New Delhi (India), 30.06.2013
Against all expectations we have had a great time in Pakistan, without exceptions. All good things come to an end though, and today it was time to move on. We hope that we will be able to come back to Pakistan soon, there is just so much more to see that our time schedule didn’t allow for on this trip. That said, in the early morning we left the hotel, and took a quick tour through the city by car, to at least get an idea by driving through what apparently is Pakistan’s cultural capital. The colourful chaos that greeted us confirmed the lively impression we had had the previous night. We drove around the fortress, one of the major sights, before fuelling up and heading towards the border on the Grand Trunk Road. Continue reading
Lahore (Pakistan), 29.06.2013
Well relaxed we left Islamabad in the morning, in a neatly packed car, without security concerns. We entered the city fearing the worst, listening to security forces that had escorted us. A day off and everything seemed so completely normal, safe, that we just packed and drove onto the highway that leads from Islamabad to Lahore. It was so hot in the morning that we needed to jump into the pool. But the refreshing effect was short lasting. After packing the car on the hotel’s parking lot it felt like just getting out of the same pool.
Islamabad (Pakistan), 28.06.2013
The day after our night race into the highly secured hotel was planned to be dedicated to relaxing. The Serena in Islamabad is a very beautiful, not too big international yet pakistani hotel. It felt very well to find some of the amenities and services we’re so used to from the west. The friendliness of the staff, the oriental decoration and tasty food made us notice the stark contrast to the Central Asian countries. We started with an extensive breakfast, reading the news, just having all that time that in the last years was never available due to early flights, conference calls in the mornings and other inventions that keep you busy from the early morning hours on. Inspecting the hotel we found it also has a spa, and went for some pampering after an easy lunch.
Islamabad (Pakistan), 27.06.2013
At 04:30 the alarm rang, time to get up and drive to Islamabad. There was a security alert for the road after Gilgit, we had come as close as possible to the troubled area and wanted to cross it in a day. We were told that in 14-16 hours we should reach the capital city, and we hoped that the Evoque would take us there maybe even a little quicker and with no problems. At 06:00 we were ready to go, checked out in the hotel and had the car perfectly packed. We found a surprise gift in front of our door, an origami flower, that made our day start with a smile (thank you Hadia!). At the reception a police man with an automatic rifle over his shoulder was already waiting for us, someone (we didn’t clearly understand who) had arranged for this precautionary measure to make sure we travel safely. Continue reading
Gilgit (Pakistan), 26.06.2013
Taking into consideration the security situation and the advice of several people we decided to do a short trip today, only 100km down the Hunza valley to Gilgit. Since we didn’t have to drive a lot we took it veeeery easy this morning. Long breakfast, reading, internetting, blogging, fotos. We took a walk through the garden of our hotel and found out it was very beautiful, with lots of roses and terraces with views of the valley. Continue reading
Karimabad (Pakistan), 25.06.2013
When we arrived in Karimabad yesterday, we were so amazed by the beautiful valley that we decided to stay one day longer. We wanted to see the Baltit Fort that towers over the village and some other sights we heard about. And we wanted to let one more day pass by before heading further south on the KKH, to see if there are updates regarding the security situation. Continue reading
Karimabad (Pakistan), 24.06.2013
Today we arrived in Pakistan, and we were alerted due to the terrorist attack of two days ago in the area we’re traveling through. Nothing happened to us though, we’re fine. And we feel this country has welcomed us like few others, by its relaxed atmosphere, natural beauty, friendly people and lack of complications.
But let’s go step by step. Continue reading
Tashkurgan (China), 23.06.2013
Waking up in the morning was not easy. The night had been a horror, sleeping on the hard ground at freezing temperatures, fighting the thin air up here, and trying to ignore the noise of the locals having a booze session and an after hour chat until 3 or 4 in the morning behind our yurt. With no possibility to wash, no toilets and completely frozen we went into the car, turned the engine on, and made tea while the heating warmed us slowly. We packed, and as we ate some bread with Croatian honey and bananas our only thought was “let’s get out of here immediately!” The smell of urine and excrements persisted, the trash around us made our breakfast slightly disgusting and quick. Continue reading
Karakol lake (China), 22.06.2013
Anxious to start our discovery of the Karakoram Highway we woke up on time, packed our bags and tried the breakfast in the former Russian consulate to Kashgar. Boiled egg, toast with jam, soy beans, noodles, steamed vegetables, undrinkable coffee. As agreed with our guide at 10:00 we were putting our last things into the car, closed the rooftop rack cover over the camping equipment, spare wheel and chairs and were ready to go. No sign of our guide, probably we got some payback for our late arrival at the border. At some point we decided to leave without him, there was no point in waiting and no added value by having him with us. As we were driving out of the parking area a young Chinese guy that had been staring at us for a while stopped us, pointing towards another building, from where our guide came running. Continue reading
Kashgar (China), 21.06.2013
We would have loved to tell you about this city, that is so different then the previous we have seen. But we ended up seeing very little of it. Waking up this morning costed a lot of energy, our stomachs hurt and we felt both a strong fatigue. At 09:00 we went for breakfast in the old Russian consulate to Kashgar of the 19th century. The building was a surprise in our shabby hotel’s courtyard. High ceilings with wooden decorations, a huge wall painting in what today is a big dining room and plenty of wall decorations in every room. Unfortunately there was no breakfast. It was 11:00 Beijing time, and not 09:00 unofficial Uighur time. Snickers and green tea had to do. Checking the car we found it had not recovered from yesterday’s problems and still showed error messages and ran on reduced power. So we started to find a solution, looking for a garage in town that could help. At the business center of our hotel we found a friendly man that helped, Abdul Wabab. He runs a travel agency and organizes tours in Xinjiang, China’s far west. With a few phone calls he found a dependence of the Land Rover dealer in Urumqi, 1500km from here and the closes one in China. Continue reading