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The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Month: September 2016 (page 2 of 2)

A Place ……………….

A place.

A people.

A nation spoken of and tainted by those who rarely visit and hardly ride the roads I have.

A place that lets you breathe free, a place that lets your eyes run out of sight but inspires vision.

A place that still has the gift of human touch, a place that lets you touch and lets you feel.

A place with heart.

A place with dramatic wild unadulterated beauty, not tamed but gently touched by those who are a part of and live off this land.

A place that lets their voice rise and resonate with pride, for this is their land, this is their flag and this is their home.

A place of childlike generosity and curiosity still pure and possible.

A place that lives just like you and me, loving and wanting children to run free.

A place that lies cradled by its crescent that shows you how it lives in the way the people of this country smile.

A place of faces grown old, bold, wild with beards that hold ancient wisdom of both moguls and men, yet all you see is that human light called kindness that lives in their eyes.

A place that ignites something that lives in all of us, the ability just to be, be a being, a human being.

A place that etches the lines of hardship like old leather worn, torn and broken yet soft to the touch.

A place that’s still holds a great divide in its class, this is the world as we know it a place that currency splits and privlidge runs amok. Yet here a silver thread of green unite a people.

A place that shows you warmth in a way that is so pure it lets doubt cloud its sincerity, but it is just that, it is warmth that glows and grows.

A place of allure, beauty physically hidden, yet vibrant colour a testament to the beauty within.

A place that makes you a better person, by the people you meet.

A place called Pakistan.

A people called Pakistanis.

A country of warmth, generosity and humanity.

Let’s roam free just you and me, in a place we call Pakistan.

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To the valley of gold, Hunza

 

Today would be a later start with a morning strolling the streets of Gilgit in search of a small breakfast as I for one still had Cha Cha chicken overload. Leisurely eggs mopped up with paratha. A great start washed down with more than a couple of chai’s, then it was back to the hotel for today we would ride for the valley of gold, a place called Hunza and a tiny town called Karimabad our home for two nights, high up in the mountain kingdom that puts you close to God.

 

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Gilgit hotel outside

 

Hotel inside.

Hotel inside.

 

True love Atzaz and what Steve made, the slim, sexy never frozen apple.

True love Atzaz and what Steve made, the slim, sexy never frozen apple.

 

Gudu conducting Vespa pre flight inspection.

Gudu conducting Vespa pre flight inspection.

 

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Life on Gilgit high street.

 

In search of breakfast.

In search of breakfast.

 

Ragu hard at work negotiating and securing food for the already over fed troop.

Ragu hard at work negotiating and securing food for the already over fed troop.

 

We took the back streets out of Gilgit passing an archaeological site currently being excavated and then on to a suspension bridge that felt like it was part of this same site recently discovered, then we were plunged into darkness, just like the house of horrors at fairs, as fast as the light was extinguished. just around the bend light led us out and into a tunnel that mother nature had a hand in, wrapped in dancing green and gold we revved, bounced and rode into the hustle and bustle on the main drag.

 

The bridge that would lead to sudden darkness, a tunnel and light.

The bridge that would lead to sudden darkness, a tunnel and light.

 

Downstream.

Downstream.

 

Snack attack.

Snack attack.

I pulled off to the side as my roving food eye that always seemed to be out on storks, homed in on the more than local breakfast spot. As if chicken from the night before, eggs of the chicken this morning was not enough, I found myself stocking up for a pending snack attack. A bounty of Pakora doused in masala spice, piping hot samosas and the delicate desert of Jalebi, a heart stopper for any diabetic, for this is a sugar spike that shows up on the Richter scale right alongside those tremors that summon a 911 call. Now it was time to pay and ride on, the owner would hear nothing of this and the more in tried to pay the more food he seemed to wrap up in yesterday’s news and pass it on to me.

 

Its all in the heat and time exposed to it.

Its all in the heat and time exposed to it.

Well after trying and trying again all that was left for me to do was thank every staff member from the prep man, to the fry boy and a long deep thankful hug and an almost unending hand shake that was actually a hand hold with the owner. As a matter of fact, guys holding hands in Pakistan is a cool thing, a show of friendship, so next time you and your mates are out on the town, having a steak and a couple of cold ones, let your hair down and hold your friends hand. It only takes a while to get comfortable and I am sure if you invite your friend from Mexico named tequila you might be comfy in no time,

 

Handshakes and holding of hands.

Handshakes and holding of hands.

 

Saying goodbye to a friend full of generocity.

Saying goodbye to a friend full of generocity.

On to the KKH (The Karakoram Highway / the old silk route) off bomber and I whizzed, not to far mind you, as this country is just so beautiful you find your mouth hanging wide open and your wrist taking the gears down to stop, look, shoot, trying desperately to capture Gods work. While rocking to Goldfish moonwalk away I felt eyes upon my back, so while dancing to the tunes loud and SA proud in my earphones, I danced around to come face to face with a father and son parked on the side of the road watching me dance, sing and photograph their land.

 

KKH

KKH

 

A place to talk to a stranger.

A place to talk to a stranger.

 

Bomber being bold.

Bomber being bold.

As one would expect I turned down the sound and so we got to chatting, I was welcomed to Pakistan, I was offered more food, I was invited to stay the night or a few days with my new found friend and his family, I was given his top ten must do’s in the area and after politely declining all and explaining my route and my destination , a cell number was scribbled onto a piece of paper with clear instruction that no matter where in the country I was , no matter the time , no matter the situation , I could call and he or someone he knew would come for me , so we held hands for a bit then it was time to hug and ride on . I have to admit I hugged a hell of a lot riding the roads of this amazing country.

 

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If only all roads looked like this.

 

How do you not stop.

How do you not stop.

 

Pano oh pano.

Pano oh pano.

 

Just me.

Just me.

 

Poolside on the KKH.

Poolside on the KKH.

The morning traded its coolness for the heat of the day and luckily for me as I was riding I came across a bunch of kids swimming in a man-made rural pool fed by the clear crisp , invigorating mountain water , I pulled off , asked for permission to join them in this refreshing activity , I was warmly accepted and as I started to get all the bike gear off the chuckles turned to laughter and by the time I was running for the water in my snow coloured under rods with my Cha Cha chicken belly bouncing the Cha-cha, bent over hysterical they were. So we got to attempt a few Chad Le Clos just slower, but laughter came loud and easy and the day’s heat returned to its place of origin leaving me cool in body and mind, the wind from the road would dry me, I would sing so loud as I rode that my throat would hurt but so free I felt that I sang longer and rode slower wishing this would last the age of these ranges, that I could be absorbed into this beauty, take to the sky, so I danced on bomber as we soaked up this place.

 

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Not to Le Clos.

 

And again.

And again.

 

Food glorious food, this time a very traditional dish from Najar a chapshuro it is called ,mince , onions and veggies all wrapped up, served HOT.

Food glorious food, this time a very traditional dish from Najar a chapshuro it is called ,mince , onions and veggies all wrapped up, served HOT.

The Rakaposhi peak came into view, a peak wearing a mantle deep and pure of driven snow, a sight sometimes hindered by clouds as they smoke around its peak, a time for chai and to marvel at this giant that reaches its bulk to a respectful 7795 meters.

 

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Rakaposhi view site.

 

zooming in.

zooming in.

 

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A place I would spend a long time just staring out.

A place I would spend a long time just staring out.

 

Peace.

Peace.

 

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Power.

 

Glory.

Glory.

 

A very steep walk home.

A very steep walk home.

 

Bomber and the mountain.

Bomber and the mountain.

 

My last stop would be the fruit vendor, a man displaying his produce with pride and did it rob me of the ability to ride by, gearing down I slowed and stopped , conversation ignited over apples and pears that he most kindly chose for me , then we sat shared a cup of chai and we spoke of his mountain kingdom as the conversation lengthened so the day light hours started to retreat to the shadow of the mountain , and it was time for bomber and I to ride like the wind to get home before all light was gone , for that little yellow glow that emanates from what seems to be a head light does not show you the way out of darkness it merely acts as a reminder of what a headlight should not be , the best way to describe bombers light it that it has the soft sad glow of a firefly seconds before life fades from its body , beautiful but desperately sad.

 

Fruit, chai and chatting.

Fruit, chai and chatting.

We would arrive safely with only seconds to spare as the last rays dipped, dived and the rich darkness asserts its power and domination, only interrupted by the stars that came to offer hope from the black.

 

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Grain,not the kind you eat.

A hot welcomed shower, a rooftop dinner, a room with a view, all around me, all in me and all of me wrapped up in a mountain, cosy for the night, I wished my eyes and heart could be lying staring up at Rakaposhi while my body lies warm and snug in the most colourful of blankets. My heart sings me to sleep.

 

The hotel.

The hotel.

 

Until we meet again.

 

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A day off Bomber so I thought.

A day of R and R this was meant to be, after a breakfast that involved a whole lot of chilli and chai, my new found addiction I might add, brewed fresh, mixed with milk, no bags to interrupt the diffusion, just fresh tea leaves to express their flavour and me to enjoy a cup or four.

 

Taking a hike up toBaltit fort via Cafe Hunza.

Taking a hike up toBaltit fort via Cafe Hunza.

 

The view from my hotel room, hard to beat.

The view from my hotel room, hard to beat.

 

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A map of the North the area I am exploring.

A map of the North the area I am exploring.

Our first stop on our hike to the fort was a place called Café Hunza, specifically catering for those who have a taste for coffee and cuisine that you will find on the breakfast menu in your home town. It was the first time I had come across any other foreign tourists since leaving Islamabad as well as a reasonable internet connection, which seems to bring out the worst in us. For there I found myself caffeine ing it up and trying furiously to get those bytes up and down. Halfway through both, I decided that this area offers more outside than inside so we all set off for the fort.

 

Fresh Pine and mountain air.

Fresh Pine and mountain air.

 

Karimibad nestled amongst forest and rock.

Karimibad nestled amongst forest and rock.

 

Che still doing motorcycle diaries.

Che still doing motorcycle diaries.

 

Street life in Karimibad.

Street life in Karimibad.

It was wonderful enjoying the shops or should I more accurately state, the bazaar that led up to the fort, clothing full of colour on display, carpets full of magic and ready to fly, home with you and that fantastic Pakistani hospitality to round off the experience.

 

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Morning catch up and conversations.

Morning catch up and conversations.

 

Escaping the heat enjoying the coolness and colour.

Escaping the heat enjoying the coolness and colour.

 

My destination , still a steep walk away.

My destination , still a steep walk away.

 

Beautiful terraced gardens as you walk past the homes up to the fort.

Beautiful terraced gardens as you walk past the homes up to the fort.

 

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Homes clinging to the mountain side.

Homes clinging to the mountain side.

 

Almost at the fort.

Almost at the fort.

Finally, up and into the Baltit fort where we were met by our guide who for the next hour or two would transport us back in time to the Royals, the lifestyle of both rich and poor, the love affairs, the arranged marriages designed for peace, the rouges and ruffians, the land and its people that lived here high in the mountains and low in the valley of gold, without any contact with the outside world. The valley their home, their life and their entire world. The fort faces Rakaposhi dominated by the Ultar glacier, this over seven century fort majestically stands with Baltistan pride.

 

Even closer.

Even closer.

 

So the views start.

So the views start.

 

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Top of fort, enjoying the valley of Gold.

 

Wrapped up like it is winter in the North.

Wrapped up like it is winter in the North.

 

In the fort.

In the fort.

 

Young boy striking out to nget lunch.

Young boy striking out to get lunch.

 

Back to the hotel for a late lunch then back on the scooters to ride up to what is referred to as Eagles Nest for sunset. Atzaz was to be a passenger on the way up to document on film the nothing less than hair raising ride to the top. Although bomber does have place for two, the seating arrangement does not reflect this either in safety or comfort, nor does that 5 comma something horse power engine promote passage to the top. I often had to scream eject to Atzaz to catapult off the back of bomber so that we could crest the rise, find some flat ground, not that easy in a mountain kingdom and then summon my passenger to take his place on the eject seat. The way down in the dark resembled scenes from dumber and dumber, finally back at the hotel safe and sound with no injury, did I feel like a drink, so I ordered a whole one comma five litre street eater bottle of, yes, wait for it STILL water to settle those nerves.

 

In the nest , eagles nest to be precise

In the nest , eagles nest to be precise

 

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Moin had organised some local musicians to come and play on the roof top while the moon lay almost full in the sky not much higher than the range that surrounded us. The music started up during dinner and was delightful enough, the sounds lulling us in to a state of melancholy. with head tipped to the side, chai in hand I sat lulled to a place of peace.

 

Night of music and song.

Night of music and song.

Then the sound of beauty wrapped in voice, words not understood but felt, drew me outside to hear a friend of Moin’s , Farheen bring her power , beauty and soul to the acoustic. So there we all stood mesmerised by her voice carrying away into the night. For the next couple of hours, the band headed up by the immense talent of the Rubab (guitar) player who to broke out into song and Jimmy Hendricks passion, soon the whole hotel on their feet dancing, clapping and having a time to more than remember. With music full of soul in my ears, a heart both full and lifted by music and voice.With meaning of words imagined to bed I walked on air.

 

And a bit of dancing.

And a bit of dancing.

 

Until we meet again.

 

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