14th November 2010 – 238 miles
Having spent the past five days driving under police escort, often travelling within 10km of the Afghan border, it was refreshing to drive in Pakistan freely for our final leg to the Pakistan-India border.
We set off for Lahore on what we thought was the highway (motorway) only to find that we were vying for space on the roads amongst tractors, bicycles, horse and carts. Having driven on this road for the best part of 3 hours (and covered only a third of our intended distance that day), it finally dawned upon us that this could not possibly be our planned route.
With a bit of backtracking, we found the highway and practically drove 60mph+ thereafter.
Being so close to Qurbani, there were more livestock being transported in vehicles than people! In fact, we hit gridlock on the outskirts of Lahore where an impromptu bazaar was being held to sell livestock (cows, sheep, goats, camels … you name it, we saw it).
We originally planned to get to get to Wagah to see the border-closing ceremony, where members of the Indian and Pakistani military meet at the border to engage in a 30-minute high-octane display of pure theatre – vaguely reminiscent of Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks sketch.
Unfortunately, we did not make it there in time and so checked in at the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) motel at the border – a quiet and unassuming four-room guesthouse where we were the only guests!
The place was basic, clean but most importantly run by very friendly staff. We were made most welcome with a freshly cooked supper and entertainment laid on by a member of staff, an avid singer and tabla player. In summary, a great evening to top-off an epic drive through Pakistan.
On balance, our highlight of Pakistan was seeing the Islamic Relief projects first hand, which was a great and humbling experience. It’s a shame that we could not see more of the country, due to security restrictions, as everyone was very friendly (including the police).