@ 10 August 2015- India

 

The streets have been full of these dressed up vehicles as part of the Hindu celebrations
The streets have been full of these dressed up vehicles as part of the Hindu celebrations

The ride today was from Amritsar to New Delhi, a distance of 518km. As we progressed it involved passing through smallller townships which were very hectic and crowed at times.

Unfortunetly Steve had an incident with 2 buses as he passed one, another tried to squeeze by in the opposite direction resulting in him being clipped by a bus on his left hand side damaging his pannier which required a bit of roadside repairs. Fortunately Syeve did not go down and was all ok.

The roads finally opened up into a more significant route making the progress ok until we go to the last 50km which took 2hrs due to significant Delhi traffic. This traffic was compounded by the start of a 7 day Hindu festival in which devotees walked along the roadside with support vehicles and music playing which through the already bad traffic into chaos.

As we made our way towards Delhi we started to experience rain which we had been clear of since the 2nd day we arrived in Spain a couple of months earlier! I suppose we were due rain sooner or later. Ha

Unfortunetly due to the design of our BMW motorbikes being air cooled they required forward motion to have air passing over them to contain the temperature. The result of the traffic jams for an extended period meant we were forced to park up the bikes on several occasions and allow them to cool before progressing. Not what you want after a long ride in very hot and humid conditions.

Steve's pannier box after a confrontation with a bus
Steve’s pannier box after a confrontation with a bus

 

Steve with a huge audience while he repairs his pannier box.
Steve with a huge audience while he repairs his pannier box.

We finally made it to our destination which was located on the Southern side of New Delhi as we have an appointment with the BMW dealer to have the bikes serviced in the coming day(s).

Statistics For The Week;

Distance travelled:  1,600km

Average Speed for trip: 57.5km/h

Average Fuel Consumption To Date: 4.5 litre per 100km

@ 9 August 2015- India

Time for a hair cut and shave in Amritsar
Time for a hair cut and shave in Amritsar

Today was a slow day, chilled out and I took time to have a hair cut, shave and head and shoulder massage at a traditional barber. Highly recommend all the blokes out there taking the opportunity to experience this if you visit India.  The process took about 1 1/2hrs and you feel great after.

The rest of the day was taking up with discussing where to travel in India with a couple of other guests at the hotel we were staying at and also bidding farewell to our German friends Ralf and Yin who were off towards Bangladesh and then onto China by train and bus! We wish them well.

 

@ 7 August 2015- Pakistan to India

Amritsar which is a typical Indian township scene
Amritsar which is a typical Indian township scene
Amritsar and the also typical piles of rubbish which needs to change.
Amritsar and the also typical piles of rubbish which needs to change.

The ride today should be straight forward as we have a 30km ride to the Wagah boarder crossing into India and then another 30km’s to reach our destination of Amritsar.

We managed to get ourselves sorted and out of town reasonably early (around 08:00am) which makes life easier as the traffic tends to be lighter.

We arrived at the boarder and the exit from Pakistan went pretty straight forward, however the customs guys did have a good “poke around” with our luggage.  So it was then onto the Indian side of the crossing but things did not progress as quickly as we quickly realised that Indian’s love bureaucracy and a boarder crossing is the best place to demonstrate how bureaucratic you can get. Ha Ha

It took 3.5hrs to clear the Indian side boarder. We finally started to get angry and informed the customs officers that we will be posting on Facebook how badly visitors are treated at the boarder and we would note their specific names! This certainly got things moving with several officers searching for stamps (we need to get the bikes cleared at each crossing) and we were promptly allowed to leave. Threatening to post on Facebook is a great trick should you have issues like this we find.

In the process of us being held up by customs the German’s overtook us and made it to Amritsar by public transport before we arrived.

Amritsar was a breath of fresh air compared to our journey through Pakistan and I for one was Very relieved to be clear of such a high risk environment. A BIG shout out of thanks to our dear friend Kate MacCallion who provided detailed information in the lead up to our journey through Pakistan and the risks we faced.

The hotel we stayed at had a lovely garden courtyard which was great to just sit back and relax. The humidity was very high, however the temps had backed off to the low 30’s.

Now to relax and enjoy athe next couple of days in Amritsar

@ 8 August- India

Wagah Boarder Guard
A beautiful Indian Boarder Guard at the Wagah Crossing

After our arduous journey through Pakistan it was time to stop for a couple of days to rest and do all the house work so to speak. Amritsar is a relaxed and pleasant town compared to where we had come.

After organising our riding gear and clothing to be washed it was time to get out and explore and went shopping with Ralf and Yin to buy a few bits and pieces. Adding to the fun was having all 4 of us piling into one Tuk Tuk.

We managed to find a descent coffee which was the first in many weeks. Steve was happy as he found an additional SD card he had looking for recently.

Later in the day the four of us had orangised a guide to drive us to several sites around Amritsar. First we were off to Hindu Temple which was a bit like a maze that you would find at a fun park, except with various reliquary related shrines located around the outer section of the temple and a large open area where the disciples would congregate for worship.

Hindu temple
A couple of religious men at the Hindu temple
Ringing the Bell
David gigging the bell a “bit hard” and surprising himself

We were then off to witness the evening closing ceremony of the “Wagah” Indian/Pakistan boarder crossing which has been a practice dating back to 1959. Basically it is an Indian/Pakistan version of the New Zealand Haka But with automatic rifles and a bit more Bollywood to it.

It was great to watch but interestingly Ralf our German friend witnessed a different side as he could see similarities between this and the bad days of the Nazi’s due to the hyping of the crowds who were chanting negative cries to the Pakistani’s the other side of the boarder. This certainly did detract from the cerimony and certainly does nothing to improve relationships between the two countries.

Indian Boarder Guard
A very imposing and well dressed BFS (boarder force security) guard

After the Wagah show it was off to to visit the Golden Temple which we were advised is best viewed by night. As with al these significant temples we have visited throughout our Mad Ride the size was staggering and effort put into building was impressive to say the least. Something we find ironic when there is extreme poverty all around.

The temple we were told had approx 750kg of gold leaf covering the roof and various parts of the building. The water area in front of the Temple that people were bathing in as there are meant to be healing properties in the water.

Golden Temple
An impressive Golden Temple

Our driver left us at the temple which allowed us time to explore and have dinner at a local Indian restaurant which is always fun and a bit of a gamble with your tummy.

The evening ended with a Tuk Tuk ride back to the hotel. All in all a pretty good day site seeing.

@ 6 August- Pakistan

After a lovely breakfast and a slow start following yesterday’s hell ride we were heading to Lahore. We still had approx 450km’s to get to Lahore and we were to be escorted from the hotel.

The  pollution was horrific, however the scenery did start to change with more greenery with trees. We had to force the escorts to stop on a couple of occasions today as they are very reluctant to stop at the road side, however we insisted on at least a couple of snack breaks and to give our legs a stretch.

The roadside shops were very basic, however one shop owner refused to take money from us as he considered us guests in his country. A very nice gesture.

We were finally set free by our escorts 100km short of Lahore which then allow us to crack on at a higher pace . Stopping 15km’s short of Lahore we were checking our maps and we received a note from Ralf and Yin (aka, The Germans) that they were at a hotel and have arranged parking for our bikes and a room  great news, so we were off and all we had to do was find the place!

Having ridden to within a few hundred metres of the hotel we then spent the next 1/2hr getting to the front door as it was dark when we finally arrived and the streets in the centre of the city were manic. We arrived and were greeted by our friends and settled in for the evening.

The hotel staff were great and very accomodating making room in the back yard for our bikes. Lahore itself was a very average so tomorrow we planned to head straight to the boarder.

Pakistan truck
A typical truck and its load in Pakistan defying physics
Trucks of Pakistan
A view from behind of a slightly overloaded truck

@ 4 August- Pakistan

Today we have to stay in Quetta as we had been told that we needed to obtain a travel permit from the local government office before we could move on.

This was to be a lesson in patience as we were about to find out. our German friends, Steve and i climbed into a Tuk Tuk and were off to the government office flanked by armed guards on motorbikes which certainly was a fun site.

Having a fun ride in a Tuk Tuk in Quetta on way to station complete with armed escort
Having a fun ride in a Tuk Tuk in Quetta on way to station complete with armed escort

We then proceeded to spend the next 4hrs being taken from one office to another with very little happening. WE were observing our bit of paper just sit on a desk for an extended period while the person who was required to sign the document tried to look very busy by shifting various other bits of paper around without there being much actually occurring. The final “kicker” was that when we complained, the document was simply signed off back by the original person!

So we had our signed travel document and next stop was to get the German’s a train ticket which also involved a rather convoluted process including having to produce passports.

During our stay at the hotel in Quetta we met a Spanish guy traveling solo who had just come from a trip around the “stan’s”. Fortunately he had a complete set of soft copy maps that we were able to upload onto our Garmin GPS device for India, Nepal and Myanmar. This was a result as the maps we had unfortunately had failed earlier in the rip so we were resorting to hard copy maps and the trusty Google maps on our phones.

So tomorrow we are set to move on and hopefully we will only have an escort for the first 200km from town and then we will be free to head to Lahore by ourselves. The German’s will also be able to travel by train once more.

@ 5 August- Pakistan

 

Anything goes over here. Check the minimalist cabin.
Anything goes over here. Check the minimalist cabin.

We bid farewell to the German’s and hoped to catch ip with them again once we reach Lahore. Steve and I were looking forward to the ride today as we would believed we would be free to travel without an escort shortly.

Quetta was a tip of a city and we were very pleased to be leaving. Our police escorts assisted in cutting an easy path through any traffic on the route out of town. There was nothing unusual about our jorney that morning, Steve and I had discussed the route the previous night with the guards so there was nothing to worry about, just follow the armed police vehicle.

The first thing that started to concern us was that the escort did not stop at the 200km mark, we also later that morning realised we were not being taken on route we had discussed the night before which should have been around 400km’s straight through to Lahore. It turned out the police on the day decided (without telling us) the direct route was too dangerous so we were taken on a much longer (nearly 1000km) route heading south east and then  we were to head back up.

We were finally cut loose by our guards after nearly 400km’s, but by this stage we had to completely re map our journey through to Lahore. It was now going to take 2 days to get there and it was later in the day and we had no accommodation arranged for the evening.

We had a chat and decided to push on and make out way through to what we believed to be a reasonable sized town and get accommodation there.

The day turned into evening and we were then stopped by police who made us wait until an armed escort could once again take us on our journey.  We waited for approx 1hr until police arrived, we were wet with sweat and the pollution was disgusting.

Check how soaked our shirts are! Typical in these hot conditions
Check how soaked our shirts are! Typical in these hot conditions

The police officer in charge then offered to have us escorted the  150km to a “safe” hotel as the area we were in was not considered safe for westerners. So once again we were off, by now it was 7;30pm.

As the journey progressed unaware to us, the original instruction given by the organising police officer got confused, with Steve and I finding ourselves with police who tried to “dump” us at the road side at 10;30pm saying we were free to go with us not knowing where we were. The day had quickly turned hell and now getting dangerous.

The conversation quickly changed at this point with me having a very frank conversation with the police at the road side. The police then made several phone calls and found a hotel for us, but it still involved another 45 minute journey. We were off again.

Finally we made it to a hotel in a town call Badawalpur at 11:30pm. We had been on the road 16hrs and covered 780km’s. We had not had breakfast, lunch or dinner due to the escorts not wanting to stop. We were shattered!

Yeh, dodgy photo but it demonstrates the pollution we consumed after a day riding through Pakistan
Yeh, dodgy photo but it demonstrates the pollution we consumed after a day riding through Pakistan

As it turned out, the hotel was the best accommodation we had experienced since being on our Mad Ride.  There is a god.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.