A bus, and the stunning town of Peshawar
Trip Start Jul 2003
50Trip End May 2005
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As the huge and ridiculously over loaded 'bus' from Iran set off for Pakistan, passengers were doused in a mysterious petrol type liquid. There was panic as the driver climbed over and sampled it before safely reassuring everyone that it was ok, "It's only diesel, you can smoke if you like." There was only one real fright as we hurtled through the Baluchistan Desert, that being one of the back double axled tyres on the bus exploding throwing sand, dust and burnt rubber smells into the crowded interior. An hour and six tyre changes later we were on our way.
After a gruelling 33 hour bus journey, finely balanced on sacks of rice and tins of tomato soup, we were dropped into a medievel slurry pit market square of Quetta
Quetta is a very colourful border town, with some fantastic markets and more animal excretia than you could possibly wade through in sandles. The food variety dramatically improved, and it was like being back in the 'Ruchita' in Halesworth.
A very pleasant 33 hour train journey north to the other Afghan border town Peshawar. The train line, constructed by the British, is an incredible feat through mountains and the desert with 25 castellated tunnels. For part of the journey we were joined by various characters, including one entertaining MP and one unwanted policeman (which is harsh as he did share his supper with us). We finally shifted the policeman by promising him Joanna's (Miss RD to some people) hand in marriage.
Peshawar is the most outstanding, colourful and friendly city we have visited to date. Mainly consisting of Afghan tribes people who spent most of the time entertaining us and covering all our costs. Many adventures were had here, but of course we can't talk about them!
Lahore had the first large chain 'fast-food' outlet we'd seen for over 2 months. Yipee munch! After reading Rudyard Kipling's 'Kim' back in Europe, kindly donated by Ma Oxenbelly, Lahore was doubly fascinating with Kim's gun and the museum to explore. The other colonial buildings were equally impressive, particularly the surgical hospital although we didn't hang around to try it out.
Only a short bus hop to the Indian border now. Well we entered the country of India through a very lively border where the gates are closed each evening after a quite ridiculous ceremony where soldiers of each country pull off Monty Python type walks whilst trying to outdo each other's screaming. Huge crowds cheer the craziness on.
Anyway, we briefly resided in diarrhoea Delhi (although the Red Fort is quite nice), after spending a few days in Amritsar (the capital of the Sikh world - I'm sure we saw John Lennon eating a bowl of dahl with his new pals). Free accommodation in the Golden Temple included plenty of spicy food with a donation being required somewhere. By the way, the Sikhs are very nice people.
Next stop was Pushkar, which although very relaxing with the most stunning ghat view from a tatty old hotel which had formerly been a palace. Having avoided tummy troubles for almost six months, we finally succumbed to the foreign bacteria. Thank goodness the hole was only round the corner, down the stairs, past the rocks and over the bridge.
Mumbai (Bombay) was reached via a sardine train, but our young travelling companions from Mayo College were extremely hospitable and the British Empire who founded their school would have been proud of their conduct. Vines had taken hold of much of the original British buildings of Bombay, and the Gateway to India was a very impressive gateway/departure point to the former Jewel of the Empire. But to be quite honest with you, we saw more of our broken tiled latrine wall. Thank goodness we left all our illnesses in Bombay when we set off for the beaches of Goa.
We are now sat too close for electrical comfort to soft waves breaking on soft white sand, just along from our tree house on our palm fringed beach.
Not much more we can add to this apart from the fresh lobster and secluded bliss we are currently enjoying. We've arranged Christmas roast dinner and we hope you'll all be joining us for a Christmas swim!
Anyway must dash. Had our first beer for 9 weeks a couple of days ago. Will was almost sick and Emma had a headache (don't tell anybody).
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all !!!
Sahib Willie Claus and Maharanni Emmsie Elf