|Guns of the Khyber Pass
Some days you will never forget. You never know it before hand, fortunately or unfortunately. A long story as so much has happend
We are woken up by a knock on the door. Shit, we overslept. We are going on a trip to the khyber pass, well into the tribal area and to the border of Afghanistan. The guide we arranged was ready to go. We were not as we had overslept ourselves. 10 minutes later we meet our guide and together we jump in our camper. First we have to pick up a securityman. A necessity as driving alone through this part of Pakistan is dangerous. We also have to get a permit to drive through the Khyber pass.
We pick up the permits on the outskirts of Peshawar. The office is full of men and tribesmen and we even see a few prisoners there all chained together. Then we meet our security man. Not exactly the arnold schwarzenegger type but more like a granddad in army clothes with a kalashnikov gun. When the man has difficulty getting into our camper, we look at each other and know we are in safe hands, or ...?? Then granddad shows his gun and also shows its loaded. We feel even more comfortable now. On the way to the khyber pass we drive past by the smugglers bazaar. We wonder if its just a name but no. This is the place where they sell all the smuggled goods that come from the middle east via Afghanistan into Pakistan. The place is also known for the production of drugs we are told. As this is tribal area no laws exist. No laws at all!
We pass the famous khyber gate, the entrance to the Khyber pass. A few women walk the streets here, fully covered. We watch them in amazement because everything we see is a complete contrast with Europe. Its is completely understandable for us westerners to see how these people live. But when we explain them about our way of live, alcohol, love marriage, women working to name some things, they look at us in the exact same way.
Then we pass a massive house which is surrounded by an even more massive wall. We ask the guide who lives there and he tells us its the house of a local tribelord. Ahhh so what does he do? Well, our guide explains, mostly the production of fake dollars and british pounds. Aaahhh i see.... and everybody knows this. Yes, ofcourse... this is tribal area!
Then we get to the Khyber pass. We are invited to have a look through some binoculars at a militairy compound. We see the border town and lots of trucks crossing the border. We wonder if its the goods for the smugglers bazaar but decide not to ask. The hilltops surrounding the border are numbered with huge white numbers 1 till 5 marking the border. We look for a while, do the touristy thing by taking lots of pictures and drink a cup of tea afterwards. Then we are presented with some afghan hashish but decline as we donít do drugs. All dutchies donít do drugs we joke but the bordermen donít believe us.
On the way back we stop in a little village to have a kebab. Not the nice barbeque kebab you find in Iran or Turkey but a deep fried one. We look at the preparation in oil that look more then a year old but canít decline. But by a miracle, the kebab tastes very good!
When we leave we decide to film the bus driving through the Khyber pass. Elles jumps out the camper with the guide and Michel reverses the car a bit. But to make it a nice shot Michel decides to drive a bit further. At this time the guide flips. Very dangerous, elles should stay in the car. Where are they going... they are going too far??!! Within the minute Michel luckily return and elles is rushed inside the car. Okay no more filming!
We continue our way back to the city. Then Michel notices that grandad the security guard who is sitting next to him is giggling. He looks at him and then he notices his eyes are red. We canít believe it but then he shows it. The guy had been sucking on a large chunk of Afghan hashies and showed the rest. So there we were with a gigling and very stoned old roling stone grand dad in the car who was carrying a kalashnikov gun. When we miss a speedbump and hit it too hard the old man canít stop laughing. The drugs seems to have a good effect on him.
Back in town we drop mister securigranny and head back to the hotel. Then the guide asks if we want to see the manufacturing of guns in a nearby village. We decline, as we have seen enough allready today, and are happy to park the car and call it a day. But the days isnít over. After updating the site, something we couldnít for a few days, and having dinner itís time to go to bed. When we enter the room we are invited by some other guests. Elles declines and Michel decide to have a quick polite chat with the men. A friendly couple he would say. The men, visiting the city and coming from Multan and Shorekot have lots of questions about how we feel about pakistan and how things are in Europe.
When Michel returns to the room, Elles is happy to see hem as she was a bit worried. Michel tells her nothing was wrong. Then there is a knock on the door. It appears to be the hotelowner and he had tried to call us on the room. The phone doesnít seem to work and we ask what is the problem. Then he explains we should never visit any other guests as there are some very dangerous men in the hotel. We choke.. both of us. Then the owner leaves. In silence we look at each other. Shocked... yes. Maybe its for the best that we have planned to leave tomorrow anyway. We lock the door tight and place a chair in front of it. What a crazy day. This is definetely the wild wild west of Pakistan!