PAKISTAN Oct 2 - Oct 11 2004

2/10/04 LHR-ISB  

Arr ISB 0630 met by cheery Mark Lyall Grant ushered though immigration and customs.

1st Minibus trip to Serena Hotel - luxury 3 hrs kip

Lunch at British club by the pool then off to Jinnah Stadium. Biggest crowd capacity we've played but with smallest crowd. Well worth the £100 rental for the 2 - 0 victory alone. Pete Knight gets some stitches put in his forehead - attention seeker. Presented with splendid walnut carved coffee cup holders in exchange for clean shirts and small glass commemoration plaque. Good swap.

Team bonding falls apart with OE only dinner - smart shirts with collar presented - useful for planned Khyber visit.



1000 Sheila picks up tourist section for trip to Taxila (from c.7000 BC) Buddhist foundations and monastery - lots of Buddha heads missing like Afghan statues. Kind curator opened on his day off (laundry day?) for the High Commissioner who sadly had a meeting at the last minute.

Lunch/swim at British Club - squash/golf/shop for the athletic.

Evening meal at one of Pakistan's top 10 restaurants - Chicken Shack up in the hills. Not best advert for the rest. But pleasant - Mark and Sheila remembered plenty of beers.



Early rush to bus to wait for Pete and James then hurry to catch plane in Peshawar. Picked up cheery Alberto informed us on arrival that the planes were not flying. Popped into no firearm hotel for breakfast and saw pilots popping upstairs with girlfriends - definitely no flights today.

Clear, mostly windless 2 hr drive to Dir - arrived after dark dreadful road but quite an adventure. 16 for the night no problem in only hotel. Duty free mineral water a Godsend.



0445 called to prayer, 0515 birds start the hymns. Chili omelette then on the road again - spectacular to Lowari pass (3200 m). Saw Fokker pass overhead to abuse from ground. Footie and frisbee at the top ooops bye border patrol.

Spectacular valley Trich Mir (7700 m) at the end Ayun Farm beautiful place. Inspected Schools to chorus of "Wel - come! Wel - come!"

Up to Kalash living zoo. Alberto zeros in on female CIA agent. Ciao bella. Jolly dancing evening of Chitrali music exhausts fully.



Morning visit to hospital (non patients) and school in Ayun then lunch in lovely garden and long walk down cannabis lined paths to the river and finally the enormous football pitch.

Smelly game with great cheers and amplified commentator. "Beautiful shot Graham sahib" "High Commissioners team annoying the donkeys" Half time crowd went wild with annoyed donkey polo (reason for most being there) .

Night drive to Hindukush Heights (not licensed!!!) found old geezer offering plum wine and worried about the wind.



0730 there are clouds but at Chitral airport the plane is on its way to rescue us. The pilot returns to his girlfriend though and we are once more into that bus.

The bridge is just getting interesting when the torrential rain causes torrents across the road and the bus looks like being stranded - no probs "2 no trumps". Saif does amazing job and we are back in comfortable Islamabad around 0200.



Saif is at the door by 1000 to take us all shopping for pirate DVDs at £1.50. Intellectual copyright conscience is cleared on learning senior UK politicians love the place.

A few pairs of uncomfortable looking shoes, great alarm clocks and passing Andrew in the jeweller's and we are lunch at the club bound. Quick swim then last game.

Pro ref and team of Brits (Scots) swearing and pushing around. Pete K scored a cracking header goal disallowed (no way offside blindy), Ed sounded like Ghengis Khan so conceded a few more free kicks than he earned. One Ronaldhinioed in past Seamen Parry 1 - 2 to them.

Hit the wine/beers at the BarBQ until 0030 informed BA flight canx due to weather (pilot's girlfriend trouble again) posse sent to airport to get onto PIA flight. Simon sent back for incoherence 0345 still partying in the hotel.



Well done team we made it onto Economy plus - upstairs with leg room and view out of the front. Home but where's Graham?

Kids wanted to know the scores wife wanted to know why Andrew was the only one in the jewellery store.

11/10/04 ISB-LHR Graham Richards is sole survivor