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Our crazy Pakistani drive

2007-06-08 06:41

Chris Roper, 24.com Editor

Video clip Driving Miss Dysentery
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You know you're in a crazy place when you see a bunch of laughing kids stoning a multi-coloured bus that's pulling away from a marketplace. Why are they stoning it? Was it unfaithful with another bus? Is that the way you flag down transport in Pakistan?

I don't know, but I saw the same thing happening to a rickshaw a little later on. Maybe it's some kind of good luck thing, and lord knows, you need a little luck to survive the roads of Pakistan. I've driven in Cairo, which most people who haven't been to Beirut say is the worst place to drive in the world, and I've driven in Beirut, which IS the worst place to drive. Or rather, it was - Pakistan beats it hands down, and hands down also kind of describes the Pakistani driving style.

This is a country with a nuclear program. And let me tell you, if they build a bomb, that bomb will be blinged to the extreme, will have an air horn, and have the potential to land anywhere in the world, except possibly where they aim it.

I was in Pakistan for the Islamabad to Karachi leg of the Chanatrax expedition, which in its entirety entails driving four Chana vehicles from China to Cape Town. Masterminded by expedition leader Geoff Dalglish, the trip started in Chongqing in China (yep, I've never heard of it either, it's one of the small Chinese cities with only a gazillion people in it), moved through Pakistan, and will now to go on to Dubai, Oman, Yemen, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and then South Africa.

Let me say up front, I had my doubts about the ability of the Chana vehicles to make it. They're stock standard 1300s - a single cab bakkie, a double cab bakkie, a CM8, and the redoubtable Chana Benni, a small passenger car. After seeing how incredibly well they did, I'll have to eat my words. And I will, as soon as the food poisoning wears off.

It's not the nicest experience in the world, having to drive 6-8 hours a day in 45 degree heat with the runs. Ugh. And toilets in Pakistan are indescribable. Lucky, you're so busy dicing with death, you don't really notice the pain. And some of the road signs take your mind off it as well.

One of the mystifying ones is "Keep the lights dim at night". Also a little odd is the ominous "Beware the Chowk"? What the hell is a Chowk? I kept my eyes peeled, but nothing jumped out at me. Unless you count water buffalo carts, camels, dogs, burqa-clad women riding pillion side-saddle, rickshaws with cows in the back, legless beggars doggedly wheeling themselves down the centre line of the highway on small trolleys, and a man on a bicycle carrying an entire dismembered cow on the pannier, including the head.

It's amazing what Pakistanis can fit onto their little Honda Hero 70ccs. A family of six is common, as is a man with two black clad women sitting side saddle, one of them carrying a sleeping child. I spotted a bike with FIVE grown men riding it - if you don't believe me, I filmed it. In fact, words can't possibly do justice to the panoply of vehicular craziness that is Pakistan. So take a look at our video, and if nothing else, you'll realise what pussies our taxi drivers really are.

  • Chris recently represented Wheels24.co.za on the Islamabad to Karachi leg of the ChanaTrax expedition. Log onto Wheels24 next week for more on Chris' journey, including picture galleries and more videos.

    Video clip Driving Miss Dysentery
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