LOG ENTRY 18
Wagha border-India-Wagha border
Today we made an attempt to cross over to India but after half a day of negotiation we had to go back to Pakistan just to get our bikes confiscated.
As good the rooms looked in the beginning as bad they turned out at night. Our only one fan broke down middle of the night, taking away the only source of ventilation in the room and I can assure you, the weather is not very pleasant at this part of the world midsummer.
After a slight delay at the border we left Pakistan hoping that we can make it through the Indian border. It didn’t happen of course. The first thing they asked us to produce was the carnet, even before the passports. For some reason we thought that the Indian custom and border officers will be friendlier than their Pakistani counterparts but as usual it wasn’t like this. Being very well informed about the carnet and the difficulties getting it the custom officer quickly diverted the negotiation towards the money instead of finding a solution.
Two hours later and after endless phone calls to their seniors they decided to let us in with the bikes, all they want in return is $10,000. This amount is just ridiculous, especially with their conditions. They wanted us to pay and send a letter to them after we left India and they would send the money back to us. They said all we have to do is leaving the country, getting an entry stamp from our next destination, then send our passports back to prove we are not here and then they will put the money in the envelop and send it back together with our passports.
We earlier decided not to contact with Hungarian embassies anymore as the little help we can get is just doesn’t worth the hassle but at this point we hit a language barrier so we decided to give it a try. Surprisingly the embassy in Delhi was more than helpful and talked to the custom officers and they even called their seniors to figure out what to do. The $10,000 dollars was obviously not the option and at this point we kind of knew that the bikes won’t be able to travel any further without the carnet. The embassy offered assistance to obtain the carnet in Delhi but we would have to make our way there. The custom didn’t like the idea of taking the bikes there on a train so we figured the easiest thing to do is to leave our bikes at the border and make our way down to Delhi. At first they seemingly agreed on this option, especially after we accepted they “storage” fee condition. Not the best option we have but nothing we can do at this point. We took the bikes into a storage room, packed one bag with necessities for the travel to Delhi and of course everything valuable. We were about the take off from the border; all we needed is an entry stamp. We went back to the office and all of a sudden the mood changed there. We don’t really know what happened but the officer we made the deal with became very worried and told us in English that we can’t leave the bikes here. Interesting is that the officers kept switching between English and Hindi and when they spoke in Hindi they refused to say a word in English.
Anyway, things didn’t look good at this point. All our plans to leave the bikes here are scrapped and now we are fighting for an entry stamp. Apparently one of the senior officers decided to exercise his right and not letting us into the country. This really isn’t a solution as we have been stamped out of Pakistan so we don’t have a valid visa to go back anymore. We tried to explain this and also called the embassy back but he was reluctant and basically sent us back to Pakistan.
You can imagine dear reader how we felt. There is now way to try another border crossing as there aren’t any other, we have no visa to Pakistan so most likely we will stuck at the border again.
As we got back to Pakistan seemingly they knew what happened on the other side so they gave us little hassle, only about for an hour or two. The bike keys were confiscated right after we got off from them but luckily the visa wasn’t an issue. They hold our passport with them but issued a paper, similar to the one we got on the other end of the country, saying that they have our passport and we can even travel to Lahore or Islamabad to figure out how to get the carnet.
The owner of the hotel was very happy to see us at the border station, we didn’t share his happiness thought but nothing really we can do. After a nice shower from a plastic barrel filled with water we got dressed and went to the Beating Retreat ceremony again.
I think I don’t spoil the story too much if I say this was not the last time we seen that ceremony.
In the next BLOG ENTRY we will go to Lahore and try to obtain the carnet through the Pakistani Automobile Association.