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Saturday, December 29, 2007

We made it to Pakistan!

We spent the morning at the unrivaled Golden Temple before trying to make it across the border to Pakistan. The border crossing was no problem, and in fact the officials on both sides were very nice. The Pakistani vehicle agent in fact was the first customs official in the whole world who made note of how few pages I have left in my passport and specifically used the tiniest space he could to let us into the country. His boss insisted on getting us some tea, and we shared some pleasant moments in the afternoon sun with the border guards. For some reason, there wasn't much traffic flowing through.

We made it to Lahore about 20 miles away without problems. Pakistan is clearly observing the 3 days of mourning, as no gas stations or cash machines or shops or restaurants are open. There wasn't much traffic and we found our way to the Lonely Planet overwhelmingly recommended Regal Internet Hostel. The place is a dump, but friendly with all the backpackers staying here. There are 7 of us. Usually there are about 35. Two french, one Japanese, one Finnish, a Serbian woman and us. The streets are full of riot police on every corner and the streets are free of the normal hustle and bustle. The Japanese and Finnish guy said they saw the typical rock throwing, etc. riots a few blocks away earlier today. We went for a walk with the incredibly nice Serbian woman who works as an interpreter back in Kosovo. She was clearly on edge as she arrived by plane the day of the bombing to Karachi where she got on a train which was delayed 8 hours because the trains ahead had been burned by rioters. We took her for a walk with us with a large park and zoo being just up the street. We treated her to dinner and she told us about the wonderful time she had last year in Pakistan, how the people are very nice and few if any tourists around.

Most Westerners have left the country, but the consensus is one more day of lockdown, and when they open the gas pumps on Monday things should return to normal. We will keep you posted!

1 comment:

dianalily said...

What an incredible time to be in Pakistan. It will be interesting to compare what you hear in the streets compared to how U.S. news spins out the Bhutto story.

Maybe leave your helmets on all the time?