the roadside Police Check Points to fill in our names, passport numbers, country of origin, date and time, and destination. This had all been radioed ahead the previous day and all the Police Lines and officers in all the towns between Sukkur and Lahore were aware of our impending arrival and were ready to send out their vehicle with three or four armed officers to take us on to the next town. It was a smooth operation and most of the time we did not need to even stop, even at toll roads. As we don't have facility to prepare food in our vehicle while we are moving, Lynn climbed into the back of hers and made sandwiches for us all, and while we were still mobile, Des had to drive along side Lou's vehicle so Lou could pass our lunch across to us. Tricky maneuver.

In all we had a total of 29 change overs of Police Escort vehicles over a distance of 475 kilometers this day. On many occasions some of the locals in the towns would honk at the Police to move aside as they were in the fast lane most of the time. Honking is not offensive here, it is merely an indication of one's presence on the road or a wish to pass. Although at night, with the many weird and wonderful combinations of horn sounds available in Asia, it can get annoying when we're sleeping close to the road.

Mohammed Azhartanwer was in charge of the last escort of the day and asked us if we wanted to see something of his town of Multan before settling in the Police Lines.

This was a great offer as we had only seen the towns while driving through them, and the long stretches of beautiful farm land and wild life. We loved seeing the shiny black water buffalo with little kids in charge of them. These great beasts would wallow in the brown rivers with urchins scrambling across their backs or jumping from them. It looked like boys and beasts were having fun in the cool water. The thousands of sheep we saw are different from our own Merino sheep in that they have long floppy ears like bloodhounds, are quite brown with long tails and are tall, in fact they look a bit like dogs. The fantastically multi coloured and patterned goats also have very long ears and when I saw a little fellow dragging a goat along the street, I knew why. They double as handles! The white goats here are pure white and clean, unbelievable as they are often herded along the dusty roadsides. The donkeys and cattle are hard working creatures as are the very thin horses. This is where we first saw Brahman cattle. The Punjab of Pakistan is fertile for many crops of sugar cane, corn, wheat, rice, cotton and others and has many fine stands of gum trees at the side of the roadways. There are also dozens of brick making plants with tall chimney stacks.

Mohammed took us over a very large barrage across the Indus River and into the centre of town in Multan. It is a huge city with a most magnificent shrine with a pure white dome on the top and the brown clay coloured walls beautifully decorated with blue tiles. The shrine contains burial sites with ornately decorated coffins of adults and children. We were able to purchase rose petals to place onto the most important tomb in the centre of the shrine. It was very busy with people but everyone was given their own space to pray or be alone with their thoughts. Muhammad also took us to a mosque equally beautifully decorated. We were invited to wash our hands, feet, face, and inside our mouths before entering in our long dresses and veils. Des and Lou also had to change into long trousers. We felt extremely privileged to see these two important places in Pakistan, as we would surely have missed them on our speedy trip through the country.

We also tasted the local roadside food, which was like puffed wheat chips with little twisty bits of something (which looked like worms, but weren't) inside them, dipped in vinegar. Lou got to eat most of them.

Mohammed also took us to the souvenir shop where I purchased 2 pretty blue water jugs wondering all the while where I was going to store them in the camper. The shop was right underneath a terrace which gave a glorious view over the whole city of Multan.

We badly needed supplies because we had been unable to shop with all the escorting. We can only store about 2 days worth of fresh foods in the campers at a time. Mohammed took us to the local 'supermarket' and fruit and vegetable stalls. We stocked up with as much as we could, even some things we didn't need yet, to show our thanks to the Multan community and gave Mohammed and his team of Police Officers a cake which I had asked him 'is this delicious' in the shop. His reply was that it had this and that good things in it, so I guess he was familiar with it.

In the Police Lines in Multan, Lou changed his front tyre and 'the boys in black' took him to the local tyre repair shop. I managed to give him my memory stick of Pod information which he was able to quickly download to Harmony's (my daughter) email address. We didn't want to use up the Policemen's time too much so didn't send any photos at this time. I have no idea what the Police in Pakistan had planned for the five days during which we came to Pakistan, but nothing seemed to be too much trouble or effort and everything was taken in it's stride, and as I mentioned, I think they had a bit of fun with these Australians.

We set up the campers, chatted with the local adults (mostly Police Officers) and their children, one of whom was wearing a western style school uniform with a badge stating 'Scholar - Multan' and took many photos of them all. One young boy of about 12 brought over his little sister for me to see, he was obviously very proud of her, kissing her affectionately and putting her hand in mine. I asked if I could take her picture too, with which he seemed delighted. She had on the most brightly coloured yellow dress I've ever seen. Pakistanis love to have their picture taken and don't ask for money. I get a kick out of showing them the shots. Many of the men have dyed their hair red. I'm not sure if this is a henna dye or not, but it's very popular.

Lynn and I went to the most rudimentary men's ablution block imaginable, to cool down before yet another very hot, sticky night's sleep. I took my wet flannel to bed and got my large, empty, flat corn flake box ready for fanning Des and I during our wakeful periods.
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