The last report was about the terrible earthquake in Pakistan and I was feeling pretty upset and useless at the time.
Well, after trying to get involved, like many others I was told that it was a job for the army and
the experts and the best thing to do was keep out of the way so I decided to travel on if I could.
The camp site in Islamabad resembled a motorcycle rally ground as several overlanders had gathered. Three Germans,( 2
BMs, 1 Transalp, all with TONS of luggage) two of whom I had already met in Quetta, two Belgians on Transalps( not so much luggage) a South African on a KTM (less luggage) and little me ( in comparison, hardly anything).
We had a great night singing round a camp fire and myself and the Belgians (Chris and Elke) decided to head off in the direction of Peshawar and spend a night together before splitting up to go north by diverse
paths. They chose to do the high, difficult pass via Chitral and me, being a wimp, chose
the lower pass via the Swat valley. We hoped that we would meet somewhere at the northeren end of the KKH and go together to
Chinese border. the Germans were following a day or so later.
As it happened we all met up in the same place in Karimabad in the Hunza valley and enjoyed some spectacular scenery together and good food.
My few days
alone brought interesting experiences with the local people and they showed me a buddha carved in the rock in one valley and some Stupas. I also had some local help with replacing a clutch cable on a particularly lonely
and intimidating stretch of road. I was grateful for the help as I hadn't done a Suzy cable before. The job took two hours though and I camped by a Helipad that night as it was the only place I could find in the rocky
The ride to the Chinese border from Karimabad, with Elke and Chris, took all morninhg and it was bitterly cold at the summit of the Khunjerab pass. However, I had a tiny drop of Bulgarian Slivovitch for
us to toast our success, so we had a party with that. We were a little late coming down to the next town to spend the night but very happy that we had finally made it all the way up.
The next day we went to see an
orphaned snow leopard cub that the park rangers were looking after and then went back to Karimabad where we did souvenir shooping as their local crafts are so good.
Elke and Chris wanted to explore the Skardu valley
which leads off the KKH towards the disputed Indian border. I had to get my visa renewed in Gilgit, which is rather similar to Belfast in that their are two religious factions firing at one another and a very nervous
police force with lots of guns pointing everywhere. On my second attempt I was successful and so followed the others to try and get at least one day walking in the mountains. This we did and, as it is now autumn were
treated to some very colourful trees contrasting with the snowy mountain peaks and bright blue skies. One interesting incident on the walk back was when some local boys, who were rather suspiciously following us, were
bemused when we started singing "Gum Trees" with the actions. They ended up laughing and joining in.
As C and E's visas were also due to expire but their passports were in the Indian emabssy in Islamabad, we
had to try and make it back to that city as soon as pooible. There followed three long days of riding, which included having a puncture just on twilight on on day and, on the final day we had several traumatic
The road north of the earthquake area follows the steep sides of the Indus river valley and they are narrow with no protection on the edge. They are also in very poor condition, lots of rocks
and potholes. I was leading at the time when a Chinese truck came round the bend in the centr of the road leaving me hardly any space to pass on the very edge of the cliff. I had to try otherwise he would have hit me
head on so I tried to squeeze past. The tail end of his truck caught my pannier and I knew I was going to fall but I couldnt allow the bike to fall to the left or I would be over the cliff.