|24 Oct Islamabad
Not supposed to be here today, we set off for the Swat Valley in the mountains and then to part of the Karakorum Highway over 2800m pass. But just as we were about to go into the mountains there was huge queue of lorries which we of course drove past. A policeman then told us (at least we think this is what he meant) that there was a rock slide and we would have to go different way which we tried to do but after 5 hours driving we arrived on the main road from Peshawar to Islamabad about an hour from where we had started in the morning. Our only choice was to go Islamabad (capital of Pakistan). The city is completely different from the rest of Pakistan wide roads, little traffic and even an Italian restaurant (but no wine!). We went to the Marriott Hotel to visit the Permit Room for some beers (we needed them), the hotel was bombed a day later! Then stayed at a grotty hotel.
25,26 Oct SOS Children's Village Lahore
Had the press conference today seemed to go well and you will have seen one of the Press cuttings - particularly liken my description as a professional racer!
We were impressed by the fantastic work that goes on here and the children were delightful. We also visited their school which has 1500 pupils (130 from the village and rest from the local community). Karen chatted to some girls from the senior school, Ayesha and Simbla who told her about their plans for after they finish school. Ayesha wants to be teacher and Simbla intends to go into banking. Good luck girls.
The warmth of the welcome we received at the village has encouraged us to visit more villages on route. We would like to thank all of you who have already donated to this very worthwhile cause and if you haven't why not log into www.bridgetobridge.co.uk download the form and donate! Remember the orphans in this village. Wouldn't it be a fantastic birthday/Xmas present to sponsor a child and give he or she a future.
27-29 Oct Amritsar India
After a delicious curry for lunch we finally said goodbye to the all the staff and children at the village who had looked after us so well. David particuarly liked the rice pudding which was to die for. Thank Mrs Anwar, Azim and Ghazala for all your assistance. We will not forget you.
The drive to the border at Wagah was easy but we did get stopped by the police (not because of Karen's driving this time) but to offer us coffee or cake! After chatting they let us go.
We got to the border just before it closed and had little difficulty getting though. We were just in time to watch the border closing ceremony. There are stadiums on both sides of the border which are packed with thousands of chanting Indian and Pakistanis trying to out yell each other. Each sides soldiers then try to out high step each other. Great fun!
Found Mrs Bhandari's guesthouse which had water buffaloes in the parking area. They were making should a racket Karen's nearly died of fright.
Had good time here visiting the Golden Temple (the Sikhs most holy place) twice.
30 Oct - 2 Nov McLeod Ganj 1800m
Drove up the mountain roads to Dharamsala. Had a bit of a fright as the tempeture suddenly rose because the cooling fan had stopped and the radiator header tank was leaking. Waited a bit and refilled the rad and drove the 10kms of winding mountain road to McLeod Ganj as quickly as possible to keep cool without a fan. It turned out that the fan was just an electical connection but the rad still needs soldering.
The village in the home of the Tibetan government in exile and the Dali Lama. It is full of travellers but is a good place to chill out.
Tomorrow we visit the Children's village here which is one of the biggest and was setup to for Tibetan refugees and then we set off to a guest house in the middle of nowhere at 2100m for 2 nights. I am worried how cold it is going be at night - I don't think they have any heating.