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Compromises and flight to Berlin

Tiger Hill near Darjeeling
Kangchenjunga
Fog

The next day at noon we headed back towards Siliguri in the valley. We took a steep and sometimes narrow winding road, but it was thankfully much shorter than forwards.
On the way we were forced to wait for an excavator vehicle that was just finishing clearer the road after a little landslide spilled it. After we clear to go and while passing the excavator vehicle we suddenly heard a loud bang and we were pushed forward. A Tata Sumo, an Indian 4WD car, full with children hit us in the back of the car. Fortunately, nobody was injured in this accident. What when thinking about Indian driving behaviour seems was only a matter of time and not a big surprise quickly made us getting mad once we noticed the depressed and now difficult to open and close rear door of our Pajero as well as a broken taillight. In fact, it was no great harm, although the problem with the rear door could only be solved by an exchange. The Tata, however, was completely destroyed. The front was no longer recognisable. We only could shake with the heads once we watched the driver actually trying to start that car again. Spectators gathered within moments, and the driver then began to unload the car after it was pushed to the side of the road. Well, as the victim of this accident it was up to us to bring the driver somehow to justice, although we knew there was no financial compensation to expect. However, I dragged him to our car, showed him the damage caused, and demanded money. A threat calling the police made him surprisingly clearly afraid, but his wallet no bigger. With the equivalent of $40, we had to move on. We wondered how this whole situation would have run if we as the foreigners would have caused the accident...

Local spectators
Playing kids
Road conditions in India

The heavy traffic, the very bad roads and masses of people everywhere as well as the accident have had an effect on the bottom line. That is why we decided to skip Varanasi and directly move on to Agra. This was also in the interest of Anje and Izaak and so we continued travelling together through the country. In Delhi we would then take care of the car, since we would have plenty of time until the Pakistan visas would have been issued anyway.

On the long journey across the country we made, amongst others, stopped in Kushinagar, the place which is said to be the place where Buddha died. During our trip we often saw locals who defecated directly on the roadside. In the evening another manner on the roads showed up: while the locals in Myanmar often drove without using lights at all many Indians drove with high beam all time which caused a view euqal to looking straight in the sun.
After countless tolls, empty petrol stations, hundreds more kilometers and seeing two dead bodies after a car accident and after an unsuccessful search for a shortcut across a sparsely populated rural area we arrived in Agra in the late evening, the place of the world famous Taj Mahal. Was the building but absolutely impressive although due to smog not as bright as on postcards, so one also suffered under the flood of tourists. Similar thing for Agra Fort, a big red fortress near the Taj Mahal, whose construction took place in the 16th century.

Sign: use horn!
Gaping locals
Public toilet
Child in Kuchinagar
Locals carrying hay
Taj Mahal

Even in the days after Darjeeling we could not enjoy ourselves in India, so we already set our sights on the subsequent Pakistan.
We reached Delhi via an exceptionally well developed highway (which was of course was liable for costs). As we approached the city, the smog became dense.

Our first task was obtaining the Iran visa. After submitting the required reference number and passport and further hassle and bustle for the preservation of certified fingerprints as well as for the payment, we were able to pick up the visa on the same afternoon.
Immediately next, because most time consuming, was the Pakistan visa. We were already aware that the issue of visas for Pakistan would take place exclusively in the home country of the applicant and so we had the plan to send our passports by express shipment to Germany. However, Indian customs made a spanner in the works. If a shipment containing passports not sent by an embassy would be found by customs the sending would be confiscated - and it was not our intention to get stuck in India without having passports. After seeing customs at the airport and even requesting assistance by the German Embassy both denied any help so had to bite the bullet: we immediately did book a flight to Berlin for Nadine, so so she could lodge our visa application to the Pakistan embassy the next day. Ironically, the flight was on my birthday and so the list of negative experiences in India has grew more and more.

Agra Fort
Sat marsh memorial in Delhi
Smog in Delhi

While Nadine was in Berlin waiting for the return of the passports I was taking car of the car.
Oil change, replacing stabilizers, getting a new back light, getting wheels balanced and aligned. Unfortunately there was no chance to get another rear.

Meanwhile, I received a messaage from Anje and Izaak, who made it to Pakistan already. In case of very bad luck, due to the current situation Pakistan will deny us permission to travel to and through Balochistan, which necessarily has to be crossed.
Alternative routes are not given at all: travelling to Afghanistan using the Khyber pass is not only far from safe, but also completely forbidden for foreigners. The Karakoram highway to China would be worth considering. However, to get the Chinese approvals including visa, the many additional kilometers and three other necessary visa and not least a possible blocking of the road due to upcoming winter this option is virtually not given as well.
Should even a transport of the car and the use of public transport through Balochistan be refused shipping the car would remain as last option (but where ???). Otherwise we have to postpone our journey indefinitely...