Today the suffering started, not right away but by the afternoon I was finding it hard to cycle. I’m not sure what caused it but from here to Islamabad I was very sick in my stomach.
This morning though, everything was ok. The owner of the orchard returned early with breakfast for the both of us, more curry and more fresh naan. It had rained last night and this morning the air was clear, welcome after the oppressive smog of Lahore.
We continued riding along the Grand Trunk Road, a busy highway alive with activity at all times. Orange salesmen (amongst other produce but orange was the most common) lined the road. Roadside eateries, concrete windowless building with tables, chairs, and bed like platforms of taut rope outside were placed regularly between towns and cities.
This being one of the oldest routes in Asia it’s not surprising that many towns and cities have grown up along it. On this first day there wasn’t an hour that passed that we weren’t cycling through some settlement or another, and it was always exciting. Each one seemed more busy and anarchic than the last. The ever present auto rickshaw weaving between big school busses with some of the pupils riding up top, these towns were where they all gathered to stop and pick up their passengers. And of course, amongst it all, the colourful but noisy trucks, blasting their horns as they pushed through the traffic.
After an hour of cycling we stopped, a guy on a motorcycle had been talking to André and wanted to buy him a cold drink. At the rest station everyone wanted to take photos with us. We left and I was starting to feel not so great, like I was going to throw up, though I didn’t. It was not pleasant.
We stopped for lunch at petrol station, where one of the guards (they all have guards with Kalashnikovs) brought out chairs for us to sit in a shady patch of grass at the back.
During the riding after lunch I at last vomited and by now was feeling feverish too and cycling was getting hard. At one point a man on a motorcycle rode up and after talking a while began extolling the virtues of Islam and how I was going to hell if I didn’t accept the word of Mohammad. A nice guy otherwise, but it wasn’t helpful in my current situation.
After 75km of riding I had to stop. André agreed and we found somewhere, an old petrol station where we could wait unseen around the back for night to fall. Which we did, and as it got dark put up the tents. I was in and asleep immediately.