|I'm moving onto Peshawar at last, which is located in more conservative western Pakistan. Its a 3 hour train journey from 'pindi, and I remember the journey most for talking the guards who sat next to me with their guns rested in my direction!
I arrived at Peshawar in the early evening, which didnt prove to be good timing at all. Every hotel I went to was fully booked, and it was during my soul destroying walk between hotels that I met Mohammed, a Pashtun guy who eventually fixed me up with a family who took pity on me and let me sleep on their floor for the night; my first experience of Pashtun hospitality. Without his help, I've no idea what I would have done; the streets of Peshawar certainly aren't considered safe after 10.00 p.m. I managed to book myself into a hotel the next day, and Mohammed decided to show me around the Islamic College which he proudly told me used to be shown on the old 100 rupee notes.
I changed hotels and booked myself into the excellent Rose Hotel, where I met Seb from Sweden and a Scottish guy called Ian, both of whom were going onto Afghanistan. My intial reaction was that they must be mad, but after talking to them and doing some internet research, it seems as that generally speaking northern Afghanistan is considered safe whilst the south is definately off limits. So, surprisingly, I'm going on a short side trip to Afghanistan! I must be mad.
The day before setting out, I book myself onto one of the most bizarre day tours I've every done, a trip to the smugglers bazaar on the outskirts of Peshawar. The bazaar involves a trip to a local warlord who then presents you with the products of his trade: hashish, fake dollar bills, heroin, and guns!! I'm then taken on a trip around the heroin dens and hashish shops, and then its onto a gun factory and finally a truck painting factory. Its was odd, bizzare, slightly scary and surreal all rolled into one!