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Truck Art

If it moves, let's decorate it...

Trucks on the Karakoram Highway.

It took us almost an hour to make our way through the congestion of Rawalpindi, meandering through the miniscule gaps between cars, donkeys and fruit sellers wheeling carts laden with peaches, grapes, apples. The traffic grinded to a halt, gridlocked even on the bike, as a tuk-tuk driver decided it's a good idea to do a 360 degree turn despite there not being a 360 degree amount of space available to do said turn. After much honking, yelling and under the traffic advice of local tea sellers and makret vendors alike, the blockage is freed and the congestion continues to inch its way forward in the snail like pace of the old city.

This was my first visit to the interior of Rawalpindi, affectionately termed, Pindi. Previously our bike trips, bus journeys and taxi rides have only taken me to the outer limits. Today however I had a mission. Truck Art. I wanted to see how the art was created. Pakistan has the most vivid and striking trucks and now also tuk-tuks, buses, scooters and anything else that stands still long enough. They are covered from tail light to head light in bright colours, bells, patterns and decorations, leaving not a single skerrick of the original dull surface underneath. It's been something I wanted to find out more about since I first heard that these were hand decorated by teams of artists, so I researched and found there was a truck art street in Pindi.

After several wrong turns and stops to ask for directions we found the truck art street and I squeeked with excitement to finally be there, sunshine smile lighting up my face. We arrived in the dark and the only light other than from my excited smile was from the interior of the small art shops lined up in a row of eclectic colour. Teams of artists sat on the floor amongst mountains of vividly bright sheets of stickers, working meticulously on minute details. It's a little mind blowing to think that these massive trucks are decorated with what must be many thousands of tiny hand cut stickers. Some of the art is painted to specific design requests or recurring themed patterns and all this sits on top of layers of hand pressed metal work with bells and ribbons thrown into the mix for good measure. These jingle jangle trucks brighten the highways and brighten our rides.

Karakoram Bikers have commissioned two signs for our bases in Pakistan.

You can find these truck artist workshops at Ganj Mandi, Raja Bazar, near Murree Road in Rawalpindi.

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