As we are advised not to travel on the 26th due to security issues on the road to Sukkur our escort was postponed until the 27th. After a quite and uneventful day in our hotel yesterday we were well rested and ready to move on. Some Italian tourists had arrived on the 26th, and they would be joining our escort to Sukkur.
We started early, without breakfast, as our escort was due to pick us up at 7.00am….we were up and ready with the bike packed well before and waiting. The 3 four wheel drives (white, beige and red) belonging to 5 Italians were also lined up as they were slowly alighting from their sleeper sections and finishing off their breakfast. The gentleman on his own (his wife is flying to meet him in India) offered to carry extra water for us as he is a biker too and knows what it’s like. We were very appreciative of the offer and took him up on it. (Note here that the stickers they had made for their trip included :Lets Get Lost….but more about that later!)
Once the escort arrived we were quickly on our way. The beige car was quite aggressive and pushed to the front….which meant in the heavy traffic it was difficult for us to see past and we could not see the escort properly. We all stopped to refuel and Vince took this opportunity to get behind the escort vehicle….much to the disgust of the beige car driver….who continued throughout the day to try to get in front…..but Vince was smarter than him and managed to maintain our position…..in a convoy situation the bike should be at the front!
The road from Quetta and the towns beyond, were a feast for the eyes with so much going on, traffic everywhere, vehicles of all shapes and sizes, often overloaded….including with animals and people….unbelievable. At one point I saw a goat being pushed into the luggage compartment of a tour bus….I saw chickens in Tuk Tuks, a motorbike with a rider and pillion and a goat straddled across the seat between them (missed the photo though). There were carts pulled by donkeys, horses, camels and bullocks! Life was busy in the city streets…even at that early morning hour.
As we moved over the mountain pass we saw our first glimpse for water…..after days and days of travelling only through desert. As we moved across the provinces, from Balochisatan, through Singh and into Punjab, we saw the landscape soften and fill with greenery and crops and the obvious signs of irrigation and agriculture were evident. We saw camels and water buffalo in addition to the everyday goats, sheep, cattle, horses and donkeys that we have seen elsewhere.
There were many passport and security checks along the way and with the addition of 5 extra people (who I have to say were very disorganised in having their papers ready) it became a lengthy, and very hot process. The temperatures were in the 40s and when we are moving on the bike it is tolerable, but when we stop it is just insane! But we kept our fluids up and tried to keep our patience….life in a convoy!
We often see the Jilly Trucks broken down….marked with rocks to warn others…..but today we also saw some accidents……not very nice!
At one point we were told that the police would take us to a rest stop as there was an issue on the road and not safe for us to travel for about another 30 min. So we stopped for a cool drink….the escort then came and told us we needed to go! Over the past 5 days we have discovered that escorts wait for no one….and rightly so…they have a job to do. (In fact over the escort time I dropped a glove and we just had to leave it behind…..the lock from Vinces pack safe fell off but we just had to leave that too). So when the message came back that we had to wait because the Italians refused to leave because they were making coffee….Vince and I were unimpressed but said nothing….and just sweltered in silence. Later for a lunch stop things seemed to be a bit better organised with us all being ready to go at the correct time. The police really are marvelous, once we left Balochistan we had no more Levies escorts, but sometimes it was regular police and at others an elite squad of commandos.
Our “Italian Job” came at the end of the 12 hour day…..despite the NOC banning the use of GPS (so we didn’t use ours) they were using theirs but all three vehicles failed to spot when we overshot Sukkur and were headed for Multan……I alerted Vince when I saw the road signs and we pulled over our motorbike escort to discuss. The Italians went off their trees at the policeman and attracted quite a crowd. Vince and I tried to keep a low profile and eventually we were on our way to the hotel the Italian’s wanted, the Inter Pak Inn. We cooperated, as we felt that the convey would need to stick together to be easier for the escort tomorrow. However, when we got there they decided it was too expensive and wanted to go somewhere else. It was a bun fight between them all……Vince and I had already checked in, but luckily not unloaded the bike. The Italians argued with the police saying it was the wrong hotel and remained unconvinced when the police assured them this was the only one of that name. Eventually, we set off for another hotel. Again the Italians were not happy…..I was sunburnt, soaked in sweat, dirty and my dermatitis was manic…..Vince and I said we were going to stay at that hotel (Euro 30) and we left them arguing out in the street! The behaviour was ridiculous and we just wanted away from it. It has really tested our patience today and we are not looking forward to travelling with them again tomorrow….but we will make the best of it….that’s what Aussies do!
We had a very welcome shower ….even without hot water…..the room was air-conditioned…..and though the power still went off (at least two to three times a day everywhere we have been in Pakistan) they had a generator that kicked in. The meal was great and we have ordered an early breakfast for the morning! I was asleep before my head hit the pillow…in fact poor Vince didn’t even get a proper “good night” or kiss, as he was downloading GoPro footage and I fell asleep!