Mar 30

Some days are diamonds, some days are……

by in Pakistan

It sounds strange I know but it’s a lonely journey despite always being surrounded by crowds of people. And then there’s the things I miss…like a good cup of real coffee, fish & chips, a meat pie, and a familiar accent. So when Tahir & Tina invited me to dinner in Lahore & meet with a couple of Kiwi expats I was only too happy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve met many wonderful people, still there’s something about hearing a voice from back home that stirs those feelings of all things familiar. It’s why people create new communities when they move overseas. Our tribe, whatever it is, is important and I’ve noticed it more on this journey than in the past, because this time I’m traveling mostly without my other half.

I enjoy sharing what I’m doing with other people, especially showing them the workings of the bike, as it’s a fascinating machine. Just start her up and everyone is as amazed as I still am. She sounds great. But it does get kind of old hat repeating the same thing to everyone. Still, that’s part of the experience. When Lynne & I meet up every now and again there’s plenty of stories to share but there’s something else. I’m not the Old Bloke on the Bike, I’m just me.

So for the next few weeks I’m on my tod til Lynne meets me in Iran.  Despite only covering relatively short distances a day it still gets tiring. Not just because of the discomfort, but the concentration. The traffic in Pakistan isn’t nearly as challenging as India, except in areas where people congregate, but it’s all relative. When you ask directions anywhere in the world you have this expectation that what you’ll be told is correct. And you’re willing to believe it every time from the next half dozen people you ask.  And of course chances are they’re all wrong! This can get pretty frustrating despite knowing everyone only wants to help.

I’ve just wasted a whole day in Multan after having traveled a total of 250kms searching for an address I’d been given in Australia. I finally had to give up as I wasn’t getting anywhere and it was nearing the end of the day. I’d had no luck finding a hotel the night before as each one I tried was full, but a young guy offered me his place for the night. This turned out to be a 4×4 room with only one bed. I wasn’t about to have him sleep on the floor, so spent the night stretched out on a pile of sugar cane!

Seems things weren’t destined to get any better the next morning. Battling through the market on my way to Bahåwalpur Effie hit a pothole resulting in broken spokes. From then on things turned to crap. Everyone wanted to help & despite my insistence I could manage they carried on regardless. The result – 3 ruined tubes!! Finding replacements & getting the spokes replaced in a strange place with a language barrier soon became farcical.

By now with a pounding headache I was totally pissed. Having a policeman tell me I would offend people if I refused their help didn’t improve matters. He also insisted I couldn’t stop where I was but with the bike in pieces it was obvious I wasn’t going to be riding anywhere in a hurry.  The FN was loaded on a truck and with no-one speaking English it was getting increasingly frustrating trying to make myself understood that I just needed to get to a hotel. After my experience the night before, I didn’t like my chances. Fortunately about that time Lynne called from Oz. Within minutes she found me a hotel close by & booked a room. Thank god for modern technology! The bike was stowed away safely & I was dropped off at the Sindbad Hotel. The hot water was now working after the usual power daily cut. A refreshing shower made all the difference and although the bed looked enticing, getting a meal was a top priority.

So what did I fancy? Fish and chips perhaps? The one page menu didn’t include that, but there were milkshakes. Well at least that’s what it said.  “What flavours do you have?” I asked. “Sorry sir, no milkshakes”. “But it says milkshakes.” “Yes, but no milkshakes.” “What about the iced coffee?” “Will take 15 mins to get the milk cold,” was the reply. Well, do you have the chips?” “Yes sir, we have chips.” Hooray, so a big plate of chips it was. Jamie Oliver wouldn’t approve, but then he’s not in Pakistan or had the day I’ve had!

So just where could I find a good meat pie….

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12 Responses to “Some days are diamonds, some days are……”

  1. From neil:

    Hi Ron,Wal Haylock put me onto your adventure and blog. Must say, we have enjoyed keeping up with your gutsy effort.You obviously enjoy a challenge.Loved the ‘milkshake’ experience, reminded me of Faulty Towers.Thanks again for your reports.
    Neil @ Benalla

    Posted on April 1, 2012 at 12:43 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Neil

      LOL Yes, I know what you mean about Fawlty Towers – it does seem a bit like that at times. Great to have you join us on the ride – keep enjoying, i know i am.

      Cheers,
      Ron

      Posted on April 3, 2012 at 1:24 am #
  2. From Toine Berden:

    Ron,

    head up, every day is new day, but I can imagine that it’s frustrating sometimes, when you cannot communicate or nobody listen. The people who want to help do that with the best intention, but that can get annoying sometimes. But I guess you enjoyed your chips more then ever and had a good sleep.
    Keep up writing, we all enjoy it.

    Greetings

    Toine

    Posted on March 31, 2012 at 3:54 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Toine

      LOL, yes, I did enjoy those chips! Don’t imagine I’ll see anything like that for a while now. What I’d give for some fresh fish though! Lynne suggested I deviate and ride to Karachi 600 kms south but I don’t need it that badly. Looking forward to giving the bike a good overhaul once this stretch is completed as it’s pretty tough on her.
      Good to have your company.
      Cheers,
      The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 3, 2012 at 1:17 am #
  3. From Tony Mcadam:

    Hello Ron, keep at it mate wonderfull stuff.Broke down in europe a few years back, pissed off but things happen and after a few hours was on my way.Theres some good people out there despite the shit we hear. Good luck Tony.

    Posted on March 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Tony
      Sounds like you know the feeling! You’re right, once it’s all sorted it’s behind you but at the time it seems major. Had to do some work on the bike yesterday as it was running rough but it’s fine again now. Yes, the blog is confirmation that most people we meet are fantastic where ever we are. Hope you’re still enjoying riding.

      Cheers,
      The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 3, 2012 at 1:10 am #
  4. From lorraine:

    Ron ….. still cheering you on from Bali ,,, hope Nikki keeps sharing the blog ,,,dark days but they are only preparation for the magic around the corner …… best and keep safe.

    Posted on March 31, 2012 at 6:26 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Lorraine

      Bali seems a long way from here right now but keep the cheering happening. You’re right about the dark days and the magic. I’m back in the countryside now and enjoying the light traffic. I’ll do my best to stay safe.

      Caio for now, The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 1, 2012 at 10:50 am #
  5. From colin wallace:

    Hi Ron

    The girls and i are loving your stories from your daily adventures and can’t wait to read the next one.
    I’m sure the above day was extremely challenging,but in this world there are very few people i can think of that are up to this challenge,but you are one of them Ron.Life is about getting out and having a go and you are definitely achieving that.You’re an inspiration to us all.
    Besafe and keep on enjoying your adventure

    Posted on March 31, 2012 at 2:21 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Colin, Marcia & girls,
      Fortunately days like this one are few and far between while for some poor buggers life is always tough. Watching the guys on the KKH breaking up rocks for a living was a real reminder of that. I’m sure I’ll keep on with the adventure and hope you all enjoy coming along with me.
      Cheers,
      The Old Bloke

      Posted on April 1, 2012 at 10:00 am #
  6. From Thomas:

    Oh, oh Ron – now it starts hittin’ you. But there are better days to come, better roads, even more friendly people insiting to help ;-)… But sure you gonna make it. In case you need anything, let me know.

    Thomas
    PS. The secret in Iran with Internet is going via a Proxy. They will teach you.

    Posted on March 30, 2012 at 7:51 am #
    • From The Old Bloke:

      Hi Thomas
      Yes, it can’t all be good, otherwise everyone would be doing it and there’s enough people on the road i reckon!
      Thanks for checking in and I’ll keep in touch if I need anything. I’m hoping the tyres get me to Tehran. One got slightly damaged the other day but hopefully it will hold together okay. I’m not sure what the condition of the road is from here-on in but guess I’ll soon find out soon enough.
      Thanks for the info about the internet – good to know.
      Caio, Ron

      Posted on April 1, 2012 at 9:28 am #

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