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The fabled Khyber Go from Kabul to Pakistan – Rick Steves’ Commute Weblog

With the autumn of Afghanistan, I’ve been reflecting on my trip studies there as a 23-year-old backpacker at the “Hippie Path” from Istanbul to Kathmandu. The day before today and lately, it’s a deficient but bold land that overseas powers misunderstand and demand on underestimating. 

On this ultimate magazine access from 1978, stow away with me as I trip from Kabul over the fabled Khyber Go to Pakistan.  

Friday, August 4, 1978: Kabul to Rawalpindi, Pakistan 

This was once the morning I used to be psyched for. I don’t suppose I can have woken up feeling unhealthy and I didn’t. Each Gene and I felt excellent. We had a final giant Sina Resort breakfast and stuck our little 8:30 bus to Pakistan. 

This bus was once the best way I sought after to do Khyber Go. I had dreamed of crossing this romantically wild and traditionally unhealthy cross for years and it was once very top on my lifestyles’s tick list of items to do — within the most sensible 5 evidently. Now I used to be sitting in this kinky previous brightly, however badly painted, bus subsequent to a gorgeous open window that allow me lean part of my frame out if I sought after to. Our seats have been giant and top but crowded and the bus was once filled with Pakistanis and “Highway to India” vacationers. 

I used to be satisfied to get out of Kabul and virtually instantly we have been in a scenic mountain cross. From right here to the border, whilst not anything via Pacific Northwest requirements, was once the nearest factor to lush that we’ve observed in Afghanistan. We even handed a lake, however I noticed no boats. I puzzled what number of, or how few, Afghans had ever been in a ship. 

Preventing in Jalalabad for a moved quickly lunch spoil, we have been again at the street in 20 mins. We have been nearing the border and apprehension grew. We was hoping it wouldn’t be an excessive amount of of a trouble however via now not anything stunned us. 

The Afghanistan border station, whilst time eating, was once simple. We simply sat round consuming a melon and wishing we had cash for a Coke. In fact, we had deliberate our money reserves very effectively and have been leaving and not using a afghanis. We waited our flip to be searched, stuffed out the shape, were given our passports stamped — the standard procedure, and loaded again on handiest to forestall 100 yards later for our advent to Pakistan. 

This position was once beautiful unruly. We piled right into a room and one after the other we have been known as as much as the table. The customs reliable “hunt and pecked” our necessary statistics into his sign in and stamped our passports. 

Passports in hand, we knew we have been simply midway during the procedure, however we weren’t certain the place to move subsequent. We wandered into one ramshackle construction, and in a gloomy room, two males jumped up from two cots and welcomed us to put down. No thank you! We were given out of there and have been overrun via dope sellers and black-market cash chargers. The whole lot was once so open and blatant that it virtually appeared prison. We purchased $10 price or Pakistan rupees after which attempted to get our luggage searched so we’d be achieved. Pissed off within the chaos, we simply were given at the bus and skipped the luggage test. At our window we have been entertained via plenty of hash dealers and a specifically power guy with a small bottle of cocaine — 4 grams for $30. I took his image and instructed him to get misplaced. 

In spite of everything we have been loaded and able to do it — to go the Khyber Go. I used to be overjoyed. Bodily, it was once identical to another rocky mountain cross, however whilst you’ve puzzled, dreamed, and considered one thing for a few years, it turns into particular. Up and up the bus climbed. Placing out the window, I attempted to soak up the whole thing — each and every wild flip within the street, each and every fortress-crowned hill, each and every stray goat, each and every gaily painted truck that handed us, and each and every dust hut. I regarded on the rugged individuals who inhabited this treacherous cross and puzzled who they have been, how they lived, what tales may they inform. Dry, rocky graveyards with wind-tattered flags littered the hillsides. Clouds threatened. We have been shifting out of the arid Arab facet of South Asia and into the rainy Indian subcontinent. Any further we’d really feel muggy — however benefit from the inexperienced geographical region. 

We crossed the Khyber Go and handed thru a tribal village to pay a toll for the privilege. I may see the boys round with rifles ignoring the bus and amassed in circles buying and selling each items and tales. 

In a couple of mins we have been in Peshawar and located that an instantaneous teach to Lahore was once leaving in an hour. We noticed not anything to stay us in Peshawar and the magnetism of India was once getting more potent and more potent as we were given closer and closer. We hassled round looking to come to a decision how, what, and the place to shop for our tickets. This was once a brand new enjoy — finding out easy methods to care for the Pakistani teach machine. Slightly bewildered and now not certain what was once our absolute best transfer, we purchased $3.50 price ticket (first-class) for the 12-hour adventure, gobbled down a snappy 60 cents dinner, and located a place at the not-so-classy first class automobile. 

The one distinction between first and 2d elegance was once padded seats and $1.50. We figured for 12 hours it might be great to have the pads. Our automobile was once very crowded. I used to be satisfied to be close to a window that blew in scorching, muggy air. We pulled out at 5:50, virtually on time, and I savored the breeze.  

The geographical region was once flat, lush, and engaging. After some time, I started studying Orwell’s Animal Farm. It was once excellent and the time handed effectively. Then it were given darkish, and the insects got here. The lighting fixtures labored like on my previous motorbike — the quicker you pass, the brighter they shine. This was once now not an excessively brilliant teach. The insects were given on me to be able to discuss and I made a bloody declaration “Loss of life via ruthless squashing to any malicious program that lands on me to any extent further”. I made up our minds that I’d simply mash them with my thumb or arms and roll them thru my arm and leg hairs till they disappeared — both rubbing in or falling off. 

The experience dragged on. We made up our minds to get a divorce the experience to Lahore at Rawalpindi, the midway spot, catch an early teach within the morning to finish the go back and forth. 

It was once just about middle of the night as we stepped into the muddy puddled streets of Rawalpindi. There was once a 5:15 teach to Lahore within the morning so shall we catch a excellent 4 hours of sleep — if shall we catch a lodge. It regarded very unhealthy — each and every one was once complete and folks in search of a spot have been additionally pissed off. Thankfully, I discovered a man with a unmarried open and a bath subsequent door (Gene didn’t inform me concerning the lizards till later). In a different way, it was once a hollow slightly price the10 rupees ($1) we paid. But it surely did serve its objective. I took a cooling bathe and located a relaxed spot a number of the bumps and curves of my cot and shortly I had labored myself to sleep. Nowadays was once a excellent day — plenty of miles lined, a brand new nation and I had crossed the Khyber Go. 

(That is magazine access #5 of a five-part collection. In case you neglected any alongside the best way, scroll again to Tuesday, Aug. 17 on my Fb web page.) 

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