Thursday, 28 June 2012


By Sanne

While getting out of Pakistan was pretty easy, getting into Iran took a bit longer. Could it be that Iran was even less organised than Pakistan?! Yes, so it seemed. The floor in the immigration building was scattered with luggage and full of truck drivers going from Pakistan to Iran with their goods. Thankfully an official helped us through but it still took over 3 hours to clear the border. We knew from other travelers that we would be given an escort to Zahedan, a town 100 kms from the border. What we didn't know was that the police escort was going to be another one of those damn pillion riders. We tried our best to explain that we didn't want to have a police man on the back of any of us but they gave us no choice, well that's not entirely true, they did give us the option of putting the police man (who really was a young soldier) in a taxi which we would foot the bill for! Well, we definitely weren't doing that, so eventually Frank decided to take one for the team and take him on his bike. I have no idea if this soldier who couldn't have been older than 20, possessed any martial arts skills with which he could protect us because he didn't carry any weapons on him. I suppose his mere appearance was meant to scare away any prospective terrorists? The 100 kms to Zahedan took at least a few hours because of the constant check points and at each one of them our escort disappeared inside the police station with our passports - the Iranians have figured out that if they hold on to the foreigner's passport he can't just take off, so we couldn't just leave him on the side of the road like we did in Pakistan. So we were basically held hostage with our passports in police custody. No one bothered explaining to us what we were waiting for (not that any of them could speak English anyway) and we were left standing outside in the baking hot sun just waiting and waiting...

When we finally arrived in Zahedan we were taken to a police station which appeared to be occupied by hormonal teenage boys dressed as soldiers. Again our passports disappeared to somewhere and we were made to wait outside. We were then asked to pay for our escort to take a taxi back to his station which we unanimously declined! The young guys then started acting like complete jerks, clearly making fun of us in Farsi. This one guy wanted to show off and started singing some Iranian song; he clearly mistook our laughs as a sign of our appreciation and started singing even louder. In reality we were laughing at the fact that he was wearing what looked like women's stockings. The more we laughed, the louder and more ear-piercing he sang. It sounded terrible but he clearly thought he was 'the man'. They eventually tired of their little game and took us to a hotel. It was there we realised that we would also be escorted the next day for 300km to the town of Bam. Awesome.

The next morning the posties left at 5am as their bikes go a lot slower than ours and so it takes them a lot longer for them to get to their destination. Mark, Frank and I had arranged for our escort to arrive at 7.30am so naturally they arrived at 8.30. Off to a good start. They then took us straight to another police station. Like the station from the previous day this one was also inhabited by giddy young soldiers who seemed to pass their time in the army playing ping-pong and just hanging around with AK-47s slung over their shoulder. Again no one spoke a word of English so our attempts to figure out what the hell was going on were completely useless. They were just taking their own sweet little time making us wait just because they could and they couldn't care less about us and the fact that we only had 8 days to cross this massive country so were kind of in a hurry to get going. Mark spat it once at them but they just found that hilarious, there was just nothing we could do or say to make them hurry up. After about 1 hour they decided we had waited sufficient time and we were off.

The next couple of hours consisted of escort changeovers every 30 kms or so. There was no apparent system nor organisation, we would just pull up in the middle of nowhere and then just there and wait for the next escort to come and take over. No one would tell us anything which made it even the more frustrating. It was like they were playing mind games with us as well. At one point they give Frank his passport back, but not us. I walk over and demand that we get our passports too, to which they refuse. They then walk over and take Frank's passport away from him again!
One officer walks over to me and wants to shake my hand. As he holds out his hand I just look at him with disgust and say: "I'm a woman - you don't shake my hand". If they can't give us just a tiny amount of respect, why should we? The next escort took us to a small town to a police station and who do we meet there - Rob and Greg! They had left at 5am but had only made it this far as the police had decided to wait for us to catch up so they could escort us all together. So they had been waiting here for a couple of hours. What a theater this was turning into!

We then all set off together with the posties really struggling to keep up, us riding at their speed and the police getting annoyed with the lack of speed we were all traveling at. This was around the time they all started treating us like animals. They would drive up the side of us and yell: "Go Go Go!"and wave their arms like mad. Well, the three of us on bigger bikes could have gone faster but the little posties were already traveling with their throttle fully open and struggling but the police didn't care about that. At one point we picked up a particularly nasty individual armed to the hilt who couldn't stop playing with his gun in front of us and clearly thought of himself as some kind of Rambo. We had stopped at a little roadside shop to get a feed of our by now stable diet of chips and cookies. We had sat there for maybe 5 mins max when Rambo roared with all his might: "GO GO GO!" He didn't like that we ignored him and kept eating and him and his colleague kept hassling us even at one point pulling on Mark's arm. Mark at this point has had enough and says: "Oh will you just shut up!" This seems to be part of Rambo's small English vocabulary and he looks absolutely shocked that Mark has said that. He turns to Mark, shakes his head and finger and goes: "No shut up".

They were still holding on to our passports and in order to escort us now was to flag down a random passing truck and ride with that behind us. Some organisation. At one police station my passport was being passed around the guys like it was some kind of porn magazine ("oh my god, it's a girl!"). At one of the stops I just lost it. Our escort had once again inexplicably pulled over for maybe the third time in 10 kms without telling us what was going on. We just weren't going anywhere. I rode up and stopped in front of their car and just held my horn on, then threw my arms up and yelled: "What is going on!?" I then started to abuse them, we all did, maybe except Rob who kept surprisingly calm all this time. They just started talking Farsi to us which infuriated me even more. I don't usually go off like this but this was ridiculous!
Rob managed to deplode this tense situation a little when he said he was going to the toilet. The soliders were like: "What...? We go now". Rob tried again to explain to them that he really needed to go to the toilet before we set off again. In the end, frustrated over the moronic soldiers he goes: "I need to shit out of my arsehole!" while lifting up his leg and pointing at his bum! This made us and the soldiers crack up so hard! We needed a laugh badly, thanks Rob for providing that!
We arrived in Bam by late afternoon where we held our passports in our hands for the first time in two days. It felt like a treasure! Bam used to be quite the tourist attraction because of the old city but this was destroyed in 2003 by a massive earthquake. Sadly the guesthouse we were staying in was completely destroyed and three people died ther. In total 40,000 people lost their lives.

Mark and I parted ways with the guys the next morning. We only had 7 days left to reach the Turkish border so we really had to push on. After a 600 km ride we made it to Yazd. It was Mark's birthday but dare I say it wasn't the most interesting of birthdays. I hadn't been able to arrange anything for him and because of Iran's stupid internet laws he wasn't able to see messages from family and friends which I think made him a bit sad. We tried to find a restaurant but there was just nothing there so we ended up having a felafel sandwich in a cafe. I promise Mark, I will make it up to you in Turkey! We both just wanted to go to bed and forget about the day but on the way back to our room I was pulled aside by the man in reception. He was like, "So you're from Denmark, we used to know Denmark for their pastries and then the government goes and offends us". Oh dear, I knew where this was going. "Oh, you mean the drawings of Muhammed?" He nodded. "Well, they didn't mean any harm by it and actually it was just a bit of fun...". He seemed shocked that I had said that: "It is just unbelievable that they could do such a thing" he kept muttering. I just wanted to say: "Dude, get over it, they're just drawings!". Instead I said "Well, different cultures, what are you gonna do?" and went up to my room. I had had this same conversation so many times by now, back in Pakistan it was very frequently brought up, and I was really fed up hearing it. I couldn't believe an incident that happened 5 years ago was still so fresh in people's minds. And the fact that they held such a grudge about it too. From what I had pieced together from my time in Pakistan  most people hadn't actually seen the drawings, they just knew that their beloved prophet had been depicted and that was the big crime. For me it is a good example of two countries that has their focus on the past as opposed to the future. Maybe if they took some of that passion and focused it on things that really mattered, their countries would be in a better state than it is now.

After Yazd we went to Esfahan, supposedly the most progressive city in Iran and it really seemed that way. What a lovely city. The streets were all lines with trees and there were actually women in the streets - lots of women! So yes, they were covered up in the hijab but many of them clearly managed to add their own little personal touch to the way they dressed. First of all, whereas the older women mostly wore the black, cloak-like chador, most younger women wore a kind of trench coat and some of them definitely showed off their body shape. Under this they would wear jeans, trainers, heels, just like any other European girl. Then of course there was the headscarf but even this was open to interpretation. I was surprised at how far back on their head it was. Some wore it halfway back and had their fringe showing. Many had an Amy Winehouse fro going on with a big beehive peeking out. Then there was the makeup! The girls here would wear more makeup than I have ever seen any Australian or European girl wear. Surely the Ayatollah doesn't approve of this... I was told by a local girl that sometimes the religious police will stop you and tell you if you're out of line but it doesn't seem to stop them doing it. I loved it. I found it liberating to see women on the street after seeing hardly any in Pakistan and to see them laugh. I even saw a young couple walking down the street hand in hand. People clearly have their own little rebellion going on against the regime. Good on them I say!

We met so many nice people in Esfahan. People here actually spoke English and would come and talk to us and invite us to their homes, their hospitality was amazing. We spent one whole afternoon in a carpet shop chatting to some guys there. One of them was Hugh who was born in Iran but moved to the US in the 70s and now lives in San Fransisco with his American wife. He was here on holiday and we had some really interesting conversations with him and it was an eye-opener to hear about the regime and the state of Iran from a "local's" point of view. According to him 80% of Iran's population wants to get rid of the regime. With such a high percentage it seems strange why they can still be in power, but apparently people are too tired to start a revolution. I hope (and think) it will happen one day, it's just a matter of time.
Imam Square is the second-largest square in the world after Tiananmen Square and it is very beautiful with the mosque at one end and the palace and bazzars around it. We got lost trying to find our way out of a bazzar, it is a maze of little alleyways.
After spending two days in Esfahan we had to head towards the border as our visa was running out. The closer we got to the border the landscape started to change and was slowly looking more European, more green, less dessert. Even people started looking different, many looking like they came from Armenia which borders it. That is one of the highlights of travelling overland, to see how people's faces change ever so slowly from region to region. The border crossing to Turkey was a shambles on the Iranian side but once on the Turkish side it was a different world, all organised and polite. It was like we had already reached Europe!

Apart from the police and army, Iranians left a really great impression on us and we would have loved to stay longer to really experience the country and culture. If it wasn't for the fact that our bikes had started to play up we might have tried to extend our visa. But for the bikes' sake we really needed to get to Europe and some decent mechanics quickly. Final verdict on Iran: Regime bad - People good.

Waiting for our escort on the Iranian side of the border

Getting petrol was the scene of much drama!

Waiting for a changeover of escorts...oh so much waiting

What's happening here? That's right - more waiting!

In Iran I had to wear a headscarf at all times - even under my helmet!

The Posties

Frank and his stripped down bike that was playing up

Storm brewing outside Esfahan

Imam Square, Esfahan

Some of the many friendly Iranians we ran into

Mark in the carpet shop

Hugh from San Fransisco

Imam Square

Feeling like Casper The Friendly Ghost - at James Mosque

The Men's side

And the Women's

The choices are endless...

A German overlander cyclist we met on the way to the Turkish border, he was riding to India

The Iran-Turkey border

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


By Sanne

Lo and behold, we were off to Balochistan - apparently the most dangerous region of Pakistan due to the fact that it is mostly lawless. Every time we told Pakistani people we were going there we were met with looks of disbelief and horror! Reading the newspaper didn't help either as it reported on daily shootings and murders in the regional capital of Quetta. Apparently drive-by shootings on motorbikes were becoming increasingly popular and the targets were anyone from journalists to common people being caught up in personal disputes. Why wouldn't anyone want to go to a place like that?! Really we had no choice. It was the only route west towards Iran. And we knew we would be getting police escorts which is sort of a good/bad situation as they are on the one hand there to protect you but on the other hand are an enormous pain in the ass.

So, fresh off our 34 hour train trip (8 hours longer than expected) we unloaded our bikes onto the platform at Quetta railway station, only to discover that someone had pinched my right side mirror off my bike! Great. We were meant to have arrived in Quetta early afternoon, but because of the delay it was now 8 o clock at night and dark and we had to find a hotel. Remembering the scary tales of this city we were not exactly overjoyed having to ride around the dark streets getting lost searching for a hotel, and we did create quite a bit of attention from the locals with our loaded-up bright yellow bikes, but as a strike of luck we came upon the hotel we had heard was popular with overlanders. And was it that. When we rode into the carpark we spotted not one but five overlander motor bikes! It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Mr Fuellbier was there with his KTM! Apart from him there were two Africa Twins from Holland and two postie bikes from New Zealand. With our two Suzis this one hotel had seven overlander bikers staying there. In this wild-west frontier town of Quetta. You meet people in places you least expect it. We were absolutely knackered from our train trip so we headed straight to bed although we did have Frank knock on our door to tell us the latest Euro Cup football results and to tell us that he was leaving the next morning as he had already been there a few days and had arranged an escort for himself.

The next morning we saw him off only to stumble upon him back in the hotel carpark an hour later. Turns out the escort had left without him! He was told it would leave at 9am but it actually left at 8. They then had the cheek to turn around and tell him that he was late! So understandably he was pretty pissed. He now had to unpack and wait for the following day and hope they would get it right this time. Mark and I were off to the Home Secretariat to get our NOCs (no objection certificate) which we needed in order to cross Balochistan. This was arranged relatively easy and while we were there Frank and the two Kiwis arrived as Rob and Greg as they were called also needed their NOCs. It was then the five of us realised we all would be riding together across Balochistan and I think we all found some comfort in that! After the NOCs were issued it was off to the Police Commisioner's office to arrange for a police escort for the following day. We were loaded into the back of a police ute with two armed officers (one sticking out of the roof) and taken there. During our little drive I very sneakily pinched a Balochistan Police cap sitting unattended on the car seat. Thought I needed myself a little souvenir, and who knew if it might come in handy?

Assured by the police commissioner that the Frank situation wouldn't happen again and that we would indeed be picked up the next morning we left feeling fairly confident (as confident as you can feel with the authorities in Pakistan) and spent the afternoon getting money exchanged and chilling out in the hotel garden with a cold beer. Yes, Pakistan is a dry country but you can purchase beer there and they even brew their own! Muree Lager which is pretty ordinary to be honest but the boys (and especially Frank!) had been so deprived of beer lately that they drank it with gusto. Rob and Greg from New Zealand are riding from Singapore to London on their two 110cc posties and are taking 4 months to do it. A bit quicker than our 15 months... The two Dutch guys whose names escape me are riding from Holland to New Zealand and are taking 8 months to do it. We exchanged experiences and wished each other all the best.

I had a chat to the manager of the hotel that evening. He told me that the head of police had come by the hotel to check our passports and upon seeing mine had started moaning about - you guessed it - the blasphemy of the Muhammed drawings! I decided to stay polite and politically correct about it as I sensed the hotel manager was himself a religious person (who here isn't!) and it was clear that although he thought I was innocent in the matter (eh thanks!) he thought the artist had indeed committed blasphemy. I thought it wisest to keep my mouth shut.
He then asked me a question I had heard a few times already: "Which do you prefer - India or Pakistan?" Again I stayed as PC as I could but did mention that I had found people in India to smile a lot more than people in Pakistan and that people here always looked so serious and unhappy. His answer was: "That's because when they see you they think you are American girl". Right, well thanks for clearing that up for me!

The next morning we were picked up by the police on time and taken to a police station from where the escort was to start from. Also to get escorted in the convoy were two buses carrying pilgrims going to Iran. From the police station we were taken to another meeting point and made to wait there for the actual escort to arrive. We waited there for almost two hours before it actually arrived. Highly organised clearly! And then the fun started... Getting out of Quetta took forever. It wasn't long before we reached our first check point. Here our passports were passed around the hands of many, many officials and personal details such as Father's Name were taken down - clearly very relevant for them to know that my dad is Martin Andersen from Haderslev!? This went on for quite some time, and when we were finally allowed to leave it turned out all the women from the buses had decided to go for a toilet break. It took another 20 minutes or so for the police to round them up so we could leave. About 45 minutes were spent at that check point. 20 kms later - another check point. Same procedure as last time, although this time we need a pee break and by we I mean us bikers. So we do our business and when we get back to the bikes the buses and the police have taken off and left us behind! So much for keeping us safe! We got on our bikes and alone the five musketeers glided through the dessert...

Well, we finally managed to catch up to the escort, no apologies given of course, it was more a look of  "Oh, there you are". We rode past a burnt out wreck of a bus that had been blown up by a suicide bomber only a few days prior. Apparently he had ridden up next to it on a motorbike and blown it and himself up. Just part of daily life here. We did not at any time feel under any real threat ourselves but there was definitely a constant underlying sense that anything can happen at any given time here. A sense of unease but also a sense of feeling sorry for the people who live on this unforgiving, barren land. There was just nothing out here, just dessert and intense heat. Rob and Greg's small bikes were struggling keeping up speed and the strong headwind didn't help. Mark and Frank helped out by having them sit right behind them so they could use the slipstream to power them forward which helped a bit. Every 50km or so new police would be assigned to the convoy.

At one of the changeovers we were told that the police would be inside the buses and that we were to stay in between them so they could protect us. Fine with us, however a few kms up the road the bus behind us decides to overtake us and both buses take off and leave us behind! We were alone once again! When we caught up again at the next check point we confronted them but they just told us we were too slow! This police escort business was starting to become a real joke. If we were to get attacked by terrorists there is no way a police man on a bus would be able to do anything about it. By now we all just kind of wished they would bugger off and in Dalbandin, our stop for the night we finally bid them adieu as they continued to Taftan (the Iran border).

All day we had seen many kids (and a few adults) standing on the side of the road giving us some kind of hand sign when we rode past. They would hold one hand with their palm up and with the other hand would draw a circle in the palm. We had no idea what that meant. Rob and Greg thought it might be a signal to us that we had our headlights on but I had a pretty good feeling that it meant something else. I was curious so when we arrived at our hotel in Dalbandin I asked the hotel manager what that sign meant. At first he said he didn't know but you could tell that he did. When I digged a bit more for an answer he eventually told me that it was the Pakistani sign for 'The End' aka Death. A bit different from someone telling you you've got your headlights on!

We unpacked in the hotel the police took us to and here we met two Turkish bikers who were on a mad dash from Turkey to Nepal in 20 days! They had just ridden across Iran in 4 days and were already on their 8th day. We all thought they were mad to attempt something like that in such a short amount of time but all the best to them. They were travelling on two massively loaded up BMWs that looked like they were going around the world! They probably had twice the amount of stuff Mark and I are carrying. As we were sitting chatting to them they kept asking us questions about the security situation in Pakistan, they seemed a bit concerned. They then said: "Don't you think there is anything slightly odd about this situation?" We asked what he meant. He pointed behind us to the police man sitting there with his AK-47 in his lap (probably there to protect us). "No, not really...that's normal" It was at that moment we realised how accustomed we had become to the ever-present guns, for us that was just part of Pakistan!

The next day ran a little more smoothly. We were still getting escorts but not quite as many as the previous day. At one of the check points though the police insisted that the security guard come with us as a pillion rider on one of us. We all refused to do this but they were adamant and finally Greg agreed to take him on the back of his tiny postie bike. The only place the officer could sit was high up on the top box and that was truly a sight for sore eyes! The sheet metal top box must have been at least 50 degrees and he must have seriously burnt his ass sitting on it. We only rode for a couple of kms before Greg stopped and told him to get off. The officer then made some phone calls back to the station to try to get more assistance, this took forever and we made a group decision to take off and leave our escort behind. He looked pretty lost and dumbfounded as he stood there on the side of the road, I observed from the one side mirror I had left.

After a good full day's riding we finally arrived in Taftan. We went straight to the customs building where the people were so nice to do all the paperwork for us (immigration and carnets) that evening so we could cross into Iran quickly the next morning. That night we camped in front of the customs building, us in our tent and Rob, Greg and Frank spent a cosy night cuddling up together in the Kiwis' tent. To be completely honest I think we were all pretty happy that it was our last night in Pakistan. As a country it had certainly been our biggest challenge yet, especially for me as a woman. Had Mark been travelling by himself without me I think he would have had a much more positive experience as he would not have experienced the sexual predatory against me. And that is in my opinion where most of the danger lies in visiting Pakistan. It's not so much the terrorism, yes the risk is there but it is nothing compared to the risk a foreign woman will face travelling there. I could only hope that Iran would be kinder to me. Little did we know that the next two days in Iran would be something resembling...hell!

Overlander meet anyone?

Relaxing in the backyard (as relaxed as you can get with AK47's all around you)

In Quetta patiently waiting for the escort to show up. And two hours later it did.

Police check point and one of the two buses also being escorted

Rob and Greg on their mighty machines!

Mark attracting a crowd

    A break to rest our sore butts, for Frank to have another ciggie and to wait for the posties to catch up!

Waiting for our police escort the second day

Queueing up to the local petrol station 

Filling up dessert style - half the fuel ended up on my bike as opposed to in it

Getting some r-e-s-p-e-c-t from the Balochi police force

Curious kids

This arrangement lasted for a couple of kms before we left him in the dust on the side of the road

Lone camel wandering the dessert

Why not throw another check point in, because we just haven't had enough!

Camped in front of customs

This old man was assigned to be our security guard...not exactly Rambo

Monday, 25 June 2012

Hunza Valley

By Mark

We decided to spend just the one night in Gilgit as there was not really much to see or do in town so we took off for Karimabad just 100km's away. This part of the trip was by far the most stunning of all we had seen this far. The snow topped mountains now reaching high into the sky, some getting close to 8000m, with beautiful green fields and the moon-like brown earth made a stark contrast to the beautiful blue skies around us. The road was in a really bad state but the slow going gave us the opportunity to take the scenery all in. The largest of the towns in this area is called Alliabad and who were we to run into here? Our good friend Frank from Germany who had left his bike out by the road in front of his hotel so we knew where to find him. Since first meeting him back in Chiang Mai the only country we had not run into him was in India. We met up on our way to Karimabad just a few more km's up the road where he was off sightseeing by foot. We made plans to ride further north the following day and see if we could make it as far as the Chinese border, just one thing was in our way. A few years a go a massive landslide caused major problems for the locals when the road was completely destroyed. The landslide was so big and with the melting snow and river that runs through the valley a lake has now been formed that cuts the road off entirely with the original road some 20 metres below the water line. There is however a boat service that takes the few tourists that still come here across and provides the essential service for locals needing to get goods to and from each side. We had heard of a few people taking their bikes across and that was our plan. When we arrived that plan was not looking so good, the road leading down to the lake was in a terrible mess and being worked on. The departure angle from the land down to the boat was very steep and there was no room for error here. After spending well over an hour here we all decided it was not worth the risk. Had we been going to China we would have had to do it but since we weren't why risk it. That's when Sanne's bike gave up the ghost, no sign of life in her battery so that was it for that plan. For now on in we were going to have to bump start the bike until we could get it sorted. Not a place you really want to have bike problems.

We decided to hang around in Karimabad a while as we really enjoyed the feel of the place. This part of Pakistan is nothing like the rest of the country. All the people here are very friendly some even inviting you into their shops just to talk with you and give you a drink with nothing else but with friendship in mind, no sales pitches or anything else. You even see many women in the street here something that is a rarity compared to many of the other towns and cities we have passed by. Some towns you will not even see a single woman and it is strange to ride through a bustling town only to see men everywhere and it wasn't only Sanne that missed seeing women out and about. Our time here was spent just lazing around and occasionally venturing off to have a look at nearby villages. There was good company at our guesthouse and this is where we met Attiq and his wife who were there on holiday with their children from Islamabad. We spent a bit of time with them and learnt a little more about the way of life here.

The next few days were spent running around trying to get the problem with Sanne's bike solved, thinking it was just the battery we ordered one from Islamabad. By the time our battery had arrived we had serviced the bikes and were off. Only problem, the battery needed charging and with power supply here being basically non existant (5 hours of power in 5 days!) we needed to head back to Gilgit to sort it out there. So this all happened easy enough with the help of Amir, a local mechanic in town who was more then happy to help. Battery was charged, bike was starting again and so we headed off south again and back to Islamabad to catch the train to Quetta. Two problems here, first the road had been cut off by a landslide and we were going nowhere for the rest of the day. Problem two was the bike had stopped starting again. This was not a battery issue, this was electrical. So we headed back to Amir and in no time we had the bike stripped down and we came to find the problem, a burnt out coil. So this was a real issue, we had only 5 days to get back to Islamabad and needed the bike to be in going order but with no big bikes in this region a new coil was going to be hard to come by. Luckily Amir had a secondhand stator coil lying around which was exactly the same as our original stator! However, we still wanted to see if we could get a new stator.

In the mean time we had done some research and had found a good mechanic in Rawalpindi who should be able to help us with our situation. Luckily enough the bike held out and we made it back south with little worries and with two days to spare before we needed to catch the train. Unfortunately we were told by Mr Bashir our mechanic that there was no one in Pakistan that could rewind our coil and no chance of getting one to fit with such short notice, bugger! So the next job was just to do a good overhaul and strip the bikes down and give them the once over. Valves were checked, plugs replaced, oiled, lubed and greased everything. Then there was my bike, the weight I had been carrying and the condition of the KKH had played a toll on my bike. I had snapped off a lug on the rear subframe that supports my pannier rails along with snapping a part on my pannier rails that fits to the bike. We had come to the right person though and in no time the rail had been rewelded at a nice cheap cost of 100PR ($1.10). The subframe being alloy was going to be a little more difficult but instead of welding we had a piece of alloy fabricated to fit and strengthen the support system which worked a treat and can't be snapped off again, last time it happened on the Gibb river road back in WA. The best thing about it all was that we had managed to get everything done in time to catch our train to Quetta. The down side was Sanne's bike still needed a coil and we still had to cross Iran in eight days. Some more planning and hopefully we can resolve the issue properly in Turkey.

That is the Lady Finger sticking out in the middle


Hunza Fort, Karimabad

Some cheeky young locals

Out and about on one of our daily rides

The view across the valley from our guesthouse

Sanne dressing to impress the locals

While I just became a little more feral

Hunza Valley

Hunza Valley by night

Attiq and his wife Shaista

On our way to attempt to cross the lake with our mate Frank

Yes, there is a road 20m below this lake

The "road" down to the lake

Hmmm, what to do with this bike...

We never got tired of looking at the beautiful scenery that surrounded us

Amir, our friendly mechanic in Gilgit who got Sanne's bike going again for us but is still in need of a new coil