No wonder they wear head cover!

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Pakistan  ,
Monday, October 3, 2005

We had heard you could get beer in Quetta and I was really looking forward to some good food. We had also heard that as soon as you cross the border the changes were immediately noticable. More like a smack on the head with a sledge hammer!!!! Once we had walked through the gates the wind and the dust hit us with full force. The women waiting outside the passport office were wearing the full black cover. Great! Thought I'd gotten away from wearing the bloody headscarf thing, although I could see the advantage at that point and pulled mine over my mouth. It was necessary if you didn't want a mouthful of the real Pakistan, literally!

We waited in the computerless concrete box of an office for the guards to write our details in their huge ledgers and stamp our passports. They noticed that David had a British passport but was born in Sydney. They questioned him. He admited to being Australian. Hand shakes all round! Would have been VB had they not been Muslims! They all loved Shane Warne (of course!) and Ricky Ponting. The Australian cricket team was the best as far as they were concerned. Doesn't matter that England had won back the Ashes (took them bloody long enough!), they loved us!!! We got the royal treatment! All happy that they had met some Aussies, they waved us goodbye (yes, yes, I know - I'm a pseudo Aussie).

We walked out to change money and as soon as they heard there was an Australian there, it was on. There were cricket legends and statistics flying all over the place. David was lost in sea of men wanting to shake his hands. He finally fought through all his new friends and we were guided into customs. They looked at our passports. David mentioned Sydney and Australia and cricket and it was on. They didn't even bother with our bags.

Back outside in the dust and wind we bought some bus tickets from our new friends. Gone were the luxuries of aircon, snacks and mineral water. We got on to one of the shittiest buses I've ever seen and almost the worst seats on the bus. So much for friends. It was due to leave at 4pm. It was already 10 to. The top of the bus was already loaded so high I wondered if it would topple over, but they kept piling and piling and piling. An hour later we were still there loading more crap on the top of the bus. There was a faint odour of soap powder inside. The bus was one of the dirtiest I'd seen so it couldn't have been from any recent cleaning. Then I noticed. The inside overhead luggage rack had been packed solid with small boxes of soap powder! God. Every space in the bus was filled with something. More people kept getting on with more and more stuff. We had over 14 hours of this bus to endure and we hadn't even started yet.

People (mostly men) had warned me about women having a hard time in Pakistan. David was in his element, talking cricket to all the guys. He was loving it. I, on the other had, would hold judgement until I had experienced something other than this bus.
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