Pakistan 15th to 30th December 1998

Happy New Year

As you might remember I was stuck on the Pakistan border, they wouldn't let my bike in without a Carnet de Passage. I was a year late, earlier it was possible to take the bike in on special permission, but the government changed that recently, so what to do next.

One option would be to give up, surrender and head back the way I came, since this option is always open this would not be my first choice.

Instead I left the bike with the customs people to go to Lahore myself to investigate the different solutions.. First I took the nightbus to Quetta, 17.5 hours in a very uncomfortable bus on bad roads. I was having a seat where I couldn't fit in, my legs being to long and the bus being filled beyond capacity - So it was a horrible night and I promise myself that I would never go on a major journey this way. I think it takes a night like this to fully appreciate the freedom you have traveling on a bike.

Once in Quetta I went to the Airline office to take a plane to Lahore, but it was all booked up, so I went to the railwaystation and after having tried 7 different queues I accepted that the trains were fully booked for the next few days. Back to the airline office just to find out that in the meantime all tickets for the following days had been booked too. Again back to the Railway station and after visiting 3 of the 7 queues once again, they found a cancelled 2nd class ticket for me to Lahore a 30 hour trainride away for 4 $.

Although a lot better than the bus I cannot recommend the train in favor of the bike either, but I made it to Lahore the train being 6 hours late and I was pretty exhausted having travelled 57 hours after a long day at the customs with little or no sleep.

In Lahore I visited the Automobile Association to try to make a Carnet. It was indeed possible, I only needed to make a bank guarantee for 15.000 $ and I would be ready to go. So I went to all the major banks, talked to the directors with no luck. Due to changes imposed on them after the nuclear tests some months ago they were not allowed to . So I was late again this time only by a few month.

The Pakistan A.A. tried their very best to help, they even agreed that I could make the guarantee to FDM (The Danish Automobil Association) instead, and once they received evidence that the guarantee was made they would issue me a Carnet de Passage. But FDM were not prepared to get involved, even though it would have taken no more than forwarding a fax from my bank to the Pakistan A.A.

So finally I gave up and took the train back west 38 hours this time, before I reached Quetta and found that I had been been robed - you got the story in my previous travelletter - which you can find on my WEB-page:

Quetta Pakistan December 25th 1998

536-paki For 3 days I have been visiting various police stations here in Quetta to try to file a report, but it was difficult, the police even tried to insinuate that it was all something I made up myself - as they said: "how can we be sure what you say is the truth", and finally when they accepted my story, it was as if it was my own fault (which I guess it was). Yes they really made and effort to keep their criminal statistics numbers low, but finally I got my way. Not that I think it will make any difference I am sorry to say. Those hotel guys seems to have found a way to commit the perfect crime, and can continue to do so, because when their victims notice the crime they will ether be in India or in another province in Pakistan, which will not file their report.

This whole matter has disturbed me quite a lot, not because of the missing money which is bad enough, but because I was thoroughly fooled and I don't like the option necessary to avoid it happening again - Should I stop believing in the good in people, refuse help when somebody wishes to help me, and should I never accept tea or food from strangers - The result being a very poor life. So I am afraid that if I once again landed in the hands of professionals like this I might be fooled again.

I don't have the Lonely Planet Guide of Pakistan, but I just learned that it states that you should never ever stay at hotels near the railway station in Lahore because incidents like mine happens all the time. 30 $ spend on that guide would have saved me 700 $ and made me a happier person to day.

Tomorrow I will collect my visa for Iran and after a another very long nights bus ride I will be reunited with my bike, going back to Iran where I will try to find my way to Egypt via United Arab Emirates, but with the luck I having lately I wouldn't bet on it

I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to be able to bring you some better news next year.

Peter Lorenzen Petersen
DK 9000 Aalborg
DANMARK
Phone (+45) 98 16 76 97
-- peter@lorenzen.us
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