Monday, July 20, 2009

In Pakistan You Have No Problems (head waggle).

Our time in Pakistan was book-ended by run-ins with authorities. As horrible as that sounds, they didn't end with me in handcuffs being threaten certain death in a rat-infested jail; if anyone has hung out with me (the greatest living American) while dealing with authorities, you know this is huge deal. In fact, like almost every experience in Pakistan, our times with authorities were incredibly pleasant.

At the Lahore Airport, due to some sort of bizzaro-world racial profiling, I was pulled for further examination at security. It is true I grew a mean beard over 4 months of riding, it but at it's best it looked like a beer stained, shag rug in a foreclosed house and certainly never grew magnificent enough to entitle me to taliban membership. I kept applying. Apparently you need to own a cat. The Taliban are big fans of cats. Who knew?

Anyway, as I stood there watching a Mullah Omar doppelganger parade (it had less shriners than Osama's doppelganger parade), I started to worry about the large bottle of saline solution I had stashed in my carry-on. Sure enough, 20 seconds later, the guard (who oddly enough also looked like Mullah Omar), pulled the saline solution.

Guard- Sir, this is not allowed on the plane.

Spencer- (Really, really sad face).

Guard- But since you are our guest, it is forgiven.

Spencer- (A little shocked) Really? That's it?! I am forgiven? I can keep it?

Guard- (Head bobble) You are our guest.

And off I went. While this reflects a disconcertingly low level of security (in a place that really can't afford it) it was completely indicative of our experience in Pakistan.

Almost 45 days before, as we crossed over from China, our bus was stopped by two Pakistani soldiers. Unlike the little boy who had just lectured me on respecting authority, these two guys looked like men. Men with really, really, manly facial hair. They argued with the bus driver, on our behalf, for about 5 minutes. They wanted us to ride our bikes in Pakistan too. The argument was futile, which was odd because they had loaded AK-47 on their shoulders and at that point I was all for shooting our bus driver. I made that suggestions several times during the argument. "Hey," I said under my breath, "just shoot him." They showed a little to much restraint and then finally looked at us, gave us a head bobble and said IN ENGLISH, "In China you have many problems. In Pakistan you have no problems."

And for 45 days he was right. In Pakistan we had no problems.

So here, as I start to wrap up numberonegoldmedalwinnerofasia, is a travel tip. Take out a map, flip on FoxNews or MSNBC, wait for their "Around The World In 60 Seconds" thing (because does anyone really need more than one minute to figure out the complexities of international politics), and watch carefully. When you see a snippet of a bombing or starving people or flooding or riots, take a note of what country it is occurring in. If those places featured did not include Afghanistan, pick up your phone and book a flight to any one of them. The sooner the better. This has worked for me over and over again for almost 6 years. What you get is very little actual danger and the whole country to yourself. Try it.


  1. all i have got to say is that this might be my favorite post yet. glad you all are still alive and i am sending you a welcome back to the U.S. when you show up.

  2. i concur with spencer, myanmar was exactly the same, safest nicest people you could ever meet...tons of crap going on, indo was the same when we both went in 2003...all to ourselves...the list goes on...

  3. Hey Spencer -- I'm a writer for the BYU newspaper -- I would love to do a story on you and Breckan. Can you email me? Thanks!

  4. Tom, bali right after the bombing was awesome. I'll add nepal during the civil war, sumatra right after the tsunami and now pakistan. I think I'd start looking for tickets to hondurus... or nogales. I hear nogales is great this time of year.

  5. First time here - was forwarded your site - and now wish I had been following from the beginning. Enjoy what I've read so far and love the stills.