In the morning the roads were bad again out of Jacobabad but we were up early to beat the traffic after yesterdays adventure. There was still lot of flooding and rebuilding had started on some houses but was going slowly. We noticed a lot of rubbish and poor sanitation on the streets which could not have been helping matters.
We rode right through Sukkur where the roads got better and we crossed the bridge beside the historic barrage. I had been told by Omar in Lahore that I should keep an eye out for blind dolphins so stood on the pegs the whole way across but saw only a few guys in small boats. We were now in the Sindh province and feeling a little more relaxed. The scenery was gradually changing to become more fertile and I noticed the clothes start to change also.
With the faster roads (but crazy traffic) we left the escorts behind until we reached the Punjab border. We passed one load of hay on a tractor that was so large you could not see the wheels so it looked like ‘Cousin It‘ crawling along.
At the Punjab border we were flagged down by new cops. These were the ‘Punjab Elite Police‘ who wore T Shirts emblazoned ‘no fear‘ on the back. They were better equipped than our escorts so far and had a newer truck which sat at around 100 km/hr no problem so it was pleasant to sit behind them. On the way into Rahim Yar Khan they had an accident with a small bike. I did not see what happened to cause the accident but one of the cops immediately got out of the truck and laid into the biker. They then beat a hasty retreat, presumably in case a crowd formed and turned on them. I was not sure what to make of it, if they were justified or perhaps we had gotten a glimpse of real life in Pakistan.
The first hotel they took us quite plush and was hosting a wedding complete with flower clad car. It was too was expensive but they were helpful to find a second. We sat and chatted with them for a while and found out that they slept at the police station for only around 5 hours a night, sometimes less. They had known we were coming 2 hours beforehand by a call on the radio and their duty seemed mostly to do with escorting foreigners. They said the reason for it was Pakistan worried about the country image to foreigners and there was no security problem. I was not sure what to believe anymore and doubted if they had experience of Quetta of Baluchistan, but Punjab did indeed seem safer and more plush. Their weapons had a stopper in end of barrel to keep out dust.
We had no more guards at the hotel overnight. They took us out around the town for traditional Dal and locally made sweets. Again we felt bad for creating hassle and using up police resources. We talked to them too and they were on call 24hrs a day sometimes with little sleep. They explained that this is why they were not always smiling in our photos. The hotel owner arranged a room for them though so hopefully they got some sleep in shifts.
In the morning the hotel manager brought his 4 daughters in identical school uniforms to meet us before we left towards Multan.