Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Pamir Highway Part I: Sary Tash to Murghab

For the first time since crossing the Khunjerab Pass, the weather was very cold. Even though the homestay in Sary Tash was cosy it was still a bit too cool inside at night. Consequently I woke at about 6am, well before the family. Not knowing how to fill in my time until breakfast, I made an executive decision to start repacking my bike. Originally I had allowed two nights in Sary Tash but I had realised when I arrived there was really nothing to keep me in Sary Tash except vast amounts of vodka. Continue reading

Categories: 05. Kyrgyzstan, 06. Tajikistan | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Kashgar to Sary Tash – Finally Free from Frustration

The time had come to leave Kashgar and head for Kyrgyzstan.

The mission for today was simple. Ride about 110km on good bitumen to the new Chinese Customs and Immigration post at Ulagqat, clear Customs and Immigration, ride another 150km on bad dirt to the actual border at Irkeshtam Pass, enter Kyrgyzstan and ride 70km on good bitumen to the little town of Sary Tash. Continue reading

Categories: 04. China, 05. Kyrgyzstan | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Kashgar – In the City of the Uyghurs

The city of Kashgar has been home to the Uyghur people for many centuries. Successive Chinese dynasties have tried, with varying degrees of success, to control this harsh region many thousands of kilometres west of Beijing. Known by various names over the centuries, it was most commonly referred to as Kashgaria or more recently as East Turkestan. The local Uyghur people have far more in common (language, religion, ethnicity and culture) with the nomadic peoples of Central Asia than the Han Chinese far away to the east. Continue reading

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The KKH Part VIII: Tashkurgan to Kashgar – the End of the Road

It was time to leave Tashkurgan and, as I repacked the bike, I was again the source of much curiosity for some Chinese tourists. One of them was confident enough to ask me where I was from. On hearing my reply of “Australia”, the curious tourist replied “Gud diy, mite!” in his best approximation of Paul Hogan’s accent. He seemed very pleased with himself. Continue reading

Categories: 04. China | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tashkurgan: a day of rest

One of the many bits that I left out of the last blog was that my bike was impounded overnight.

Even though I had cleared Immigration and my luggage had cleared Customs, because we had arrived so late Customs had refused to process the bike itself. Consequently, I had to ride the bike to a bonded store about 1km from the Customs post and leave it there overnight under lock and key.

This left my guide, Abdul Rekip, and I stranded in some dingy industrial estate late at night with no transport (no buses or taxis at that time of night). Fortunately, the hotel was only about 1-2km away so Abdul and I trudged off into the gloom of the night until we finally arrived at the hotel well after 10pm. It had been a very long day and night and I was relieved to find the hotel room had a shower with relatively trouble-free hot water. Continue reading

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The KKH Part VII: Sost to Khunjerab to Tashkurgan: The Road to Frustration

Ever had one of those days where things go from bad to absolutely diabolical?

Well, today was one of those days that all overland travellers hope they never have to endure.

With all money and petrol issues resolved, all I had to do was clear Pakistani Customs and Immigration, ride about 85 km (on jeep track) to the border, clear Chinese Customs and Immigration and ride about 120km (on good bitumen) to Tashkurgan. Thinking that I now had some experience at this game, I believed that it would be a relatively straightforward day. 6-8 hours max. Continue reading

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The KKH VI: Passu to Sost – the end of the line

After another leisurely breakfast cooked by Khan, I packed the bike and said farewell to the two hospitable brothers who had taken me into their restaurant, their village, their school and their lives for just two short days.Sost was a mere 45km from Passu – only about 1-2 hours depending on roadworks and landslides. I was on the road by 9am and wondered what the KKH had in store for me today. As it turned out, not much. Compared to previous days the road was relatively easy going. Just the usual mix of pot-holes that could swallow a Mini in one mouthful, culverts disguised as speed-bumps, washed-out bridges and landslide rubble. Continue reading

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Passu: the Glacier Breeze Restaurant

The Glacier Breeze Restaurant sat like an eyrie on the top of one of the many rocky outcrops that litter the local landscape.Unable to see an obvious path to the top, a figure appeared from inside and pointed to what I had thought was a drainage canal. Apparently, it was the “road” to the parking area just behind the restaurant. After negotiating the narrow, water-filled gravel track I was met by Tanweer, the manager.

A little bit of home high in the Karakoram Range – Tanweer in his XXXX T-shirt!

A little bit of home high in the Karakoram Range – Tanweer in his XXXX T-shirt!

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the T-shirt he was wearing. In large letters across the front it read: “XXXX: Proudly Queensland”. Passu is considered remote even by Pakistani standards let alone by Australian standards. I immediately felt at home! Continue reading

Categories: 03. Pakistan | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The KKH Part V: A slow boat to Passu.

The next stop on my way to the Chinese border crossing at Khunjerab Pass was the small village of Passu – once a major starting point for glacier trekking. In theory, Karimabad to Passu was only about 50km. But this was somewhat complicated by the fact that part of the trip would have to be made by boat.

Ever since the massive landslide of 2010 formed the new lake near Attabad, a 20 km stretch of the KKH has been under water. To overcome this minor logistical problem a thriving trading boat industry has flourished some 3000m up in the mountains.

The spillway of the lake is only about 20 km from Karimabad and the road was what the locals “jeep track” – in other words, more of the same. But the last 2km to the water’s edge was like nothing that I had ever encountered before. Continue reading

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Karimabad – a little taste of Hunza

Sweeping views down the Hunza valley from the Old Hunza Inn

Sweeping views down the Hunza valley from the Old Hunza Inn

Karimabad is the administrative centre of the Hunza district and clings to the steep cliffs on the north face of the Hunza Valley, giving it stunning views of the mountains opposite: Rakaposhi (7790m), and Diran (7270m). Directly behind Karimabad is the Ultar glacier leading to Ultar (7390m). Continue reading

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