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
Posts Tagged With: karakoram highway
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
Ever had one of those days where things go from bad to absolutely f..ing 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
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
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.
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
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
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
The first surprise came before I had even left Gilgit.
An overnight arrival at the Madina informed me that the road to Karimabad was closed due to a strike by locals about 50km up the road. They were involved in a sit-in protest and were completely blocking the KKH. No traffic was able to get through.
Packed and ready to go at 11am, I was advised to wait a couple of hours to see if the situation would be resolved. I sat in the Madina twiddling my thumbs for two hours awaiting news of any developments. Come 1pm I was not prepared to wait any longer as the daylight hours for travelling were slowly slipping away and I had been advised that it would take “about 2-3 hours”. I had that estimate too many times in the past to believe it. Continue reading
The Madina Hotel and Guesthouse in Gilgit was to become my temporary home for almost a week.
Gilgit is the only major town on the KKH north of Abbottabad and the last one before the Chinese border. While in Gilgit I had a few tasks to complete. The first was to find an ATM that would accept MasterCard/Maestro/Cirrus type cards. The second was to await the arrival by email of the all-important visa code for my Iranian visa. The third was to stock up on any grocery items before I ventured further north into the more remote parts of the Hunza valley where I would be staying for a few days while I organised how to get myself and the bike on to a boat that would take me across Lake Attabad. Continue reading
The Shangri-La Hotel in Chilas may not have been quite the paradise as its namesake described in James Hilton’s famous novel “Lost Horizon”, but after covering almost 200km the day before I didn’t really care. The room even had a real bath and I felt like soaking away the frustration of the innumerable police checkpoints and a road that seemed to disintegrate before my very eyes. Too bad the bath was more suited to 4ft. people. Oh, and there was no hot water. Continue reading