Thursday, 19 November 2009

Pakistan: Taftan and Quetta

Monday 16 November: Often described as hell-on-earth, Taftan is the border town on the edge of Pakistan's lawless state of Baluchistan. Decided not to stay the night (the only 'tourist hotel' had closed) and await the twice-monthly freight train to Quetta due sometime the next day. Tried to keep a low profile on the truly bone-jarring overnight bus ride on pot-holed dirt roads through gravel desert to Quetta - only hit my head on the roof twice.
Quetta photos.
Wednesday 18: Over reacted to the bus discomfort and took a relatively expensive 1st class air-conditioned 24-hour sleeper train (33rd mode of transport) from Quetta's delightful little station to Lahore. A senior railway official travelling in the same compartment with myself, a government cadre and a young physician from Yemen insisted, under protest, on buying all my food and drink - hospitality is important in Pakistan.
After several hours the air conditioning was freezing and we were all wearing jackets and overcoats. I stayed in the warm corridor, cloudy with desert dust, for a while. When I explained to the railway guy why I preferred to be in the dust he instantly arranged for the whole carriage to have warm air conditioning. 'I am very sorry Sir, I thought the Scottish liked it cold' - Pakistan hospitality!

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