letter from the Australian Consulate in Pakistan

Now that we’re safely through that part of the world, I’ll share the letter sent to me by the Australian Consulate in Islamabad.  I emailed them at the request of the Pakistan consulate in Canberra, to register our travel.  I didnt include their response in our visa application for obvious reasons.

It seems that the Australian goverment’s stance on travel anywhere except New Zealand is that it’s dangerous, dont go!  They have travel advisory warnings for every country we have been in since leaving home… crazy.

No doubt Pakistan is a dangerous country to travel in, and some parts are definite no go zones for travellers, we didnt go to those parts.  But equally it was an incredibly interesting place to see, full of welcoming generous people.  It’s a shame that the actions of a minute few give the entire country such a bad reputation.

Enough of that, here’s the letter…


Dear Dean,

Thank you for your email and sharing your travel plans with us.

We wish to reiterate that your proposed travel from Islamabad to China border crossing through the Pakistan province of KPK is dangerous and we strongly urge you to reconsider this.  As stated in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) travel advice for Pakistan there is a high threat of kidnapping across the whole of Pakistan, but particularly in Karachi, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).  We recommend that Australians not travel to these areas.

In addition to reading the DFAT travel advice for Pakistan and the other countries you will be visiting, we would also like to draw your attention to DFAT’s travel advice on kidnapping, which can be found at http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/TravelBulletins/Kidnapping  and on terrorism, which can be found athttp://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/TravelBulletins/Terrorist_Threat

There is no way you can ensure your safety while travelling by road across KPK.  Even hiring local armed escorts is no guarantee of your safety.  You need to carefully consider the impact on you, your family and friends, resulting from possible kidnap, injury or death including very large financial ransom demands in the event of kidnapping.  We urge you to seriously reconsider this part of your plan and to avoid those provinces in Pakistan where we recommend no travel and reconsider any need to travel through other provinces.

Given the Australian Government’s advice against travel across Pakistan, we regret we are unable to provide a letter stating that such a visit is welcome.

If you proceed with this travel, you should ensure that you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out appropriate insurance. You should also register your travel and contact details online at DFAT’s Smartraveller website before you travel, and subscribe to the travel advice for the countries you are visiting so you can receive updates should the security environment change in those locations.

With regard to travel insurance, make sure your travel insurance covers all medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as theft of valuables and damage to baggage etc.  Check the policy’s exclusions and be aware that it is unlikely to cover you for areas that are assessed as ‘Do not travel’ by DFAT.  Please make sure the insurance covers you for all of your activities and for all of the countries you intend to visit, noting any of the policy’s requirements for driving a personal vehicle.



Amna Pervez

Consular and Passports Manager

Australian High Commission Islamabad
Ph +92 51 835 5500 | Fax +92 51 282 0114


The three of us!

The three of us!

We are in Sost…. and have been for the last three days.  There is nothing to do here… not even any internet (hence this post will be sent a couple of days late from China). We have played an average of 20 games of cards per night in an effort not to go to bed before 10pm. Dean spent one day working on the bike which I kind of helped him with out of shear boredom but running to fetch and clean things left me thinking that sitting and reading the Quaran may be more fun… and yes, I read the Quaran, probably the most boring book in the world… this is where we are at!

A beautiful lake created by the 'Attabad landslide'

A beautiful lake created by the ‘Attabad landslide’

We left Karimabad and slowly made our way here. The KKH seems to get more and more beautiful. We had planned to spend a few nights in a place called Gulmit in ‘Upper Hunza’ but upon arriving there we realised that one night would probably be enough. The next morning, with so much time on our hands, we had breakfast in a local ‘restaurant’ and sat for a while and watched how the locals lived… it basically consisted of them sitting in the ‘restaurant’ looking at us. One of the locals spoke pretty good English so we chatted with him for a while before heading on to Sost.

Some friendly locals ploughing the fields

Some friendly locals ploughing the fields

Along the way we pulled off the KKH into what seemed like a village. It was actually just a few huts and some farmland amongst massive mountains. On our way back to the road a man came out of one of the huts to see if we were ok (he thought we were there to hunt?!), and invited us into his hut for tea. It was such a cute hut with his mum, dressed in traditional dress in the centre of the room tending a wood stove and making fresh Chapatti (flat bread). There were cushions and rugs all around the room and we were invited to sit down and make ourselves comfortable. We sat and spoke with him and his brother for over an hour and ended up eating a lunch of dhal and chapatti and having some tea. It was really lovely and we learnt a lot about the local culture and their religion. They follow a moderate, progressive form of Islam (‘Ismali’) which encourages education and equality for the sexes. It was very refreshing to learn about but is unfortunately only followed in a small corner of the world.

The chapatti mama looking for Ibecs

The chapatti mama looking for Ibex

While in the Hunza valley we’ve noticed that the houses seem quite well made, even modern, the farming is well organised, and the people seem more ‘normal’ to us, which I guess means more western (both by appearance and behaviour).  Small things like the guys wearing jeans and sunglasses, and the women are always out and about, and often say hello to us, not a burqua in sight!

So it turns out that the reason for all this modernity is this version of Islam they follow.  Ismali muslims follow a ‘spiritual leader’ called Khan, who currently resides in France.  Khan encourages Ismaili’s to embrace the modern world, to study hard (and learn English), and to respect all other cultures, people and religions as equals (even heathen infidels like us!).  He also puts money into these remote communities by building local schools, offering university scholarships, and co-investment in agricultural schemes like the irrigation that keeps all these fields looking so healthy (he puts up 50% of the money and the community matches the other 50% by way of free labour).  No wonder everyone around here loves the guy so much!! 

We’ve been told countless times that Islam is a religion of love, respect and equality, but in the same breath that one man is the worth of two women! Then when you see women walking around in burqua’s in a city where an entire block is devoted to prostitution, or you hear people talk about homosexuality like a sin, it’s a really hard thing to understand.  But in this small corner of the world that claim may just be true. (Dean)

Despite this impromptu lunch date and riding as slowly as we could we arrived in Sost by 2pm where we managed to find the dirtiest hotel in town. This morning we got suited up to ride out to a valley near the border of Afghanistan that had been recommended to us but were soon turned around by police… back to the hotel…

A road to a little village

A road to a little village

I’ve finished the Quaran…Dean has fixed everything he can think of… I have washed everything I can think of… and I don’t think we can walk up and down the main street here anymore as people are starting to get suspicious. We even had the ISI, (equivalent of the FBI) ring our hotel yesterday to ask when we were going to be checking out! We don’t even know how they knew we were staying here! They probably think we are spies…

Another KKH view!

Another KKH view!

In retrospect we probably should have ridden to Skardu from Gilgit and taken a chance with the security issues but we are comforted by the fact that this should be the last time on this trip that we have to waste any more time waiting, as after our China crossing we will on our time with no further dates or seasons to work with…

Dean has started to cut a plastic water bottle up with his pocket knife like a mad scientist… and the bright blue alcohol that we use for the camp stove is starting to look like a rather delicious cocktail… time to start today’s card game marathon…

KKH day 3 – Safe in Hunza Valley

We are now relaxing in Karimabad in the beautiful Hunza Valley. Big rugged snow capped mountains and valleys of green trees and spring time blossoms.

The Baltit fort

The Baltit fort

I will take off from where Dean finished in the last post after our long, slow, police escorted day to Gilgit.
Despite being told that Gilgit was totally safe we were met in the morning by another policeman who was to escort us to the local police station. We had decided to do another long day to a place called Skardu which had been recommended to us. We weren’t really up for another long slow day but we had time on our side and we hoped that the police would only need to take us part of the way. Upon arriving at the police station we tried to bleed more information from the policeman who seemed to know the most English…
“We need police escort from here to Skardu?”
“Yes yes, police”
“OK, but once we get to Skardu is it safe?”
“Yes, no…police”
“Right…so here to Skardu police but in Skardu safe? Or do we need a security in Skardu?”
“OK… so when in Skardu can we walk around on our own or do we need police?”
“Yes, you can walk around in the hotel”
“Great…. so not safe in Skardu?”
This dialogue continued and involved about 4 different policemen and one translator but the thought of travelling 300 kms to get to a place and have to possibly stay within a hotel complex didn’t sound like much fun. Also, if there was a threat, a guy on a bike wasn’t going to make us feel safe enough to really enjoy ourselves so we decided to ride straight to Hunza where it was apparently safe…depending on which policeman you spoke to.
“OK, we go to Hunza, not Skardu”
“Skardu safe, no problem, you can walk around ok”
Big sighs and impatient glances were exchanged between Dean and I but at this stage we were already over it and had made our decision.
It felt that with this decision the security relaxed a little. We still needed a policeman to guide us out of the town to another station who then provided another escort to the next police check point who then provided another but we were then ushered ahead alone and told at the next police check point that we were now in Hunza and it was safe.
“No Taliban here….we hate the Taliban!” he said proudly
“So does most of the world” I responded with a smile

A view from the KKH

A view from the KKH

So we were in Hunza, alone and free – it felt good! The ride along the KKH was really beautiful…breathtaking. Massive mountains all round us, green trees, a river running along the road and very friendly happy people in all of the villages. There was evidence of recent landslides all along the road but there was enough room for us to pass through… it was a little scary looking up at all the precariously placed boulders which are just waiting to fall but nothing seemed to be moving in that moment!

Hunza Valley

Hunza Valley

Due to deciding not to go to Skardu, we have some free time on our hands before we cross in to China. Dean and I are pretty good at wasting time but it’s a lot harder to do when there is no booze! We have been in Karimabad for 2 nights already and have another 7 to go! It is a lovely little village with a couple of forts to see but apart from that there is not a great deal to do.

Superman Dean

Superman Dean

We walked a few km to an ancient village yesterday called Ganish, home to four 600 year old wooden mosques (a UNESCO world heritage site). At the town’s entrance a group of about 6 little boys ranging from the ages of 5 to 10 years old took it upon themselves to guide us around and explain the town’s history. I got a bit scared when they led us to a doorway in the old city wall and then in broken English said something like “now can not open” before they latched it shut behind us with a piece of heavy timber! I tried to act cool, but half ran back to the door while they were still latching it, thinking it might be some sort of kidnap attempt, but they were just showing us how they used to secure the city in the old times  Of course Dean found it very amusing that I was scared of a bunch of cute 6 year old boys… They then showed us the swimming pool (muddy hole full of water) in the middle of town where the soldiers once practiced water combat, old wooden hooks in the walls where horses used to be tied up, and pits in the ground leading to snow melt water which were once used to keep food cool during summer.

Dean with our guides

Dean with our guides

Seeing how beautiful it is here makes us regret not being able to see more of Pakistan but the security issues make it too hard to venture anywhere else. There is a really rich history in this area and the locals are starving for tourists to visit as they once used to before 9/11. It’s such a shame that the wars in Afghanistan have left Pakistan so susceptible to terrorism.
From here we will ride a few kilometres down the road tomorrow to another village in Upper Hunza for a few more nights and then head to Sost for our last few nights before we cross the border.

KKH Day 2

Well here I am sitting up in bed trying to keep my eyes open for long enough to write something interesting before I forget it all tomorrow, we’re both exhausted. Today started with the predicably late start, but for once it wasnt us holding things up.

The police escort turned up 45mins late, which sucked because we got up at 6am to meet them.  A police escort, by the way, is a toyota hilux with two in the front, and between 2 and 6 in the back, usually armed with AK47’s resting casually on their knees, absently pointing directly at us… 

police escort welcomes us to Pakistan

police escort welcomes us to Pakistan

In Pakistan, the driver is the least senior of the group, and on two occassions so far has been borderline retarded, like someone’s parents made them give their simple older brother Rupert a job. Rupert though, is usually pumped to be driving, and loves to chat to us in broken english, smiling a big goofy smile while the other team members look on trying not to look embarrassed by Rupert.

Rupert usually has a moustach.  Rupert resembles Will Ferrel.  We love the Ruperts.  Now I digress.

We left the hotel carpark and stopped in the next town for fuel, where I was reminded that we’re in a dangerous place, 2 guards left the escort on the road and stood in the petrol station with AK’s ready while we filled up.  Then followed us back to the road.

The rest of the day was a series of police zones, sometimes 10km long, others only a few km long, where we would stop, register our details and be handed over to the police in command of the next zone.  This often required a long wait for them to organise a car or bike to accompany us.

waiting for the next escort

waiting for the next escort

To their credit though, the police (and the Rangers, next level of firepower) were always very friendly, smiling and doing a superb job.  They always apologised for the inconvenience, and offered us cold drinks and tea and biscuits.

We were pretty edgy for most of the day nonetheless, especially in the zones where the police just waved us past.  This only happened a few times, but one in particular was in the middle of the really dodgy part of the ride (according to reports by our Pakistani friends), and went on for about 80km in the most remote area we’d seen all day.

“this would be a perfect place for a kidnap”


“should we go back?”

“i dont know”

The road at this point was really rough, frequently only rubble and stones, but we werent stopping for any reason.

“I’m not going to stop until we reach Gilgit”  I yell into the intercom, Gilgit is still 160km away, it’s 3pm and we havent eaten since 6am.

“um… ok”

“it’s going to suck, sorry babe, just feeling pretty edgy out here, want to get it over with”

“yeah yeah ok”

harsh remote terrain most of today

harsh remote terrain most of today

We were picked up again after that long stretch, 30km from Chillas, where the Taliban are know to have a stronghold.  There we waited for a tour car to arrive, and then had to follow that car, containing 2 Japanese tourists, a tour guide and a policeman carrying an AK.  Having been accompanyed by 7 Rangers with AK’s and a roof mounted anti-aircraft gun earlier in the day, the single policeman squeezed into the back seat of a Corolla with just one weapon – wasn’t confidence inspiring.

Then we stopped for lunch right in the middle of Chillas, where the other tourists ate at the most expensive restaurant in town.

“too expensive, is there somewhere else we can go?”

“no, not safe for you outside, Taliban area”

“ok, can you come with us then?”

The policeman lookes at us like we’re completely crazy, but nonetheless agrees, shoulders his AK and off we go for a casual lunch in a Taliban controlled town.  (This was Sally’s idea by the way.)

The Policeman was a local though, so he took us to the nearest place, helped us order and chatted to us over a very quick lunch.

“ok you eat fast now and we go quickly”

“um ok…”

“finished yes?”

After that the rest of the day passed really slowly.  The road was really broken up, so the Corolla was only moving at 30 or 40km/h, where we’d otherwise have been doing 80.  To make it worse it was really dusty following it, and belting hot.  It took almost 3 hours to do only 100km, and then on the outskirts of Giligit we were dropped at the checkpoint and had to wait an hour for the Japanese guys to be taken to their hotel first.

“this sucks, we waited for them all day, and now they get dropped off first!”

“yep, and they went the whole way in airconditioned comfort”

the Indus river following the KKH

the Indus river following the KKH

Anyway, we really cant complain, the police out here put themselves at risk to ensure our safety, and are polite and accomodating the whole time.  Really lovely guys.  Eventually our ride arrived after dark, and then took us into the middle of another Taliban town, where we’re going to remain in a walled hotel compound for tonight and tomorrow morning, when another policeman will arrive to escort us to the first checkpoint for the day…






So far, 4 days in Lahore, one travel day to Islamabad and now it’s our third day here.  We’ve posted a lot about the hospitality of the Pakistani people, which has been quite literally overwhelming at times, but not much about the country itself.

So what’s it like here?  Well so far it’s been very diverse, with the one constant being the kindness and curiosity of all the people we meet.  Everywhere we go, people stop and say hello, ask where we’re from and where we’re going, wish us a warm welcome, ask if we need any help, and then say goodbye.

Stopping on the highway to Islamabad, I was a bit nervous when a group of long bearded men in traditional dress came over to us, but they just wanted to say hello, talk about the cricket, and welcome us to Pakistan.   5 mins later when I went to pay, another guy came over to say hello  (only the men say hello – but more on that later), and he paid the bill for me…

“I am a christian, all christians in Pakistan are my guests”

“ok thanks that’s very kind. but… we’re not christians”

“what?! what are you then?”

“actually we dont follow any religion”

“why not?  but why?”  he was visibly shocked

“because religion is a negative force in the world, too many wars, too much hate…”

“oh…”  very confused looking man

“dont worry, I’m happy to pay for our own meal”

“no no, anyway, you are a guest here, it is my pleasure to pay your lunch”

Lahore… labelled as the friendly and lively city by the Lahorians, is also from the outside, the most male dominated city I have visited in the world yet.  On the street or in a restaurant, it’s quite rare to see a woman, a ratio of 50 or 100 men for each woman would be near the mark. Most of the women wear the burqua, or another cloak (I can’t recall the name) which to the uninformed looks almost the same.  The hijab (hair covering only) is less common, and only teenage girls show their hair.

We tend to assume that most societies are similar to our own, so it comes as a shock when you visit somewhere so different from a male/female perspective.  For example, when being introduced to a man’s wife (or wives!!), it’s not normal to shake hands with her/them, as this is seen as being too close.  If I do try, which I usually do, the handshake isn’t reciprocated until the husband gives permission, and then it’s still rather awkward.

The staring… When we went out for a walk in the city, the men all stopped whatever they were doing and just stared at us, actually they stared at Sally, it was pretty uncomfortable actually, so we didnt do much walking.  Initinally I though it was just because we’re foreigners, but then I went out alone (Sal was sick), and realised no one so much as glanced at me.  So they just stare at the women.  Not sure if it’s the dress sense, or just that she’s a western woman, but suspect they dont get many women in t shirts!

The ride to Islamabad… was really easy, after the chaos of the India roads, the relative order over here is really nice.  Smooth roads, people keep to the left mostly, and there arent cows or carts on the roads.

Then Islamabad… is SO DIFFERENT to Labore.  Lahore ‘looks’ like a lot of India, small narrow streets, lots of dust, a bit of rubbish around, some chaos.  To say Islamabad looks like a city in Australia is no exaggeration.  Also the people are a bit more confident, and there are women around.  Still not an equal split, but we see plenty of ladies on the streets, and the burqua here is quite rare, some women even show their hair!

We were frequently asked in Lahore – what we thought about Pakistan, whether we felt safe, and if we thought all Pakistanis are terrorists.  The people there seem quite desperate for foreigners to know that the Pakistanis are friendly people, and that the perception we have of it being a dangerous place is misguided.  And in many ways they’re right.  The people we’ve met so far have all been amazing.  If Australians were just half as hospitable I’d be proud.

In reality though, there are some security issues here, and what a Pakistani person considers totally safe is quite different to what I might call safe.  In our little camping trip, we ended up with 13 soldiers with automatic weapons guarding our campground.  There are frequent road checkpoints manned by Soldiers, Police or Rangers, all heavily armed.  In Islamabad you cant ride more than a few km without passing under an array of surveillance cameras, and many of the housing estates are gated wiith guards armed with AK’s!

Then Sal read in the paper today that 22 suicide bombers were reported to have crossed the border from Afghanistan in the previous month, two of which have already gone off, I guess that leaves another 20 to watch out for!  Yesterday a woman was gunned down in her car in a city to the west of here.  It goes on… I told Kevin at dinner last night that back home i’ve never seen anyone with an automatic weapon, that we dont have checkpoints at all, and he looked at me wide eyed in disbelief.

Fortunately for us, we have the MAP guys really good care of us, and the president of the club, Sanuallah, has some good connections in the government, so is really knowledgeable and realistic about where we can and can’t go, where we should seek an armed escort, and where we will be fine.

This is about as much security as we could have hoped for, and sets our minds at ease for the remaining 1000km we still have to travel here.  I think we have another day in the city before hitting the KKH, really looking forward to seeing the northern areas!!




Day 1 on the KKH (belated)


We just arrived safely in Besham, the last 27km under armed escort (two friendly guys on a 100cc motorbike carrying an AK), staying at the Pakistan Tourism Development Centre tonight, more guys with AK’s here too.


We’ve been lucky to spend the last few days with the president of MAP, a great guy called Marwat.  Marwat took us to his summer home about 50km out of Islamabad in the hills, where we ate and drank, visited some hill stations and generally just talked about life in Pakistan.  Really interesting guy. We really hope to see him again.  I’d love to tell you what we got up to, but unfortunately it would get Marwat into trouble…

“So Marwat, what are the other haram things in Islam?” I asked

“alcohol, hashish, sex before marriage and bacon…”

“Yeah all the fun things!!”  blurts out Sally

Marwat coughs and then bursts out laughing, lucky he has a good sense of humor!!


The police escort today was pretty low key and relaxed, but still I was a little edgy.  So when we stopped in a blind corner for no apparent reason I had to try not to freak out.

The corner turned out to have a monument at it, commemorating the KKH, and they wanted us to climb it and take some pics.  This took some time to communicate as we don’t understand Urdu, but we got it finally and even breathed a sigh of relief on realising that our ‘guards’ were actually playing tour guide as well.

that moustach is awesome!!

that moustach is awesome!!

So we took some pics and then did the last stint into Besham still under guard.  It took some stiff negotiation to get a room for a reasonable price…

“ok so the room is $42 huh?”


“but it’s free if we camp in the garden?”


“And we’re the only people here… OK so I’ll give you $15 for a room”

“no I can not”

“ok well we’ll either pay $15 for a room, or we’ll camp for free…”


“ok we’ll camp then”

5 mins later… “ok room for $20 ok?”




Dinner in Islamabad


Another evening in Islamabad, Kevin and Anand took us out for dinner in a ritzy restaurant overlooking the city.  It felt like being at home!!

Incredible kindness from people over here.  Quite amazing!

Assistant mechanic 

The beginning of the photo shoot

The beginning of the photo shoot

Once again I am spending the day watching Dean work on betsy. While it gets pretty boring handing him tools and finding nuts and bolts that he’s misplaced, it’s a good opportunity to catch up on some blog/reading and this week, watching prince clips… Over and over again 😢. Usually I would spend the day walking around shops or doing yoga but I feel these options are limited in Islamabad!

Dean with his new friends

Dean with his new friends

Islamabad is where we are and it is a beautiful modern clean city which feels a lot like home. We later discovered that the city was designed based on Canberra – it’s a very nice break to the conjested dusty dirty city’s we have become accustomed to!

Lahore was a lot of fun and took us both by suprise. We’d heard that people were friendly but nobody warned us how many photos would be taken of us! Wow! I thought I’d perfected my fake smile really well by the end of the weekend but upon looking at some of those photos now it is very funny to see the looks on our faces – a mixture of shock and amusement! The photos started both days at around 6am!

Some shy villagers

Some shy villagers

The guys that looked after us were a lovely group of people and a couple of them took it upon themselves to be my personal security. One in particular also became my wardrobe assistant as it was apparent that I didn’t know how much I needed to cover up my body…. It’s never been my strong point…. 😁

Dean with a very  important new friend

Dean with a very important new friend

Last night we arrived in Islamabad and were invited to have dinner at another of the MAP guys house which was really nice. Again, we have been welcomed warmly, looked after like family and an agenda designed for us to make the most of our time here. I think we are being taken on a trip over the weekend and then Dean and I will continue north into the mountains 😊

Blog done, book read and phone battery at 4%…. Now I’m bored…

Amazing Pakistan


I’m not going to be able to do this justice just now, but we had the most amazing time yesterday and today with the guys from the Motorcycle Assoc. Of Pakistan.

All the members, (along with basically everyone we meet!) is welcoming beyond belief.


We must have had our pictures taken thousands of times, hands shaken and welcomed to Pakistan and thanked for visiting, over and over and over again.

It was quite an eventful day that culminated with 12 armed guards (yep, AK47’s!) keeping watch over our campground for the whole night!

It’s wasn’t so serious apparently, just some local cops trying to get a bribe, that ended with someone pulling some strings… Apparently some pretty big strings! So then the local Special Forces guys arrived and took over from the corrupt cops :). Ha!  Take that!!

“This is people power” said Adil our new friend.


Welcome to Pakistan!



Welcom to Pakistan, Dear Dean Martinello and Sally Clark, The Land of Lovely and Lively People, We all Pakistanis Welcome You with the Core of Our Hearts!

This was quite an amazing welcome, Adil from the Motorcycle Association of Pakistan (MAP) met is in our room an hour after we arrived, with two traditional scarves and this welcome message!

Tomorrow we’re joining another 50 bikers on a ride out through the country, a nights camping and then back to Lahore next day.

Really looking forward to it, even given the 6am start 🙂

The border crossing today went ok, a bit slow on the Indian side, but faster on the Pakistan side.  Everyone was super friendly, welcoming and generally in good moods, which for a border post is really rare!

So far Pakistan looks much the same as India, albeit with some big differences.  Fristly, there are almost no car or truck horns.  Ahhhh the sweet sound of silence… or at least, the chaos of a busy street without the noise of horns.  Unbelievable, only 30km from here, people are unable to drive 25m without blasting the horn at someone or something, but here, nothing.  Thanks be to Allah!

Next, there are no cows, and hence no cow shit on the roads, which has taken one of our more common phrases out of circulation,  “Careful – Shit Foot!!”

We’re only 30km over the border, so not far really,  but the friendliness we’ve heard about is already visible.  Lots of big smiles, thumbs ups, and waves as we made our way to central lahore, and  then the welcome from Adil was quite unexpected, really cool.

On the down side, after more than 2 months in India, drinking the water, eating the ice and generally doing everything wrong, on the very last day, Sal has gotten a bit sick, nothing serious but disappointing to get bitten on the last day there.

And finally, last night we were invited into the home of a gentleman running the local pharmacy in Amritsar, it was a 10pm invitation for a beer and dinner, we refused the food as we’d just eaten,  but was really nice to spend some time in peoples home talking about life in India. A very nice way to finish our travels there  🙂