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

With the autumn of Afghanistan, I’ve been reflecting on my journey experiences there as a 23-year-old backpacker on the “Hippie Path” from Istanbul to Kathmandu. Yesterday and at the moment, it’s a poor but formidable land that overseas powers misunderstand and demand on underestimating. 

On this remaining journal entry from 1978, stow away with me as I journey from Kabul over the fabled Khyber Go to Pakistan.  

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

This was the morning I used to be psyched for. I don’t suppose I might have woken up feeling unhealthy and I didn’t. Each Gene and I felt good. We had a final huge Sina Lodge breakfast and caught our little 8:30 bus to Pakistan. 

This bus was the way in which I needed to do Khyber Go. I had dreamed of crossing this romantically wild and traditionally harmful cross for years and it was very excessive on my life’s guidelines of issues to do — within the high 5 for certain. Now I used to be sitting on this kinky outdated brightly, however badly painted, bus subsequent to a beautiful open window that allow me lean half of my physique out if I needed to. Our seats have been huge and excessive but crowded and the bus was filled with Pakistanis and “Street to India” vacationers. 

I used to be glad to get out of Kabul and nearly instantly we have been in a scenic mountain cross. From right here to the border, whereas nothing by Pacific Northwest requirements, was the closest factor to lush that we’ve seen in Afghanistan. We even handed a lake, however I noticed no boats. I questioned what number of, or how few, Afghans had ever been in a ship. 

Stopping in Jalalabad for a hurried lunch break, we have been again on the street in 20 minutes. We have been nearing the border and apprehension grew. We hoped it wouldn’t be an excessive amount of of a trouble however by now nothing stunned us. 

The Afghanistan border station, whereas time consuming, was simple. We simply sat round consuming a melon and wishing we had cash for a Coke. Truly, we had deliberate our money reserves very properly and have been leaving with no afghanis. We waited our flip to be searched, stuffed out the shape, bought our passports stamped — the same old course of, and loaded again on solely to cease 100 yards later for our introduction to Pakistan. 

This place was fairly unruly. We piled right into a room and one after the other we have been known as as much as the desk. The customs official “hunt and pecked” our important statistics into his register and stamped our passports. 

Passports in hand, we knew we have been simply midway by way of the method, however we weren’t certain the place to go subsequent. We wandered into one ramshackle constructing, and in a darkish room, two males jumped up from two cots and welcomed us to put down. No thanks! We bought out of there and have been overrun by dope sellers and black-market cash chargers. Every little thing was so open and blatant that it nearly appeared authorized. We purchased $10 value or Pakistan rupees after which tried to get our luggage searched so we’d be performed. Pissed off within the chaos, we simply bought on the bus and skipped the bags examine. At our window we have been entertained by plenty of hash sellers and a very persistent man with a small bottle of cocaine — 4 grams for $30. I took his image and instructed him to get misplaced. 

Lastly we have been loaded and able to do it — to cross the Khyber Go. I used to be thrilled. Bodily, it was identical to another rocky mountain cross, however while you’ve questioned, dreamed, and considered one thing for a few years, it turns into particular. Up and up the bus climbed. Hanging out the window, I attempted to soak up every thing — each wild flip within the street, each fortress-crowned hill, each stray goat, each gaily painted truck that handed us, and each mud hut. I seemed on the rugged individuals who inhabited this treacherous cross and questioned who they have been, how they lived, what tales might they inform. Dry, rocky graveyards with wind-tattered flags littered the hillsides. Clouds threatened. We have been transferring out of the arid Arab aspect of South Asia and into the moist Indian subcontinent. Any more we might really feel muggy — however benefit from the inexperienced countryside. 

We crossed the Khyber Go and handed by way of a tribal village to pay a toll for the privilege. I might see the boys round with rifles ignoring the bus and gathered in circles buying and selling each items and tales. 

In a couple of minutes we have been in Peshawar and located {that a} direct prepare to Lahore was leaving in an hour. We noticed nothing to maintain us in Peshawar and the magnetism of India was getting stronger and stronger as we bought nearer and nearer. We hassled round attempting to resolve how, what, and the place to purchase our tickets. This was a brand new expertise — studying find out how to deal with the Pakistani prepare system. A bit of bewildered and undecided what was our greatest transfer, we purchased $3.50 ticket (first-class) for the 12-hour journey, wolfed down a fast 60 cents dinner, and located a spot on the not-so-classy first-class automotive. 

The one distinction between first and second class was padded seats and $1.50. We figured for 12 hours it might be good to have the pads. Our automotive was very crowded. I used to be joyful to be close to a window that blew in scorching, muggy air. We pulled out at 5:50, nearly on time, and I savored the breeze.  

The countryside was flat, lush, and fascinating. After some time, I started studying Orwell’s Animal Farm. It was good and the time handed properly. Then it bought darkish, and the bugs got here. The lights labored like on my outdated bike — the sooner you go, the brighter they shine. This was not a really brilliant prepare. The bugs bought on me so to talk and I made a bloody declaration “Loss of life by ruthless squashing to any bug that lands on me any more”. I made a decision that I’d simply mash them with my thumb or fingers and roll them by way of my arm and leg hairs till they disappeared — both rubbing in or falling off. 

The journey dragged on. We determined to interrupt up the journey to Lahore at Rawalpindi, the midway spot, catch an early prepare within the morning to finish the journey. 

It was practically midnight as we stepped into the muddy puddled streets of Rawalpindi. There was a 5:15 prepare to Lahore within the morning so we might catch a superb 4 hours of sleep — if we might catch a lodge. It seemed very unhealthy — each one was full and different folks on the lookout for a spot have been additionally annoyed. Fortunately, I discovered a man with a single open and a bathe subsequent door (Gene didn’t inform me concerning the lizards till later). In any other case, it was a gap barely value the10 rupees ($1) we paid. Nevertheless it did serve its function. I took a cooling bathe and located a snug spot among the many bumps and curves of my cot and shortly I had labored myself to sleep. Immediately was a superb day — plenty of miles coated, a brand new nation and I had crossed the Khyber Go. 

(That is journal entry #5 of a five-part sequence. If you happen to missed any alongside the way in which, scroll again to Tuesday, Aug. 17 on my Fb web page.) 

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