Iran - Zahedan - Quetta PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Smith   
Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:04
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Day 28: Zahedan to Quetta Saturday 20th October

My PDA lit the coal black bedroom at 4.00am as its alarm started to do an impersonation of a dog barking. Anne wasn't impressed, not so much with the barking but the unearthly hour. Within a couple of a minutes the Imam was calling everyone to prayer and with it Anne lost the point of her anger. A very early start was needed to give us some chance of making it to a Quetta. Firstly there was the matter of getting our passports back which, along with a very basic breakfast, took us to 5.50am. All we needed was our escort. At 6.15am it arrived to safely deliver us exactly one kilomotre nearer the border and stopped to waite for relief escort. I arrived at 7.15am making a mockery of our early start.

After stops and starts we made it to the Pakistan border and duely queued up to have our passports checked. The actual administrative part didn't take too long, about and hour and half but it was so hot and the terraine a complete mess that it seemed longer. We have followed a constant strip of discarded rubbish since Romania and it seems it is all blowing into the border crossing area between Iran and Pakistan. It looked like the rubbish dump of the world with scapped cars, tyres, rusting pipe and gurders, tin cans and all wallowing in a sea of plastic and papers. An absolute shit hole is a fair description and sitting a few hundred yards away stood a square boxed mud township happily making a living from the mess but God knows how. Once we left the border behind, the scenery quickly flattened out as though the mountains new they belonged to Iran and had no right on the otherside of the border.

Our new guide Bilal introduced himself to the coach saying Marco Polo would have been proud of you and the land you're now travelling has little changed since. The scenery was quite interesting and the mountains looked quite high in the distance but when I asked Bilal what they were called he referred to them as hills, not being higher than 3000 feet . After a while we made our first stop in Pakistan and it caused quite a stir. All we did was cross the road to a hotel which had two toilets and a sign outside saying we were on London Rd and within a few minutes we drew a largish crowd. The toilets, both ladies and gents, were inside two seperate bedrooms and because there was no running water it was suggested that we use the bottle on the table between the single beds outside the gents. When I got back down stairs the large crow had now attracted a snake charmer who'd seen an opportunity. As soon as everyone had paid he grabbed the Cobra and stuffed it back in its bag.

Things began to deteriorate from this point onwards. The temperature outside was now 35 degrees centigrade and the road took a significant turn for the worse. The road was surfaced one minute and the next the bus would come to a sudden stop before crashing onto a surface of dust, stone and large holes. Things became even worse has the light gave way to a starry sky: every severe bump, drop into a hole, sudden unexpected movement was met by a series of expleteves and huhs and hahs. We had a total of 600 kilometres to cover, 300 on decent road and the final 300 on what Bilal called poor road. This was a conservative estimate, appalling would be nearer and the reality was somewhere between this and non existant. If we had been covering these latter miles in the daylight I think there would have been a census to wait and start again the next day but we couldn't see and so it went ahead. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse the road began to rise and twist and turn with large gaily coloured trucks coming the opposite way which brought our progress to a complete stop. The only good thing about the trucks was you could see them coming down the mountainside looking like Trafelgar Squares christmas decorations on wheels. Bilal explained that the tradition of decorating the trucks stems from the way they decorated their camels.

The hotel at Quetta was a colonial building just two floors high rectangular set around a central garden area. When we arrived it was 11.50pm and the hotel had prepared a meal of veg and chicken curry with naan breads and bottle beer. I have never had Pakistani beer before and it's quite good: made by Murrees, since the 1860s, it's a typical IPA with good flavour and 5.5 percent strength. What was surprising about it was the price: 150 rupees in the hotel and to buy in bulk 130; Pakistan has the q £1 pint. I'd spent a few days thinking about beer in the sobriety of Iran but never imagined it would be expensive in a country where 100 rupees gets a 20 minute sim card for your phone or two veg curries and naan breads and if interested a 15 minute scary ride in a rickshaw.

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 April 2009 10:26