Lahore - Quetta

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January 22nd 2006
Published: January 29th 2006
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The train left at 11:25am while Shahid Afridi was tearing the Indian bowling attack into pieces at Faisalabad. Everyone at the train station was glued to the TV's. It was quite an effort to get into the train like in India there is no queue and people just don’t give a damn about the people trying to get in. They will bulldoze their way through and get in.

After much difficulty I got into the train and wow it looked very clean. Now the Jaffar express I believe is the Rajadhani / Shatabdi equivalent in India. Cannot make a comparison between them because I have not been in the Indian equivalent nevertheless it was much cleaner than the Indian trains. People aren’t spitting or throwing things anywhere at least temporarily. As I saw later on, the train employers themselves threw the finished tea bags all over.

This train is a few hundred rupees more expensive than its slower counterpart. My hunch is that people in this train are probably, middle to higher class people. Toilets are squatting but clean.

On way, the surrounding was half built houses and shops as we were going parallel to the main road. Apparently the reason for these half built houses is no one can afford to build the entire house at once, hence they keep building part of it when ever they have money. This story was told to me by a person at the wedding I attended yesterday as well as a doctor whom I met in the train.

In Sri Lanka we either build the whole house at once or we don’t start at all if we don’t have the money. I guess what this goes to show in the Pakistani's is that they consider having a house in whatever form as a primary requirement.

The train to Quetta goes via Multan (400km's 5.5 hrs from Lahore). I am travelling with 2 sets of people in my compartment. Two men and a family (father, mother and 2 kids).

We were seated in coach number 4 just as the ticket mentioned. However the ticket examiner came and said no this is coach 5 and not 4 and we asked to move. Obviously these guys have some weird form of numbering. In comparison Indian trains has your name printed and pasted on a piece of paper so you know where to sit.

We passed a colony of gypsies on the way. They are predominantly beggars as opposed to being fortune tellers and other odd professions. Passed areas where people grow oranges.

Do not drink tea in a Pakistani train. Tea is served in ceramic cups and they are not washed properly. This is what I saw. The guy who serves tea brought 6 used cups. He took a bottle containing water and filled 3 cups until each were about quarter full. With his fingers he washed each of the cups and put that water in to each of the rest of the cups that didn’t contain water. This is how he washed the 6 cups and served tea again in them. Well if you stomach can handle this go for it. I guess if I hadn’t seen it I would have drunk it too however I had decided before hand that I was not going to drink tea in any ceramic cups as they looked dirty in the first place. I admire the Indians for this as they serve in paper cups and you throw it away.

I have only seen tea (“Chai”) being served in the Pakistani trains as opposed to coffee and tomato soup in Indian ones.

I slept around 8:30pm as I was completely bored and nothing to do, the only interesting guy the doctor dude got off in Multan and I didn’t even have anyone to talk to.

I woke up around 7:30am. While I was taking pictures a policeman came up to me and asked me to stop taking pictures and put the camera away so that thieves wouldn’t see it.

The train stations were all guarded with military personal, apparently to prevent thieves (well that’s what I was told).

Closer to Quetta, the more lower class, poorer sort of people got in who travelled standing and these people were spitting all over the place.

The last part of the journey was painfully slow, I guess the train was climbing although it didn’t feel that way. But when I got to Quetta I saw the height above mean sea level was over 2000m.

Overview of the train journey

Lahore: 11:25am, 20th January 2006
Okkara: 13:25pm
Multan: 16:55pm
Bhawalpura: 19:08pm

Peshi: 08:55am, 21st January 2006
Abigun: 09:25am
Quetta: 12:30pm

Total distance, costs etc can be found in the Travel information section which will be here soon.


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