The Hippie Trail (episode 2)

Of course we were disappointed when we heard in Tehran that customs at Islam Qala to go to Herat were closed. In 1978 the Russian occupation of Afghanistan already began. So there was only the southern route through Balochistan.

There were terrible stories about beheaded tourists, but we set off to Mir Jawe and Taftan. We got to know the fine people of Balochistan with their fiery eyes, the furrowed facial features marked by life, the overwhelming laugh with their dazzling white teeth, if any, to be extremely friendly, generous and tolerant towards Westerners who were not always very cleverly behaved.

Quetta and his people appeared to us like an oriental dream from 1001 nights. This romantic, exotic flair is indescribable!

We stayed there together with some other westerners in a hotel. I had to cure my first diarrhea, tried coke until the hotel manager advised me to give it a try with a ball of opium. In an inconspicuous shop run by the government, you could buy different sized opium pebbles, again pebbles, from a dealer through a small window. These globules were not only an ideal travel medicine, but also an immediate remedy for my diarrhea.

Alcohol was also available in Quetta, but only for non-Muslims. The purchase of beer or whisky was recorded in the passport and in addition one had to sign a declaration that the alcohol would not be passed on to any Muslim. Looking for some good tolas of hashish, a roommate traded his whiskey with a Muslim. He happily returned to the hotel and we filled our chillums. The joy was short-lived, however, because soon we heard a stick drunk yelling around in front of the hotel and muttering for more alcohol. It wasn't long before the police appeared at the hotel and checked us all, the shock was great. The police officers were friendly, admonished us not to do this again and left with a tola and some cash. This on the subject of tolerance in Balochistan.

But we decided to travel further north the next day. We organized tickets for the train to Lahore via Multan. After the bus ride through the Balochistan desert, where the fine sand penetrated the bus through every crack, sanded us and gnashed our teeth, we were hoping for a more leisurely ride. Of course, there were no more reserved seats available, so we huddled in a railroad carriage and then found a spot on the floor at the end of the carriage. There was a lot of traffic on the train, people were climbing over other people and it was impossible to be left alone for a moment. If we only moved a few centimeters, someone next to us confiscated the vacated space. It also turned out that there was also the toilet at the end of the carriage. At first it was bearable, but over time the situation in front of the toilet became very uncomfortable, to say the least. The train's journey at walking pace should take just over 3 days.

My wife had things a little better then, she could travel in the railway carriage, which was reserved for women, and had enough space, the carriage was practically empty.

Imaginative as we were, we reined in the empty carriage to the women, someone was playing the guitar and the women present shouted with joy, in contrast to the men who crowded at the door and didn't look very friendly . Of course, the police came again at the next station, who politely but firmly rebuked us and led us back to the overcrowded railway carriage.

This is another example on the subject of tolerance in Balochistan. Simply wonderful people who were infinitely generous towards us. In general, we were overwhelmed by the limitless hospitality, sympathy and respect shown, which we ourselves missed. Pakistan lived up to its reputation to be one of the most hospitable countries in the world.

Fortunately, we have learned our lessons and from now on we treated the wonderful people and their culture with respect. These coming months in Pakistan should be the most wonderful time of my life.

I spent most of the trip to Lahore on the step of the railroad car. Because the train was going very slowly, I had time to discover this new world. A wonderful impression! When I arrived in Lahore, the left side of my body was deeply tanned, in contrast to the pale right side.

We did not stay in Lahore on the advice. As the last city before the border with India, Lahore was notorious for its prison and the many Westerners who suffered in it. The rumor also made the rounds that hashish was smuggled into Westerners' rooms and that the police would soon raid them. Without enough cash you were lost. So we traveled by bus, 3rd class of course, because we had already learned, that these buses drove the fastest. Via Rawalpindi, Islamabad we went to Peshawar. I don't know how to describe the feeling on arrival, but I immediately felt as if I had arrived at home. Now the only thing missing was the scent!

The start of the most wonderful time of my life.

©by Koh Nie

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