VAEGABOND - Pakistan - Police escorts, floodings, mountain sickness & bears
New country, new adventures - and really every day! We've reached Pakistan with our bikes, country number 20 on our bike world tour. What we thought about that country, before we left the iranian border behind us? Well, to be honest, we no longer believe the media everything, how it's supposed to be in other countries. We'd rather make our own experiences, armed with the most necessary info. And this is what we can say: Pakistan, you surprised us since the first second! Your people are heartfelt, your landscapes are unique and you're totally underrated as a travel country.
But now from the start, because our arrival was already an adventure itself. We were greeted by Hamid on the iranian side of the border. He made sure, that all the paperwork was quite easy to pass off for us and then we pushed our fully packed bikes through the pedestrian part of the border. On the other side we were greeted just as friendly by three Pakis, who provided cold water for us right away. We gave them our Pakistan Visas. Invalid! What? Two months before, we had already requested them and already held a document in our hands, that said we were authorised to enter Pakistan. Nothing helped. Minutes became hours and everybody in Islamabad tried their best to get us able to arrive in Pakistan today. Unfortunatly unsuccessful. We were already the last border crossers and the iranian colleagues were called to open the gate back up for us. We couldn't believe it. So close. We did everything right didn't we? The iranian border guard was already waving at us and welcomed us back into the Iran. But the very last second, one of the helpful Pakis ran out of his house and told us, that Islamabad had answered. We were allowed to enter! Yayyyy! Though, we didn't get very far. Our passes were controlled again and we were sent from one pakistani border house to the other, where we had to note our names an incredible amount of times and the ones of our parents and we had to register ourselves in a lined school book. Then we were escorted for two minutes by a moped rider to the next police station, where we were supposed to spend the night. Us and our bikes were put into Pickups the next day plus the following days and we were transported through Balochistan. For safety reasons no tourist is allowed to walk feely without escorts here. We had to switch the Pickup countless times, because after just 5 Kilometers, there were other police officers from a new district, that were responsible for us. That often meant waiting for the next truck countless minutes, but luckily we had super nice police officers, that gave us water and snacks every now and then.
First we went to the desert, not long and the first sandstorm came up, followed by a stom, like we had never experinced it before. Regions were flooded, streets were underwater and so we had to cancel the ride and spend the night at a police station. It was just before midnight, when agitated voices woke us up. „Water is coming!“ This still haunts us today! The police station filled up within minutes and we fleed with all our stuff on the roof of the building. We could no longer sleep that night. The next morning, the water had only receded a little. After hours of discussions if the rest of the street was still flooded, we got the GO to continue. We waded through the waist high, dirtbrown water to the slightly elevated street, where a romanian biker was already waiting for us. Then we were escorted to Quetta, where we spend the night in prison. Well actually on the roof. After a lot of effort and bureaucracy, we recieved the permission to drive on. Of course with our police protection, that changed every 5km.
Right before Islamabad, we were finally free and could move around without the police. A news team discovered us on the street and interviews us about our world trip. After a short break in the capital of Pakistan, we went right on in the direction of Karakoram Highway. It is one of the highest set paved border crossing car streets and connects the autonomous region Xinjiang Uighur in China to Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. Our happiness over being able to travel independently again was suddenly destroyed. After around 50km we were accompanied by the police again. This time though, we were allowed to go by bike. We went through beautiful mountain landscapes and around afternoon the weather got worse surprisingly fast. The current escort was made up of a pick-up again and the police officers offered us to load up our bikes on it. Rain and many heights awaited us. So of course we said yes. When we reached 4.100m at the Babusar Pass, Melli was extremly shivering. It was super cold and all the rain had gotten to her at the back of the car. So we were invited into the police cabin, which was stationed at the peak and we could warm ourselves with a plate of Daal Mash and Chai at the fireplace. We could sleep in a small room, which was moldy and drafty but at least it protected us from the rain.
The night was horrible. Both of us got a terrible headache, had trouble breathing, threw up and had diarrhea. So mountain sickness DID exist. The day before, we had gone too far up, too fast and now he had to pay for that. The reaction of the police officers: „Everybody gets sick up here for the first 3 days“. We had to get into lower heights as soon as possible, and after that, luckily, we were feeling better. And then we had suddenly reached him, the Karakoram Highway. An incredibly beautiful landscape appeared infront of us and was waiting to be explored. Soon after that, we branched off, because we really wanted to bike through the Deosai national park. It's found in the pakistani western Himalayas and is the second highest high plateau in the world. We broke our height record for the second time and had cycled to up to 4.200m now. Even if it was incredibly exhausting, Melli was pushing her bike more than biking, the view onto the giant landscape was just amazing. We had never seen something beautiful like that before. We cannot compare this Pakistan with any other country. Every now and then there were groups of nomads with their loaded pack horses.
But it was not only an amazing nature spectacle concerning us, animals like bears were at home here too. So we started searching one camp after another, to put our tent there, because this way the chances of a bear attacking were lower. Bears actually started to walk around our camp nightly, but luckily WITHOUT any incidents. Exhausted, but happy we reached Skardu, where we made a pause from all those altimeters and finally had time to create new videos and posts. But our nerves were tested there too. There was only eletricity for ca. 1 hour per day and the internet connection constantly broke down. No good circumstances to work to look at the huge amount of films and videos. Still, we put all our effort in it (and also much time and money of course), even when sometimes it took really long, until we can produce something... For that reason we're really thankful to all the lovely people, that support us, for example on our membersite! By the way, there, you get early access to our videos, posts or access to our special podcast "Melli & Dani Spezial". Because this way we can take the time to produce, upload and release our posts and especially affort the calm workplace. Thanks to you all! Also, we would be really glad, if you'd donate us a plate of Daal Mash, so we can pepare the next advenureous story for you all refreshed.
In the next update we'll tell you about how we celebrated our anniversary – 3 years bike world trip in Pakistan!
Best wishes from on the way, Melli & Dani
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