Cycling to Lahore
It was time for some cycling to Lahore, time for central Pakistan, the Pakistan Punjab where the weather was milder, the roads better and where we would find more people and more variety in food. With leaving Fort Munro we had almost left the rough wild mountains of Baluchistan behind.
On this page you'll find my journey from Fort Munro at the border of Baluchistan and Punjab to the Lahore. I have spend another separate page on north and west Pakistan including the Karakoram Highway or KKH as it is known. So, let's go!
Guido and I left Fort Munro to descent to Deraghazi Kahn. As easy as it was going up, as difficult it was to go down. The road was full of potholes and hairpin curves. It wasn't a long descending since it was quite steep and difficult. But the views over the eastern flat lands was beautiful.
We stopped at a small roadside restaurant. It was one of those you don't understand why for heaven's sake people would build a restaurant right at that place. There was nothing in the area apart of this little place.
It maybe the only place in the whole area where water was to be found. Pakistan has many of these little restaurants. Food is usually pre-prepared and consist in general of friend vegetables, mutton, chicken and rice; simple and descent food. These restaurants are used by bus- and truck drivers and sometimes there's even basic accommodation available.
For Guido and me this was not the question. Deraghazi Kahn was nearby. We cycled at ease to the town. It was quite sizable town, with the usual chaos around the bazaars. But we found a comfortable hotel for a few dollars.
As we were cycling to Lahore, we had to pass Multan which was our next destination And since Deraghazi Kahn had nothing special to offer, we left the next morning.
We crossed the Indus river, one of the mighty and magnificent rivers of the Indian subcontinent. The Indus had been an important river since the beginning of civilization, and in the religions of the Indian Subcontinent it had always taken an important place.
The Indus comes all the way from the northern Himalaya mountains and drops it's water in the Arabian Sea, not far from Karachi.
We had crossed this legendary river and cycled on the flat lands to Multan. When we arrived we had some troubles to find the city.
It seemed the city had a large suburb and the city itself seemed not even to exist. But after some kilometers through mud brick suburbs, we cycled in the town. We found a hotel almost in the heart of town.
Call it an adventure! We had been cycling to Lahore and then this happens! Guido was sick, seriously sick. He had diarrhea, vomited all his food out and looked in the morning very pale. There was no way he couldn't even come out for breakfast, even if he had wanted that. went out, had a good breakfast and brought back two bottles of water.
Guido looked bad, didn't say much but drank a bit. Apparently he had still not recovered from our problems in Baluchistan (see the Baluchistan chapter for details).
We had to stay at least a few days in Multan. Since there was no need for me to stay the whole day with Guido I went in town to see what there was to see. And Multan has quite a bit to offer. I went to see a few of the eleven city gates.
Around the gates, as to be seen on the photo here, it was a massive chaos but an organized chaos. I had no idea how people would know how to go where but it seemed to work all well.
Around the gates bazaars were selling basically anything you could possibly imagining. Motor-rickshaws (in Thailand they call them Tuk Tuk), were riding on and off. I went to a chemist to buy some medicine for Guido and got the advice to let Guido drink as much as possible since de-hydration was a serious possibility.
Back in the hotel Guido seemed even to get worse, there was no way we would continuing cycling to Lahore for a few days.
He took the medicine and drank a bit of water. He understood very well he had to keep on drinking and he had finished one of the bottles I brought a few hours earlier.
I went out again and saw we had a hotel near a slaughterhouse! Not that we smelled anything in the hotel, but it was not a pleasant idea to stay so near.
It took Guido 3 days to get better. The fourth day he went out with me, a bit shaky but he seemed to feel much better. And he had a bit of color back on his face. Meanwhile I had met Leon and Jolanda, two motorbikers we had met in Quetta. They told me I had to continue cycling to Lahore and not to wait. They would look after Guido, they had to stay anyway for some days in Multan due to motorbike problems.
It was a hard decision I had to make. Then I made a decision, I would stay one more day with Guido, I didn't like the idea of leaving him here in Multan. I didn't say anything to Guido.
The next and fifth day I would leave and I told Guido the night before. He said he would join. He felt strong enough to do the next 4 days to Lahore. I seriously doubted it but if he said he was strong enough, he was strong enough.
And so we left. I became immediately clear Guido was still weak. He couldn't cycle much more then about half an hour and then had some rest. During the ride we stayed a night in Okara.
The lost watch
Guido went in to check the room in the hotel, a nice new building in the middle of the town. He came back with a big smile.
"They have a room for us", he said. "It's only not furnished! Go and look for yourself" and kept smiling. I went in and looked at the room. It looked clean and comfortable with a nice private bath. All we needed.
Back down with Guido I smiled and said:" I have seen the room, but I wonder what they mean by not furnished". Guido already knew.
It was that the room had no carpet! There were beds, a desk, chairs but no carpet! Therefore the room was cheaper! Not furnished meant: no carpet!
In the morning we brought down our bicycles and made them ready to leave. Then we had breakfast. Apart of a speed meter I have also my watch on my handlebars as I don't like to wear a watch.
Since out bikes were in the hotel room, I left the watch on the handlebars. That turned out to be a wrong decision. After breakfast, my watch was gone! It was an expensive one so I was pissed off. The hotel manager came and excused himself. Please, let me check a few things.
It took about half an hour and then he came back with my watch! One of the "crazy Afghani children" had stolen it he told me. Yeah well.... my watch stolen by children? I didn't believe him but I had my watch back. The manager kept on excusing himself but we left quickly.
In a doghouse
Probably under the normal conditions I would have made the ride to Lahore without any problems. Guido however was still weak and we were happy it was all flat lands and not very hot where we were cycling now. We couldn't make it that day to Lahore.
About 46 km before Lahore we had to find a hotel. This area was a sort of suburb of Lahore already. All along the roads there were houses and factories build. It was busy
No choice, we had to stay here. the place was called Manga. I tried to find a place to stay and found finally something. Nobody understood why we wouldn't go to Lahore.
"It's only 46 km, one hour from here", a man told me thinking in terms of how fast a car would do. It was already after 5pm and we would not be able to make it.
But I found a place. He said we could use one of little rooms upstairs. It would be basic but there was a shared bathroom and a little light in the room.
We took the room by the lack of something else. I could hardly stand right up in it. But as promised, there were beds and a little light bulb.
I felt it was more a doghouse then a room people sleep. That said, I had seen people sleeping at any place here in Pakistan. We were at least off the streets.
One can ask, why didn't you camp that night. It was simply not possible. We were riding in a town for many kilometers and had no idea where we possibly would be able to set up our tents.
Doghouse, doghouse! We yelled and laughed the next morning when we left. The people had been very nice to us and we had a lot of fun there. But now Lahore (and the Ramadan) was waiting. And the almost 50 km to Lahore would be not of much to worry, we thought.
As we cycled to Lahore, we were surrounded by people who were trying to get our attention by doing the most crazy things and bring themselves in serious danger. We couldn't stop everywhere to answer the same question over and over again (where you from, what your name etc etc). The situation was sometimes quite dangerous.
The city was first Indian prime minister Nehru's favorite but so far I couldn't understand why. We searched for a place to stay and found the YWCA where got then only double room available. There was a serious advantage of this room, we had a whole roof as our balcony available. This gave us plenty of space to work on our bicycles without being bothered by nosy people.
Our first day in Lahore was a day of rest, we didn't do more then eat, drink and rest. But Lahore had to offer something. Nehru couldn't be wrong.
I read it had broke his heart to see Lahore becoming part of the then new state of West Pakistan. After the break Nehru would never be able to visit his beloved town. So I wanted see what was so beautiful here.
The old central part of Lahore was fascinating, little streets with heaps of little shops selling anything from sugar to salt, clothes to nails, plastics to underwear, a truly magical bazaar. And of course there's the old Mosque, talk about magic!
Lahore would also be the place where Guido and my ways would separate. Guido want to go into India and continue further east and south to end up finally in Australia. My plan lied north: from cycling to Lahore it would be cycling the Karakoram Highway.
On our last day together the Islamic Ramadan would start. We had to buy our breakfast the evening before we would leave. We would cycle another few last kilometers together before Guido would take the road east and I would go north. But before that could happen, we needed a breakfast.
Since there were no restaurants open we made our breakfast out of sight of the Muslims who just had started their fasting time. We both had stoves, made coffee, fried eggs. We had bread, butter, cream cheese and a few tomatoes. In other words, a banquet!
We had been cycling to Lahore and other places but it was time to say farewell to each other. I went north for more cold adventures. I kept in touch with Guido for some time but we lost contact. It was a bit strange to be back on my own now. But it also felt good, I was again my own master and I was ready for the Karakoram Highway!
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