Crowd in Pakistan around the truck
Karakorum Highway Trip - 1988
We had parked the truck in a large walled compound in Rawalpindi Pakistan. We had got quite used to the extra security precautions associated with travel though this country and were getting quite blasť about it. After some months on the road we thought of ourselves as hardened, experienced travellers, perhaps even 'tougher' than most.
We were a group of about twenty and, as it was nearing sunset, most of us were milling around within the compound. All of a sudden there were a series of explosions in the distance that reverberated deafeningly around the compound. The driver of our vehicle jumped into the cab of the truck and pulled it across the open doorway of the compound.
In doing so he hoped it would keep any gathering crowds on the opposite side of the truck, and outside the compound. He explained that this sort of thing, when it did happen, sometimes caused the locals to gather and become quite ugly, especially to tourists.
So we all paced about inside the compound trying not to worry about what was going on outside, when the camp-site manager came up and informed us that the explosions were two army trucks being blown up by terrorists.
Now we were all scared.
So, in true British style, we decided to get the kettle on, whereupon we all discussed the implications of this act of terrorism on our own doorstep. As the kettle was boiling, I heard a voice asking us to move the truck, from outside the compound.
Thinking the locals were about to force their way in, I informed the driver, who popped his head through the cab, looked to where the voice was coming from and smiled. He then backed the truck up to admit the sweetest littlest old English lady any of us had ever met.
After offering her a cup of tea, we listened as she proceeded to tell us that she had been in the same area where the bombs had gone off and simply walked around looking for somewhere to stay.
Despite the intense security going on around us (martial law was enforced the same day), she seemed entirely at ease. There we were, the super cool intrepid Overlanders being entirely humbled by this sweet lady, who then went on to tell us she had been travelling around the world for the past 5 years, ever since her husband had died.
Even worse, she had been travelling without a passport as she firmly believed that the Earth belonged to all men, and that big men with guns had no place telling others what to do.
Not entirely what we would do, but hey, she's the rugged Traveller, not us.