5 Star Purgatory

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Dear Mum and Dad, am having a great time in Pakistan – don’t worry, have worked out how to protect myself.

Our group has shrunk to nearly half the size this week as all the people who didn’t manage to get viss or didn’t want to go to Pakistan have all peeled off and flown to Goa instead.  We’re trying very hard not to be jealous of them as we crawl through the country in our police convoy occasionally stopping for stinking squat toilets in 50 degree heat.  We’re down 14 people, but we have picked up one stray – Ben from Wales who is driving his motorbike down to Australia and has decided that he would feel safer joining the enormous orange truck with the escort.  Lovely bloke, so it’s great having him with us, but I’m not convinced on his logic, since the enormous orange truck which sticks out like a sore thumb is kinda the reason we have the escort in the first place.

Sadly we haven’t seen any of Pakistan at all as any time we’re not moving along in the police convoy we’re locked in hotels because it’s apparently too dangerous for us to go outside.  I can understand that in places lke Quetta, but in the tiny little towns in the East where nothing ever happens it’s getting a bit annoying.

We were only supposed to spend one night in a central hotel in Quetta, but when we arrived the polce wouldn’t let us drive into the centre so we had to bite the budget and make do with the hotel we had driven past on the way in.  Which happened to be 5 stars. Oh, the sacrifices we adventurers make.  Unfortunately it didn’t go entirely to plan as we needed a permit to drive any further than Quetta, and Karen wasn’t allowed out of the hotel the next day to go and apply for it.  Or the next day.  Or the day after that.  We ended up being stuck in our gilded cage for 4 nights, with nothing to do except go swimming (which the girls were only allowed to do between 9 and 12), eat expensive food and watch lots and lots of TV.  Oh, and drink.

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Yay, responsible tour leader!

The only night we were let out of the hotel – about a foot out of the gate with armed guards – was on Independence Day, when it seemed that all of Pakistan was tearing around the streets outside standing on the back of motorbikes waving flags and throwing fake money around.  The hotel staff took pity on us not being able to leave and took us up to the roof on a rickety ladder to watch the fireworks (a bit pants, but we were desperate)

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Made it out of Quetta eventually to huge cheers :) We’ll still be stuck in hotels but at least we’re moving in between! Only 4 days and we’ll be in the safety and craziness of India!

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