22nd Feb – The great beer theft, Lahore, Pakistan.

(Daniel) This morning Rowan woke me up, knocking on the door.  The end of the first leg of our journey was in sight and as we pulled out of the guesthouse car park, I could feel a sense of closure approaching.  This I completely ignored of course.  As I am now weary of this feeling, having experienced the fight that Pakistan can put up especially when you think that you are home free.

We drove down to the area that the Dart Asia offices are located, and then waited for a rider to come and meet us.  After following him to a nice office building around the corner, we found ourselves sat in front of Desmond Fernando, the man who heads up Dart Asia’s Pakistan operation.  A lovely man, from Sri Lanka, he obviously had the respect of his staff and colleagues, and I felt better that we were dealing with him directly.  We explained our requirements, and waited as he made enquiries.

He came out with us and looked at the Wolf, then asked us to stay local and wait for him to phone us, but assured us that we could have the vehicle packed and on it’s way by Monday in three days time.  We took the Wolf back to the Guesthouse, and then took a rickshaw to the big Pakistan airways office in Lahore.  Inside, we waited as Rowan and Gabby made enquiries about tickets, then we walked a short distance up the road to the Thai airways office to enquire about my ticket.

It turns out that the soonest that any of us could fly would be Sunday, my flight in the morning, and the others in the evening.  They would have to fly to Karachi first, and then change for Kathmandu. While I could fly direct to Bangkok.  While we traveled back to the guesthouse I called the guys from the factory and cancelled the dinner mentioned in yesterday’s entry.  They weren’t happy, but having left the steel beam I felt OK about it.

We left Gabby back at the guesthouse, while Rowan and I returned to town to get cash, then collect the plane tickets, buy beer to celebrate, and hopefully return in time for dinner!  We hired a Rickshaw for the evening, and headed off.  First stop was to buy my ticket to Bangkok, leaving at 11.50am, then onto the beer, which as mentioned in earlier entries, is easier said than done in Pakistan.  Basically, to buy booze, you must go to an outlet underneath the Holiday Inn, this is a crazy place, filled with alcoholics and blackmarketeers. (The booze shop that is, not the Holiday Inn of course!)

While I wrestled with the crazy drunks etc to buy $50 worth of beer, Rowan went down to the PIA office to buy his tickets. I then took our Rickshaw back to PIA with the beer, where I met Rowan outside.  He was in a huge queue, so to save time I headed to Camera street in the rickshaw to see if the recovery operation on his memory card was finished.  The Rickshaw driver waited with the bags of beer for me in the heavy traffic, until I came out and returned with him to to PIA and Rowan.

The Camera recovery was not complete, and would not have all the photos on it.  I brought Rowan up to date in the PIA office, meanwhile he finished buying the tickets then we walked back to the rickshaw together, except of course, the rickshaw was gone.  Along with our 30 bottles of newly bought beer!  Yes, it was obvious, but I didn’t think that he would run if he didn’t know I wasn’t watching him.

Anyway, I had to make things right, so we traveled back to the Holiday Inn, wrestling more crazies to get another 30 bottles of beer, paid for by the idiot who let the driver go.  These we took back to the room and exhausted, slumped onto the bed while the beers cooled in the fridge. 

After a short nap, Gabby, Rowan and I walked to a steak house at the end of food street called UNO, and had a hearty western meal again, (still trying to replace my stomach lining!)  When we couldn’t eat any more, we walked back to the rooms, and had a few more cold beers before bed.  I’m still sick by the way,  even the mighty steak can’t beat Pakistan!