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Flag of Pakistan  , Punjab,
Sunday, November 13, 2011

Breakfast was served in our room today. It was tiny and Marcin had to order some food to go with it. I had enough and it was pretty good. I had a slightly upset belly and had to visit the little boys room twice before we left.

This morning I thought I'd better lube the chains. Mine was a state, Marcin’s was far worse. I dropped mine on her side and tried to clean it with water and a toothbrush but the dirt stuck to it like glue and there was no cleaning it at all. In the end I scrubbed it with petrol and got some of the grime out. Really it needs soaking in petrol over night, in fact it needs replacing. It’s going to get me all the way there but Pakistan has really poured on the abuse. Even worse, Marcin’s was so slack it was coming away from the sprocket but he thought it was fine. Marcin is a good guy but deeply unsophisticated. Every question is answered with a grin and the words, "it’s fine, let’s ride longer/faster". Even vaguely unsophisticated arguments fail to impact on the surface of his brain. Subtleties like stopping for fuel before we run out and have to wait while we fill up spare bottles costing us hours instead of minutes fail to register. Stopping for fuel brings on a tirade of moaning about how long everything is taking. To be fair, while in Pakistan we’ve been stuck behind escorts for most of the trip and he’s behaved very well. I thought he’d argue and moan with them but he’s been pretty responsible and stayed in formation. You have no choice here, the driving is so bad it borders on lethal. You can’t take your eyes off the road for a second but more on that later.

So with cleaner chains we headed out for the roads with a security escort. They’re annoying but they are just nice enough guys doing their jobs. It would be far nicer if anyone could tell you what this job was. We argued today with some guards who told us it was safe but we needed protection. The subtleties of the English language escaped them but my general perception was that it is far from safe here and the government fears its own people will behave poorly. It seems an entirely valid point!

We made reasonable time at first on what was an easy run today. We expected to be in Lahore around 2pm. We were invited to stay with a friend of Shandor so it should have been a free night too and there may even be beer. We had water already and fuel so we got out to follow the escort to the main road. It was hot again today, it reached 42 at the height of the afternoon but in the morning it was only 32 but still very hot in our gear. My arse is not interfacing well with the gel-seat saddle, presumably because it’s as hot as hell and my arse is sweating like a teenager while his mum makes his bed.

I had other problems with that particular bodily region this morning. I clenched and held it back but there was something in my guts which was dead set on getting out of my guts into the light of the day. I passed Marcin with the intention of waving to the police to stop at the next petrol station but then Shandor pulled over the Velorex by the side of the road. I was going to suggest that whatever the problem was we should go somewhere with a toilet. Then he got out with a toilet roll and ran off into the bushes. I wasn’t going to last long so I grabbed a loo roll myself and found a quiet spot. With a blast of explosive power my problems were all behind me. I felt a hell of a lot better but my stomach was still churning. Shandor’s partner put some wood chips into my bottle of water. It tasted foul but did help to settle my churning guts. The taste grew on me after a while too.

So we headed back to the road, it was kind of a relief that other people were having problems too, Marcin seems to be made of solid gristle and immune to such minor things as illness, variations in temperature, exhaustion, emotions and anything vaguely intelligent. He also has never seen Futurama. It’s true, misery loves company and it’s nice to be riding with a Human who suffers from explosive diarrhea when he eats or drinks anything from Pakistan.

After our first swap we got a hardcore team, good speeds and the sirens blazed keeping traffic out of our way but it didn’t last and the next took a leisurely ride at their own convenience. There is never any continuity. Again they all drove battered but functional Toyota Hiace vans. When they made Knight Rider they should have used one of these they wouldn’t have had to bother with a made-up sci-fi explanation. They could have just said, it’s indestructible because it’s a Toyota Hiace and that would have been fine.

So we plodded on, my guts wrenching away at me and my head spinning from lack of sleep, heat and from the gourmet delights of this fair country. I was wondering what the hell I might write about in my blog today. Endlessly following the Police is hardly entertaining but I had my lucky pen so I knew something would come up. It slightly misfired this time.

The Velorex had to stop in at a town/village/hole in the dirt with half a dozen garages that now had been turned into a bustling metropolis. Shandor said there were problems with his spark plugs and set out to replace them. I tagged along to find some rubber hose to refresh my ailing fuel system. Neither of us managed to get anything. We rode on for a few miles and then the Velorex began chugging, hunting and losing speed. I headed in front and flagged the police down. We stopped at another town that didn’t have any plugs but we managed to find something similar which should do the job. By now the usual crowd had gathered and a Highway Patrol car had stopped. Our guards and the other police tried to disperse the crowds but in the end we just said we’d chug along to the next petrol station and swap the plugs out there. We limped on and in the end stopped at the side of the road.

Changing the plugs didn’t fix the problem, the bike engine still wouldn’t stay running. I suggested upping the fuel mixture and limping the last 100 miles towards Lahore. By now Shadlor had already begun stripping out the carbs, airbox and everything else even vaguely removable from the engine bay.

We all wandered around a bit and gave fairly useless suggestions. It was fairly obvious it was a number of things wrong so we gradually ended up fixing them one by one.

Around then we heard a crash on the opposite side. A bike had crashed into a donkey-cart carrying bricks. The Police wanted to do nothing but stand around being useless to us so I went over to see if there was anything I could do to help. A young lad, around 13 had been riding with no helmet, probably been watching us instead of the road and had hit a wooden cart. He had hit it hard enough to knock the cart into the ditch and upturn the bricks. They dragged the lad onto the grass and just let him roll around. He was stunned and in shock. We put him in the recovery position, no point keeping him still after he had been dragged along a grass verge by his arms. He had abrations to his neck and had his clothes were torn at his elbows and knees and he seemed completely unable to stand. As he rolled about it was pretty obvious he was hurt badly. His head had a nasty cut and his jaw was broken. He was missing a few teeth, his lips had already swelled up massively and he was spitting out lumps of thick red blood. The police brought him a bottle of our water and Marcin had come over with our first aid kits but they weren’t going to help. I kept the crowd back. One old guy was shouting at him, fair enough what he’d done was stupid but it was hardly the time. I shut him up and he did as he was told. Another guy was taking pictures on his phone, I made him put that away too. In the end they dragged him onto a Tuk Tuk and wheeled him away to a hospital, they told us. I don’t know where he really went but I doubt he’s getting the very best of possible care.

We saw two other accidents today. A truck had run off the road and a bike had hit a barrier. These people are clearly not competent to operate heavy machinery. They drive like manics, there simply are no rules.

After we got the Velorex going we told the police we needed petrol. No problem, they turned and drove the wrong way down the dual-carriageway to go to a station on the opposite side. It had no fuel, well the pump was smashed in any case. I explained we had a reserve and just take us back to the right side of the road and we will go to the next one that comes up. That seemed to translate into “Please find a way to cause the maximum problems possible and risk all of our lives to get to the nearest petrol station in the shortest possible time.”

In the end we filled up and called the friend of a friend where we should be staying. After a lengthy explanation of who we were we were told they were 200 miles away and wouldn’t be in Lahore tonight.

So we limped on towards Lahore, another change of police later and then the new ones pulled to the side of the road. Normally we pick one up on the road but there was nothing. A truck flashed from behind, we assumed it was them and allowed it through but it was just another fat, halfwitted Pakistani person driving like a total prick. So we wound our way into the town in what was now heavy traffic as the afternoon had built up on the roads. The one time we could have actually done with some help, ie, when you  go into a strange town and the police buggered off and left us alone.

We battled in and Marcin picked up a hotel on his satnav and headed to the internet inn, he is obsessed with web access. It was down a backstreet and had no parking but it was cheap and had space for all 4 of us. There was no parking so we went on. We found a proper hotel which was cheap but again no parking. It was getting dark by now but Marcin with the only working sat nav began a crusade to visit every single hotel in Lahore and find fault with every one of them that we could actually afford and want to stay in all of the ones we didn’t. In the end I decided angrily that I had had enough and we planned on going back to the first, cheapest one and try to sort out parking.

The last place we visited thanks to Marcin’s GPS was someone’s house, the previous was a college and the one before that was a bush. The man in the house pointed us to a guest house who pointed us to another. They wanted more than i was going to pay but as we walked out they suddenly dropped the price to something we would pay and so a deal was struck. So tomorrow we head for the border. Marcin is grinning and ready to drive faster but I reckon this is going to be a tough crossing. India does not like Pakistan, they’re not going to make this any easier for us. In fact the only way we might get through quicker is to say how much we hated the place. At least we won’t have to lie!
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thu on

Can't wait to read the books! Maybe you should do a children's version with pop up pics of mopeds that career into the back of donkeys. FTS big. Need to be there man...camping out under the stars with beans and a pistol for company rather than visiting every shit dive hotel in town...

thu on

P.S. FTS, gonna buy a Hiace and take over the world...

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