While there we took a drive by where the old ‘Town Barns’ where and the big sand pile that we used to play on. The sand pile where I said that I would probably not see the year 2000. Driving by there only spurred me on to ensure that I had written down the things that I believed I would not ever see.
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Reminiscing parts I and II are the top two entries in the January blog.
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Reminiscing Part III
Where did I leave off? Oh yes, landing at the airport in Vienna and picking up Wendy. It was a stressful time before she arrived. The main problem was - she had no idea of where we were headed or how to get there. I had all the tickets. In the end it all worked out and there were lots of hugs to not only help relieve the stress but also so good to be with each other again.
Our tour organizer was known for not always taking the most direct or easiest route and we found out on this trip fro sure. Our adventure started by dragging our suitcases up and down stairs to the subway on our way to one of the organizer’s friends. Up and down stairs, on and off subways - it is a good thing all the suitcases were on wheels. But we made it time for a bit of lunch and of course a couple of drinks before it was off again to catch the bus that would take us to Bratislava, Slovakia to catch our plane to Split Croatia. Well, wouldn’t you know it there was no sign of a bus we even went to the depot and it was closed. What to do? Hail two taxis to drive us. The drivers said no problem they could get us there in plenty of time to catch the plane so off we went. Everything was going smoothly until we got to the Austria/Slovakia border. The first taxi went through with no problem but not ours. Our driver didn’t have the proper immigration papers so he could not enter Slovakia. There we were stranded at the border and the other taxi well on its way. Not a problem? Oh yes it was because we didn’t know where the airport was. Our organizer was in the first taxi. Then what is that - the first taxi was coming back. When the driver realized we were not following he thought something was wrong so came back to check up. There was no way that our driver was allowed across the border Luckily the border guards had a sense of decency and understood our position so they arranged for a local Slovakian taxi to pick us up. There we were on our way once again.
We made it to the airport in time for our no frills flight to Split, Croatia. A short taxi ride from the airport to our ancient hotel. No modern chain for us, a family owned ancient building which was very well kept and comfortable right on the waterfront. You could not ask for much more. After getting settled in we took a walk around the area taking in the ancient city of Split. I am going to have to dig up some of the photos to refresh my memory of what all we saw. After all it has been eleven years since we were there.
- - - - - - restarting from here - - - - - - - - have to reset the brain - - - - - - -
It was either the following day or the day after that we did our first hash run for this week long event. From what I can remember of this run is that not only was it poorly marked, we did get lost on trail but luckily it was mainly along one of the main roads so we could make our way back into the city. We did eventually find some trail marks and make it to the ON IN for liquid refreshments, food and the circle. [see hashing on menu bar]
The following day it was off to board our boats. Because of the number of hashers, 95, and the size of the boats we were on three separate boats. As it turned out the boat we were on, “Ika", was probably the better of the three. Although the smallest we had the best cook! In the winter season he was a chef at one of the major five star hotels and in the summer season enjoyed a little less pressure working on the tour boats. Once everyone was accounted for and aboard it was off into the Adriatic Sea to start our adventure.
The boats usually docked at night, sailed the next morning, stopped for an hour or two in a sheltered cove for a bit of a swim and lunch, then off again to dock at about 4pm in a village on one of the many islands. Once docked one of the hash groups would make their way ashore and set a trail. As three of us from Islamabad found out this could be quite a challenge, simply armed with some flour and a map it was off into an unknown land to set a trail. The five islands that we visited were all relatively small, rocky and very, very hilly. The heat and humidity only added to the adventure. It is a shame that at the moment I can not remember the names of the five islands that we visited. I have some postcards from each of them so will have to dig them up along with the photos to refresh my memory. I suppose I really should have done that research before I started this but oh well that is just the way that it goes. Although one of the most notable hashes was on the island of Vis where we made our way to the cave that Yugoslav partisans leader Tito hid out in during WWII. This was one of the longest and steepest hills that we did and one that Wendy accompanied us on. I think she still has horrible memories of the climb.
After 5 days, 1600 litres of Heineken beer, 300 litres of Guiness stout and 600 litres of wine sadly our trip came to an end.
The hash cruise may have come to an end but not the hashing. After spending another couple of days in Split it was back to Vienna and one final hash with the Vienna hashers. We were lucky enough to have the use of an apartment for our stay in Vienna. There was a Canadian in Islamabad who had an apartment in Vienna but would be in Islamabad working while we were in Vienna. Out of the kindness of his heart he offered us the use of his bachalor apartment for those few days. Being right on a major tram line it was very convenient. After spending a couple of days sightseeing it was back to Islamabad for me and Canada for Wendy.
My hashing experiences in Pakistan only added to my travels, several times to Lahore to hash there plus there were nine of us male hashers made a special trip to Thailand to hash with the Bangkok Mens’ Hash House Harriers. From Bangkok seven of us made it to the island of Sai Kaew where myself and another person set a very short hash along the beach that was run in the heat of the afternoon. On another trip to the same resort a couple of years later, we both set another trail, which became known at the Sad Cow Hash House Harriers.
Travels were not restricted to hash events but also a bit of a get-away with a long weekend trip to New Delhi, India. This was another adventure. After being warned about driving to fast our driver kept to the speed limit which cut down on our travel time from Islamabad to the border at Waga. Not only was the travel time a bit of a delay but the customs, immigration on the Pakistan side of the border took their time clearing. While we were waiting to be cleared, baggage checks for some and just general waste of time when we didn’t want to get any Indian money from them we got to watch how goods are transported across the border.
Because India and Pakistan are still ‘technically’ at war citizens from each country are not allowed in the the other. Consequently the movement of goods between countries is very restricted. To over come the non-transportation goods were being off loaded from trucks on the Pakistan side, carried to a white line on the road, which was the demarkation point for the boarder then handed to an Indian labourer who carried them to a truck on the Indian side.
When we finally cleared customs and arrived at the Indian Immigration we discovered that there was a half hour difference in time between the two countries. Newfoundland isn’t the only place that is a half hour different! And instead of having an hour to get to the train station which was 27 miles away in Amritsar we had 30 minutes and no taxi!
Once the customs officers found this out they called a taxi and allowed it to come right up to the entrance to pick us up. If you think the special effect car chases in movies are scary you should have been in our taxi. Not only did we make it to the train on but we stop for gas along the way! How we did not cause or were involved in an accident or hit a child that came running into the street I have no idea but we made the 27 miles in just under the 30 minutes. Indian trains do run on time. Our intrepid tour guide - the same one who organized our hash cruise and Vienna excursion had arranged for first class train tickets. On the train we were assigned our own comfortable seats and were fed and watered.
While in New Delhi we did a city the next day and on the following day a trip to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The Taj is everything and more that has been written up about it. While touring all of the tourist venues a couple of the things our entire group noted were; the cleanliness, while outside it may have been dusty, dirty and littered all of the historical tourist sites were spotlessly clean, and the number of local people at these sites. In Pakistan it seems as if the local people are not interested in their history or visiting any of the historical sites, and the sites themselves were rundown and littered.
If you think that most of my two years in Islamabad were taken up with travel you may be heading in the right direction. Not only was it weekend trips to Thailand and India and locally, other trips were also taken, one to New Zealand and home for Christmas.
Wendy received a message from one of her cousins that her aunt and uncle in New Zealand would be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and it would be a great present for them if we could “drop in” for a surprise visit. So it was off to the Land of the Long White Cloud. I flew out of Pakistan while Wendy, Heather and Olivia flew out of Canada. It was still to dangerous for Wendy to be with me.
We certainly did surprise Pat, Art, and the rest of the family, who did not know we would be there. It was wonderful to once again meet up with everyone.
Wendy and I had been there before and we wanted to take Heather and Olivia on the same trip of the South Island that we had done. Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever, part of the Otira Gorge highway was no longer in use. The portion after ‘Deadman’s Curve’, a 90 degree turn and a plunge down a steep, narrow, twisty road through Arthur’s Pass had been closed and a new aqueduct built to replace it. Other than that we did loop around the South Island. Then it was up to the North Island to stay with one of Wendy’s cousins before I left leaving the girls to enjoy New Zealand and the relatives’ company for a few more days.
Because of heightened security when we were not allowed to leave the city of Pakistan for ten months. This was better than the British, those who lived on their compound were not allowed to leave it and those who had accommodation outside of the compound were only allowed to travel between, home and work. Once at home they were not supposed to leave, and to send any household to do any off site chores.
Thankfully shortly after those restrictions were lifted the restriction on over eighteen dependents was also lifted. Wendy was then able to come over for a ten week visit. She was quite excited to make the trip and meet up with friends and acquaintances that she had only heard me talk about. While she was there one of the Canadian’s who had a local driver offered him to Wendy to drive her around the city and to do a bit of sight seeing. She was delighted and felt completely safe in his hands. She did get to see some areas around Islamabad that I had not seen. We also did a convoy weekend trip around the area and spent a night in the old British Army Barracks that had been turned into a hotel. I do not think many up grades had been completed since the Brits left. It was however, quite adequate for the one night.
After Wendy’s ten week ‘holiday’ it was only a couple of months before I also packed up and headed home.
Back to Ottawa and a posting to headquarters.
So endth the years 2002 to 2004 in Pakistan.
2000-2002 Kenya Rwanda Ethiopia Sudan Australia New Zealand South Africa
2002-2004 Pakistan Austria Croatia Thailand New Zealand
What will the years from 2004 to 2015 bring?