web analytics

The Solo Scooterist

Documenting my travels on a Vespa

Category: Pakistan (page 2 of 3)

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.

 

img_4369

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.

 

img_4380

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.

 

img_4396

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.

 

img_4432

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.

 

dscn7694

Rakaposhi view site.

 

zooming in.

zooming in.

 

dscn7693

 

 

img_4518

 

img_4505

 

 

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

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

 

Peace.

Peace.

 

dscn7709

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.

 

img_4566

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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.

 

img_4576

 

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.

 

img_4595

 

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.

 

img_4605

 

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.

 

img_4617

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

 

img_4648

 

 

img_4652

 

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Beauty,Devestation and Snowcap swimming

My eyes would open on the morning of Eid -Ul -Azha, to a fever of colour, excitement and celebration, this considered one the holiest days in the Islamic calendar and the second two Eid’s, the first occurring at the end of Ramadan and the second also called the “sacrifice feast” that occurs with the descent of the Hujjaj, the pilgrims performing the Hajj.

To all those around me Eid Mubarak, a blessed Eid.

After breakfast it was out into the streets to ride up to Passu , today would be short in kilometres , long in time but just beautiful and relaxing as I soaked up the beauty that surrounds such a holy day . The men returning from Mosque in crisp, clean, pressed Shalwar Kameez with purity that only this white can project. The woman expressing their inner beauty and peace in the most amazing display of colour, pinks and purples that immediately throw you into a spring garden, that’s lets you feel the rich colour on your skin as you walk, the blues that take your mind to the skies above and then show you the deepest of oceans. This day that marks the beginning of three, excites, celebrates with colour, spiritually renews a people, and is a time of and for remembrance. Thank you for the privilege of including, sharing and teaching me as I ride the roads of your country.

 

img_4677

Lake Attabad

 

img_4678

 

img_4684

 

This road would let me see the ability of man to attempt the pacifying of nature, I would ride tunnels so long and dark you think no light exists at the end, so the Chinese and Pakistanis have carved out a road that leads to a border high in the mountains, this road that displays unimaginable beauty on both sides, a place made tranquil by the blue of the lake, the greenery of pastures to feed and grow, a place that slows your ride, the rate of your heart, opens your eyes and lungs

 

img_4690

 

In 2010 devastation in the shape of a massive landslide that took a town away, closed a road and built a lake that changed the lives of thousands overnight, so the architect of nature came rolling in and left a mark on the hearts and in the minds of all those who lived and travelled this way. So mother nature built a lake and the people named it Attabad.

 

From here it was on to the T part of a town, being a place so small in structures that I think less that ten buildings exist in the tiny town called Passu, but first it was through long, longer and longest tunnels. Concrete and steel structures built to rival the great wall, with no internal lights and a scooter with not much light generation to boast of, I navigated these structures by stolen light, the white LED light produced by the big GS 1200 ahead of me, so bomber and I hid in the shadows waiting for the sun to set us free.

 

img_4698

Life amongst the mountains.

 

img_4695

The colour of grey chalk as the rivers runs from high.

 

img_4700

 

Out into the open, the road tarred and smooth leads us to a sharp turn left, onto a track called a road that would take us to a lake named Borith, that was made famous by a man who lived and danced on its banks, now it is a place that lets you enjoy a swim in its waters while your eyes climb to the snow-capped mountains that feel so close you can reach out and scoop a handful of glacier magic. It was time to hide nakedness from the people above, amongst the bushes off came the biking gear again and Raju used my riding jacket to cover the snow whiteness of my torso until the calming waters took over and I was set free to frolic in water gathered below but fed from a place high in the mountains. I swam to the centre and floating on my back, arms spread I surrendered to this place of tranquillity, peace and power, the world I live in back home washed away and all that we prize and strive for was replaced by calm, clarity and a slowed pulse that in this moment looking up at the power of creation the world felt perfect and I wanted for nothing, just to be, to be here amongst the mountains and held in this water, free to breathe, free to see.

 

img_4702

Lake Borith

 

img_4709

 

img_4716

Snow cap swimming.

 

dscn7729

Bomber shaken, ratteled and rolled after the track ride to the Lake, well done you light and lithe power machine.

 

img_4725

Back into the bike gear.

 

img_4732

Parting shot of the place of peace.

 

dscn7730

Picture of proof, incase people doubt the mighty Bomber.

 

img_4735

Road to Passu.

 

img_4736

Welcome Passu style.

 

img_4738

Ice making its way down town.

 

img_4746

 

 

img_4750

The road that pases through Passu.

 

img_4757

 

img_4766

 

img_4767

 

 

img_4772

Natures bounty in the gardens of our hotel.

Back on the scooters it was time to get to Passu, arriving at our hotel as the range that surrounds it was taking back the light, the views front, rear and sides that remind you of your insignificance and size in this mighty place. Can you imagine a palace so pure so natural that while you wait for you room keys you pick fresh fruit from the trees that surround your hotel, the skin of the apple no blemish, no discoloration or fade from pesticides just pure unadulterated pureness, our feast was complete, the beauty of our surrounds and the bounty from nature.

 

img_4779

Our hotel.

Un packed and looking forward to a hot shower, I stood in my bathroom, shower shoes on and nothing else, I turned on the hot tap, stared out at the snow-capped mountains all around me and said to myself, how awesome this is going to be, the hot water washing over me as I take in the ice and cold of the mountains framed by my window. Back from my snow dream I put my hand out to gauge the temperature, a shriek and a jump backwards, out of the icy water, impossible! the water had got even colder, so half in half out I made the choice, I would shower in the cold water without looking at the snow outside, that made the cold even colder. Washed and transformed by the cold, I felt like I lived beyond the wall so to speak and soon John Snow would  try and ride this white walker down, I am almost sure that my eyes changed to ice blue for a second.

 

img_4780

How a 150 compares to a 1200, in size and stature , David and the GS guy.

Rubbed and wrapped back from what felt like stage 0,5 of hypothermia it was time for hot chai to warm this bone marrow. I joined the others in front of the hotel, the magnificent mountains all around, we settled in for talk of this place, our day and experiences of Pakistan. As luck would have it we still had Farheen within our company and luck perused us as she agreed to sing for this band of merry men, mind you it was only her voice she had tonight, no instrument’s to smooth the road for her, I took my position up on a flat deck chair my screen the sky, mountains and moon. I raised my cup to enjoy a last seductive sip of chai, lay back closed my eyes with the picture of the mountains in my mind and let her song take me by both hands and heart to show me this land. Words I could not understand verbally but felt easy on my soul as she drew a story of life in the stars. I felt the emotion of the story as she set the story free in breath, so she sang and I followed her words the chariot to the stars. She kept the cold at bay, she let words soften the ice, her song let me rest amongst the stars, a hammock they made and  in a place so magical I let my mind free, to see, feel and be.

 

img_4782

Tucked in while the sky rolls in.

Outside turned cold as dinner was announced, what a treat the wholesomeness of great food and people. We would feast as these mountains hold witness and dinner would take us to America has talent and the great beauty of Italian sophistication. To our surprise after dinner we all move outside to enjoy our chai under the stars and Tom who would put the stars back into the night with his voice that would take us from a speakeasy in the USA to Milano and all that is magnificent in between as he serenaded mountains reaching for the sky. Thank you Tom a spectacular way the end a day full of magic.

I was looking forward to tomorrow for two reasons, firstly I had organised a bucket of hot water for my morning shower and secondly we are riding to the Khunjerab pass sitting at 4934 m to the border that allows entry to China and apparently one of the highest paved roads in the world. With mountains, moon and song I rest my head to dream.

Until we meet again.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Glaciers, life, death and no taxes

A moon almost full, clouds dance gently in its light obscuring its gaze. Mountain ranges in all directions, some blown bare, jagged tops reach for the sky, capped white. Snow, ice, cloud and black rock contrast the deep green of the river valley with its soft leaves attached seemingly tenderly to branches moving with the melody of the wind.

Landslides forever changing this world, sometimes daily, but never without consequence. Glaciers high up that hold both life and death in their ice. The sun warms a layer, it starts with a drip on its way to a torrent, that sets free a stampede that is harnessed by all to give and get life. Pipes plugged into waterfalls to channel away from natures path, they run to households, feed livestock, water the ground to produce and even wash the cars that happen by, all touched and tended by this glacier water from on high, channeled down by ancient routes carved out by man or nature with such force, yet it bringing its life force to all of this land.

This water ash grey with memory of the ages, it runs like the horses of the Camargue free with beauty, power and grace, never tamed, never tired this melted glacier gallops.

Until we meet again.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail
Older posts Newer posts

© 2019 The Solo Scooterist

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑