Travel Journal Overview: Please remember these are my journal entries. I have a separate dedicated page on how to cross from Iran to Pakistan overland that is more useful than this journal entry for practical advise.
I had taken the 5pm Bus, scheduled to arrive at 7am at Zahedan. I chose to go direct from Yazd as a few people had visited Kerman and said the hotels were expensive, not much to see. And as for Bam, again unfortunately due to the Earthquake not much to see, and I had seen some great mud citadels near Yazd. Apologies if others really enjoyed Kerman and Bam, but this was a choice I had to make, also I was getting tight on time.
The bus trip was fine. Though after reading many peoples reports I was apprehensive. We passed through Bam, and about 4-5 police checks. No police escort, and no passport inspections, never left the bus.
We arrived Zahedan at 7.30am. The bus station was a bit messy, but fine. No police on site. I headed across the road to where numerous taxi’s were and asked for the crossroads at Forudgah Square (Meydan-e-Mirjaveh) where the shared cars leave for the border. Taxi 1,000 Rial.
At the roudabout I was surrounded by taxi men, all saying Mirjaveh and Pakistan. A few rough characters, but all fine, I chose a nice enough bloke who after 5 minutes agreed on the local price of 30,000.
Journey to the Pakistan Border
There were 3 in the back and one smartly dressed man in the front. It turned out he was Iranian Immigration, and wanted to know where my police escort was!! Bollox! I joked that with him I was sure to be fine, luckily he laughed and we headed off. The two beside me did little to reassure me and said we should get a taxi to Quetta together at a cost of $15 each. As about two days ago the bus had been attacked by bandits and 3 Germans were stripped of everything. I suspected this to be a wind up, and or con, and laughed it off. Stating a bus ticket was only 350 Rupee and I had no money to rob. So then they said I had a nice shirt and the bandits would like that instead. hmmm.
The Journey was about an hour or so. At the border the taxi dropped me off right at the Exit office. I walked in and saw tons on bags everywhere, and some locals at a bank buying tickets for something. I headed straight to the little wood and glass passport cubicle near the doors at the end. After 4 minutes of two officials discussing about me in Farsi they stamped me out and wished me the best. I then ducked into the toilets on the right. Very clean! Great place to spend time to hide your money!
Arriving into Pakistan
Then outside I walked straight to the gates, where 30 or so people were waiting with an Iranian guard, had my passport checked again and walked out into Pakistan.
Pakistan Immigration is immediately to your right, a hut, and a one story white concrete building. I waved to the officials in my now customary ‘I am a solo traveler and buggered if you do anything, but I am cheeky smart ass and am passed the point of no return’ and was greeted back “Welcome to Pakistan”.
Changing money and filling forms at the Pakistani border
Then the money changers swarmed. And they brought me the entry paper you need to fill. Really easy, they crossed out things like flight number. But do have a hotel address ready to write down for them. I changed money at a bad rate. Queued with the locals and was ushered past the queue by a small scruffy (but nice) local official type. Inside you get confronted by a highish wooden reception like desk with 4-5 webcams pointing at people. You get your face scanned in this way. A few nervous minutes later, and more officials looking and talking about me I was stamped in. I also had bought a bus ticket to Quetta from a local guy selling them.
I was then guided to customs, and after a friendly “Hello, I am a tourist” wave from me in my stout fake British posh accent (no better to announce yourself to the world) was greeted with smiles, passport details taken down and a friendly handshake. No bag search. My bus ticket to Quetta entitled me to a free bus trip to Taftan. Pakistan was 1.30 ahead, roughly, sorry I think it was actually something like 1.15 ahead. I was surround by money changers at the time I changed over.
Heading to Taftan
The little town in the distance from the Gates is Taftan, you can walk there. And I would walk there if I was to do it again because of the following paragraphs.
I sat with my money changer friend, who later I discovered was either very stupid and gave me a fortune, or I was the idiot and he made a fortune. We drank Tea sitting cross legged under a dusty tent surrounded by grinning locals. It was nice. Then the little boys swinging off the multicolored tinsel adorned bus started started chirping madly, time to move. The bus took me the 5 minute drive to Taftan whereupon I headed into office of the bus company I had bought the ticket from. I was issued a new ticket and was told I could leave my bag there. The bus was to depart at 4pm but later it changed to 5pm.
I walked to the shop at the right of the roundabout near all the bus company’s. Ate, wrote, and read for the rest of the day. I was greeted by many locals and was asked many questions. The usual, where from, what you doing etc. Taftan is indeed not the most exciting of places, but far from a “Hell on Earth” quote I have heard of. I ate at the local hotel, some delicious bread, and Dhal. All with no stomach problems. Met some local miners, complete with their little armed escort and was reminded at my slight disappointment at not getting one myself in Iran.
Starting the bus trip that will kick me out half way to Quetta!
At 4.30 I was introduced to the bus driver and shook hands with all. I watched my bag being put on the roof and we were off to Quetta at 5.05pm.
A local next to me said I would not sleep on this bus. The first half of the road was okish. The 150km of Iranian built road was good, barring the washed out bits. Then it got bad and my seat acted like a massage chair on Viagra! Darkness fell and the buses interior was filled with red neon lights, and loud Asian music that would fit well into any bond film. I was enjoying it all and was really starting to like Pakistan.
Soon the road deteriorated into nothing and we bounced along like a fairground ride. By 9pm we stopped in the middle of nowhere for tea.
I got off the bus and was immediately set upon by he driver and his assistant. “This Whiskey” it sounded like he was saying, “this your stop!”
I knew this was a con straight away but after near on 38 hours awake was not fully with it. They demanded my ticket, which I took out slowly only to remember it was written in Farsi or the like. Nuts. Thankfully the guy next to me, grabbed at the much sought after ticket and examined it.
Unraveling the truth
Later I found out it had indeed been written with Niskey as the destination. The fat prick in the Taftan office had cheated me alongside the driver and all staff on board. The bus was full with people in the aisle, they were either trying to get money out of me to buy another ticket or sell the seat to someone else or leave me for the bandits in the middle of nowhere. The sitting next to me on the bus, dismissed them sternly but quietly. All was fine again.
Anyway we headed off and and with only one military stop I wrote my details into my journal. We arrived at 3.30am not at the bus station but somewhere in a street in town. Still anxious over the bus company I thought my bag was gone too, thankfully not. Also thankfully the guy next to me was heading to Sadabahar Bus terminal. where it was heated and full of strange characters. Afgan Refugees, strange old men feeding little birds in their pockets, and a stream of characters wanting to greet me. I didn’t sleep due to my new found celebrity status but at 7am took a auto rickshaw to my hotel some 42 hours after my departure from Iran. The fun was not over yet though… some one had been shot in Afghanistan and there were Riots in Quetta!
Some related links from this website that you might like: (including a lot more photographs from Iran)
Stories: Feeling Low on the Road, in Iran
How to Guide – How to cross from Iran to Pakistan overland