Pakistan Map

7-10-74 (Contd.)

About ½km. after the Afghan checkpoint, is the Pakistan border. This consists of an initial area with tourist information, exchange office, etc., then the post proper. We got a breakfast of European coffee, toast and marmalade at the tourist restaurant (rather expensive, as is to be expected for such places), then paid our Khyber Pass road toll; Re1 per person, Rs4 per vehicle. After this, we proceeded to the Customs post proper. Here are parked dozens of impounded or abandoned vehicles, from all countries. The customs officer was very friendly and made no difficulty about using Page 2 of our Carnet, which the Iranis had accidentally defaced.
N.B. Pakistan does require a Carnet; we were not told of this in London.
(A 7-day transit pass is also available at the border, if you haven't a Carnet).

Imperial gallons and miles are used in Pakistan; they drive on the left from here on, including over the Khyber Pass, which lies entirely in Pakistan.

Casual enquiries at the border suggest it is impossible to drive to Hunza, we mean to try nevertheless. Also at the border, we saw our first Pakhtun tribesmen, wearing rifles and cartridge belts, and wanting only sombreros to look just like Mexican bandits.

Khyber Pass Then began the road over the Khyber. It is metalled all the way, and there are frequent signs of an unmetalled old road (to which animal traffic is routed); even wilder! The road climbs in a series of wild hairpin bends up the mountainside; local lorries go up packed solid with passengers.
At the top of the pass is the semi-tribal town of Landi Kotal. We did not stop there however, but continued into the flat country beyond. All along, the road is constantly crossing a crazy narrow gauge railway which runs to the Customs post from Pakistan (there are no railways in Afghanistan). The road is lined by heavy complexes of concrete "dragons' teeth" and similar obstacles arranged so as to make it impossible to drive off the road, even should one wish to do so.
After about 6 miles level along the top, the road drops to the plains of western Pakistan by another hectic series of loops. The ground west of Peshawar is a fairly arid plain, much dryer than the area around Jalalabad.
There are still a few of the Russian Gaz (jeeps) so common in Afghanistan, but here the American variety predominates.

The drive over the Khyber Pass was transcendental; just the kind of motoring I love! Hardly any traffic, just a hard (and dangerous) road to pit one's skill against. I took it almost rally-style, setting a rather fast pace and enjoying getting the most out of a very heavily loaded Orodruin. An all-synchromesh gearbox would be nice, speeding up the use of bottom and 2nd., but I find myself, under such on-the-limit conditions, using double declutch even for top to 3rd., where it is not really necessary.
Coming over the Khyber Pass, there was some evidence of engine "pinking", although it was not overheating. This could be a consequence of the poor Afghani fuel we are using, it could be worth retarding the ignition slightly.

Motor insurance is optional in Pakistan; there is no office at Torkham (the border post). We are advised that it costs about Rs11 per month in Peshawar. (Many "refinements" of civilisation, such as education, etc., compulsory in the West, are optional in Pakistan. On our mentioning this later, we were told "In Pakistan we are free!")

At Jamrud, about 12 miles before Peshawar, is a checkpoint which collects the ticket for the Khyber road-toll. The same system operates over the Khyber as in Afghanistan, the toll is paid to the tribes. There is a Government checkpoint just outside Peshawar, where Carnets are checked, but there was no baggage search.

Peshawar is entered by a long, broad dual carriageway; driving on the left, I began to feel quite "at home", until cyclists appeared riding up the wrong side (bicycles appear to be at liberty to ignore all traffic rules). After getting our bearings on the outskirts, Nikko directed us to the National Hotel, which is dirty but comfortable. The room has a good ceiling fan, which is very necessary in this climate. We are advised to eat elsewhere, the Al-Shiraz Hotel in the main street (Khyber Bazaar) serves very good food. We took supper there, and left a tip (unusual for us!) to encourage good service tomorrow. For another baksheesh, we have someone watching the cars (parked in the main street) for us. We intend staying in Peshawar tomorrow, to look at the town, and go on to Rawalpindi on Wednesday.

My first impressions of Peshawar are the smell (the open sewers spread it everywhere) and, more happily, the relative absence of "baksheesh-ing" children. Beggars are more numerous than in Afghanistan, one has to resist them as usual. Peshawar is far more crowded than an Afghani town.

We are 30 minutes forward of Afghanistan, making this Time Zone E, 5 hours ahead of G.M.T.

Talking just now to some local people (all educated Pakistanis speak English), we are advised that it is technically quite possible to drive (in a 4WD vehicle) to Hunza, there is fuel at Gilgit and intermediate points. No information about permits, though, but Nikko knows the curator of the Peshawar Museum, and hopes to introduce us tomorrow. The curator has considerable professional interest in the northern regions. We are to visit the Museum with Sikandar, whom we met at the National Hotel, and his friend Akhtar.

Many people in Peshawar go armed, rifles and pistols are a commonplace sight in the streets. There is no sign that they are used, though. (Oh, no?? See later!!)


Getting up rather late this morning, we breakfasted at the Al-Shiraz Hotel. Our tip of yesterday did not procure improved service, so it was not repeated. About midday, Keith and I took a motor-rickshaw to the Post Office (Rs2). These vehicles are basically motor-scooters with two rear wheels, and a minimum of bodywork, capable of carrying two passengers. Their driving makes Ben-Hur seem positively geriatric; our driver must have nearly killed a dozen cyclists in as many minutes! There was no post for either Keith or me.
On our return, we took a tanga, for a slightly more leisurely journey. A very friendly old driver, with a very good and willing horse, named James. We returned to the National Hotel, to find that Sikandar and Akhtar had arrived, so we left promptly for the Museum; which they had offered to show us. It did not open for another hour, however, so we went to Sikandar's house, in a quarter of the town which we would never otherwise have found. Sikandar showed us the pistol he carries, a .32 revolver, of (apparently) Pakhtun manufacture, but numbered, as it is registered with the authorities. Very neat appearance, but the barrel is rather roughly bored, and I noted with concern that the action could fire with the cylinder anywhere within about 5° of true position! He told us that such a weapon would cost about Rs200; but ammunition is expensive here. Sikandar also warned us not to carry firearms for the run up to Hunza, as it would attract hostility.

This Friday, the last Friday in Ramazan, is an occasion for celebration, and Sikandar has invited us to Charsadda, his home village for this, an opportunity not to be missed.

We then went (again by tanga; you can just get in six passengers: poor horse!) back to the Museum, which has a good collection of Pakhtun exhibits. The curator was out, however, so we were unable to ask him about Hunza.

From the Museum, we walked on to a shop which sold chess sets, in which Rik is interested. The cases and boards are of wood, inlaid with camel-bone, while the pieces are of bone, polished white and dyed black. A large set costs Rs450. Rik doesn't like the pieces, but the shop will sell him a box alone, for pieces obtained elsewhere.
(These sets are also offered, hollowed out and packed with hashish, for export to Europe!) [Having sold you a hashish-loaded curio, the shop then doubles its profit by selling you to the police. Do not buy such items!]

The shopkeeper showed us a craft he practices, designs in gum on silk. A vegetable gum is used, compounded with talc, to about the consistency of toothpaste. He twirls a stick in this, drawing out a long string, with which the design is traced on the silk. After a few hours the gum is dry, and totally bonded into the fabric. It is then painted. The result is beautiful, squares of material about 2ft square sell for Rs20 upward, according to the complexity of the design. Some, at Rs100 and more, are really elaborate and beautiful. This, apparently, is a uniquely Peshawari art-form.

We then proceeded to a nearby restaurant for tea. Here, Sikandar mentioned that one can fly to Gilgit from Peshawar for Rs68; buses connect from Gilgit to Hunza and back to Peshawar. Akhtar has a relative on business in Gilgit, who is returning this weekend. Akhtar has offered to introduce us; we should be able to learn much.

Accordingly, tomorrow we go to 'Pindi (by bus), Keith and I to arrange cash transfers with American Express, Rik and Brian to ask the Australian Embassy in Islamabad about visas, etc. We should be able to return the same evening.
On Friday we shall visit Charsadda, and over the weekend we collect information on Hunza, before flying up next week, to return later by bus.

We returned with Sikandar to the National Hotel by a Transit van/bus (apparently new vehicles are used on the inter-city runs, old ones are pensioned off for urban use), to find there, of all people, Gerd!
He had followed us from Kabul, even to staying at the Kaiber Hotel in Jalalabad, a few hours behind us all the way. He had not called at the German Embassy, who therefore still have his kit. Nikko sees no problem in getting them to forward it.

Garages can apparently be hired for about Rs60 per month; some such action will be necessary for the vehicles while we are in Gilgit.


This morning, we got up very early, to go to Rawalpindi. Akhtar arrived at about 0615E, and took us by a short cut to the bus depot. Here we waited for Akhtar's friend to arrive, who had to come in (by bus) from 20 miles out of town. By 0720E he had not arrived, and Akhtar asked us to go on without him. This we did, the bus reaching 'Pindi about 1030E. It is just over 100 miles from Peshawar, and we have had a good chance to examine the road before we have to drive over it. This, the western end of the old Indian Grand Trunk Road, is almost entirely flat, except for a brief mountainous stretch straddling the Indus River about half way along. The road has a passably good metalled surface, but rather narrow for the volume of traffic. The sections either side of the Attock Bridge (across the Indus) are very twisty, rather more so on the eastern side, which runs up past Attock Fort; a very large complex, presumably of Mughal architecture. Like Peshawar Fort (and, for that matter, Herat Fort), it is garrisoned, and hence is not open to tourists.

Just east of Nowshera, 20 miles from Peshawar, is a very large military complex, including armour and artillery schools, occupying a long run on both sides of the road.

The surrounding country is well-watered, indeed there was dew visible early this morning, and mist appeared at dusk this evening. Sugar cane and tobacco are widely grown; and here and there are what I can only describe as "cave dwellings", hollowed out of the sides of wadis, etc.

Driving standards are as bad as elsewhere; to overtake, close your eyes and blast the horn! Animals, including cattle, sheep, and horse- and bullock-carts, are common on the road. Bus drivers do not slow down in villages. The rare sections of divided road are treated as two independent two-way roads; you drive on either carriageway, in either direction, as you please!

There were about six Customs points along the road, apparently checking movement of commodities between districts. We got only the most cursory glance from them. Two bridges (Cheblat and Attock) are restricted military sites; no photography allowed. Attock has a permanent armed police guard, who also control traffic (the bridge is single lane). Attock is an unusual bridge, having a railway track running above the road. Its site, well off the alignment of the road proper, is obviously designed for the railway, while necessitating the very twisty road approaches noted above. The bridge is of lattice steel construction, of a rather unusual design, thus:
Attock Bridge
Note the arrangement of an inverted arch beneath the road; an exact inversion of the conventional lattice-arch design. The sketch, which is very approximate, shows one of the central spans.

About 10 miles east of Nowshera, a bridge is under repair, a diversion via a short Bailey bridge is in use. This Bailey is, of course, single-line traffic, and on our return, a bus and a lorry met on it. It seems one loses face by reversing, so about 5 minutes' argument ensued, before the lorry driver gave in! Meanwhile, another bus gave up, and forded the river; an important point, since the timbers of that bridge are rotten, and may well be gone completely by the time we come to cross it next week! That bus demonstrated the ford is possible (just beside the Bailey, on the side towards the main road), without 4-wheel drive.

Once in 'Pindi, we got breakfast at the Park Hotel, near the bus depot. A rather posh place, but not unreasonable prices, and plenty of toast! Keith is finding Pakistani toast-bread rather too sweet for him; the rest of us have no trouble finishing his share!

Some misleading directions led to us all taking the bus to Islamabad in search of the Australian Embassy and American Express. Eventually we divided forces, Keith and I returned to 'Pindi, to find that we had passed American Express on the way in; and the Poste Restante (which we had earlier sought unsuccessfully) was just across the road from there.

Rik and Brian got very little satisfaction from the Australian Embassy; little more than a standard handout on Customs regulations which does, however, clarify some points.

We returned as we had worked, separately. Keith and I ended up on a really ramshackle bus, whose clutch and gearbox grew almost noticeably worse as we drove back. Rik and Brian, in a good bus, overtook us, and we met when all the buses stopped at a kiosk some 30 miles from Peshawar, as the Ramazan rule ended at sunset, and everyone hastened to feed.

In the hotel this evening, we met several more people, including some Pakhtun tribesmen. Apparently the great friendliness we have noticed everywhere is a consequence of an Islamic rule on generous treatment of guests. (In general, strangers and foreigners are fair game. However, once you call anyone your friend, you are duty-bound to defend him with your life!)


Yesterday, we stayed in Peshawar. I spent the morning looking for the Post Office on foot, deliberately not asking directions, I saw a fair bit of the Cantonment area of the town while looking for it.
We stayed at the hotel all afternoon; during which Mohammed Khan, who runs the hotel, had a hard time dealing with a girl heroin-addict, who had been causing some trouble.

Later in the evening, Sikandar and Akhtar turned up, and we discussed our plans for today. I had spent part of the afternoon briefing Rik on firearms, since we hope soon to visit Darrah, a tribal village/arsenal. [In the country of the blind... - my knowledge of weapons was limited to Army Cadet Force service 10 years earlier.]
Akhtar noticed my drawings. He asked if I was designing a weapon, and added that Pakhtun gunsmiths could make a weapon to my design for Rs500.
Later last night, Sikandar took us to a local soft-drinks bar, with prices about half those of the hotels. The proprietor makes and bottles his own brews, using a marvellously ancient carbonating and bottling machine. His lines include a "banana drink", tasting indeed of bananas, but coloured bright green! His flavours and colours are, I fear, largely synthetic.

This morning, after a slight misunderstanding as to who was coming to meet whom, not helped by both Sikandar and ourselves oversleeping, we foregathered at Sikandar's flat. Back to the hotel to collect the vehicles, and off to the village of Darrah, 25 miles southwest of Peshawar, approaching the Kohat Pass. About 20 miles from Peshawar, we passed the police checkpoint on the boundary of the tribal area. Beyond here, the Government's writ does not run, any complaints, etc., are a matter for the tribal "authorities". One is repeatedly warned against entering the area without a guide; Akhtar, who comes from Darrah, was indisposed, but Sikandar himself came, and is well known there.

As usual with country people, they are more devout than townsmen, and we were warned to take the Ramazan rule very seriously in Darrah. We only smoked or ate (grapes) whilst on the move. Approaching Darrah, the road ran through fields of opium and hashish, but the season was wrong for us to see the opium harvested (opium harvest is in February/March). Despite being in a tribal area, the road is well maintained, being fully metalled throughout. The area also has several power and telegraph lines; so some treaty must operate, giving access to the maintenance crews.

The main street of Darrah is very reminiscent of Afghanistan (the people are Pakhtuns, ethnically associated with Afghanistan), and is full of gunsmiths. There was very little motor traffic (after Peshawar), mainly lorries.
Sikandar introduced us to several gunsmiths, and we spent the morning examining weapons, with something of an eye to possible requirements for Phase 2. Had we been intending to buy there and then, we could have test-fired weapons. Those we handled included a Sten SMG, .303 SMLE rifles, revolvers and automatics in 6.35mm and .32 calibres, and a collectors' piece, a "broomhandle" Mauser automatic of about 1908. Prices ran roughly thus:

Sten SMG Rs700
English-made .303 SMLE Rs1500 (excellent condition)
"Broomhandle" Mauser Rs4000 (a collectors' item)
The possibility of weapons made to one's own specification has already been mentioned. Of the automatics shown, none were locally made, Spanish "Star" and Italian Berettas preponderated. I didn't like the Star's action at all, especially the very awkward safety-catch. The Beretta is far better.

Weapons heavier than .32 cal. were very rare, as apparently Pakistani licences are much harder to obtain above this calibre. Licences are not, of course, required in the tribal areas, but most weapons are supplied for "export" to the Government-controlled areas. Ammunition is very expensive, .32 rimmed for Sikandar's revolver is about Rs4 per round.

Also in Darrah's main street is the "Hashish Store" - advertised as such. Moderate quality Afghan resin at about Rs100 per kilo. Something like 50 kilos on display!

During the run back to Peshawar, Shadowfax stopped when its steering jammed solid! This was traced to an electric torch which had been left under the bonnet, and had fallen into the linkage. No damage was caused.
Back in Peshawar, Sikandar cooked us boiled and fried eggs, before taking Rik and Keith swimming in a nearby river. Brian and I skipped this, and after a hectic drive through Peshawar bazaar at a murderous 1½ mph, returned to the hotel. As I write, Rik and Keith have not yet returned.

Sikandar tells us there is no direct bus to Gilgit; one has to take several buses and jeeps to get there, the road is very dangerous and several people have been killed along it. The journey will take several days.


Yesterday was spent sitting around in the hotel. In view of Sikandar's invitation to Charsadda for Eid (Eid-ul-Fitr, the feast at the end of Ramazan), we have decided not to go to Hunza, as it will take too long. Instead we are going to Swat, about 100 miles from here. We also have an invitation to go fishing with Sikandar - using dynamite!

Last night, Brian and I visited an opium den! It was really hard to find (intentionally?), in a rabbit-warren of small alleys at the back of the Khyber Bazaar. About a dozen people were there, all Pakistanis but for ourselves; lying on the floor in circles around two lamps and pipes. The opium "resin" is heated on a metal rod, as it swells and bubbles, it is compacted with a finger, until it almost catches fire. The pipe has a spherical bowl, completely closed except for a small hole at one side and a long wide stem. The heated resin is pushed into the hole, forming a thick plug around it; the metal rod being pushed right in and withdrawn to leave an air passage. The pipe is then held over the flame, so heating the resin again and the pipe is smoked in rapid hard puffs (undoubtedly, the hashish smoker at the Green Hotel was used to smoking opium, this was exactly his technique), the opium plug being pushed towards the hole with the rod as it is consumed. A single "charge" appears to be just less than 1gm, and costs Re1. The habituated smoker lies there, smoking one charge after another as the pipe goes round. I smoked one charge to try its effect (Brian left before this, as we had to wait some time before someone left one of the circles and we could join). A considerable lethargy is produced, with a feeling of well-being. Quite different from the "high" one gets from hashish which, in moderate doses, is much more akin to alcohol in its effects. On getting up to leave, a certain disorientation of balance was apparent, but not enough to make walking difficult. By all accounts, I had a very light dose indeed; it is said that if you can walk home you have not taken enough!
This morning, on first getting up, I felt a slight "hangover" of lethargy, but this rapidly dissipated.

Pakistani electrical wiring, although not generally up to European standards, is nevertheless vastly better than the Afghani, which must be the all-time low, with fearful cats-cradles of wire dangling from every power-pole.

Pakistan currently uses British measures of length and volume, although they are presently in the throes of metrication (!). Their unit of weight, however, is called a "seer", it is just under 1 kilo.

The political life of the country appears to be totalitarian, with the newspapers and TV unanimous to the point of monotony in their praise of the Government, and in their condemnation of the Opposition, who are regularly dubbed "traitors" and worse. There have been several terrorist bomb outrages in Peshawar and elsewhere in NWFP (North West Frontier Province) in the last few days; we, it seems, have been lucky not to be near any of them. The Opposition are regularly identified with Baluchi dissidents, and also with the Afghan government, which apparently is claiming part of NWFP (the Pakhtunistan area; a dispute which is complicated by the aspirations of certain Pakhtun elements to independence from both Islamabad and Kabul).

14-10-74 (Early morning)

Further comments on the internal situation in Pakistan (NWFP at least).

Every important building, bridge or large factory appears to rate an armed police guard, and quite a few have pillboxes or machine-gun towers built into them. Clearly, security is taken very seriously here. Even admitting recent bomb outrages (many of these defensive structures have clearly been built some time), if the Opposition has as little popular support as the Government would have people believe, what are they so afraid of? Possibly India.

And so to our activities of yesterday.
After festering about all morning, we eventually bestirred ourselves to set off for Swat about 1400E, everywhere being closed on Sunday, which seems of more account here than Friday (the Moslem holy day).

The road east to Nowshera has been described earlier. The only event of note was a minor collision between Shadowfax and a Pakistani car. Brian had been trying to overtake, the other would not give way, and Brian was forced back by oncoming traffic, hitting the other car's rear with his bumper. It caused body-panel dents only. We are not insured in Pakistan (it is optional here), so they demanded payment. We insisted on continuing to Nowshera, and reporting to the police there.
The Pakistanis went ahead at full speed, but when we arrived; Rik and Brian went to the police post, to find that they had not reported in. (We were later told they were probably smugglers!) So Brian made a statement, and promised to look in again in a few days (i.e. after our return from Swat).
We are heading up to the Swat/Chitral area, rather than Hunza, as it is much nearer, and we should get some feel of the mountainous regions of northern Pakistan this way.

On leaving Nowshera, we turned north for Mardan. Just out of the town, we crossed a tributary of the Swat River, by the railway bridge! Road and rail traffic coincide here, access to the bridge being controlled by a wooden "key" or tally, in the form of a 4ft high ankh, which is passed from one signal-box to the other as blocks of road traffic, or trains, pass through.
On the road north from Nowshera, as on the east road, there are numerous military bases. The town is clearly a principal military centre. The road is similar to the Grand Trunk road east, but rather narrower, running through identical countryside, as far as the Malakand Agency checkpoint, 43 miles north of Nowshera.
A Rs3 toll is levied on this road, we had not been informed of any road tolls in Pakistan.

On passing the checkpoint, foreigners have to sign the "visitors' book", as one enters a semi-tribal area. I say semi-tribal, as armed police still patrol, so the area is not totally lawless, as at Darrah.
Immediately after the checkpoint, the road changes abruptly. The road becomes the most spectacular mountain run we have yet encountered, giving (on looking back) a magnificent panorama of the valley we had just left. Rik later commented that the view is rather spoilt by the networks of straight irrigation ditches all over the valley, but the people are obviously more interested in food than views!
The road climbed steadily to a great height at Malakand (site of Malakand Pass), six miles on. Here we enquired for an hotel, and ended up by giving a lift to three Pakistanis to Batkhela, 5 miles on. The road drops rather more gently on the north side of the pass; in Batkhela we ended up at the Shahin Hotel; a local-food only place, as is everything here. Swat Valley

We went elsewhere to eat (but the same type of food), and just got a meal before the first eating-period (it is still Ramazan) ended. The Shahin Hotel has an enclosed courtyard, where they served tea "after hours". The room (for 4, at Rs10) is of similar standard to the National Hotel in Peshawar.

The Shahin is basically a transport-drivers' rest-house, so plenty of road tips can be picked up. (Here, on the single-track mountain roads, lorry drivers are far more courteous than elsewhere; however they frequently appear to drive at night with no lights at all!) The area known as Kafiristan (mentioned by Omar Burke in his book "Among the Dervishes") is reportedly north of Chitral (it was later checked to be south-east!) [The first information was correct, not the second.] There is a motorable road to Hunza, both direct from the South, and from Swat. The Chinese have a team of 60,000 (we double-checked the figure) engineers in the North, building the "Karakoram Highway" from Gilgit clear through to Tibet, 4 lanes wide!

Some of these drivers regularly make the run into China, but as part of military convoys, which obviously is not open to foreigners.

We are strongly advised not to camp out at night here: as night fell, the gates of the courtyard were closed and barred, and a guard with a shotgun sat just inside the gate! It looked as though they were securing a fortress.

The road east to Srinagar is apparently passable; we all feel like trying for it.

We were also given some Hunzakuts sweets; dried apricots stuffed with nuts. Mmmm! Apparently they are only available in the Hunza/Gilgit area, these were brought back by one of the lorry drivers.

The plan, then, is as follows. Keith and Rik want to stop and rest somewhere, away from the crowds in Peshawar; while Brian and I want to see some of the country towards Chitral. Also, Shadowfax' steering is a little suspect. Hence Keith and Brian are to swap places, and Shadowfax will stop early today. Brian and I will continue, and sleep somewhere up the road tonight, rejoining the others tomorrow, so enabling us to return to Peshawar on Wednesday afternoon, in time for Eid. After Eid, we go to 'Pindi to clear our financial business, before leaving for India, if possible via Srinagar.


Yesterday's run developed into a prize fiasco! Shadowfax' steering got rapidly worse, so we stopped some 30 miles up the road, to investigate. At first we suspected the shock-absorber (right hand front), but inspection quickly showed that the upper swivel-pin (i.e. the damping bush) was utterly gone, with about 50 thou. side-play! Rik later recalled that no oil at all was ever put in the swivel housings!

The road thus far being substantially level, we gave up some 40 miles from the 16000ft pass, on the Chitral road.

Having turned back, the mountain demons still pursued us! Just short of Malakand, I (driving Orodruin) knocked against a lorry while trying to pass him (he wouldn't give an inch) and demolished our left-hand door mirror. We have salvaged the "boomerang" mechanism for repair in Australia.
Even then, we were not through. Stopping for a rest and photo's on the road south of Malakand, our starter failed. It was bump- and tow-starts from then on.
Thus we limped slowly back to Peshawar, having achieved very little for 200 miles motoring. We are now in the Al-Shiraz, except for Brian. He preferred the National, but found no room there. On returning to the Al-Shiraz, he was asked Rs8 for a room alone; so he slept in Shadowfax (both vehicles being parked in the Al-Shiraz courtyard).

This morning, we all set to on the vehicles. Our starter problem was traced to a fractured solder joint, this has been re-soldered and a pop-rivet put through to obviate further trouble. Shadowfax' axle-end is now part-stripped, the top swivel pin is in a foul state; there was also a suspicious quantity of brass filings inside the case.

Sikandar is coming over this afternoon, to help look for replacement parts. We hope to stay in Peshawar until after Eid, by which time Shadowfax will (hopefully) be again roadworthy. Then to do a long run all around the North, spending a minimal time in India (we can see it later from Australia); using our "go-anywhere" capability to the utmost while we have it.


During the afternoon, Keith and I investigated a good English-language bookshop, and the British Council library. We then went down the road, and got a massive Chinese meal for some Rs45 between us. Just as we were finishing; Rik, Brian and Sikandar arrived, having had no luck in Peshawar, and being informed that there were likely no Rover parts in 'Pindi either, but probably in Lahore. The top swivel pins and bottom races must be replaced; there was no oil inside the axle casing, and the works were rusting. Fortunately the halfshaft and its race are okay.

Last night was spent with Sikandar and two friends from his office, until about 2130E, when Rik left to take the overnight bus to Lahore. The rest of us visited a bingo hall (sic!), spent Rs4 but won nothing (of course!).

20-10-74 (Morning)

On Thursday, with Rik out chasing spare parts, I helped Brian strip the lefthand swivel housing, which proved to be slightly better than the right. I also made up a lock-strap for the Orodruin winch-lever, through which a padlock can be fitted to prevent use.

Thursday night, Keith stayed with Sikandar in Charsadda. He returned on Friday, very enthusiastic about the place. He (alone of all of us) has since spent the last two nights and yesterday there, going by bus. Or so we assume, having seen nothing of Keith or Sikandar since Friday.

Rik returned on Thursday night, exhausted but semi-triumphant. He had acquired a sore throat, so he wrote with a flourish "I've been further East than any of you!"
He had obtained a swivel-pin overhaul kit (Rs300), but had been unable to obtain the lower races. There appears to be one Rover agent in the country, in Lahore. The Rover man added that any spares we had could instantly be sold (on the black market) at a vast profit (?).

Meanwhile, Brian and I, while working on Shadowfax, got talking with Hanieff Qureshi, the son of the Al-Shiraz owner. He observed that almost all public facilities, town planning etc., are a legacy of the British Raj; the Pakistanis, he said, are incapable of planning anything. We have now had a wide spectrum of opinion on the political setup here, ranging from a government well-loved and supported by a vast majority, to a neo-Fascist state, ruthlessly crushing the Opposition. Proponents of the latter view also maintained that the (almost nightly) TV reports of tribesmen coming down from the hills, in Ba1uchistan and elsewhere, to surrender their arms, are pure propaganda. A few do come down because, we were told, their leaders are bribed!

Friday the 18th was the first of the two days of Eid-ul-Fitr (Eid the Less, at the end of Ramazan; there is a bigger festival in two months' time); which had been delayed one day, as no moon was sighted anywhere in the country on the night of the 16th/17th.
Being Eid, we did very little. On Friday, we went to a "fairground" in the sports stadium, comprising mainly sweet- and fruit-stalls. Rik bought a hubble-bubble pipe, for Rs8, and Sikandar's friends showed us the difference between the bowls used for tobacco and hashish. The hashish bowl is very deep and narrow, to generate a greater heat. In Europe the term "Chillum" is sometimes used for the bowl, sometimes smoked without the water-jar as a simple pipe. This apparently, is a misnomer; "Chillum" is the Pushto word for the whole apparatus, and corresponds to the Urdu "Hookah".

Yesterday morning, Akhtar brought over a Pakhtun musician, with his instrument, a Rabah (pronounced Rabbarh). This apparently antedates the sitar, which was developed from it. It is a very old Pakhtun instrument, shaped somewhat like a violin, but rather longer (about 3ft long), with a very narrow and deep soundbox, covered with skin. There are 18 strings, 6 main ones which are stopped with the left hand, and 12 auxiliaries, always played full open, and occasionally strummed across to add "bite" to the tune played on the main strings. A plectrum (called an "eagle") is used, similar to a guitarist's, but rather larger. The top of the instrument is carved into a highly ornate hook shape, reminding me of a hawk's beak. Later in the evening, we saw a performance by a full band, comprising three instruments; rabah, tabla (drums), and harmonium. The audience joined in the songs with gusto, and people occasionally got up and danced.
During the evening, I was again approached by a gunsmith from Darrah, who wants me to design a rifle for him to make. I shall have to do this sometime, and send him the plans, he will be most disappointed otherwise! [I did not: not only was I unqualified to do so, but I wouldn't want to contribute to the deaths it would cause.]
We also sampled some (well watered) Pakistani whisky; I wasn't too impressed with it.

Yesterday also, Rik, Brian and I (Keith being in Charsadda), held a general plans discussion. The British Treasury have blocked the transfer of most of Rik's funds, which we had counted on to take us to Australia. Rik tabled the idea of returning to Britain, and selling our vehicles (he expects a better price in Britain than here), before coming out via public transport in late spring next year.
Australia is then no problem, as we would go in as tourists, not counting on working there. This plan has so far received a cautious welcome. (At this time, we had been given to understand that visas were already required for Australia).

[This point defines the end of the Expedition's forward progress. Remaining journeys were side-trips, and/or related to trying to dispose of the vehicles.]


This morning, Keith and I got up early, and walked up towards the British Library, being ripped off Rs5 by a tanga for part of the run. It transpired that, during his stay in Charsadda, Keith had come to very similar conclusions to the rest of us, so that the idea of an immediate return to Britain is now generally accepted.

So we have lost a battle: we shall yet win the war!
I.E. we shall yet go around the world, but not taking vehicles all the way. Either we buy a vehicle (one between the four of us) in each continent as we go, and/or we use public transport. For Europe and Asia, it is far cheaper without a vehicle, but if you do take one, take a diesel-engined job.

Rik managed to get one of his swivel bearings, in a good used condition, for Rs45; but on taking this new bearing to another shop (the first having only one), he was cheated by the man swapping the race for a badly worn one of his own, under the pretence of matching up the type. This was not detected until too late. Hence we are better off by one good inner race. We shall have to clean up and re-use the remaining old parts.


Yesterday, Rik, Brian and I rebuilt the Shadowfax front axle, while Keith and Sikandar investigated the possibility of disposing of spares on the black market in Peshawar. They got very discouraging results; it's either Lahore or nothing for Rover parts. We shall therefore take them back with us, as they may yet be of some use. Keith and I still have hopes of Orodruin, converted to diesel.

We have decided to return via the southern route through Zahedan, then north to Mashhad, and thence direct to Tehran and west.

Rik considers that Shadowfax' brakes and steering are still bad, but he agreed to drive as far as Charsadda. We spent the night there, being somewhat discomfited by mosquitoes; having left our netting roll and blankets in Peshawar.

Sikandar has now gone to his office in Peshawar, and expects to return in a few hours, when we shall all go (in the emptied Orodruin) to 'Pindi, to meet Hanieff Qureshi tomorrow (he is interested in buying Orodruin), after which we shall split forces; Rik and I going north to Gilgit, Brian and Keith returning to Charsadda, to continue work on Shadowfax. We expect to spend a week in the North.


During yesterday morning, we unloaded Orodruin; an amazing amount of clobber! We also took the opportunity to clean out all the dust, spilled rice, etc. from inside. It now rides high on the springs, as expected.

In early afternoon, Sikandar returned, and we all had a large lunch, before setting off, amid a huge audience of village kids, about 1500E.
Taking the "short cut" to Nowshera, which is a track similar to that to Marand (metalled but single track), we passed the huge Charsadda graveyard, which Sikandar claims as the world's largest: 18 miles long!

We reached Attock Bridge as darkness was falling, and stopped for tea at the Attock Tourist Inn, just past the Attock police post. As we were finishing tea, Keith, who had walked back to Orodruin, was accosted by what turned out to be a Secret Police agent. This outfit, the FIU, Field Intelligence Unit, we have not encountered before, but its existence and methods give the best possible indication of whether the Government's tale or the Opposition's is true. Indeed we hear of a saying in Pakistan: if a man makes a promise, you ask, "Is this Bhutto's word, or yours?" Bhutto's (the Prime Minister's) word is always broken!
The agent became a little more deferential on realising that Keith was a foreigner, having got him to drive out of the car-park into the road (possibly where his jurisdiction began). He referred to Sikandar as "our bomb-throwing friend"; apparently Charsadda has a name as the home town of the Opposition leader.
There is a Rs50,000 reward out for bombers; he apparently had hopes of turning in Sikandar. He tried to persuade Keith to drive off without Sikandar, this Keith refused outright. During a search of Orodruin (fortunately stripped near-empty), he overlooked all the ex-Army ammunition boxes we use as general storage, but lighted on the prismatic compass. "You know this is a prohibited item...", he confiscated it as baksheesh, and then let us go. FIU is clearly as corrupt as everything else. Indeed, the Government maintains an "Anti-Corruption Force", but this itself became so rotten with graft that a second unit was formed to check the first. "Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?.."

Reaching 'Pindi after dark, Sikandar eventually found us an hotel (Rs16), and lent us Rs50, as we were dead broke! Many hotels do not carry a stock of the foreigner registration forms, and so would not take us. Finally, we got into the 'Pindi Hotel, at the downtown end of Liaquat Rd. (same road as Hanieff's office).

There was nothing for any of us in Poste Restante, but American Express have received our money. The Telex was received in Rawalpindi (via Karachi) on the 17th., making a total turnround time of 8 days. However, we have been asked to call back in two hours, as the office have received only a copy of the Telex; not the original. They must call head office, to check up.


Our money was duly released to us on our reappearance at American Express, as travellers' cheques. They are not allowed to issue dollar cash.

On returning to Liaquat Rd., we met Hanieff, and talked at length, before he left for Islamabad. He found us a room in a rather bad hotel nearby, so we left Orodruin outside his office, where he arranged a night-guard on it. He also expressed a possible interest in buying Orodruin; this is to be looked into today. We would want £2500 - £3000 for Orodruin plus the equipment and spares. The petrol engine is a disadvantage, but he seems in a hurry for a vehicle, so this might be overcome.

Meanwhile, Sikandar has gone to Islamabad, having left his suitcase in Orodruin! Hopefully, we shall see him today, before Rik and I head north.

American Express later broke up the $100 cheques they had given us, into $20 and $10 units. We finished by using every cheque in the office!

We were informed that Hanieff would arrive at his office at 1600E, but, having waited all day, we were told that he had gone to Peshawar! Keith and Brian have therefore gone thither in the bus, Keith to negotiate a sale of Orodruin if possible. They have also taken back Sikandar's suitcase.

Rik and I are now on the Gilgit road. After fiddling about for half an hour, we finally found our way out of Rawalpindi (the Murree road passes the southern end of Liaquat Rd., by the bus station and Park Hotel, you go East), and headed up to Murree. The road at first ran through what could easily have been English countryside, with level woodland and hills in the background.
After we passed the first checkpoint, however, the road began to rise steeply. This climb continued, through increasingly spectacular scenery, to Murree, which we reached about an hour after sundown, at 1815E.
Here, the first person we met, on asking directions to an hotel, proved to be the schoolmaster; hence he spoke good English! He took us first to a block of summer chalets (Murree is a hill station), which charge Rs30 per night. No chance! (They are Rs100 in season!) He then arranged accomodation (Rs8) with a friend, and took us to a restaurant for supper. Over food, he taught us several Urdu words and phrases, and gave us directions for Muzaffarabad and Gilgit.
He several times warned us to look to security, probably more because he felt responsible for his guests than because there was any risk. The wonderful Pakistani hospitality again!

The night looks like being very cold (altitude 6000ft), we are going to bed around 2030E.


Rik and I got up about 0800E, to a breakfast consisting solely of tea. Mohammad, the schoolmaster, tried to argue his friend down from the original agreed price of Rs8, to Rs5. This was finally settled by our paying out Rs8; after all, we had agreed it the night before! We then took Mohammad two miles up the road to his school, and he set us on the road to Muzaffarabad. This road is at first very mountainous, the scenery being as spectacular as would be expected.
Jhelun River About 1000E we reached the bridge over the Jhelun River, which is the official Pakistan/Kashmir border, and crossed into occupied (or "Azad" - "Free", if you are a Pakistani!) Kashmir.

At this point, I break off until tomorrow, as the oil lamp I am using is running out of fuel!

27-10-74 Resuming, on Sunday morning.

The last section of the road before the Jhelun River is straighter than usual here; we got nearly 40mph, instead of the usual 20! Just over the bridge (there is an un-named village and bazaar just before it) is a fork; the right-hand branch heading for Srinagar, about 140 miles away. The police at the bridge strictly forbade us to take this road, as we signed the register for the occupied area. This book was very inefficiently kept, but as far as we could see, the last Europeans passed this way in May.

The villages in these parts consist of a stretch of steep hillside, carved (at colossal effort) into a series of steps; with wooden houses dotted apparently at random over them. A small proportion of solidly built stone houses also exists around Murree. Farther north, wood is used exclusively.

We reached Muzaffarabad around midday and Rik tried to change travellers' cheques; but the bank wouldn't handle them. They were also rather unhelpful when we asked directions. We then took mutton stew and tea, before moving off, after getting directions from a man in the street. It appeared to be kerosine-day in Muzaffarabad, as many hillmen came to fill cans from a large tank at the roadside.

Muzaffarabad A hazard (doubtless seasonal) on all these roads is the frequent mule-trains carrying (we suppose) produce to market. The lorry and bus-drivers in the hills are far more courteous than elsewhere, alas the minibus and car-drivers are as bad as ever!

After the bridge leading out of Muzaffarabad, where we re-entered Pakistan (into Frontier province, having left from Punjab), we were directed to turn right by a military patrol and set off along a crazily twisting and climbing mountain road, in company with a plush Army Mercedes staff car. This proved to be going to a huge Army exercise (an ambush demonstration) about 10 miles up the road. A few miles after this the road crosses a dry river-bed, and forks. We erroneously took the left turn and drove through beautiful pine-forest hills, into a valley leading to Mansehra, where we discovered our error, took tea, and turned around, returning to the fork about 1530E.
These pine trees are tapped like rubber trees, the product being resin. Forest products are a major industry hereabouts.

We then set off back up the Kaghan Valley Road (as it is called), intending to reach Paras just before nightfall. One is never quite certain with these roadsigns, as the mileages are clear enough, but the names are all in Urdu!

Passing through Balakot (not marked on Bartholomew's maps; a significant error, I feel, since it is not only an administrative centre, but also the last fuel point), we crossed the river yet again, and climbed steeply for 15 miles to Kawai. Believing Paras to be just ahead, we drove on, but the mileposts showed a minimum of 12 miles to anywhere, so with dusk falling, we turned round (there are lorries' passing places periodically on this road, which are wide enough to turn round), and backtracked two miles to Kawai.

Fetching up (as usual) at a çay shop, we took çay and potatoes, and fell into conversation with the postmaster, again probably the only English speaker around. He also manages the Inspection Bungalow here and fixed us up there for the night.

These I.B.'s (a relic of the British Raj) are all over the sub-continent, and are built to best colonial style. All mod. cons. (for about 1920), but no electricity (there is none in Kawai). This one has two, 2-bed rooms, rate Rs15/room. However, Ghulam put us up there for Rs10, and even provided us an 0700E early morning call, and tea and eggs for breakfast to boot!

Ghulam Another of these amazing Pakistanis, we talked at length during the evening, and he asked us to bring out several items from England when we came again. As with Mohammad the schoolmaster, Ghulam asked about permits to get to England. We may have disillusioned him a little with our talk of inflation and high prices, but when Pakistani inflation has run at several thousand percent since Partition, the wish to escape is natural.
Ghulam also told us that the duvets used in Afghanistan and Pakistan are Rs50 for a good one; they sound an excellent investment!

We hear that Babusar Pass may be impassable due to snow (it is apparently 14000ft), but we mean to try. The snow months here are December to March, when Kawai is totally cut off, under 4ft of snow.

I am having a look at Orodruin's exhaust pipe, which has been rattling horribly, before moving off.

(The same evening)

The rattle was traced to loose jerricans! Wedged in with pebbles; this cured it. Ghulam rode with us as far as Mahandri, showing us en route a trout hatchery.
This establishment breeds brown and rainbow trout, to stock the Kaghan River. They release some 5000 finger-sized trout a year; others being kept up to five years old and more for breeding. The 5-year olds were about 15 inches long, weighing about 3lb. The record trout catch is 16lb (30in. long). The fry are fed on a mixture of flour and beef.

At Paras, which is a much smaller place than Kawai, the metalled road ends; it is gravel and dirt from there on.

We hear repeatedly along the route, that Babusar Pass is closed, variously due to snow, and to bridges being demolished by the Public Works Dept., Bridges & Roads, who remove the road-timbers and store them during the winter. So, they say it is impossible. We shall see!! Bridges on this road tend to be short, a very small distance above small streams, usually fordable. With sand/snow ladders and winch, we have as good a chance as anyone. And, instead of merely running on regular roads, we are trying something allegedly impossible; an enemy worthy of our steel!

We took çay with Ghulam in Mahandri, before moving on. In Kawai, we were told that the road limit was at Mahandri, there we were told it was at Naran!
The road continued its crazy twisting through Kaghan, where we took lunch. The traffic on the road was a few lorries, which do not run beyond Kaghan, and many jeep-loads of potatoes heading south. The climate is definitely high-altitude here; the sun is intense, but the air is cold in shadow. Indeed, there was ice on sheltered parts of the many streams which cross the road.

North of Kaghan, the road is a jeep track only, we had occasional recourse to low-range gears, although in general the road was easier than hitherto.

In Naran, we met two English tourists, Simon and Kate, who had come in on a jeep/bus two hours ahead of us! They introduced us to the manager of the I.B. in which they were staying, who advised that the road ended two miles beyond Batta Kundi (the final crossing of the Kaghan River) in the first of four broken or dismantled bridges. We were advised to stay the night in Naran, and then return.
Instead we pressed on, the road now being really bad; in and out of low-range all the time. A roofrack is also a definite hazard here, with several large overhangs over the road. At one point, where the road was washed away, a de facto track ran up the river-bed!

(Farther south, there were several gangs of road-menders at work, wearing a distinctive scarlet turban. Here there were fewer, dressed in the usual Kashmiri cap and overalls).

BattaKundi On reaching Batta Kundi, we crossed the river, by what was supposed to be the last good bridge. The road leaves the Kaghan Valley here, and climbs over a salient to join a tributary valley to the west.

Eight miles from Batta Kundi, after crossing three allegedly broken bridges, all in perfect order, we reached the I.B. at Burawai. The altitude here is 10009ft, according to the plaque at the I.B. gate, the bungalow being at the roadside, in the middle of nowhere. We, finding no-one around, forced the padlock to gain entry; shortly afterwards the manager arrived! He was very friendly, after we offered him one of our locks in replacement. Rik tried to pass off a Czech currency receipt as an authority to stay free of charge in I.B.'s! He wouldn't have it, but on payment of the correct Rs15 fee, helped me repair the damage (we had merely forced the hasp-screws out of the wood), and for Rs5 extra, provided us food for supper. Viz., milk, potatoes, and eggs, which we cooked on a wood fire (he also supplied the firewood). Afterwards, he provided fresh-baked bread and hot çay. Considering that we had expected to spend the night hungry and either in Orodruin or an abandoned cowshed, it was a jolly good Rs20 worth. We are definitely converts to I.B.'s!

I am now writing this, using Orodruin's searchlight focussed in through a window, as there is no light here at all. The manager has a room in one of the adjoining buildings, which are well built wood and stone structures, with tin roofs, but a timber ceiling to retain the heat.

Orodruin has performed well at high altitudes, the only fault being a slight tendency to stall, corrected by use of the hand throttle.

The outside temperature is just about freezing; we are just below the snowline here, with some 4000 vertical feet to gain to the pass. The scenery, both by sun- and moonlight, is amazing, snow-covered peaks all around, but without a wideangle lens, there is little one can do in the way of photography.


Last night, with a clear sky, was really cold. Dawn came at 0600E, air temperature in Orodruin was -5°C. No wind, thank goodness! The air was too dry for frost; fortunately our room kept just above freezing, as evidenced by a bucket of water and the jerrican, which we brought inside for safety.


The I.B. manager bade us farewell with a bill for another Rs10 for the food - we had understood the previous Rs5 was full payment. A rather unfriendly gesture, but then we did start by breaking his lock!

Off at 0800E, the road at first running over a flattish plain, littered with huge boulders. Orodruin was very cold, and at high altitude, running pretty badly, and warmed up only very slowly.

After a couple of miles, the road made a steep descent to another (good) timber bridge, and then climbed on to a not-very-steep valley side.

Five miles after Burawai, we encountered our first demolished bridge. About 10ft long, the four main timbers were still in place, but the transverse roadplanks had been removed. I decided to attempt to ford the stream, just above the bridge. The banks sloped quite gently, but the stream-bed contained large boulders.
Driving into the bed, I got stuck about halfway, against one of these boulders. With the one word "Winch!", I jumped out, to find Rik already unhitching the cable to run it out. An excellent belay was available about 50ft away, and we winched out with no trouble, afterwards backing into the stream a little, to "set up" a photo! We spent about half an hour at that bridge, including reconnoitring the site, and taking photos. [Which alas, failed to come out.]

The road continued its usual habit of crazy climbing and dropping along the western side of the valley, often extremely narrow and precipitous. At one point going up, we hit the roofrack against an overhang: roofracks are definitely a liability at this game! It knocked lumps off the rock, but later inspection showed no damage to the rack. Pete Foley's racks are stronger than the Himalayas!!

Boulder Field Bridge
Three miles after the first bridge, the valley widened and divided, and here we encountered our second and, as it proved, final, obstacle. Another demolished bridge, but some 50ft wide, 20ft above the stream.

These wider bridges are built on a slightly different plan (both designs being, apparently, of Tibetan origin). The narrow ones have four main joists laid straight between the piers; but where the gap is too wide for this, a cantilever is built out from each pier, of 12 joists in three rows, bedded into the pier. The four main joists are then laid between the cantilevers, which extend some 15ft out from the piers. In each case, transverse road timbers are then laid over the joists.

The approach to the river was by a very steep bank, the departure being gentle. A pity, as the winch greatly facilitates the reverse manoeuvre (gentle in, steep out). There was no convenient access to the river, which was deep and fast under the bridge. Finally, we attempted to work our way upstream along the bank, hoping to reach the river about 200 yards up, where, at a confluence, it was quite shallow, though wide. The way ran through a field of boulders, over which we picked the way, Rik walking ahead and directing me, driving. At one point, we straddled two boulders, and only freed Orodruin by jacking up a rear wheel, and piling rocks underneath. After about an hour, we had covered 100 yards, and came to an impassable spot. We could have crossed it by a lot of heavy labour, moving rocks, but the thin air (at nearly 11000ft) made work very difficult. We were constantly short of breath.

(Alternatively dynamite, readily available in the tribal areas around Darrah, could have cleared the way!) Finally, we decided to abandon the attack on Babusar, and return. We started back around 1100E. Our decision to turn back was largely influenced by our lack of knowledge of the road ahead. At that altitude, without tents, etc. (left behind in Charsadda!), a night in the open would have been very risky. We had to be certain of making an I.B. each evening.

In subsequent years, Rik & I had tried repeatedly to locate that bridge on maps, without success. Rik visited Pakistan again in 2013, & has found it again. You can see it on Google Maps.
The road has been re-aligned since 1974; it now comes up from the south, whereas the old road which we used is the small track running in from the east. The old timber bridge has also been replaced with a steel structure.

Mountain Road On reaching the first bridge again, we tried using the sand-ladders, doubled, to ease our way through the stream, hoping to avoid using the winch. The ladders however, buckled, and we were left astride a large boulder in midstream. The HiLift [aka "Kangaroo"] jack could have been used to good effect here (had it not also been left in Charsadda!), since it was impossible to position a conventional jack in the stream. In the event, rocks were piled in front of the rear wheels, to lift, and the winch was again used. There were no further mishaps after this. We were both very impressed by the performance of the Iranian clamp-repair on the winch cable; that winch was used in deadly earnest, but the clamp held firm. Spare clamps of this type, for running repairs, would be a good idea.

We reached Naran about 1400E, took our first food and drink of the day, and went in search of Simon and Kate. They were not there, but Anwar, the Government Transport Service officer here, made us welcome, and we decided to stay the night here, rather than press on to Kawai, as originally planned.

Anwar and we discussed many things during the afternoon and evening, including his attitude to the Chinese building the roads. He (rather naively, we thought) sees no threat in Communism, he believes that contact with free peoples will convert the Chinese, rather than the reverse.
During the evening, Anwar interrupted our conversation to auction a blown-down walnut tree, for firewood. At first, the bidding would not go above 1 or 2 Rupees; "Auction postponed" said Anwar in English! About 20 minutes later he resumed, with more realistic bidding, the tree finally going for Rs90. We didn't see the tree, but Anwar said it was quite big.

Anwar also gave us directions for reaching the new road (unofficially called the Silk Road) to Gilgit, by going north-west from Mansehra. This road is open to foreigners on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (lucky for us). Although the road has been graded (it is 36ft wide!), the Chinese are still black-topping it. You can use it, but it is not yet officially open.

Anwar gave us a huge supper ("What would you like?" he asked: Rik joked "Chicken, caviar, champagne"; chicken was duly served!!), and put us up in the I.B., with warm quilts: our first warm night in the hills! He had squared the I.B. manager; we paid nothing! A welcome change from the previous night.

In the morning, he woke us at 0700E, and helped me find petrol. There is none north of Balakot; so I bought 2 gallons from a jeep-operator's private stock. It is all carried up privately, in cans.


We moved off about 0830E, heading down towards Kawai.
The road is gravel until Paras, when the blacktop sections gradually increase until it is fully sealed between Kawai and Balakot. Stopping in Kawai, we took çay with Ghulam, and heard to our great relief that his sick child is now well. We had, on our previous visit, given him two anonymous white pills from the first-aid box for this child, then feverish. A rather risky shot in the dark; but it seems to have worked, and Ghulam was full of praise for those pills, which Keith told me later were aspirins. The nearest hospital is in Balakot.

In Balakot, we took on fuel, and a quick lunch in a çay shop. Here, we were asked by a casual acquaintance, whether one can travel to Iran without a passport! We don't know, of course.

Pressing on, we drove down the fast road to the fork where we left the Kaghan Valley, to Mansehra (where we had earlier taken the wrong turn). Shortly before Mansehra, we punctured a tyre, as we have two spares, we pressed on anyway, and have not yet repaired it. Beyond Mansehra, we encountered the first section of the blacktop road, mentioned by Anwar at Naran. Indeed, from there on, we were mostly on this road, except for incomplete sections past Baffa and Battal. Anwar's directions were very accurate, and we made good time. At Baffa, we made the mistake of asking directions for the village when we were already there; hence we were directed off the road, into the village proper, which has very narrow streets, and the turnround was difficult.

We spent the night in the çay shop in Batagram, among a friendly crew, who spoke little English. Rik was troubled by bedbugs, the first time we have encountered these specimens.


Yesterday's motoring continued on the same highway as before, extensively tarred, but with periodic sections still under construction. Heavy plant was everywhere, of all conceivable makes (British, American, Japanese, Russian, and even Chinese were seen!), work proceeding on a colossal scale. The labourers work under Army direction, some labour is (apparently) locally recruited, but some, to judge from the treatment they got, appear to be convicts!

We started off early, about 0700E, and soon reached the Indus valley. To all appearances, the road is not being built south down the Indus, past the infamous Tarbela Dam (this dam, recently built, had cracked [More accurately, sinkholes had formed in the lake bed], causing a national furore over corruption and incompetence); instead it is to link up with the Kaghan Valley road, up which we had just come. The road distance Kaghan Valley to Indus is 96 miles.

Crossing the Indus at the Thakot suspension bridge (a temporary bridge now; built from Bailey sections with suspension cables added), we were roundly ticked off by the military guard for speeding; one should take that bridge dead slow! They told us that the road was open to Gilgit, but see later!

Continuing, we found the road of much poorer quality. The Indus road is still mostly 36ft wide, but the surface is of gravel, with occasional blacktop. We understand that the Chinese are working south down this road, blacktopping it as far as the bridge.

The Indus valley is much wider than the Kaghan, but the road still runs along a cliff side, high above the river. By early morning, we had reached Besham, the last town mentioned by Anwar, when he gave us directions. We passed through all the villages he mentioned, except Baffa, the first one. We had erroneously entered Baffa; you should turn right just before it. The new road, when complete, will bypass Baffa and Battal, but it appears to be run through Batagram and Besham.

Just beyond Besham, we were stopped at a barrier, with a sign "Closed to all military and civil traffic, except Fridays and Sundays". A military guard appeared, who alas spoke very little English. We understood that the road was closed for blasting, and was not even open on the two days mentioned. He told us the only way to Gilgit was by air. On returning to Besham, we found the village doctor, who spoke English. He told us the road had been totally closed at the behest of the Chinese, who were averse to being watched at work. Apparently the order comes from the high command in Islamabad; there is probably no way around it at Besham.

The doctor pointed out a precipitous road up a tributary valley, which leads to Swat. We set off up this, and very rough it was. A little wider than the worst parts of the Kaghan road, but a boulder-littered surface that made driving very rough. However, the local bus (a full-sized bus, not a minibus) runs up here; I really have to respect those drivers' technique, however much I detest the merciless methods of their colleagues in the south.
ShangLa Pass The road climbs to an unknown, but considerable, height at Shangla Pass, where there is a magnificent view all around, before dropping precipitously to the Swat Valley. The road distance between the Indus and Swat valleys (Besham - Khawzakhela) is 42 miles; a very hectic 2½ hours' driving by Rik.

At Khawzakhela, we decided to abandon the attack on the North (in principle, there are two more roads to Gilgit, via Swat and via Chitral), as Orodruin has undoubtedly suffered some damage on Babusar. There is a pronounced steering shake around 30mph, and a heavy "thunk" on changing gear. Further, we find nowhere to change travellers' cheques; apparently only United Bank handles any foreign exchange at all, and often even their branches in remote areas only accept cash.

Hence we turned south, stopping for lunch in Mangora. The road south was jammed with herds of cattle, etc., apparently heading for market in Batkhela. 24 miles after Mangora, we picked up the road we had taken a fortnight before, on our abortive run up to Chitral. We stayed with this road to Dargai, just south of Malakand Pass. Here, we tried for what looked on the map to be a short cut to Peshawar, bypassing Nowshera and the G.T. Road.
It developed into a sandy track alongside an irrigation canal, as rough and dusty as anything in the desert, for 11 miles to the I.B. at Harichand. Here we were directed south, and after about a mile driving between sugar plantations, we came again to a road. Turning right (west), and sticking thereafter to the "main" road, brought us eventually to Sikandar's village, Charsadda.
Here, we found Shadowfax, but no sign of Keith or Brian. We also heard for the first time, of the death, during our run north, of Sikandar's father. This obviously explained the lack of activity. Saddened by this, we drove the last 18 miles to Peshawar, and found Keith and Brian in the Al-Shiraz Hotel.

We no longer use the Al-Shiraz, which has been found to be one of the most expensive places in town, but are currently parking Orodruin there. We also met up with Paul and Mike, whom we earlier met in Herat. They have a Transit van, which they are currently trying to sell via Sikandar.

Rik and I spent the night in the National Hotel, while Keith and Brian stayed at Sikandar's flat. Sikandar himself is in Charsadda, observing the funeral rites for his father; which apparently involve preparing rice for all the children in Charsadda, which is a very large village. Keith and Brian have gone there today, on the bus; Rik and I are staying in Peshawar, resting!


Painted Lorry Yesterday, Keith and I spent refurbishing Orodruin. The rearmost universal joint had gone completely; the flange bolts were very hard to remove.

Mike and Paul (in the Transit) are thinking of a run by boat in the future; this has aroused some interest among we four landlubbers. We would need a lot of training and experience before trying that one, though!

Rik and Brian have gone to Charsadda to remove Shadowfax and their gear, we are leaving ours there, pending a meeting arranged with Hanieff for Tuesday morning in 'Pindi.

7-11-74 (Thursday)

Monday, I spent completing work on Orodruin. The tyre punctured near Mansehra was mended, the puncture being caused by a nail. The original tube was wrecked.

Tuesday morning, Paul and I spent in Islamabad, looking for the Australian Embassy. On finding it, we were informed that British passport holders only, have until December 31st to reach Australia; for others the door has already closed. Hence, we have decided to make a dash for Australia.

On returning, we met Hanieff, and agreed that we would go the following day to Islamabad, to investigate requirements for selling Orodruin in Pakistan. In the evening, Paul went back to Peshawar on the bus, and Hanieff took me to a film (Goldfinger!).
On Wednesday, as arranged, we went to Islamabad. There, we discovered that there is no direct way to sell a vehicle in Pakistan. A Pakistani national cannot import a vehicle, except when returning to Pakistan after an absence of more than 6 months. Hanieff, however, thinks other ways may exist. Paul has told us that it appears possible to mortgage or hire out the vehicle, and return after 12 months to return it to the U.K. This is another possibility.

Hanieff and I returned to Peshawar this afternoon, we shall go to 'Pindi tomorrow with Keith.


In the event, Keith remained in Charsadda, on Friday. Hanieff and I reached 'Pindi in early afternoon, and a vigorous afternoon's sale of miscellaneous junk yielded about Rs1000. Hanieff acted as intermediary, and frequently knocked down my asking prices. At times, I wasn1t sure if he was acting for me or for the buyers! He himself collected many of the best items as a job lot at Rs600.

Standing surrounded by a dwindling pile of our remaining kit, I was subject to very mixed feelings. This is now the fourth time in my life, that I have uprooted everything, to take a flying leap into the dark. Despite three previous times, it gets no easier!

I am still not certain what to make of Hanieff. Keith has made discreet enquiries in Charsadda, revealing that he has a criminal record (for deception), but appears now to be "going straight". This squares with his earlier warnings to me, not to get involved in crime. However, he is now advocating downright illegal schemes for selling Orodruin; maybe we are putting too much temptation in his way?

Friday night I spent in the same hotel as before, in a single windowless room, full of mosquitoes. Sordid!! I have noted a strange habit of the Asiatic housefly; it always prefers to settle on electric wires! These are often packed solid with flies, the surrounding ceiling being bare.

On Saturday, I got up early, and took breakfast at the Park Hotel. This, unlike the Savoy, does not serve cornflakes, but the service is far better, and one is not hustled to pay up and get out the minute you have finished eating. The food is of similar quality in both.

We have proposed three courses of action, thus:

  1. Drive to London, sell Orodruin in England, and fly direct to Australia.
  2. Sell Orodruin in Pakistan, and fly from Islamabad.
  3. Sell Orodruin in Kabul (where there is an open market in Western-owned vehicles), and fly from there.
To implement Course 1, requires that we move at once. There are offers open for Orodruin here, so we hope to implement Course 2.

On Saturday morning, Hanieff went to Islamabad, to investigate the chances of selling Orodruin here, as a "wreck". One must supply a photo of the "damaged" vehicle, and make out assorted affidavits as to its wrecked state. An official will inspect it, and must be bribed. This all looks rather dubious to me.

Hanieff was absent for quite some time, during which I wandered up to 'Pindi Cantonment, and bought a book on the Buddhist scriptures, to beguile the monotony.
This gave me a valuable new angle on our present situation; on which I pondered after Hanieff's return, looking out of his office window at Orodruin, which was directly facing me. Buddhism (and, for that matter, Christianity) teaches that one should not form an over-close attachment to material objects; you only get hurt by it! It seems Fate (or whatever) is out to teach me this; after four goes, maybe I shall learn! Hence it appears morally, as well as technically, more satisfactory to buy a succession of simple basic vehicles, than to make the run in a single high-quality one. If, that is, one uses a vehicle at all.

I waited long last night for Hanieff, before leaving to drive through the night to Peshawar. The G.T. Road at night is a hair-raising experience. In what other country will you find push-bikes, unlit, riding down the wrong side of a dual carriageway in the dark? The lorries' headlights are so maladjusted that it makes no difference if they are on beam or dip!

I got up early this morning, and set off for Charsadda, to collect Keith and our remaining kit (not for sale). There, I was informed that a friend of Sikandar's was planning a motor-tour of Europe, and would offer a realistic price for Orodruin.
Accordingly, we set off for his village, along the G.T. Road towards Nowshera. Since Janzeb speaks no English, Sikandar interpreted. He is interested, and has reacted favourably to an asking price of Rs30,000 (in foreign currency). He will meet us at the Al-Shiraz tomorrow, after checking legal angles (he is buying for immediate export), for a test drive. He appears willing to accept delivery at Torkham, thereby clearing all our papers.


No call from Hanieff yesterday (though one today - see below). Keith and I enquired of P.I.A. and a travel agent; there appears little difficulty at present to getting a flight to Australia. We are now resolved to dispose of Orodruin here, and to go direct. The via-Europe route is out. What a millstone a car can be!
For that matter, how the love (yes, love) I had for that machine turns almost to hatred. Is that always love's fate? I hope Gautama Buddha was wrong, when he described the best path as one "free from joy and happiness". What a dismal world we have, if not. [Buddha intended, I think, to seek freedom from the attachment to joy, etc., rather than from the joy itself.]

But to business. As of this evening, Keith has been unable to contact Janzeb, he and Sikandar are trying now. Sikandar is not over-optimistic about Janzeb; Keith is to press for a decision this evening.
A phone-call from Hanieff this afternoon; he can find buyers for more junk, but wants me to take it to 'Pindi. Not worth it for the little we have left, which Keith is gradually clearing at Charsadda.

The scheme of driving to Kabul, in the hope of selling Orodruin there, is not on, as by the time we reached Kabul, we should have overspent, and be utterly stuck unless we could sell.
Just at the moment, we are all in the nerve-wracking state of having an urgent deadline to meet, but being unable to do anything but wait for offers for the vehicles, before we can move.
We are also looking into the possibility of clearing Orodruin out of Customs at Torkham, and smuggling it back into the tribal areas, to await later removal. This looks to be quite hard, in view of the geography of the place.


This morning, Keith arrived, and announced that he had been unable to find Janzeb. We cannot, therefore, count on him. We did, however, change our excess rupees into Sterling and dollars, on the black market.

Sikandar believes that he can get our passports (though not the Carnets) crookedly stamped, so that we can leave Pakistan. He himself would then store the vehicles at Charsadda, pending our (or our nominee's) arrival later to remove them, and so clear the Carnets. There are also a number of possible buyers around, but nothing definite on that score.

Keith tells me the tape-cassette drive has failed in Orodruin; it is damaging cassettes. Probably jammed with dust! I have to admit, these petty faults with Orodruin make the parting easier! An unpleasant attitude to take, I fear, but anything goes here.


It has been confirmed that there is no legal way to leave a vehicle in Pakistan. Mortgage schemes are not on. Keith has, after repeated attempts, been unable to contact Janzeb, who must, I fear, be written off as a possible solution.
I have written to my brother Andrew, suggesting that he (if it fits his plans) might make the run back for a share in the proceeds.

In essence, we are trying to have our cake and eat it; i.e. the choice, reduced to basics, is that we either make Australia by next year, or we retain either the vehicles or the money for them. We are trying to do both, but if need be, I think we are all prepared to abandon the vehicles for the sake of reaching Australia.

Keith is investigating some openings with the tribes; in this context he has, with Sikandar, visited a highly dangerous area in the Khyber region. He hopes to report final success or failure of this scheme tomorrow evening. This evening, he intends to re-tune the engine, which has been "running on" when switched off hot, and to fix the cassette drive, which apparently is proving quite a selling point.

This evening, we all went to see a film at the American Centre in Peshawar Cantonment. They are showing Alistair Cooke's BBC-TV series on America. We noted with interest that the director was Tim Slessor (surely the author of "First Overland").


Rik, in turn, succeeded in buying black-market dollars. We were also offered hashish and hash-oil, with a service to conceal it in various art-objects for smuggling!
A friend of Sikandar's has found a way to get Orodruin into Pakistan as a "wreck", without damage, by bribery. You get the police to certify the wreck, then go to Customs.

Meanwhile Keith has been, with Sikandar, to some really dodgy tribal areas. He and I are to go again on Monday, to act in addition as consulting engineers in the installation of a power supply in a "fort", to supply lighting and to run a hashish-mill. The tribesmen are not over-anxious to buy Orodruin, but might well offer to store it, ex-Customs, in return for our engineering services. [They clearly didn't appreciate the fine difference between "electronic engineer" - Keith's & my occupation - and "electrician"!]


Keith was out all day, I stayed at the hotel. Rik and Brian went out at midday, to follow up another tribal-area lead on Shadowfax. They returned in the evening, having had no success as yet. They reported seeing Orodruin in Cantt. [Peshawar Cantonment, the old British military district of the town.], so Keith was evidently out and about at something. He is following a policy of giving lifts, etc., to any tribesmen who ask, to curry favour with them.

Apparently this area is a really wild one. The fort's cannon were last used some six weeks ago, maintenance is currently in progress pending the next battle.
Every man carries a rifle and 100 rounds at all times. These battles apparently stop either when both sides are tired of it, or when a holy man, under flag of truce, stands between them. The priest then declares that the first man to fire will forfeit Rs1 lakh (=100,000), presumably on pain of a priest's curse! Apparently it works.

At one point, one man thrust a knife at Keith, and said "Do you fear me?" You must not show fear at such a time, or all respect for you is lost. As the chief's (he is known by the title of "Malik"; his own name is never used) guest, one is, of course, in no actual peril from his henchmen. But it must still take a very steady nerve!

Last night, we heard a lot of shooting, including an automatic weapon, to the west in Peshawar. Today, Rik heard confirmation that it was indeed a gunfight. There has been more sporadic firing tonight. Occasional shots may just as easily be high spirits at (e.g.) a wedding, firing in the air, as actual fighting.


Yesterday began with my changing back some of our hard-won foreign exchange in the bazaar. I am changing Sterling, rather than dollars, which are more useful for air tickets.

In the afternoon, Keith and Sikandar arrived, to collect me and go out to Malik's "fort". We went via Malik's house in Peshawar, where we picked up one of his people. While waiting there, we heard that Sikandar's four friends are cleared for Europe, with the sole exception that they cannot obtain entry permits from Afghanistan to Iran during the Haj (Mecca pilgrimage) season, i.e. until December 25th. They are, however, willing to wait in Afghanistan until then. One of them is an indifferent driver. We have suggested that we could train them to drive Orodruin in Kabul, then let them drive to Europe. They are considering this.

We then went out to Malik's fort, two miles north of Jamrud, on the west side of a well-built highway running straight up into the tribal area (probably to the Warsak Dam). Similar buildings, apparently all occupied by smugglers, etc., abound on both sides of the road to Jamrud; comprising adobe curtain-walls some 15ft high, typically some 200ft square. The access track to Malik's fort has recently been marked out with whitewashed stones. We hear that this is because P.M. Bhutto is to be Malik's guest (!) when he arrives shortly to open a new pumping station in the area. Malik is thinking of filching power from the line to this station, and wants us to help him! He can even arrange a power-cut, while we make the connections to a transformer nearby. We would have inspected this transformer, but for the nonavailability of an armed escort, without which he would not risk his guests' safety in the open! [Apparently, we would have been within rifle-shot of his late enemy's fort, and an attack on his guests was considered possible.]

A recent newspaper article had indignantly noted that some 30% of all power generated in Pakistan is fraudulently diverted by such arrangements, or by outright bribery of the meter-readers!

Malik himself was not there, but his son arrived, with his personal bodyguard, who carries a "broomhandle" Mauser automatic. These weapons, often with the detachable rifle-butt option, are very highly thought of among the tribes.

The hashish machine is a briquetting press; basically like a large bookbinder's screw-press, set in concrete. It is operated by a hand-wheel about 2ft in diameter. How Malik proposes to operate this (which requires an intermittent reversing drive) from an electric motor, was not explained, apparently he has the necessary parts. Our concern, in any case, was merely with the electrical supply.

As we left Peshawar to go to Jamrud, we had passed the Islamia College Customs post. This has been much improved (from the Government's viewpoint!) since we first came to Pakistan; it now has a full-width steel barrier, and a proper customs house. No-one is checked on leaving Peshawar, but returning vehicles are carefully checked for (in our case) the Carnet, and they look inside to see what you are carrying. Keith has several times had to forge my signature in their book, so he did so again on this occasion, when we returned in the evening.

Eventually, Malik's retainers arrived, and we set off for Landi Kotal, and a friend of Malik's, who handles vehicles. Malik's son riding in front, his bodyguard (now armed with a shotgun, the son himself carried the Mauser) riding in the back with Sikandar and me; while Keith drove. This time we, on instructions, drove straight through the toll checkpoint at Jamrud, the collector stood aside, and all but saluted as we passed! Clear demonstration of the "clout" Malik has in these parts.

In Landi Kotal, we turned north (the third of the three roads which meet there), and out of the town, through a large military area. The military presence does not seem to deter tribal activities at all. There are some vicious (and quite unmarked) speed-humps on the road out of Landi Kotal; the shotgun muzzle did dreadful things to Orodruin's roof-lining as we bounced over them.

About two miles out of Landi Kotal, we reached another "fort", in a plain covered with such. The usual round of introductions, and tea and cakes were served, while Sikandar talked with the car-man. The cake and biscuits were excellent, of a quality and freshness rarely found in England, let alone Pakistan! As Keith says, "the tribes have the best of everything".

The car man is sending an agent to view the vehicle and talk prices tomorrow (Wednesday 20th), if he does not buy, he can arrange storage. The Torkham Customs man is apparently no problem!

As dusk fell, we set off back to Peshawar. The gate out of Landi Kotal on the north side was closed (it is a corrugated iron gate, not just a barrier), so we were directed to follow an escort car, along smugglers' tracks past the town. This car (a large American job) was duly push-started, and we ran along gravel and dirt roads, in an excellent state of repair, back into Landi Kotal.

Dusk fell shortly after we left the escort in Landi Kotal, and I drove back to Jamrud (contrary to all advice, crossing the Khyber Pass in the dark!). Malik's son "discovered" the searchlight, and used it mercilessly on any oncoming vehicles which failed to dip for us ("That's the kind of man he is" said Sikandar afterwards).

Dropping our passengers at their fort, we set off again for Peshawar, declining their offer of weapons for our protection en route (it displays a lack of courage to show a need for weapons: why, then, are they always armed to the teeth?). The Islamia College checkpoint officially closes at night but, after a little argument, they let us through.

Keith remained in Charsadda today, re-tuning Orodruin.

We were up early this morning, having agreed to examine a Transit van which a friend of ours is thinking of buying. However, the owner didn't show up, so after about an hour, we left, to go to the Afghan Consulate to get visas (in case we should decide to sell in Kabul). They charge Rs50, foreign currency not accepted.

Rik and I lodged our papers at the Consulate, then we went to look up Wazir Mohammad, who is trying to sell Shadowfax. We grabbed a quick lunch, and when Shadowfax' prospective buyer had not turned up, returned to the Consulate at 1330E.
It was just closing, although the signboard declared it was open until 1400E. However, they let us reclaim our passports, duly visa-ed. A Peshawar visa is usable within 30 days of issue, unlike the London one, which is usable within six months.
They clearly state that you must enter Afghanistan with not less than $250.

Wazir Khan then took Rik and me to Barra, the smuggling centre south west of Peshawar. You pass one checkpoint, which seems solely concerned with your own safety. It is necessary to have a Pakistani with you, or they will not let you through.

We have so far had only good experiences of the tribal areas, but two salutary tales were recently brought to our notice, viz.:

While Wazir looked up his friends, Rik showed me something of Barra. From the road, there is not very much too see, more vehicles parked than usual, but the normal row of hovels, çay shops, etc., facing the road. But go down the alleys between these, and you find a network of interconnecting courtyards, containing shops handling all the latest consumer goods, some at incredible prices. (Watches which Rik estimates would sell for £100 in Bond St., at $20!). Everything there is smuggled.

Rik warned me of three rules of behaviour there (he had been there before, trying to sell Shadowfax):

  1. Don't look anyone direct in the eye, unless you know him.
  2. Always walk around as though you know where you are going.
  3. Never leave bread after a meal; meat is plentiful and cheap, but bread is really regarded as the "staff of life", people are offended if you waste it.
One prospective buyer appeared, and looked over Shadowfax. He then left, to consult his colleagues, without closing a deal. Prices in the region of Rs6000 were mentioned.

Again we returned to Peshawar and, after meeting another prospect, went back to the hotel.


Yesterday, I went with Rik and Brian to Wazir Khan's, where a deal was provisionally agreed for Shadowfax for Rs6000. The buyer is a wrecker, who will break it up, thereby concealing the traces from Customs. Rik said today that he is happy about scrapping Shadowfax; he has run it to "the end of the road".

Keith appeared in the afternoon, with no very good news. Malik's friend did not appear at all. Keith has had Rs40 stolen in Charsadda, the night before last. There was another guest in the village guest-house that night, and he left early in the morning, taking Keith's money as he went. All the village is greatly distressed at this, as robbery of their guest by another, whom they had introduced, is a direct affront to their honour. A search-party was sent after the thief, but failed to find him. He is apparently known in his own village as a gambler, etc. Last night, there was talk of the village schoolteacher, who introduced the other guest, having to reimburse Keith; Sikandar strongly advocated this course. Keith insisted that he didn't want payment, as the sum involved was trivial. This constituted a mild affront to Sikandar, whose honour is also involved. A compromise was evolved; that if the thief is not caught, the schoolteacher will owe Keith the money (thereby satisfying Sikandar's obligations) but, as a private matter between Keith and the teacher, Keith will forgive the debt. [Sikandar had, in plain words, offered to kill the offender to satisfy honour: this, of course, we could not permit.]

Today, Keith stayed in Charsadda, while I returned (on the bus) to Peshawar, in time to collect Keith's Afghan visa. The buses are frequent, but often full, due to the usual Pakistani bus-drivers' habit of only leaving the depot when the bus is full. Timetables are quite unknown.

On walking up to Cantonment later, I met Rik and Brian at Wazir Khan's, just on the point of leaving. Their buyer is very frightened of their going immediately to the police and reporting Shadowfax stolen. Also, he now wants the vehicle, with no papers, driven clear back to Peshawar from Torkham. This is not on, because of the Islamia College checkpoint. Later this evening, we thought up an alternative scheme, with the buyer dismantling Shadowfax at once, and a few days later, Rik reports it stolen in (say) Lahore. This has not yet been put to him. No developments yet on selling Orodruin.

Peshawar Roofscape


Keith arrived early this morning, and after breakfast, we went to the British Library in Cantt. A three-day old Times reports Sterling at an all-time low, but the $US has done even worse, so that Sterling has actually risen against the dollar. Bloody great!!

We decided to have a decent lunch (for once) at the Chinese restaurant in Cantt., managing in the process to get a can of Carlsberg lager (Rs10) between us. Our first liquor since Turkey!

After the meal, we got into conversation with the disc-jockey of an English-language show on Radio Peshawar. The program plays Western pop music, and has two slots per week. World Trek is to get a radio "plug" on Radio Peshawar tomorrow evening! The disc-jockey's name is Agha, but most of his English-speaking friends call him Dick!

A few days ago, I heard of a really low trick the Government has been pulling on new graduates here. One of Keith's Charsadda friends has recently qualified in medicine after four years' study, only to be told that he will not get his qualification certificates until he has done three years' National Service! He was not, of course, told of this until after he had completed the course. So now he will be 27 by the time he is (as he put it) "a free man".

Keith and I returned to Peshawar City separately, as the next minibus had only one free seat. I opted to walk, and en route, was nearly gored by a bull! As I was walking beside the wall past the lower end of the Mall, a totally unattended bull raced up the road, veered on to my side, and knocked me flying. Being up against the wall, I could not dodge him, but suffered only bruises. Interesting to note, for future reference, that in my present state of training, I could not have loaded an automatic pistol (had I had one) in the time available, while a revolver has a much faster "first round" capability, albeit a lower overall rate of fire.

Eventually I joined the others in Sikandar's flat, to be told that the car-import problem is (Insh' Allah) virtually solved. (Allah did not "Insh", however; this, like all the previous schemes, fell through). Sikandar has found eight friends who want to go to Europe, including two passably good drivers. He will check tomorrow whether we can leave the cars in bond at Torkham, to await their collection a month later. Given this, we have no remaining problems.

The only technical problem to the Europe run appears to be the state of Shadowfax' brakes, which pull hard to the left. Rik is worried about letting someone unused to the vehicle undertake such a run. Brian has reopened his earlier idea of himself returning to Europe, this time shepherding a two-vehicle convoy. We propose handing the vehicles over to a friend in Paris, Shadowfax to be shipped to Britain for sale, and Orodruin to be stored (if possible, in France), pending our eventual return from Australia in, say, two years, to carry all four of us around Africa. This way, we get a fair return for the effort put into Orodruin.

About 1810E this evening, there was what we take to have been a terrorist bomb explosion in western Peshawar. A very loud bang, but being dark, we couldn't see anything from the Al-Shiraz roof.


On Saturday, the papers carried confirmation that the explosion was a terrorist bomb. There were three other bombs in Charsadda also. The papers (as usual) blame the Opposition National Awami Party for the bombs; but I have heard it suggested that Government (Pakistan People's Party) agents provocateurs may be responsible.

Yesterday, Sikandar visited Torkham, to check out the idea of leaving the vehicles in bond for a month.

27-11-74 (Wednesday morning)

Keith has not been seen since the weekend. Sikandar arrived late on Monday evening, to ask Rik to give him a lift to Charsadda, where Orodruin still is.

Sikandar has confirmed that vehicles (or one, at least) can be stored ex-Customs at Torkham for up to two months, at a cost of Rs4 per week. This settles the time-lag problem until Sikandar's friends are ready to leave for Europe.

Rik is still hoping to sell Shadowfax outright, either to a wrecker, or to an Army officer who wants it for hunting! In either case, some $500 are offered.


Sikandar arrived yesterday morning, and explained to me that he still wants to take out a No Objection Certificate for Orodruin, as he can then store it safely in Charsadda, without a time limit, until his party are ready to leave or, if they don't use it, until we return. This latter is very nice, as we would then have a Pakistan-registered vehicle available to us, to explore Pakistan and then run home.

Accordingly, we visited the Customs office in Peshawar, to investigate the formalities for this. The officer there dictated a letter of application, which I reproduce here, not as a jibe against this officer, but as a wholly typical example of Pakistani official English:-

To the Collector, Central Excise and Land Customs; Peshawar, I have the honour to request of you, I am the holder of Passport No ------, issued in London. I entered Pakistan via Torkham on the 10th October 1974, with my car, No 237 FPO (Land Rover, Series IIa, made in 1962).
It is necessary that I reach Australia before the 1st January 1975, in order that I may take up my employment there. If I do not take up employment by that time, I shall be unable to qualify for a Work Permit, and hence will be disqualified for employment.
On the 22nd October, while travelling towards Charsadda, the car burst a tyre, which caused me to lose control and leave the road. In the accident, the front axle case was damaged, upsetting the steering gear. Attempts to repair this have so far been unsuccessful.
A mechanic's Damage Certificate is attached for your information.
Permission may please be accorded to hand over this car to my friend Sikandar ----- ; so that he can repair the car, to enable me to take up my duties in Australia, without failing. No Objection Certificate may please be issued to me.
This letter has been re-drafted and handed to Sikandar for typing. As we were leaving the Customs office, the officer quietly asked me if the car was very badly damaged.
"It is quite bad", said I.
"Never mind, whether it is, or it isn't, you will get your Certificate in about eight days".
They know the score!! (It later appeared, that junior Government officials, such as this one, require a bribe of some Rs40 to perform their regular duties. The higher officers, who alone have the authority to "fix" papers, etc., cannot be bribed at all).

In mid-afternoon, I went to Sikandar's flat, to deliver the re-drafted letter. Arriving, I found him clearing up the wreckage after a fire! Some papers on his bed had ignited, probably from a cigarette-end, and the brown paper he covers the walls with, had gone straight up. Two beds, and assorted small items and clothes, were lost. The neighbours had broken open the door, and flung water around, probably causing as much damage as the fire! To cap it all, one of the fire-fighters had stolen a coat from the room.

I helped clear up, then returned to the Al-Shiraz. Sikandar had to go to Charsadda, to prepare for tomorrow (the 40th day after his father's death; a big function in the village), and commissioned a friend to buy new (brown) wallpaper and window-glass; I returned later in the evening to help put these up.

Sitting with Brian on the Al-Shiraz roof about an hour before sunset, we watched two Pakistan Air Force Sabre jets circling over Peshawar. Then, before our eyes, one of them exploded! Brian actually saw the explosion, and called my attention to it. We followed the forward part of the plane into the ground (there was no sign of a seat-ejection or a parachute), falling east of the city. The other aircraft circled for some minutes, examining the wreckage, before leaving. The news media did not report the incident.

Later on, we went back to Sikandar's, to help with re-glazing and papering. With Sikandar's friend helping, the job was quickly done; the object being to cover the charred woodwork in case of a surprise visit by the landlord!

The night before last, there was a power-cut in Peshawar. Electricity is scarce due to the Tarbela Dam incident. Walking back up an alley from our usual supper spot (the Muslim Hotel), Brian remarked "You're really back in the 15th century now". With only the dim glow of candles and cooking stoves, it was just that.


Keith and Sikandar arrived this morning, the latter having obtained a (bogus) Damage Certificate from a mechanic in Charsadda. We therefore went to the Customs office, and I saw the Assistant Collector. He advised me that it is not possible to hand over Orodruin to Sikandar. There are only two courses open; to sell to the Government, or to deposit in bond.

Selling to the Government would, he said, take too long, so arrangements have been made to place Orodruin in the bond warehouse in Nowshera, for up to three months. Within that time Sikandar, armed with a Power of Attorney from me (attested by a magistrate), must collect Orodruin, and take it under escort, immediately to the border. If Orodruin is not collected within three months, it will be forfeit to the Government. The Customs officer has discretion to fix a "reasonable time" for collection; three months was agreed with Sikandar as adequate.

Rik hopes to do a similar deal via the Rawalpindi Customs for Shadowfax, and Sikandar's friends will then drive both vehicles back to Europe.

I am not sure what the junior Customs officer meant about a No Objection Certificate; the Assistant Collector told me this has nothing to do with the Pakistan Government, it is issued by the Carnet authorities, should I wish to transfer the Carnet to Sikandar. Since he will be exporting in bond, and using a triptyque in Iran, this should be unnecessary. Pakistan also issues triptyques, for 7 days only, if you don't have a Carnet. These triptyques cannot be extended.


Beginning of the last-possible month!

Being Sunday, we got up late, and achieved little. In late afternoon, Sikandar and Keith arrived, after Sikandar's first driving lesson. Keith (himself a learner-driver!) is teaching Sikandar to drive, at the Peshawar Stadium. [Sikandar proved a very indifferent driver. We asked what he thought of his chances in the test. "No trouble: I shall pay that man (the tester) Rs200: I shall pass!"]

We have provisionally arranged to put Orodruin into bond on Tuesday. Sikandar has not yet obtained his passport, so we cannot cite the number on the Power of Attorney. This should not present a problem, however.

We have agreed to make for Perth, rahter than Melbourne, as the air-fare is considerably less.


On Monday evening, a heavy cloudburst turned Peshawar into a sea of mud. It is only now drying out. The weather is now decidedly chilly.

Yesterday, a message arrived from Keith, saying that he could not bring in Orodruin, due to a damaged door (the lock came open while reversing, and the door caught on a gate-post).

We heard also of the dismal fate of Nick, the driver of the VW at Kandahar (see 4-10-74). He is still under arrest, having already paid 40,000Af baksheesh, they apparently want 10,000 more! Further, having initially taken his insurance certificate, the police refused to return it; he is now being charged with driving uninsured!! The rule appears to be, in an accident in Afghanistan, hit and run. Ruthless, but maybe the only safe course.

Keith arrived later this morning, and we discussed repairs to the door. Pulling it straight with the jack looks the best bet to me. Keith has also had an offer to buy in Charsadda, on behalf of a Pakistani now returning after a long absence from the country. Keith has asked $2000.


Nothing happened in Peshawar over the last two days. Keith stayed in Charsadda, where he has apparently gained access to the sugar-mill workshop to fix Orodruin. No news yet of the new offer.

Some curious items were seen on Pakistani T.V. lately. Yesterday, a children's programme featured a conjuror. He draped a cloth over a blank picture-frame; said the words, and there was a portrait. So far so good; but the portrait was of Prime Minister Bhutto, announced with a great flourish and his full titles. Rather depressing.

The news last night reported the crash of a training aircraft over Peshawar. It could be another aircraft, or the one that Brian and I saw crash on the 29th, which was not reported at the time.

Late last night, a current-affairs programme boosted the "Nuclear-free South Asia" idea, a kite which Pakistan has been vigorously flying since last May's nuclear explosion by India. Alas, the programme consisted solely of a tirade against Indian nuclear pretensions.

The media lose no opportunity to report (gleefully) on any famines, tragedies, etc., in either India or Bangladesh.

We now have about three weeks to reach Australia.

10-12-74 (Wednesday evening)

We find we can save $150 on air tickets by going via Delhi, at a surface transport cost of under $10. Hence we plan to go by rail and bus to Delhi.

On Monday, I visited the Charsadda paper-mill. Keith had previously visited the place, reputed to have the largest rated output (120 tons per day) of any in Asia. They process chiefly sugar-cane pulp (being adjacent to, though independent from, the sugar refinery), but wheat straw is also used. When I was there, one of the two machines was making writing paper, the other drawing cartridge. The machines were running at (as it appeared) just under half speed, 200 metres per minute. The raw fibre is bleached with chlorine and hypochlorite, "digested" (i.e. crushed up), and sprayed in suspension on to a fast-moving metal mesh belt. Subsequent operations (the paper machine itself) are basically drying and polishing.
The chief mechanical engineer (maintenance), one Majeedullah Khan, is also interested in buying Orodruin for $500, himself accepting it ex-Customs at Torkham. We're not interested (see below), but the offer has been passed on to Rik.

On Sunday morning, we had met with Haseem, who lives near the sugar refinery, and is interested in buying for $1500. He suggests we could transfer Orodruin to an English friend of his (with no official mention of any cash), the friend holding Orodruin, with Haseem having use of it, until he (also) is ready to head for Europe, in a few months. He would also consider holding it in Nowshera. We can transfer to another non-Pakistani, and put down a bank guarantee in lieu of a Carnet. Haseem is quite willing to give the guarantee (after all, he's buying the vehicle!)

In Peshawar this afternoon, we find that the American Library has been bombed (or more precisely, hand-grenaded). The explosion started a fire, and the fire-brigade did as much damage as the rest put together!

This evening, I am back in Charsadda, while Keith and Sikandar have remained in Peshawar, having an appointment with a Minister to further discuss angles. This Minister apparently owes Sikandar's brother a favour so, if Orodruin is left nominally in Sikandar's charge, we might get somewhere! This in no way jeopardises the Haseem angle, since Sikandar and Haseem intend to drive to Europe together. This is also the neatest solution to the dilemma in which we have inadvertently placed Sikandar; to wit, that he wants to drive Orodruin to Europe, but he knows we need money, hence out of loyalty to us, he must work against his own interests to help us sell! Keith also discovered today, that all the information that we have been getting from Customs, etc., Sikandar has been paying bribes for! I salute him.

We have agreed with Rik and Brian that it is highly unlikely that we shall arrive simultaneously in Perth, so the first pair there will leave a message in Poste Restante for the others.

I received a letter from home today, in which I find that my brother Andrew is in hospital in Singapore, with two broken ankles from a car smash! Little chance of him driving to Europe! (He recovered fully, in due course.)

At about 0600E on Tuesday morning, there was a small earthquake in Charsadda. The building shook gently in a horizontal plane, for some 10 seconds. It was quite gentle, no glass was broken. Sikandar says these tremors are quite common.


Morning Nothing much happened most of Thursday, but in the evening, Keith went with Sikandar's brother to see the Home Affairs Minister for NWFP. The angle here is that Ahmad (Sikandar's brother) has considerable political clout in student circles here, and the Government are anxious to have him on their side. Hence, he hoped to wangle an import licence on the grounds of a special case; using Orodruin for political campaigning.

We went again to see the Minister yesterday morning and were passed on to his Press Secretary, then to the Private Secretary in Peshawar City. He sent us back to the Shami Rd. Customs office which we had visited on November 28th. Seems merely a case of the "run-around" to me. However, we have been promised a letter and a personal introduction to the Minister of Commerce in Islamabad today. Hence we have got up early and are now awaiting Sikandar.

While in 'Pindi, we also intend to book our air tickets for next Thursday and Friday, from Delhi. Failing an import licence, we go to Nowshera on Monday and thence to Delhi.


Yesterday was drizzle all over northern Pakistan. Hence the roads were in a pretty dangerous state and we passed three overturned lorries in the course of the day. Both the Peshawar and 'Pindi buses were dismally slow.

In Peshawar we found no letter of introduction, but decided to go to 'Pindi anyway. The minibus, as noted, was ghastly slow and included a (compulsory) stop at a road-house near Taxila. The drivers get free meals at these places, subsidised by overcharging the passengers. Hence, they always stop there.

Eventually, Sikandar and I reached Islamabad. The Ministry closes at 1430E, but we got an audience with the Minister's Deputy Secretary at 1500E. He (after talking with Sikandar in Urdu for some time) agreed to phone the Shami Rd. Customs on Monday and authorise our leaving Orodruin in Sikandar's charge for six months. It is not known whether they will discharge the Carnet.

American Express offered to book the air tickets for us. On checking, they found it is more expensive from Delhi than from Islamabad, as the main route-centre is in Karachi. From Delhi, they only fly to Hong Kong and such places. There is only some $4 difference between Islamabad and Karachi, to Perth. The fare from Islamabad to Perth is $612.

However, fares are calculated in a very involved way, thus: The tables give the fare in Fare Construction Units, an international pseudo-currency roughly equivalent to US dollars. It is then converted into the currency of the country where the booking is made (Rs), and is paid in that currency. However, here in Pakistan, the State Bank requires that foreigners pay in foreign currency, which must first be converted into Rupees. But American Express won't ask where the rupees came from, provided currency exchange receipts to an equivalent value are submitted. Now we have had some $1300 sent from England, which American Express issued as travellers' cheques. But this was also done via rupees, and we still have the receipts for this. Hence any rupees we can get (e.g. by black market sales of equipment) can be used; and our foreign currency can be changed at the best available rate, and only the rupees paid to American Express. There is thus an advantage in buying rupees, if a good (quantity) rate can be negotiated in the bazaar.

We can phone American Express on Wednesday, to check confirmation of our booking, and pay for and collect the tickets on Thursday morning.

Just at this moment, everyone is in a flap, as it now appears that Keith's camera has been stolen in Charsadda. We shall have to check carefully in Peshawar, but it represents a loss of $100 (we had hoped to sell it), not to mention the irreplaceable film in it; a record going clear back to Iran.

By the time we left American Express (they should have closed at 1430E, but we only left around 1800E) it was dark, and Sikandar suggested that we spend the night with his brother-in-law in 'Pindi. This man, Tahir Hussain, runs the National Transformer Co. in Street 28 (an alley opposite Liaquat Rd.) in 'Pindi. This morning, he showed us round his workshops, and most impressive they were. He carries out a wide range of precision engineering work, and showed us two military jobs he has; mechanisms for cipher machines (the Pakistan forces are hence still using mechanical cipher equipment), and military-standard transformers. These latter are entirely designed and made on the premises, even to stamping the laminations from strip. They are built to the best Western standards, vacuum impregnated and potted in hermetically sealed containers.

Tahir is interested in buying some of our tools. These I shall take to 'Pindi tomorrow, and simultaneously point out to American Express that Keith is a vegetarian (to get him special airline meals).

We have another plan to clear the Customs business. Sikandar is going to get a doctor to issue a bogus certificate, saying that I am too ill to drive further. In effect, it is the same scheme as before, but it is me, rather than Orodruin, that is "damaged". The difference is that we now have Islamabad pulling for us.


We divided forces today. Keith has taken the tools, etc., to Tahir in 'Pindi.

I had hoped to meet Sikandar this afternoon, to visit another "potential buyer" in the University. He did not appear, however, so I returned, at 1600E, to Charsadda. It is unlikely that Keith will reach Charsadda tonight, he will probably stay with Rik and Brian in Peshawar.


Keith did not show up today (see below) so nothing was done. The bus into Peshawar was another ghastly slow thing, with heavy fog all the way. The weather could be Britain in December!

Last night in Charsadda, I met with Rafiq's cousin Arif. He had the (to me) rather disconcerting habit of putting questions such as "Do you like the Pakistanis?" in written form, and asking me to write a reply!

Like many another, he was interested in buying Orodruin! He offered $1000, at which I expressed cautious interest. The problem, as always, is an import licence. He has gone to see the Customs today. Sikandar afterwards cited the fable of "bell-ing the cat" in this respect; everyone wants to buy Orodruin, but no-one can or will get an import licence.

I returned to Charsadda this evening, to find Keith, with a merry tale! The bus to 'Pindi burst a tyre shortly out of Peshawar, then as it neared 'Pindi, at nightfall, it was stopped for defective lighting. Keith fixed it on the spot.
Reaching American Express, he was admitted, although they had technically closed (a most helpful bunch!). It would cost $80 each to convert our tickets for Sydney, rather than Perth. They have already used up our 25% extra mileage allowance, to get a low rate to Perth. Keith's vegetarian meals are no problem.

Tahir bought the remaining tools for Rs850. Keith stayed overnight with Tahir, but took 7 hours on the bus back here! Just before Attock, the bus engine blew up. Literally, a conrod blew out through the engine block. (These minibuses are diesel powered Ford Transits). The driver flagged down the next minibus along, and sent a message by him for a relief bus. This proved to be a brand-new vehicle, and a fast final run ensued.

Two nights ago, there was another terrorist bomb in Peshawar. This one blew open the window and door of Rik's and Brian's room in the Al-Shiraz. Brian is getting quite nervous about these bombs.


A thoroughly depressing and inconclusive day. With time now desperately short, the Customs officer went back on his word, and even with Islamabad's okay, refused to accept a handover, either to Sikandar or to his brother Ahmad. So we are left with Nowshera.

Rik and Brian have an offer in Lahore; rather vague, but any port in a storm. Hence, they are leaving early tomorrow, and we have parted company, not to meet again before Australia, as we expect. I have inadvertently left our Carnet and registration book in their hotel room; hopefully they will find them, and leave them with the hotel manager.

A letter for Keith confirms the January deadline is "hard"; the Australians mean business.

I have cleared all loose gear from Orodruin, and inventoried what remains, to go to Nowshera tomorrow. We shall try first for an extension for six months in bond.

19-12-74 Midday.

Is there no end to our troubles?

Keith went to phone American Express this morning, after changing our cash, at a rather poor rate. I have not seen him since. The Customs messed us about for an hour, then refused to alter anything. Hence Sikandar has three months only.

Around 1100E, we returned to Sikandar's flat, to find that Keith had not yet left for 'Pindi (at least, he had not taken his kit). Hence, it is quite possible that he won't make 'Pindi in time.

Sikandar and I set off for Nowshera, but some 9 miles short, we ran out of fuel. Since I paid for 3 gallons this morning, I am certain we were cheated. Sikandar has thumbed a lift three miles back to the nearest petrol station. The situation is complicated by the lack of a jerrican: they are all sold!

We did at least manage to collect our Carnet, just catching Rik and Brian, who had intended to take it to Charsadda, en route for Lahore.

Just now, I would take no bets on our being on that aircraft.


Sikandar reappeared some 25 minutes later, having hitched back. He had taken Rs10, and was charged Rs4 for an old 1 gallon oil tin, giving us Rs6 of petrol. This again ran out, and we pushed the last 100 yards to the State Warehouse.

Farewell This is nothing but an open, unfenced compound, with no visible security.
The officers were thoroughly incompetent, the senior man frequently having to be told his job by his juniors. He also insisted on reading and dictating all documents himself, although his command of English was negligible. He had me make out a second copy of the inventory (one for them, one for Sikandar), and also make out a statement that we lose all claim on Orodruin if it is not re-exported within three months. They were dubious about letting Sikandar take Orodruin, and tried to send us back to Peshawar to deposit it there! I was, at least, able to exploit their ignorance of Carnets (I doubt if they had ever seen one before), to ensure that they completely discharged it; rather than, as Peshawar had intended, retaining it on charge until Sikandar removed Orodruin.

Finally they accepted Orodruin; but I had to show them what to stamp, and where. They tried to keep the Carnet, but Sikandar fed them a tale that I couldn't return to England without it (not wholly untrue, since I would still have been personally liable for it!). So eventually, after an hour, it was done at 1400E; I took a last photo of Sikandar and Orodruin, and we left. We had to leave the radio, as it is noted on the Carnet. There were tears in my eyes as we walked away. Final odometer reading =40101 miles.

We caught a (large) bus to 'Pindi, which got us there about 1645E, to find Keith in the American Express office. Our tickets were promptly made out, the worsening exchange rates leaving us about $100 each. The American Express people (who have been extremely helpful all round) warned us of a Rs20 airport tax charged at Karachi. So, keeping back a few rupees, we headed (in an extremely slow tanga) for 'Pindi city, and a cheap (alas) restaurant, for a farewell supper with Sikandar; who then bargained with a taxi to take us to the airport.

We reached Islamabad Air Terminal 1½ hours before our first flight, and spent about 20 minutes juggling our baggage to adjust the weight. After the usual frisk for weapons, we boarded the flight to Karachi.

So ends World Trek, Phase 1 !!

Copyright © 1974 - 2004 David R. Brooks

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