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.
When we finally hit the road the heat was quite tough to bear, 38 degrees with a hot wind. Every time we held the arm out of the window it seemed a hot hairdryer would blow against us. And the car kept smelling burnt, but we didn’t know where the smell came from. We drove down the valley, the road was in good conditions if not under construction. We enjoyed the calm on today’s trip. We started to see anti-US and anti-Israel writings on a building, and more military and police on the streets. As the km passed we drove silently, thinking about the security situation, trying to get at ease with the idea that at any point of time something can happen. We tried to immagine how this would look like, what precautions we could take, how we would have to react. A very strage feeling. And so sad, given that the area we are driving through is amazingly beautiful. It is a pity that so few people from abroad come here to enjoy it.
When we finally reached Gilgit the road was interrupted as two high bridges over the river are not operational. We had to drive back along the river on a pretty bad stone track to take another, much lower bridge. The grey water of the river almost reached the bottom of the bridge as we drove over it. We fuelled up at the town’s entry (43l diesel for USD 45, aka €0,81/l) and tried to find an ATM, without success. Driving through town we noticed the many military installations, roadblocks, checkpoints. When we reached our hotel, the Evoque got scanned with a metal detector from below before we could enter the gate and pass several obstacles. The power air con in the hotel was very welcome for once. And we met Aatif at the lobby, again, the third time our paths cross in as many days in Pakistan. We sat in a corner to chat for quite a while.
After lunch in the hotel restaurant overlooking town, we tried to get online and had some preparation for our next countries on our roadmap to do. The phone rang at some point, it was Aatif inviting us to join him on a trip to the river with his family. We unpacked the car, to make room on the back seats. It is incredible how two months into this trip this is just a 5 minutes thing and no longer takes half an hour. We keep having less and less things with us, and the packing and unpacking goes so much smoother by now. It was already quite late, and we drove for over 45 mins out of town, along the river, to a place like a park on the shore of the river. The hot wind was blowing through the valley. We took our shoes off to take a walk in the cold water, and the wind is less hot the more you get into the river. Very refreshing. After a cup of tea and some cookies we drove back as it got dark. On the way back we had a lot of fun telling episodes of our lives in other countries, especially the US, and having Aatif and his daughters share quite similar experiences. And we found some fellow Uno players in the two girls. Hopefully one day we’ll find the time for a decent match!
Knowing that tomorrow we’ll have to leave early we ordered some food for dinner to close the day. A tough day on the road lies ahead of us.
Trip data for the day
– Km driven: 150
– Hrs on the road: approx 2h
– Diesel l/100km: 11,1