It was not an early start and our riding posse left the quiet streets of the suburbs after 11h00, four riders and our trusted two stokes hit the streets of Islamabad, being my first time riding something this old took a bit of getting used to, nothing that the streets of a foreign city would not sort out in no time, between the heat, the traffic and not having a clue where I was I felt right back on my beloved continent and all was well.
Our first stop being the impressive Faisel mosque that lies at the foothills that surround Islamabad, its cool, glistening white exterior, surrounded by the emerald green of nature provides a place of peace and tranquility offering a city a place of prayer and connection.
From here we headed out of the city making our way into the mountains and what would come as a surprise is how fast the heat is diluted, replaced by that coolness that comes with riding alpine roads, but before my skin would feel that pine scent, it first would feel the heat, sweat and stickiness of a short break down, luckily fixed in no time by a man that I would become incredibly fond of as I got to know him better.
Back on the road within minutes and off again. it was on the road up to Murree that I would come across my first real life experience with Pakistani truck art, a form of decoration that can make your eyes spin in and out of their sockets, so intricate with a beauty so appreciated up close and personal. I am told that prosperity and thanks live in the state, condition and intricacy displayed on these vehicles, gauging by some of what I have seen, wealth and thanks ride the roads of Pakistan. So famous is this art form that more than a couple of London busses sport this mantle of prosperity and I am seriously considering send my Vespa chassis to Lahore and letting Moin pimp my ride.
Murree we whizzed past , a town that allowed the British to escape the heat of the city to their hill station, a home to the air force since that time and now a vacation station to locals that appreciate a 20-degree difference in the summer heat. Up to Nathia Gali for a pit stop that sits high upon pine slopes, off the scooters to enjoy a cup of Kashmiri or pink tea, even as a coffee addict this hit the spot, refreshed we rode for our first night stop, the town of Abbottabad.
Abbottabad a town with a dual carriage way that seems to hold eight lanes, did this ride into town give me those Nam flashbacks to some of those African cities I entered at peak hour. Abbottabad famous for its production of scholars groomed from its universities and a source of Pakistan’s military pride, but fame that trumps them all is the Chapli kebab served with fresh hot naan, unique and totally scrumptious. The word chapli means flip flop, and by the shape of this kebab an apt interpretation of what is not a kebab as we know it.
With only a 145 kilometers covered, it was off to bed with a belly full of flip flop, that familiar smell of a well soaped body from a tiny bar found on the basin. The pillow swallowed my weary head but could not cover the smile that consumed my face.
Until we meet again