I slept in this morning for the uncomfortably timed 0555 Jaffer Express and should have missed it by minutes, but for once the inherent tardiness of Pakistan Railways worked in my favour, we eventually left at quarter past 7 into an unusually foggy hue. 7 hours away to the north, Lahore was renowned to be susceptible to fog too and after the sticky swelter of Karachi and the perfect climate of Multan, I wondered if the chill would return with it. During a lengthy inexplicable delay not far out from Multan a rural scene was amusing as a woman tried to get 2 kids to suckle from a goat, obviously they were new to the idea but the other unwelcome suitors of the herd had to be beaten back with sticks and stones. A plaque at the next station quoted the national motto ascribed by Jinnah - Unity, Discipline, Faith, which rather smacked of an underlying message that folk should just dae what they were telt. Wonder how long it took him to think that one up.
Upon arrival a guy ran after me with my hat which I had dropped, a nice touch which was immediately tempered by the fresh concept of rickshaw sharks. The first guy wanted 80 Rupees to Regal Chowk, the 2nd 100, I walked away laughing and was then approached by a guy happy to accept 40 without bartering, that was more like it. Surprisingly he later settled for 30 in the absence of change, another sweet touch of humanity. I plumped for the Regale Internet Inn just off one of the main drags dubbed The Mall. It was an institution amongst backpackers on the overland trail and a rare chance to meet other travellers en masse, swap stories, share advice, and generally chill out in company. There were a couple of familiar faces I had met in Quetta too. At just a little over a pound a night for a dorm bed and with Malik the owner laying on essentially free tours and facilities, it was not to be sniffed at.