I felt pretty grim upon awakening the next morning with a sore head, sore stomach and dhiorrea but unfortunately I couldnt afford to hang around. Matt had already been really sick a couple of times in the short time I had known him and I feared that this was inevitably my turn now. Matt and Alex went out for a walk around the Old City but having already seen the fort, I said my farewells and made a fresh start on my own for Mardan, a small town about 60Ks hence. I would have rather stayed in bed and upon finding a hotel room in Mardan that was all I managed for the day. Mardan was pretty deflating as a destination in any case, with the museum closed and its only "sights" beyond a colonial war memorial proving to be signs pointing to the Semen Production Unit and the Anti Terrorism Court. Did they really have so much terrorism that it needed a dedicated house of its own?!
TAKHT-i BAHI 30th January
Though still far from on top form, the single shot of Immodium I took had done the trick. I managed a cramped minivan trip out to Takht-I Bahi and back, a UNESCO site of buddhist ruins a few Ks from the town. I got friendly attention aplenty from the locals at the ruins and all the way along the road there and back, during which a donkey took great exception to having its photo taken. We all had a laugh as it bucked like crazy as the owner clung on to keep it in frame! Later, I had to settle for another minivan crush all the way to Rawalpindi, or just Pindi as its normally referred to. On the way I caught impressive views of Attock Fort, an ancient and excellent structure on the bank of the Indus, looking suitably medieval with its sweeping crenellated walls. Arrival in Pindi found me dumped unexpectedly in the northerly Faizabad district but a friendly local saw me right for onward transport. Maybe he was a tad too friendly though, he was the first "You like big boy big girl fucky fucky" officionado I had encountered, I took it to be a proposition but played it cool, and when my stop came thankfully he didnt get off. Yeah right, pious islam.