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Back in Baluchistan


I was going back in Baluchistan! On my way back to Iran I basically following the same route as I had come with Guido. In Deraghazi Kahn, I had dropped my bicycle on a bus.

Back in Baluchistan, hospitality and friendship near ZiaratIt took some hours before I was back in Lorelai. The reason to do this was simple, save a bit of time and skip an area I had already seen. In Lorelai I would go back on the bike and cycle to Ziarat, using the old road.

The Pakistani people in Punjab told me Ziarat was a beautiful former British Hill station but it may not be the best time of the year to go now.

I was prepared for some serious cold weather and I would get it. But the same people also told me that going back to Baluchistan would not be the safest part of my journey.

Lorelai to Quetta

I was back in Baluchistan and Ziarat wasn't too far. It should be possible to cycle it in a day if I was calculating the kilometers. However, the road condition was bad, and it was going up too.

I moved too slow and I wasn't completely fit too. I had left Lorelai in the morning but it was already 5pm and I was still 20 km from Ziarat.

The road didn't look as if it would be any better. Then a big man with a turban stood in the middle of the road. "Stop, stop", he shouted. "You can't go further, it's too dangerous! But I have coffee for you!" ,he said.

I told him I had little time because I had to arrive in Ziarat before dark. "Don't worry about that, come in my house", he said. I had no choice, and followed him knowing I would stay the night in this little dirt village.

Scenery in BaluchistanThere was no coffee but lots tea and some simple but good food. I was surrounded by all the males (men and children) of the village.

The people were very interested in my photos and maps and we spend some time in exploring them together.

Most of these mountain people had never been further away then Lorelai although the man with the turban claimed he had been to Quetta too.

After a few hours, the man directed everybody out of the house. he made me a bed of a thick mattress and a blanket, gave the fire a last punch and said goodnight. I was alone in the house. Apparently the man had ordered his whole family out of the house to the neighbors. I had a good sleep.

The next day I had only 20 km to go to Ziarat. But those 20 km's were not just 20 km. It took me a long time after I had said goodbye to these beautiful mountain people. Then road became worse, there would have been no way I would have made it the day earlier.

In Ziarat it was freezing. I got a heater in the guest house room but I couldn't get warm until I made myself some hot coffee. The town was mostly empty, no tourists although in the summer Apparently it's quite busy with people from Karachi escaping the heat there. Now, with snow on the road, it was less interesting although the scenery was spectacular.

Kids sheltering from the cold in the Baluchistan mountainsI left the next day to Quetta for my last part of the journey back in Baluchistan. It would be an easy ride. All the way down, and the road was in good condition I was told.

Unfortunately I broke one of my brake cables and had no spare. It was too dangerous to go further so I hitched on a bus to Quetta.

I was actually quite lucky, there was not much traffic on this road and I had not seen any bus passing me.

I had only waited a few minutes before I could wave down a bus. My bicycle went on top, me inside and the bus drove on. Only 2 hours later I was back in Quetta, back in Baluchistan's most important city.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn

There I found a little shop where I could repair the cable. And I found a little music store! I went in and asked for Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn. It seemed the world has opened itself for me. I knew Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn! Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn was one of the most popular singers in Pakistan.

Back in Baluchistan, around the Taftan border, an empty landHe had recorded over 600 cd's and worked with international famous artists as Peter Gabriel and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder. I knew his music from the soundtrack of Dead Man Walking movie. Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn does 2 songs with Eddie Vedder and I loved it.

Quetta seemed to be a good place to pick up some more. It would be my last possibility on my way back in Baluchistan to buy some of his music.

But what to choose? The man in the shop let me listen to some. I didn't like all that electronic semi jazz rock stuff but then at last he came with some traditional Sufi music. And that was what I was looking for. One cd, 70 minutes music and 5 songs. He sold me three records based on the first song he let me listen to.

But the man wouldn't let me leave the shop. He invited me for a nice dinner with him in an Afghani restaurant (many people in this part of Pakistan are technically Pakistani but most have Afghani roots).

And so we went. The restaurant was indeed really nice. We had some excellent mutton, different then I had ever had together with a whole range of other side dishes.

This was one of the things I had come for, find friends and share a meal with them in a relaxed environment. The bonus were a few cd's of Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn, the great voice of Pakistan.

Back in Baluchistan to the border

By the time I was in Quetta I realized I had not much time to go back to Holland anymore. There was no escape, I had to be there in about 2 months. So I decided to skip Baluchistan and take a night bus to Taftan.

Cycling in Baluchistan
Back in Baluchistan at the border with Iran

From there I would continue cycling and take the south road to the Persian Gulf. So I bought a ticket, loaded my bike on the bus and left Quetta and Pakistan the next morning. Few places in my journeys have been more pleasant then Pakistan. And Ali Baba and the 40 robbers? I haven't met them.

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Pakistan
Karakoram Highway

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