Mar 18

Khush Aamdeed….Welcome

by in Pakistan

Crossing the Wagah border was literally a sight for sore eyes, but in a nice way. With exhaust fumes of the past few weeks enough to make the eyes water and the throat raspy, it’s been nice to have a little less traffic to compete with. Roads have also improved. Streets are wider, cleaner and there are parks with trees & grass, something I haven’t seen in a while. My taxi driver friend took me to the home of Dr Omar Khan, from the Pakistan Bikers Club. The welcome extended by Omar as a kind and generous friend was wonderful and I’ll be forever grateful for his kindness & hospitality. Two other lovely friends, Ali & Akbar have also been gracious  in sharing their time with me, showing me around and helping in every way they could.

It was down to some serious business with several trips to the Iranian Embassy before I finally received my visa. The opening hours & the procedure may have all seemed a little irregular to a foreigner but all the while I was treated with great courtesy and friendliness.

Here’s how it all worked…Arrived at 9am Saturday, told to return at 10.30, wait til 11am, sent into the next room to wait til 11.30 then my turn at the counter. A huge ledger of photocopies with my name in the column – what a relief!  The official wrote out a chit and sent me downstairs. Sorry, bank closed, come back Monday. Monday I paid the money and Tuesday I received the visa. It’s all very simple when you know the process.

Omar had arranged for TV interviews as he and other club members are trying hard to educate young riders on safety, so this was an opportunity to bring motorcycling to the attention of the public. The interviews began with one channel, Express TV and the program broadcast in Urdu. Then other channels got involved and the interviews stretched out to 4-5 hours – all for only 2 mins of television time, but hopefully the message came across well.

About 25 members of the Pakistan Bikers Club had gathered in the park for a demonstration and to talk about the bike and a large crowd joined in and a good time was had by everyone. Given the segment was widely shown, people began coming up to me in the street to say they had seen me on TV and wanting to shake my hand. Where’s Ewen McGregor when you need a stand-in? One lovely gesture, amongst so many others was when a woman apologized for not having a gift to give me and brought an icecream for me instead.

Effie needed some attention as a wheel bearing had collapsed. Having been on the bike for 30 years, the grease had well and truly dried out so a new one needed to be machined. At the engineering shop when I took off my helmet the guy there said, “I know you, I saw you on tv”.  The hub for the FN is smaller than a standard bearing. So I had four made to give me a couple of spares. Again the kindness and generosity of the Pakistani people, just as in India was touching and the engineer refused to charge me fully for all of the work he’d done and we had to settle on a compromise.

Traveling on the Karakoram Highway, or KKH as it’s more commonly known is a great attraction for motorcyclists, local and from overseas.  There didn’t seem much point in taking the FN hundreds of miles just to prove a point. I could have flown to Gilgit but planes are frequently turned back because of the weather so I decided to catch a bus north instead. I’d heard the road was pretty rough going but after a few weeks on the FN how hard could it be? And beside, a change would be good. My plan was that I could hire a small bike a do some touring near the border, so I took along my helmet just in case the opportunity arose.  Boy, little did I know how challenging a bus trip could prove to be, especially to someone with as bony a bum as mine!

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15 Responses to “Khush Aamdeed….Welcome”

  1. From B of Brisvegas:

    Bollywood here you come! Sounds like you’re really having a terrific time. Am loving reading everything you post….B:) xo

    Posted on March 30, 2012 at 1:54 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      LOL, Hi B
      It feels like Bollywood at times with all the hoopla. Just as well I don’t get asked to sing and dance!
      Glad you’re enjoying the posts – it’s good to know you’re here with me.
      Love, Ron x

      Posted on April 1, 2012 at 9:20 am #
  2. From Erkki:

    Hello Ron,
    I am a FN enthusiast from Finland who experienced a 500 km drive on my FN Sahara 1928 some years ago. I thought it was very extreme to make such a “long and uncomfortable” trip on an 80+ years old bike… Well, everything is relative. Perhaps I will do something similar after we get a bit older and tougher…

    I really admire your courage and wish you all the best. I put a link of your pages on our vintage motorcycle clubs website if it is all right with you.

    Take care!
    Wishes a younger FN Dude from FNland

    Posted on March 27, 2012 at 11:13 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Erkki

      That’s the 350 side valve you have, right? From what I’ve heard it’s a pretty reliable bike so hope your ride was a fun one even if it wasn’t overly comfortable. I’m not sure I’m tougher or courageous but i might be a little crazier. It happens at my age. LOL If you’re up for another challenge how about this September to the FN rally in Bernkastel-Kues? Would be great to see you there.
      Feel free to add the blog link to any vintage motorcycle club websites. I’d like to check out what’s happening in your part of the world if you could send me the link.
      Thanks for your good wishes and good riding.
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 28, 2012 at 9:24 pm #
  3. From Nick Jonckheere:

    Hi Old Bloke,

    bl**dy marvellous what you are doing, a true adventure like the ones that happened a century ago…

    One question: why is Brussels the goal, and not Liège, the birthplace of the FN ? Not that it matters a lot, the distance between the two is only a fraction of what you are now used to !

    Good luck and see you in Belgium !

    Nick
    Oostende, Belgium
    1907 FN Single (belt-driven!)

    Posted on March 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Nick
      LOL. Great to hear from a fellow enthusiast! I’m looking forward to meeting up with you and other riders in Belgium and seeing your 1907 FN in the flesh. Hope you get to ride it often? Did I say somewhere my goal was to ride to Brussels? Sorry about that – definitely will be heading to the birthplace of the FN. I’d like to see as much of Belgium & surrounding regions as possible. Did you ever read about Justine Tibesar’s ride in the 1930’s on an FN, – I thought that was pretty amazing and I imagine much tougher than what I’m doing in terms of the challenges for her.

      Hope the warmer weather is approaching fast Nick and you can get out and about on your machine.
      All the best,

      The Old Bloke.

      Posted on March 28, 2012 at 7:26 am #
  4. From Johnny G:

    Old Bloke you are truly amazing and an inspiration! Good on ya! I really enjoy your blog and wish you the best from over here in the USA! I’m very interested in reading about your experiences in Pakistan and Iran. Here in the States these countries are portrayed by the Govt and the media as bogiemen threatening all of Western Civilization, so it will be good to get another view from someone with no ax to grind, who is actually there among the people. Thanks!

    Posted on March 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Johnny

      Thanks for your support and good wishes. The people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet are nothing but friendly, generous and warmhearted. The ride is one thing but the experiences I’ve had with locals is what’s really amazing.

      The Old Bloke

      Posted on March 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm #
  5. From Di:

    Dare I say I even know you, such a famous man travelling through India and Parkistan where people stop you to have their photo taken with you and your now famous bike. You have been truly blessed,but with a nature such as yours I am not surprised that you have been so well received. Look forward to hearing about the next part of your journey.

    Posted on March 21, 2012 at 2:47 am #
  6. From Durrani:

    Welcome to Pakistan!!
    I heard about you from TV as well, and googled your name to find your page = ) Have been enjoying your posts, pictures and experiences.
    Just one little thing I’d like to point out in the title of this post, you missed a ‘d’ in “Khush AamDeed”.
    Also wanted to ask won’t you be coming to Islamabad/Rawalpindi????
    Would be really awesome to meet you! Hope you do….
    Have a great and safe trip!

    Posted on March 20, 2012 at 7:31 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Durrani

      Thanks for your welcome and for pointing out the typo. Too much rushing and not enough care! Great to hear you’re enjoying following the ride, though it’s come to a sudden halt. I’m stuck in Gilgit due to a huge landslide & getting out is not looking hopeful any time soon. Will be in Islamabad though as soon as either the road gets cleared or some other option presents itself.
      Lynne has emailed you so let’s see if we can meet up?
      Cheers,

      Ron

      Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:56 am #
  7. From Thomas:

    Hi Moviestar !

    great to read tt you are now famous and wellknown in Pakistan ! Enjoy your stay and relax. There are some more adventures to come. Hope you will find a little scoot to ride the KKH. Hoping for some good photos.

    Thomas

    Posted on March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      LOL, Not sure I want to be a movie star Thomas but I am meeting many people who saw the segment on TV. I’m stuck in Gilgit at the moment due to a huge landslide on the Karakoram & don’t know when I’ll get to head south again. More about this on the blog update. Having trouble getting the photos sent due to blackouts most of the day. Thank god for the i-phone!

      The weather is great today so hopefully things will turn around.
      Cheers, Ron

      Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:17 am #
  8. From Jenny:

    Am really enjoying your trip reports. Thanks for the regular updates.We are planning the dame trip on a trike in 2013 both of us will have just turned 60. Did you arrange for your Iranian visa before you got to Pakistan? Great to see such positive comments about India and Pakistan.

    Jenny

    Posted on March 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Jenny

      Good for you in planning a trip in 2013 on a trike through this part of the world. I can highly recommend it for a unique experience. Re. the iranian visa, I applied for the authorization number and arranged to pick up the visa in Lahore. You have 3 months to pick it up and then the visa itself is good for another 3 months, with one month allowed to get through the country. This can be extended once you’re in Iran for another two weeks maximum. Of course things might change at any time but I had no problems and the embassy staff were great. For your Pakistan visa, apply via post to Canberra. The forms are online through the Consulate website. Good luck and enjoy your journey & the blog.

      Caio, Ron

      Posted on March 21, 2012 at 4:11 am #

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