Current Location : Krabi, Thailand (Google map)
Last entry date : 11 July 2008
A rockslide onto the KK minutes before I arrive at this section
16/Jun/08 to 24/Jun/06
There are some bikers out there “adventuring” but I hardly meet them while out on the road. Then Marc, my Dutch riding partner in Iran, rode up the KK to Gilgit on 18/Jun from Lahore to join me and the French rider Yves Besancon did so the following day. That makes 4 bikers when Lili joined us for a drink. Mr. Yaqoob, the boss of Madina guesthouse in Gilgit proudly said he never had so many big bikes parked in his compound.
Marc had been making some jokes about my stomach problems, then he too got food poisoning. He said it was probably not because of the food he ate, but was due to the fact that the Pakistanis barber he went to had put dipped some fingers into his mouth to pull up his lower lips while giving him a close shave, Pakistanis style. We all agreed it was the barber’s left hand fingers, and not the samoosas we had by the Gilgit riverside.
It came time to leave again. Yves left on 20/Jun to ride up the Khunjerab Pass. The next day Marc & me, we took our time to ride a few km together, then he headed north with another traveler Shuyun as pillon towards Khunjerab, and I headed south direction India. The weather was hot and sweaty on the southern KK which snaked right alongside the fast flowing Indus river beneath. The scenery is spectacular – not easily captured on photos – on some sections the KK highway is so high looking steep down the Indus river. So too are the colourful and decorated trucks carrying supplies up & down the KK. Folks, this is great art and passion – someone told me some of the drivers put all hard earned money into the décor.
It had rained heavily further down the KK, and when that happens, nobody moves due to the danger of landslides and rockfalls. By the time I got throught the sandstorm at Chilas (witnessed rubbish, papers & plastic bottles flying all over the town) and arrived at Becham that evening, I had passed through a number scenes where mud and rock still covered the KK with water gushing down from the mountains. Not a good sign and time to be riding on the road. At one section, I was the first to arrive from my side just minutes after tons of rocks had slided down onto the KK and into the Indus river far below. See photo. The passengers of the 4 vehicules arriving from the opposite side were already busy trying to evacuate the rocks down the cliff so that they can continue their journey. From what I can see the danger of further rock fall was still there. This did not bother the Pakistanis at all and some of them even stood right on the edge of the road on the loose rocks. They must have got so used to such danger – the Indiana Jones of the KK. They just laughed when I said I preferred to wait a little before crossing. The big and small rocks were, in my opinion, too badly inclined on the road, looking like some lots could re-slipped down the river anytime. Soon they cleared 30 cms next to the edge and said ” … you can cross safely now, no problem, just don’t look down”. Yes, I’ve heard that before – no problem. So off I jumped onto the bike and unlike the previous river crossings, this time I took my time. Not like in the movies. Relieve, was the word when I made the few metres across, and walked back to thank these brave people for their assistance. They even said they did not need my help to clear the rocks.
As a visitor, I couldn’t help but notice that the towns down the KK are remarkably chaotic. Traffic and people (even animals) flow in all directions. A standout was in a little town just before Becham. Here I noticed there were many structures without front walls above the main road business buildings. Everyone on the main road can see what’s going on above ie in the tailorshop, furniture shop, restaurant, homes, etc. Too bad I had no time to pick-up some photos here as the local police soon quickly arrive to remind me that I was creating a traffic problem as crowds of youngsters were gathering around the bike.
Thus the KK story ends after enjoying 1000km of it. I rode into Rawalpindi and stayed 2 more days after landing up somewhere in the city centre (as usual I had no city maps) in a 2nd rate hotel. Unlike the northern part of Pakistan, here in the south women are once again seen out in the streets window shopping, working in boutiques, eating out in restaurants, etc. I even found some westen fastfood restaurants !!
There is only one official border crossing between Pakistan and India which is the Wargah Pakistan / Attari India crossing near Lahore. And I managed attend the famous border ceremony (well, actually I arrived late as usual to the border after it had closed some hours earlier and Pakistanis officials were giving out VIP front row seats to foreigners). Silly me, but I just did not understand why both countries are proudly parading their the war dance at the ceremony. I am sure there are many like me who wish there are no need for any gates at all at the border.
Current Location : Bangkok, Thailand (Google map) Last entry date : 06 July 2008 This passenger van did not get lucky in the crossing on this washed out road. There is some water power rushing down. 12/Jun/08 to 15/Jun/08 Pakistan has its hot season in May & June. Even in the northern areas high above […]
Current Location : New Delhi, India (Google map) Last entry date : 03 July 2008 Starring up at Mt. Rakaposhi, 7788mtrs above sea level. One can admire this high mountain from the KK highway 10/Jun/08 to 11/Jun/08 At last I’m on the Khunjerab Pass (4700m above sea level) and looking down Pakistan’s KK highway. Just great to […]
Current Location : Dharamsala, India (Google map) Last entry date : 26 June 2008 At the top of the world for a bike – Khunjerab Pass, 4700 mtrs above sea level 03/Jun/08 to 10/Jun/08 The 2nd day on route 218 was by far the most difficult single journey long ride since I started this trip. […]
Current Locaton : Rawalpindi, Pakistan (Google map) Last entry date : 23 June 2008 A water crossing on route 218 31/May/08 to 01/Jun/08 My mini ordeal with the chinese customs is over. I soon began to notice that the towns like Korgas and Yinning appears to be huge in size and densely populated when compared […]