Robbers Road Nr Dalbaddin

The drive from Bam to the Iran/Pakistan border was a severe test for Bridget. The weather was like the hottest summers day in the UK plus a hot wind, similar to standing behind a plane’s jet engine, and, just to make it interesting, there was a dust storm as well. The dust is very fine and gets into everything reducing visibility to under half a mile. It was like this for almost the whole of the 200 miles journey which included traversing a mountain range. At least at the top of the mountains the dust was far less.

There was only one service station shown on the map and unfortunately when I arrived at the site it was all boarded up and deserted, so once again I had to use the jerry cans.

Anyway we arrived safely and I took Bridget into a car wash to spruce her up. The guys that operate these washes just go mad over the car and do a very good job.

Tomorrow I intend to check the car over as thoroughly as I can, if the hotel manager doesn’t mind. The heat has taken a heavy toll in the cockpit with much of the trim coming away as the glue melts. Also the crash bar foam has disintegrated and the face of the speedometer has come adrift from the meter and flops from side to side. If MGOC spares are watching the site, the glue supplied with the trim needs to be stronger and I will make an ‘under guarantee’ claim when I get to Australia!!

Tuesday the 5th August and I checked the car over as planned. The oil filter was loose, fluid levels were all OK except for the clutch reservoir which I had expected to be dry from the difficulty I have had finding second gear recently. Also one of the front wheels had a little play in it so I removed that and found two things. The first was a nest of stowaways. Red ants have invaded the disc brake and they were swarming everywhere when I disturbed them by taking the wheel off. Secondly the hub nut was indeed loose so I removed the split pin and tightened it up a notch. Whilst doing these minor adjustments a taxi driver arrived, amongst several other interested passers-by, and capably assisted, without being asked, as well as supplying a rag for cleaning up. Everything else appears to be alright and ready to go.

As I checked out from the hotel in Zahedan the police arrived and insisted that I have an escort to the border for security (not sure if mine or theirs). They also had an Australian with them who had driven a Toyota 4×4 from the UK and is making for home the long way round. We didn’t clear Iranian customs until around 12:30pm. Entry into Pakistan was fairly swift but then we had to put our watches on by 1½ hours so it was almost 3:00pm by the time we were ready to go. The driver of the Ozbus was also at the Pakistan customs at the same time having just driven from Quetta. The Ozbus plies between the UK and Australia on regular trips taking around three months each way. He told us that there was no way in this world the MG was going to get through the ‘robbers road’, and added “You will wreck the car.”

I was somewhat dispirited at that stage, as he had just completed the drive and damaged his bus suspension doing it, but I was committed. Clearly the 4×4 shouldn’t have any problems so Chris and I agreed to continue in our own time individually but try to keep in touch. Although no escort was supplied by the Pakistani’s we were told not to attempt to drive the road after dark as the lorries tend to drive straight down the middle and it’s very dangerous. There is a small town called Dalbandin about halfway along the road so we thought we would try and make that before dark and continue the next day

I arrived in Dalbandin at around 6:00pm and found a small hotel just inside the town boundary. It was basic, if you get my drift, but it was only for one night and the cost was £1.25. They asked if I would like to sleep on the roof as they had no air conditioning but I declined, which was a mistake; the night was very hot and as I found out later everyone outside the main cities does this. I saw Chris, the Australian, the next day and he had stayed in the police compound because they said the hotel wasn’t safe!

Thursday morning and I set off early having re-fuelled. The drive was horrendous. There is a one hundred mile section where really there is no road. The best parts are partly ashphalted but only a single vehicle wide with two way traffic and large potholes everywhere. Also the desert is trying hard, and winning, to reclaim the road so there are a lot of sand drifts across the road/track. This lasts until a town called Nushki after which there is another 100 miles of mountain ranges. Here the road is better but still wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere in Europe and the beautifully colourful lorries do tend to drive straight at you. As if this isn’t enough there are sleeping policemen at the entrance and exit of every town, before and after every railway line, at every school and every police checkpoint. There are occasionally some at locations where there used to be a checkpoint but they decided to remove the checkpoint and leave the speed hump. It was one of these that caught me full force at around 45 mph. Bridget took off and of course nosedived back to earth with a mighty crash. I pulled in to the side of the road to inspect the damage; fortunately nothing serious as far as I could see, but Bridget had lost a few bits and pieces. The stills camera was mounted on the windscreen and that flew across the road but I recovered it and amazingly it is still working.

However the main thing is we have arrived in Quetta in full working order. The sump guard has turned out a life saver. New springs and rear shocks would have been a good idea too. But nothing beats a little British grit.

Having been through a fairly tiring couple of days I decided, on arriving in Quetta, that I would go to the other extreme and have a couple of days luxury. I booked into the Quetta Serena Hotel which I have to say is one of the best I have experienced anywhere. As you enter, through fairly extensive but necessary security, there is a peacefulness about the place. The service is world class and it was just what I needed. I have also given Bridget a 6,000 mile service with the help of several members of the hotel staff, including some of their senior managers. They went all over town sourcing spare parts and even a place where I could change the oil. Bridget is now running really well again.

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