ISLAMABAD

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Crossed over from China into Pakistan via the Khunjerab Pass with no problem, despite our earlier fears that the Silver Land Cruiser might overheat (absence of this may be something to do with the mods that we introduced pre-China, removing the horns that obstructed the radiator airflow). Magnificent scenery on the way down, with nomad encampments - complete with Yurts - sporadically dotted around. Passed the two huge peaks of Kongur and Mustag Ata (both 7000m +), arriving at Karrimabad,  capital of Hunza (one-time kingdom - now part of Pakistan) that day. The Hunza Embassy Hotel was very comfortable, with a terrace offering magnificent views over the Karakoram.

Next day given a guided tour around the incredible 650 y/o Baltit Fort, captured by the Brtish in 1891, restored in recent years to give a very clear idea of what it must have been like to live in this former palace of the local Mir. By chance, I happened to buy a book by an American soldier who'd lived there as a guest of the Mir shortly after WW11 as part of a personal experiment to bring US ideas and initiatives to (what he described as) 'a primitive people', at a time when the Russians and the Chinese were busy spreading there own forms of communism anongst the peoples of Central Asia. In the end he was beaten by local politics, but a fascinating insight into a 'westerner' trying to adapt to such a tough and rugged lifestyle, where - at the time - starvation and disease were a very real issue for many people.

Trying to leave the next day we were forced to turn back after finding that there had been at least 5 landslides on the road ahead overnight. Checked into the stunning Eagle's Nest Hotel, some 2000' above the Baltit Fort and at the end of a very 'challenging' unmade road! (Signs that this is to be metalled during the coming year) It was a breeze in the Landcruisers..

Carried on the next day towards Gilgit, but again had to retrace our steps for 15k when we found that the central section of the very substantial bridge crossing the Gilgit (Indus) had been completely washed away! Driving through the small towns and villages here we noticed a significant change in the characterof the communities, with very few of any women or girls being evident, whereas in the Hunza valley there were many brightly clothed women mixing socially. The local population ha als been particularly friendly. Then 2 days drive through the stunning Karakoram Highway, eventually arriving at Besham.

Uneventful start to the following day until we came across a (our second!) motorbike accident. At (Dr) Dave's suggetsion we had, in fact, practiced in the Forest of Dean for just such an eventuality (with Debs having a very realistic thigh bone protruding through her bloodsained trousers!) and this worked perfectly in practice: roping off the accident, fluorescent jackets for the people managing the traffic (whiuch was inclined to pause & 'rubberneck' at the scene - very annoying - I now sympathise fully with the police! - so holding up traffic on the narrow mountain pass), emergency medical kite, improvised strecher etc.. The biker (who had broken his leg in two places) was, ironically, a Guide who were leading two British bikers, Mungo and Az (aka the 'Sultan of Sunderland'!), in their attempt to reach the highest point ever on a motor bike (appx 5,700m, I believe) for charity. After waiting for an ambulance for around 1 hour Dave splinted his leg and we took him down to the nearset hospital, 100 km south, at Abbottabad, 'Unfortunately' (!) that meant that there was a third 'bike to be transported down so (after much arm-twisting, Mary - I was very reluctant to do this..) I was persuaded to take it down Although only a Honda 125 the ride through the sweeping roads and towns and villages was certainly one of the most 'interesting' that I have ever experinced - the local Rule of the Road sems to be that there is none! Cars and trucks were overtaking each other on the inside , on the outside - and simulateneaously - around blind bends!

Arrived at the Hotel Margala ("Where Time Sleeps and Dreams Whisper") early evening. Despite the Presidents's resignation yesterday and rumours about what might happen, all seems to be relatively quiet in the capital at the moment..


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1 Comments

Hi. Just found your blog. You don't mention the toilet facilities? Did you get the gub yet?
Sounds like an amazing trip!

Love Ant

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This page contains a single entry by Jeremy published on August 20, 2008 6:32 AM.

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