This article first appeared on our partner site, Independent Urdu
“Pakistani people can have a party anywhere. People here love to dance, especially the men. I see cars on the side of the street: all the men get out of the car, they turn the radio on and they start dancing”.
Clare has travelled through twenty countries in the last six years to finally reach Pakistan in 2019 and settle down in Lahore. In 2015, Clare, who hails from Wales, set out on a world tour on a black bicycle which she calls “Black Betty”.
Sipping on a glass of orange juice at the locally famous Hafiz Juice Corner near Anarkali Bazar in Lahore, where she lived with a friend since September last year, she spoke to Independent Urdu about her travel adventures.
“You might think I’m the slowest cyclist in the world because it took me six years to reach Pakistan, but before arriving here I spent some time teaching English in Tbilisi in Georgia, and I did the same for another two years in China,” she said.
“My journey isn’t sponsored by anyone. Whenever I’m short on money, I look for a job — particularly English teaching roles in schools.”
Clare also spent some time doing social work. During a stay in Greece in 2015, she spent two months helping refugees entering Greece from Turkey. She then moved to Turkey to help refugees find jobs and accommodation.
“My journey wasn’t easy. I took a ferry from the UK to the Netherlands. When I arrived in Azerbaijan, I hopped on a freight boat to cross the Caspian Sea. I also travelled with many truck drivers which was a great experience”, she said.
From China, Clare searched for a way to cycle across the borders into Pakistan but failed to secure permission from the Chinese authorities so she travelled 175 kilometres by bus. Describing her journey, she stated: “I came to Pakistan in 2019 over the Khunjerab Pass from China and cycled the Karakoram Highway through Hunza in northern Gilgit Baltistan down towards Islamabad.”
Speaking of her love of Pakistan, she said: “One of the things that I like most about Pakistan is that the mountains are so majestic, and of course the people.”
She praised Pakistani hospitality: “People here are the most hospitable on the planet. I just need to be standing in a street may be looking a bit lost, and people would come up to me and offer assistance. They offer me tea and meals and even invite me to stay at their place. I really cannot thank the people of Pakistan enough for their hospitality.”
Another interesting fact about her stay in Pakistan is that her bicycle has become a moving exhibition of truck art and is now locally known as “Betty – Queen of the mountains”. she said: “When I first came into Pakistan, I was on Khunjerab Pass on the Chinese borders, a gentleman came to say hello to me and my friend.
“I told him about my passion for truck art and that I was thinking about getting my bike painted. He kindly took me to a truck artist and gifted the paint job to me. So, now I have this permanent souvenir of Pakistan.”
Reviewed and proofread by Taimur Rehman, Tooba Ali & Celine Assaf