This bus was not so friendly and no-one paid me much attention.. Not unfriendly, just getting more and more remote from tourist routes. The vibe on this bus was more like a mission, with drums of diesel stored under the bus for refueling. There was a full crew of hangers-on in baggy pants that gave me the impression this bus was their ‘ship’ (and they were the brave pirate crew). With some passengers the pants also got tighter as I encountered the John-Travolta style of dress that most fashionable young Pakistani males prefer.
Upon reaching Zahedan we were dropped nowhere in particular, and had no friends of English-speakers to get me to the real bus station. Zahedan did not feel like a safe place, but I was glad to play a few taxi drivers off each other before they tired of me, and left me to fend for myself. The taxi-driver made continuous comments about how dangerous this place was, gesturing at my head with two fingers made into a gun and slapping my body to feel for my wallet. Nice. Upon arriving at the bus station on the edge of town, some guards dragged a chain across the road to allow us entry – it seemed like security was a serious issue.
It took me some asking around before I finally accepted that there was no bus to the border. But I only had to wait about forty minutes for three more passengers to fill the shared-taxi for the drive. I must say, it never ceases to surprise me when you think ‘where the heck is someone going to appear from to share this taxi/bus/rickshaw’, and then these people just wander in from wherever and before you know it you are on your way. We didn’t really talk during the drive and I spent most of the time scanning the desert and mountains for little settlements and marveling at the lumpy montains and circling vultures (seriously). We we were dropped at the border, walked into the neutral zone and waited with 30 others for an hour for it to open. Luckily I got preferential treatment for processing, as it was a total free-for-all that involved people fighting to write their name on one of three paper lists. Welcome to Taftan [LINK], Pakistan!