After my historic bike ride from California to Pakistan, I, along with two other international bikers, Michael Philip Stewart and Kyle James Haggmark, have embarked on a motorbike journey across Pakistan to discover the beauty and heritage of the country. We travelled to places where my fellow bikers have never been before, to seek out the beauty and wonder that is present in Pakistan and disseminate a positive image of our country. This is the second blog post of a series that chronicles our experiences and encounters during this momentous trip.

Day 2 started with us taking the road out of Chukyatan-Dir, which was muddy from the pouring rain the night before. I had been waiting to take today's roads for over a year now. The level of excitement I was currently experiencing simply can't be put into words. Last year, I had travelled through these roads on a 1962 Vespa Scooter, with the aim of going over the Lowari Top which I was prohibited from doing, ultimately taking the boring tunnel instead.

This year, we were on better bikes and were all pumped up about the Lowari Pass. The road leading to the Lowari Top is epic in itself, and just when you think it doesn't get any better, the ascent to the top begins. Words simply can’t do justice to the scenery that presented itself to our eyes. It's definitely an experience that cannot be described. A sensory overload, the scenic vistas were majestic and unreal – a living, breathing tapestry of art in real life. It is an experience like no other and one that everyone should go through at least once in one’s lifetime.

The Lowari Pass is a combination of the Grimpsel, Furka, Susten Stelvio and Gavia passes. Remove the asphalt from these five passes and you get Lowari Top (Pass). The gusty wind at the top of the pass reminded me of a Chicago December week. Standing up straight was nearly impossible, as the gale force winds threatened to blow you away. Our descent was equally momentous as the numerous twists and turns kept us on our toes throughout the way down. It was Stelvio Pass all over again! Hairpin turn, after hairpin turn, one after another. By the time we were halfway into the descent, I realised that this was the most amazing pass I had ever ridden in my entire life. The Lowari Top will be benchmark that will be hard to surpass! We finally reached plain land just in time for lunch. As if the day wasn't already perfect enough, we found a hotel right off the Lowari Pass that served delicious Mash Ki Daal – truly a gastronomical treat!

After sating our appetites, we got back on our Piaggios and started riding towards our next destination. It was at this opportune time that Michael proclaimed that he was low on benzene and that his bike was in danger of stalling any second. We stopped at a few gas stations but they were unfortunately all out. But during our search for the elusive flammable liquid we came across a very interesting character. After a brief chit chat with him and finally when discussions regarding these wondrous Piaggio Bikes and “weird white men” subsided, he offered us some benzene.

We followed him to his house, where he brought out his pimped out Chinese 125 bike, swiftly pulled out a hose and siphoned about half a gallon of Benzine out of his bike and into Mike’s. He proudly showcased his bike which he had outfitted with an Mp3 player, a few speakers, different coloured neon lights, around 4 different types of horns, and then by far the coolest accessory on his bike, a remote-controlled starter. While standing only a few feet away he pressed a button on his keychain and the bike turned on. "Oh I want that too!" was the immediate response we all exclaimed in unison. We tried to pay him but he just wouldn’t let us, repeatedly saying: “You guys are guests in my village, how could I charge you guys?” I slyly forced some money down his pocket and we made leave to resume our journey.

That’s when out of nowhere, the police showed up alongside us; wanting to escort us to our next destination. While we were initially perturbed, we found out soon enough why they had decided to chaperone us so eagerly. The road to the Kalash valleys of Bumburet was by far the bumpiest, most difficult to ride road that I’ve ever come across. The roads were in terrible condition, having deteriorated due to negligence and non-maintenance.

The roads almost made you regret ever attempting the trip in the first place, making you promise to yourself that you would never return to this road ever again. But as soon as the scenic beauty of Kaalash appeared, all negativity immediately flew out of the window and suddenly the roads weren’t an issue anymore!

The men were heavily bearded, wearing the biggest smiles on their faces as they looked upon us. The women were all garbed in traditional clothes, reminding me of the ethnic and cultural diversity inherent in Pakistan. The kids shied away, peering curiously behind homes at our “futuristic” modes of transportation. We ended our memorable evening dining next to a flowing river, but little did we know that our evening had not yet reached its conclusion.

Unfortunately, Kyle and Michael started experiencing stomach pains in Kalaash. A doctor was immediately called upon, who came to our hotel within 10 minutes and diagnosed both with food poisoning and dehydration. The doctor advised Kyle an infusion for his severe dehydration and both were prescribed some medication to ease their stomach pains. Their afflictions were particularly surprising as we all ate the same food and drank the same water, yet I was doing alright while Kyle and Michael were doubled up in discomfort even though I’m infamous for my weak stomach.

All I could do that second night in Kalaash was pray that the medicine would work quickly and efficiently and Kyle and Michael would be back in tip top shape soon. Their recovery was crucial for us to continue our journey the next morning with the same fervour and enthusiasm we had on the very first day. More updates to follow soon!