Unexpected luxury!

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Pakistan  ,
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The bus trip was possibly the worst I'd ever experienced so far in my travels. It was absolutely jammed full of people and stuff. Our seats in the bus were right near the back with very little leg room. They were so old that all the padding had worn away so we both had metal frames digging in our backs and bums. The recliners were broken too so when the guy in front put any pressure on the seat at all it reclined into my already squashed knees. I had to keep pushing him forwards. It was really bad. The roads were the worst we'd come across for sometime so the old, suspension less crap bus was having a really hard time coping. We had to have the windows open because it was quite hot so of course we got covered with dust. I don't know how, but I actually managed a small amount of 'sleep'. There were a couple of pray stops and a dinner stop sometime during the night which I was thankful for because I really needed to wee. I've seen bad toilets before so was relatively prepared for some sort of disgusting site. Czech Lucie decided to come with me, so armed with a torch, a nice Turkish man guided us over to the 'toilet'. Before he even saw it he suggested it would be better if we just walked away into the darkness. I could see the advantage after taking a peek at the local facilities. It was basically just three walls outside, no roof, dirt floor and a hole. There was shit everywhere, like little moles' mounds. We took the man's advice and walked away over the train tracks into the darkness. We came back to sit on the floor with the David, Leo and the cricket lovers. We were very far away from the Little Chef! We were the only tourists so copped all the eyes and David was constantly surrounded by swarms of cricket followers. Eventually the bus sounded it's really annoying high pitched air horn and we were back on for the rest of the bumpy ride to Quetta. David grabbed my head scarf at one point and wrapped it around his eyes for the rest of the journey. At least it sent him to sleep.

The scene at Quetta bus station was very, very different to any in Iran. Just dust, donkeys, dogs, flies, dirt, old buses and lots of men wearing the same outfit. Give it a chance, I thought. Leo climbed up on top of the bus and got our bags down quick smart and we were attacked by the rickshaw drivers all telling us outrageous prices to get to hotels in town. We all walked out of the bus station and one of them finally agreed on a reasonable price. We were dropped somewhere and found a hotel. It was absolute luxury!!!! Only 380 rupees (about $US6.50) the place was clean and had a lovely little courtyard garden. We had clean white sheets, our own bathroom with hot water AND a satellite tv with English speaking movies, news and sports!!!! I had forgotten that there are no sanctions or embargo here! Unsensored television! Fantastic!! We caught up on the news and other things and then decided to take a look round town. It was full of everything. People, buses with loud air horns, rickshaws, dogs, horses and carts, donkeys, dust, dirt - everything. It was boiling hot but it was great! So full of life! Even though I wasn't required to wear my scarf I kept it on as I wasn't too sure about how the people would react, especially the men. We were met with the customary stares and hellos and waves etc, but no one tried to bump into me (as I heard the men sometimes do). In fact, they did their best to get out of my way! There was so much to take in. So much colour. I had also been told I wouldn't see any women at all as it's a much stricter religious country. They were everywhere and with so much more colour than their Iranian neighbours. No more black chadors! There were some women with just their eyes showing but even they were wearing colour! It was great, I loved it! They were streets and streets of markets. You could buy almost everything from computers to beautiful shalwar kameezes, or animal heads for dinner.

We decided that we would leave the next day for Bahawalpur by overnight train so went to the station to get tickets. It took a while but we got them in the end. Train travel here is more much more expensive than in Iran and I suspect will not be of the same standard either.

I was soooo looking forward to dinner! Different food! The street stalls started cooking and the smells were so tantalising! We went into a little place and had fresh chicken with chilli (sooooo hot, but soooo good!), some piping hot chapatis and chai. Bellies full, we went back to the hotel to stock up on tv. It was great.

Overnight train tomorrow - what would that be like?
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