I have no idea how I cycled 158km the other day because I tried my best to ride as hard today but I fell well short of this target. My excuse is the temperature: the day peaked at about 43 degrees, which made things a bit challenging. About 30km outside Lahore, I stopped for a guy who was pretty persistent he wanted to chat. It turned out his brother lives in Perth and he wanted to call him on the spot. First he had to buy some phone credit though. I needed a brief rest, so I was happy to wait. As soon as I stopped I drew a crowd. A drink salesman (selling small bottles out of a bucket) handed me a small bottle of cold mineral water and then insisted on filling my water bottle with ice. He never asked for anything in return, just gave me a toothless smile and a handshake before moving on. As I was downing the water a guy from a little shop across the street ran over a huge glass of cold lassi, suggesting it will be help me cope with the heat. I was delivered yet another drink from the guy for whom I’d stopped, when he returned with a working phone and a cold Pepsi. I chatted to the guy’s brother for a few minutes before declining an invitation to visit his home in a nearby village. I had a long day ahead of me and I didn’t want to get delayed too much. I said my goodbyes to the crowd, put up with the being the subject of numerous selfies, and then returned to the open road.
I was getting pretty hungry when I entered Gujranwala, so it felt like fate when three guys on motorbikes started chatting to me as I was riding along and invited me to lunch. They were sales/marketing professionals on their way from a business meeting to the city’s main marketplace. I was treated to an amazing biryani, which they said is Gurjanwala’s specialty dish.
When I stopped for a rest in the afternoon at a roadside restaurant, I received further generosity when I didn’t have to pay for a coke and water. I thought then that Pakistan is fast becoming one of the friendliest and welcoming places I have been. This idea was pretty much confirmed by the end of the day. Soon after crossing the Chenab River I was stopped by a group of police manning a checkpoint. They were just curious about what I was doing there and wanted a friendly chat. As we were talking, a car that had passed me earlier (the driver had slowed down next to me and asked a few basic questions: Where are you from? What is your name? Where are you going?) pulled in just ahead of the checkpoint. When approached by the police, the family in the car said I was their friend from Australia. Bless them: they thought the police were giving me trouble so they were trying to say they knew me and that I was their friend. When they realised I was fine they invited me to their home. I responded by saying that I couldn’t as it was late in the day so I needed to find somewhere I could spend the night. This is code for, ‘Please please please invite me to spend the night at your house’. ‘Of course,’ Shahzad, the driver, said, ‘You sleep my home’. Done.
I followed them along the GT Road for about fifteen minutes before pulling off onto a dirt road that led to their house in a small village called Lala Chowk. I met Shahzad’s wife, children, siblings, mother, father, grandfather and other family members. I had a wash, then hung out with Shahzad’s brothers (could have been cousins but he called them brothers), who were 12 and 14 years old and named Hatiq and Usama, respectively. They gave me a tour of the surrounds. I learned that the extended family operate a buffalo dairy and wheat farm. They have 30 buffaloes, which get milked twice a day, the fresh milk being rushed to shops in Gujrat for a quick sale. I had a quick go at milking a buffalo but didn’t have the right teat-pulling technique to get anything to come out. Later in the evening, Shahzad drove me through Gujrat for a bit of a tour. Back at home, I was presented with the most delicious meal I have eaten in a while: chicken curry with daal, naan and rice, all washed down with a huge glass of fresh buffalo milk (the product of the afternoon’s milking session). I stayed up chatting with Hatiq and Usama and eventually learned that we would be sharing the same room and bed for the night. The bed was absolutely huge so it was no problem spreading out.
|Accommodation||Home of a lovely family|
|Distance ridden today||122.28km|
|Average cycling speed||18.4kph|
|Total distance ridden||18,626km|