The Levies police station in Taftan, Pakistan
N 028° 58.547 E 061° 33.251 ->
Today: 89.6 °F ( +32 °C)
31 Oct 2016
13684 km

It was a bit unclear when we were supposed to leave this morning. To be sure to be ready we got up already when it was still dark. 8.30 AM we left. The escort was an ordinary car with one driver and two gunners. They started by filling air and illegally imported petrol. After 20 kilometers we arrived at the first check point. They checked our passports and reported the information to the next check point.

The first 100 kilometers of road to Dalbandin was bad, it was tarmac but in a very poor condition. Big parts of the road we could only drive for 30 kilometers per hour, but after that it got a slightly better. The escort swaps Levies and vehicles in every district, and with every swap they need to sign over the responsibility for us to the next ones, and on top of that there are a lot of check points. This means that it takes forever to get escoreted. Already at lunchtime we realized that we would not reach Quetta today. Instead we have to spend the night in Dalbandin, halfway to Quetta. A long day and we have only covered 300 kilometers.

Sometimes we have an ordinary car escorting us, sometimes a pick-up truck and sometimes a Levie riding in our car. Buy now have lost count of how many Levies and vehicles that has been escorting us today, but approximately 6-7 vehicles and maybe 20 Levies.

When we arrived in Dalbandin we got escorted to the very same hotel as were we stayed in ten years ago. Much depending on that this is the only one in this small, dusty and dirty town. The chef recognized us from ten years ago. We have a secure parking in the back yard of the hotel. As usual we were not allowed to leave the hotel, but we could have dinner at small restaurant in front of the hotel. They clearly don’t have many westerners visiting this town. Everyone was staring at us.

Dalbandin, Pakistan
N 028° 53.092 E 064° 24.107 ->
Today: 89.6 °F ( +32 °C)
01 Nov 2016
13975 km

In the escort this morning there were five Levies. That is more than yesterday. Does this mean that this is a more dangerous part of Baluchistan, and that we ought to get more scared or is it because of the telling off that the Levies got yesterday evening from the other police force in Dalbandin? It is difficult to know.

Before leaving town we filled up our car with illegally imported petrol. We paid 0,6 Euro per liter. All the way though Baluchistan the road side is full of places to buy illegally imported petrol. The transports of dangerous cargo in Pakistan look like this. We have seen a lot of these overloaded petrol trucks this last two days.

The closer we got to Quetta the smaller the districts got and we had to change escort more frequent. When entering Quetta and heading for the Hotel Bloomstar, where we planned to stay it got really crazy. No more Levies in the city, instead we got escorted by the police, the anti terror squad and even an armored truck!

Approximately 30 vehicles like cars, pick-ups, motorbikes, an armored truck and close to 100 Levies and 14 check-points on a 300 kilometer trip. It took us about nine hours in total to make the trip. Yes, getting escort takes time. A lot of time. But better safe than sorry!

Pakistan is dry as a desert when it comes to alcohol. But in Dalandin is possible to get a beer. Illeagal beer of course. And yes, expencive too. We paid 3,5 Euro for a can. Unfortunately the beer was warm when we got it and the delivery was late in the evening and we decided to save it for tonight instead! But what a bummer. The beer was undrinkable!

Quetta, Pakistan
N 030° 11.634 E 067° 00.298 ->
Today: 86 °F ( +30 °C)
02 Nov 2016
14310 km

We are staying at Bloom Star Hotel. We stayed at the same place ten years ago. The staff here is great, friendly and very professional. They have a lot of experience of overlanders. Most people stay here on their way to or from Iran. The staff is always a step ahead and telling you what you have to do, the best route for you and arranging with escorts etcetera.

This morning we had to go to the Home and Tribal Affairs Office to get an No Objection Certificate (NOC). It is a permit for letting us leave Quetta. The staff at the hotel quickly arranged an escort for us; six policemen on three motorbikes arrived shortly. We decided to with them on their motorbikes instead of in a Bajaj. Catharina always got to ride on her own with the coolest guy in the crowd – to everyone’s delight, while Bert had to squeeze in between two guys on one bike

It took us about three hours to get the NOC document. But it is not valid until tomorrow, because they need time to send out all the information about us to the police districts and the checkpoints before we take off. Also they need to prepare the escorts.

When we came back to the hotel we told them that we needed to do some shopping for eating in the car tomorrow. When the escort is rolling, they do not stop for anything else than the checkpoints, to swap escorts or filling petrol. This means that we have to prepare for snacks, fruit, sandwiches and drinks for the day. And 30 meters from the entrance to our hotel there is a small store. We asked if we could go there to stock up on supply. But no, not even that very tiny excursion we were allowed to do. Instead we were asked to make a list of what we needed and the hotel sent one of the staff to buy it for us. The staff at the hotel is really very helpful crowd. They did also put a some photos of us on their facebook page" .

Here at the Bloom Star Hotel have not needed any armed guards to watch over us day or night. High concrete walls and a heavy steel gate seem to be quite enough security.

Our cats at home have now got their very own webpage." It is the Australian family that´s renting our house and taking care of our adorable cats that made it for us. Now we can see photos and clips of how are cats are doing. Also photos and clips of our neighbors’ cat Polaren, that like to hang around our house and the Aussies cats that are still in Australia is published on the webpage.

Quetta, Pakistan
N 030° 11.634 E 067° 00.298 ->
Today: 95 °F ( +35 °C)
03 Nov 2016
14310 km

Today is the last day with an escort – we think. This is the last leg in crossing Baluchistan. After this we will travel in the provinces of Sind and Punjab. And from what we understood we can travel without an escort there.

Four policemen on two motorbikes picked us up at the hotel this morning to escort us 500 meters, to leave us with a pick-up truck with three policemen and a motorbike with two policemen. 500 meters later they left us with a new pick-up struck with 14 policemen and two new policemen on a motorbike, who after 3,5 kilometers left us with an armored truck with 12 policemen. Needless to say – they were all armed.

It continued like this for eight hours. But as soon as we left Quetta the districts grew larger since the Levies (the rural police) again was responsible for our escorts. Today we tried to do a head count of all the policemen, vehicles and checkpoints to see how many they really are. It all added up to 90 policmen, 17 pick-up trucks, 7 motorbikes, 2 armored trucks and we stopped to register in 10 checkpoints.

We also got a flat tire. A nail got stuck in the tire. Bert had to take out the tire-repair kit again. He fixed the tire in an instant and the Levies were very impressed!

When we reached the border between the provinces Baluchistan and Sind we were curious if the escort would end. But on the other side - in Sind there was already a new escort waiting for us. After a few change of escorts they said goodbye, and we could travel the last 50 kilometers to Sukkur on our own. Does this mean that we actually are allowed to travel on our own the rest of our time in Pakistan or will there be policemen waiting for us in the lobby tomorrow morning?

Sukkur, Pakistan
N 027° 41.243 E 068° 50.681 ->
Today: 95 °F ( +35 °C)
04 Nov 2016
14694 km

What a shitty place we stayed at last night, Hotel Inter-pak Inn. Outrageously expensive compared to what you get, not even close to being clean and on top of that staff was snotty. Places like this don’t deserve any customers. But we arrived late and were very tired after a long day of driving and we didn’t want to go looking for something else since it was already dark outside.

This morning we managed to leave without an escort. As we understand it we do not have to have an escort here, but the hotels still want you too. When they asked at the hotel what time we planned to leave we said we didn’t know. We didn’t want to risk being stuck with an escort.

It seems to be some kind of election here in the Sind province today. In every village there are lots of flags, banners and political meetings. Suddenly a caravan of politicians and their entourage showed up escorted by the police. They were driving fast like 100 kilometers per hour right through the villages and everything. We followed them for 80 kilometers. That helped us cover some distance in a short time.

In Pakistan the trucks , busses , Bajaj and even the tractors are beautifully decorated. All day long we are sitting in car saying; oh, look at that one, and that one, and that one… It is not only a few of the trucks that look like that – all of them are this beautiful.

Now it is cotton picking season here and everywhere we see it harvested and transported in Bajajs, tractors and trucks. Cotton does not weigh much and they really overfill the trucks.

Multan, Pakistan
N 030° 12.067 E 071° 27.163 ->
Today: 82.4 °F ( +28 °C)
05 Nov 2016
15156 km

The smog, fumes and the dust is really suffercating. Our througts are iching and our eyes hurt. It was like this in Sukkur, it is like this in Multan and on the news we heard it is the same in Lahore. We have had quite enough of this by now.

This morning we left already at 7 AM. We are hoping to reach the Waga border and India today. But the border close already at 3 PM, and we have a lot of milage to cover before that, 370 kilomters. The question is will we make it?

The smog is thick and you can hardly see the road sometimes. But the cars are driving like crazy anyway. They are driving like they are playing a comupeter game drivng cars. This also means that accidents happen.

Pakistan is one tough country to travel. It is hot, dusty and dirty and the days of driving are long and the traffic situation is bad in the populated areas. On top of that it is the security situation. It is a constant worry and it is difficult to know how bad it really is.

If we sums up our days of escort and estimate that it has been on the same level for all three days it adds up to; 270 policemen, 51 pick-up trucks or cars, 21 motorcycles, 2 armored trucks and a countless number of checkpoints.

Luckily we got to the border on time. It took us 2,5 hour to cross it. We just had time for a quick snack, before we ran to back to the border to see The Waga border closing ceremony at 5 PM. Several thousand come to see the closing ceremony every day. When we arrived it was already full. But Bert managed to get us in anyway since we were tourists, and we ran like crazy because it had already started. When we got in we got the VIP seats . Wow!

The Waga border closing ceremony is a daily spectacle of silly walks, uniforms and funny hats on both sides of the border at the same time. And the crowds on both sides are cheering very loudly. Lots of patriotism there...

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