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So we woke up to a free breakfast because nobody remembered to pay for it and the hotel forgot to charge. Last night’s dinner was not quite as good as the night before but it had the added benefit of not making my arse explode in a bush at the side of the road which is always good but we didn’t get Beer which was disappointing. It was our last night with Shandor and his wife but we didn’t know that until today, we had no set plans in that department but we were heading in the same direction so anything was possible.
We headed to the border. Now that would, on the surface seem to be a fairly simple task but nothing is simple in Pakistan
We headed out to follow Marcin who has the only working GPS unit which led us more or less to the border. We had to battle our way through traffic which seems to be consisting entirely of grinning morons who want to be nice but actually just nearly ride into you, idiots in cars who just swerve around honking their horns, donkeys and occasionally any of the above driving straight at you in your lane. It’s totally crazy, it’s what you’d expect to see if you put 12 year old in charge of running a country, a 12 year old with an attention deficit disorder and a drinking problem. A quick flick through google revealed the average IQ here is 20 points lower than in the west. Now 20 points is a lot. It’s the difference between a guy working in a shop and a guy working on a cure for cancer. Those 20 points are an average meaning the ruling class is way higher and the workers are probably a fair bit lower. The divide in Pakistan is horribly apparent, the darker skinned people are condemned to a subsistence living under home-made grass tents at the sides of roads while the cities are full of a different caste of peoples
There is a term in politics, “useless eaters” referring to the poor, usually foreign people who consume and give nothing back to society as a whole. They’re just considered a burden on the economy. Well not in Pakistan, here these people are just shut out. They have no choice but to huddle in little villages made from rubble or camps made from cut down trees. Nobody cares, they’re invisible as they walk the streets begging for change or sweeping the clogged gutters. Along the sides of the road you can see young girls sewing animal excrement into the soil to grow crops with the bare hands, probably in exchange for a few coins. They are treated no better than animals, they’re ignored until bricks have to be dragged along the highway or something clogged has to be unclogged. They’re largely self-sustaining but Pakistan doesn’t even use them as a workforce, they’re just a parasitic infestation clogging up their economy with no education and no future to look forward to. The government is berated freely by the people, whoever you speak to has little time for them but they only see their own points of view, their own needs or wants. Like in Iran when we were told the Government restricts the actions that affect the young, Pakistan has rules which inhibit the behaviour of its inhabitants
Of course there should be an education system in place that could help to elevate these people. They need to be shown the greater world to know it exists
So Pakistan finally was little more than a nuisance to us. It was a bad country to pass through, difficult roads, people we struggled to relate to, armed escorts everywhere and towns so run down and primitive that by our standards are barely even towns. The people need help but that help has to first come from themselves first. They’re like a man who’s dropped himself down a well and just sits there waiting for someone else to sort it out for him. Even if someone reached down, would these people reach up or just do what they had to do to settle into whatever routine was being set for them?
I did give some children some money when we first arrived
So finally we went down a dirt road which brought us out to the final road to the border. The exit is far different to the entrance, it’s got a structure, guards armed with assault rifles and wearing uniforms. We entered and headed into a customs building. We were told the rest of us were there but didn’t know he was talking about. It turned out that 4 other adventure bikers were here, two on F800gs and two on Yamaha XT660z Teneres. We met them having our exit stamps sorted and got chatting. The guy doing our exit stamps was rude to the point of being irritating so I made sure he found me far more irritating than i found him. After our papers were pointlessly molested for hours we were allowed to go to the Indian side to be further molested. We filled in dozens of forms and were pushed from office to office, place to place getting things stamped and stamped again. In the end it was time for our inspection and all they did was check our frame numbers and that was it, we were out of there. It sounds easy but it took most of the day. We all headed off through the deadly traffic of India to the first town, only 30km away, us, the Velorex and the other Adventure bikers. Once there we battled our way to a hotel which nobody liked for some reason. At this point Shandor decided he was going to head off. We knew we weren’t going to ride together for much longer but still, it was almost a bit sad. I had drawn a picture of the Velorex and Marcin and myself had signed it so we gave them that, took some pictures and they split off. We have each other’s details and hope to meet up in Thailand at some point. They’re nice people and I hope we do stay in touch.
We then battled our way to another hotel through mad roads with mad people doing mad things. We got something to eat which was neither good nor bad and then tried to decide what to do. The others were going to stay and i wanted to stay too. There was no point heading off into who knows what when we could stay here, settle down and get some rest. Even Marcin seemed fine with that so we looked for somewhere to stay.
The GPS led us through a market, not near one, through one. It was like riding a bike through Camden market only it was bigger and with more people and with traffic coming both ways.
In the end we gave up and tried asking for directions. We found one that was not too bad for not too much cash. That only leaves beer to find...