It’s not all that bad in Islamabad…
We left armristar at about 7.30am giving us plenty of time to get to the border by 9am…
Arriving at the check point, we were waved into an area to park, where we showed our documents and were sent off for the short ride to customs….
We parked and a customs guard told us that customs don’t open till 10am…
We should have checked on-line!
We were directed to a large under covered area that already had a few people waiting… 1/2 hour later we were told we could go into customs, but first Clive had to move the bike to an another area for inspection.
Went he returned we were searched and told to be seated a short time later we were taken to another area where Clive had to take some customs guys to check out all our luggage and the make sure our bike was the same one that we arrived to India in was the same one exiting India….
The customs guys were great so friendly and helpful…even offering us cups of tea!
Even taking us to exchange our Indian rupees to Pakistani ones,they then wished us a good journey we were off to Pakistan…
I must admit we were nervous about going to Pakistan.
We were greeted at the check point, we showed them our documents we were then sent on our way to customs.
Walking into the office we were greeted by a woman who checked all our papers, then sent to see a customs official about the bike, the uniformed official started going through the carnet, when a guy in plain clothes came into the room, he seemed to be helping the official guy with the forms, then he took us outside to the bike and a quick check of the bikes engine numbers he made a hint that if we gave him $50 we could get through customs quicker, we just played dum and said we didn’t know what he was talking about, looking frustrated the man then said you can go… lol
Riding through the gates and into the streets on the outskirts of Lahore made me feel uneasy the streets just had a few houses, shops etc, people were staring at us which didn’t help to uneasy feeling, so with that i turned my iPod on and listened to Pink, hoping she would help take my mind off the uneasy feelings i had.
A short while later we came to the Lahore ring road…the road surface was like silk and there was barely any traffic, hoping that this road surface would be coming with us all the way to Islamabad.
We arrived in Islamabad about five hours after we set off, it’s amazing how much road coverage you can do when you have a good road surface.
Islamabad seems to be set in grids of coloured and numbered areas, the roads are massive and from what we could tell this is a very modern city…
Islamabad is Pakistans Ninth largest city and is the capitol of Pakistan which consists of mainly Federal Government offices.
We hadn’t booked a hotel as we weren’t sure if we would make it to Islamabad in one day, so we needed to find a hotel, part of a road was closed by the police who asked us if they could help us, we told them we were looking for somewhere to stay, but couldn’t see any sign for hotels etc, before we knew it the cop got on his police bike and told us to follow him, through a maze of streets we ended up at a friend of his who in turn took us to a friend of his! Got this so far? He took us to an area of big posh houses, this place also turned out to be guest house, but you would never know it as there was no signage stating this!
We were shown a massive room, Which wasn’t the cleanest place, but will have to do as it was getting late, it had secure parking, AC and wifi….
Which would have been great if the power didn’t keep going on and off, the power outage was about five times a day if not more, most people have generators here.
While we had a cold shower (no hot water here) someone must have washed the bike, as when Clive went out to get something from it he found the bike sparkling clean.
The following day we didn’t wake up till late… It was Sunday anyway! But nor did the rest of the household either, we didn’t hear anyone till about 11am !
So after a late breakfast, we both put on a long pair of pants….purposely brought for Pakistan and covered my head with my muti-purose sarong… lol
We went out to explore, we were close by to a shopping area but most of them were closed, we spent most of that day just chilling out in our room and catching up with the children on Skype.
The following day we were expecting Arran and Ben to arrive from Amritsar (they were due yesterday), we had secured them a room in the same Guest House as us, but they would have to share a bed…
Arran and Ben are two of the four we are traveling through China with to share the cost of the guide, which we HAVE to have!
That morning we needed to go to the bank and post office…. which was easy to find, asking directions isn’t a problem here as most people spoke English and they were only to happy to help us as well….
Since we have arrived in Pakistan we have been overwhelmed at the friendliest of the people here, we have had so many invitations to go to tea with people its been amazing…’we are guests in their country’ was what we heard all the time ‘they are happy we visit their country’.
The Faisal Mosque is the largest mosque in Pakistan, and was Completed in 1986 and cost 120 million USD to build, Faisal Mosque is an eight-sided concrete shell inspired by a desert Beduoin’s tent.
Faisal Mosque has covered area of 54,000 sq ft and can accommodate 10,000 worshipers in its main prayer hall, 24,000 in its porticoes, 40,000 in its courtyard, and another 200,000 in its adjoining grounds, this is the world’s third largest mosque.
The next day when out shopping for supplies we spot a Gloria Jeans coffee shop, never one to miss the opportunity of a good coffee we pull over and head in for a coffee, as this could be our last chance!!!
WOW…spoilt for choice in this Gloria Jeans, the selection of food and cakes was overwhelming…take note Australia, no dried up sandwiches and sausage roll served here, even though Islamabad seems to be very relaxed in the way women dress, it was even more so in this suburb, locals with no head scarfs (finally I can take mine off) even western people in shorts and tee shirts.
While relaxing in the air-con of Gloria Jeans we receive a message from Arran that him and Ben will be arriving shortly…
Clive sent back a message with the GPS coordinates of the Guest House.
The ‘Boys’ arrived later in the afternoon…
After a quick catch up, we took the boys to get some SIM card, they were under the impression that you couldn’t get them in Pakistan and were pleasantly surprised when we informed them that you can, so back to ‘UPHONE’, both boys received the same great service that we had…
One of the young lads that had helped us the other day, gave me a gift, he was full of smiles when he handed me a large bag…it was a UPHONE cap…lol
Later in the afternoon we all decide to go for a ride up a nearby mountain that over looked the city of Islamabad…
Ben had to pillion with Arran as his bike still hadn’t arrived Delhi (long story cut short Ben’s bike is not very reliable, he’s had a lot of trouble with it and as we have a dead line for china so he thought it would be easier to fly the bike to Islamabad).
The ride up the Margalla Hills was magnificent, lots of twists and turns and passing deciduous, evergreen trees and also a few scented flowering tree.
The Margalla Hills are also called the Margalla Mountain Range and is a hill range part of the lesser Himalayas located north of Islamabad.
There were walking tracks everywhere, we reckon this is a popular spot in the cooler months.
Once at the top we spied a restaurant with sweeping views of the city below, this will do nicely for dinner…
upon leaving the restaurant we saw a group of guys admiring the bikes, they were curious about our trip and the bikes…they wished us well and hoped we enjoy their country.
Back to the Guest House to once again pack for another town….
leaving Ben behind to wait for his bike…