My entry into the country started with a hold up as I reached the border just too late to cross and spent the night
camped at the Iran compound. When the border finally opened and I went through the paperwork it was already warming up and the ride through the Baluchistan desert was hot, though interesting, seeing the nomad tents and
camels. Also there were several road checks and the guards always had a smile and a cup of tea to offer, so it was a pleasant run. I stopped early though, at Dalbadin, about half way to Quetta and the hotel was
adequate. After a walk around the colourful bazar the police arrived at the hotel and told me I shouldn't walk around alone. First indication that foreigners are being watched.
I arrived at the Blloomstar
Hotel in Quetta the next day and was able to camp in their garden, which was a Paradise compared to the extremely busy, polluted and noisy town streets. However, Quetta had a nice feel about it and the colourful
buses, trucks and people were a delight. Also, the people smiled and said hello but didn’t bombard you with questions as in Iran.
I stayed three days, catching up with other travellers and meeting 2 German riders who
were heading down to Karachi. Some Pakistani students showed me around the local sites one day and it was fun.
After the haven of Quetta, where I had my first dose of the runs, I followed the main highway to Sukkur in
Sind. On reaching the town I was unsure where to look for a hotel when a kind family invited me to stay with them and took me sightseeing the next day which included a trip to the huge Llyod barrage, engineered by a
Scotsman, of course, and the shrine of the 7 sisters who, as legend has it, had their honour saved by being buried in a earthquake. We also had a boat trip on the Indus river.
The next day I tried to cross
the Indus further up to take a shorter route to Islamabad but picked the wrong road, got lost and was finally not where I wanted to be when it got dark. I asked in the next two towns for hotels but there were none so,
as it was now too dark for me to continue, on such dangerous roads ( I never ride at night) I spotted a building that had a surrounding wall and a patch of grass and, thinking it may be a school , asked if I could camp
there. It turned out to be a police station. Good, I thought, where better to be protected. However, there was no initiative to be had there and they had to fill out a report and ask a succession of senior officers. One
officer phoned his home and his daughter, who spoke perfect English said I would be welcome there, if her father would bring me. But her father had to ask someone higher and so it went on. The time by now was 9.30 and
being knackered, I went to sleep on a charpoy in the office. Next thing I knew I was awakened by 4 officers telling me that word had come from the highest authority that I couldn’t stay there. It was 11.30pm. I said it
was ridiculous, where was the other man whose family had invited me? He had disappeared and they said I could stay in no house in the district. To cut a long story short I had to follow their police truck, and then
another for about 50kms and finally was escorted to a hotel bed at 3am in a town I didn't want to go to. I was furious!!. Then they wanted to escort me the next day. I said no!!! It turned out later that most of the
tourists had been escorted against their will for days by the police.
Well the next night , having been on some awful roads to find the town at the start of the motorway to Islamabad, I was again invited to stay with
a kind family and then I made an early start getting on to this nice clean smooth stretch of road which had no trucks, buses, donkey or camel carts to dodge. However, within two minutes I was pulled over by a police car
and told that motorbikes are not allowed on the motorway. I was escorted off it and told I had to take the other back roads. You can imagine, the air was blue around my bike for quite some time. Yet again Pakistan
police were given all sorts of names they didn't know they had.
I finally found the campsite in Islamabad and was pleased to meet some Basque guys in vans and other overlanders who came in over the next
couple of days. I did an oil change on the bike, applied for my Indian visa and prepared for the KKH.
I was just north of Islamabad when the earthquake hit and I didn't feel it as, thumping along on a big
single everything shakes anyway. However, I wondered why there were so many rock falls on the road and then, when I joined the main KKH I met some Spanish travellers coming back down and asked why, as they had only left
the previous day. They explained that they were in a village further north and there had been an earthquake and the hotel had collapsed and many people had died and it had also hit Islamabad and was 7.8 on the Richeter
scale. I had passed a town with a collapsed building earlier and wondered what had happened.
Anyway, I decided to carry on now seeing many burial happening in roadside grave yards in the villages, and
got to a town that night which was also devastated. I camped opposite a hotel which was shaking, and all the staff were out on the bank . I gave them my bike cover as I felt awful having a tent when they were exposed.,
especially when there was a god almighty storm. We went into town to try and get some food and it was dangerous because the ground was still shaking and the remaining buildings collapsing around us. The hospital was
destroyed and all the people were lying outside in the market area completely exposed. At that time no aid had come in and people though I must be from the BBC. I felt really bad because I had nothing to give them and
they were all saying I should get out of the danger area.
That night the ground shook a lot and I was more worried about the bike falling over than me as I was camped well away from any falling objects.
The next day I went up the road to see if I could get any further but it was blocked and they said no one would try and clear it till the tremors stopped. So I decided to go back to Islamabad.
taking another route I ended up in the worst hit town of the lot, Muzafarrabad, near the Kashmir border and the devastation there was horrendous. The road closed behind me as the engineers brought in earth movers to try
and make it safe for the aid vehicles. It was very dodgy getting in on the bike and the road I was intending to take out was completely blocked with landslides.
I camped on the road side, all night refugees from the
villages were walking past in to town. It was chaos and again, I didn't know what to do for the best. Early the next morning I went back on the now slightly better road and met a load of aid trucks coming the other way,
from Turkey and later saw some from China.
It took a long time to get back to Islamabad and , as you imagine, I was feeling pretty traumatised and wondering if I should have stayed put and waited to see if I could
help in situ but I really didn't know how.
The next day I went to the Aus embassy (I'm travelling here on Aus passport) and they sent me to Unicef and I finally spoke to someone on the phone (who was
Australian) who seemed to be directing things and he said that only the organised groups, skilled in this type of thing were able to help at present. They were still trying to organise the roads and air transport and
clear bodies with the army and maybe later the private groups could help.
We all had the same reaction and so I am just donating what I can and I will try and go up north again in a few days and see if I can do
anything at Battagram where I was originally, if there are now groups there as they say.
Anyway I am safe and well, though very upset and I will decide in the next day or so what to do for the best.
Thank you for your messages and it is a great comfort to know that you are
thinking of me.