Saturday, November 25, 2006

da whore

Lahore was pretty fierce. I ended up spending about 5 days there because a) it was fun b) I became very ill there. This city is defintely the cultural hub of Pakistan. There's so much to do, eat, buy. Lots of little markets and small streets to get lost in.




This is the big mosque in da whore. I don't remember it's name, but it was fierce. I got in a fight with the shoes-check people. I knew that even though it was a place of worship, that they'd try to extort money out of me to get my shoes back. I held back and watched what the locals paid for the shoes - something like 5 rupees. So I asked for my shoes, then gave him the 5 rupees and dude flipped shit. He wanted 20. Naturally, I took the 5 back from him and walked away. Beggars can't be choosers, right? Of course, he didn't like this and came back over and said 'Okay 5, Okay 5'. Nope, no money. I started saying Allah and Masjid over and over again, then someone threatened to hit me with a stick. What? This is God's house, bitches.

Inside the mosque. The view from the outside is deceiving because the inside is actually tiny.

Friday, November 24, 2006

tall men, long moustaches

I made a few friends at the hostel in Lahore, even though I wasn't staying there (I officially do not do shared accommodation with strangers anymore). Unfortunately, there were two Australians in the group of our 4-some, but dare I say it, they were actually bearable.

We headed out to the border between Pakistan and India to watch the closing ceremony.

Being the thrifty folk we are, we decided to attempt public transportation out there. I mean, it's only 30km, how long could it take?

Will I ever learn?

First of all, let me tell you that we were riding the bus with two clowns. Seriously. Two dudes from Italy were trained clowns and were on their way to Varanasi for a 'clown workshop'. One of the guys was mime-ing his fucking brains out and doing lame walking-invisible-dog-type-"tricks". I think I've finally found people with a craft creepier than dudes that perform magic.

To make a long story short, the bus ride took forever, and the clowns were cutting it close. After all, we were going there to watch the closing ceremony and they were going to cross.

They never made it and had to camp at the border. I'm sure they mime-d up a tent and some food and it was all a-ok.

This is what the dudes wear. I think they found the tallest guys in Pakistan and then stuck these fans on their head to make them even taller.



And this dude runs around with the flag chanting 'Zindabad Pakistan' (long live Pakistan). And then the crowd starts screaming it, too. Meanwhile, you can hear the Indian side scream 'long live Hindustan'. Then, of course, the Pakistani side starts chanting about Allah and how great he is, which is kind of nauseating. But then you have to remember why Pakistan was formed in the first place.



And then these guys march around. It's all very exciting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

pesh pesh peshawar



Just some dudes I picked up on the Afghan border metropolis of Peshawar. This is where all those bombs have been, and continue to, go off. These guys took me around for two days. It obvious they're completely bored with their lives (ie. we hung out at a clothes and cutlery craft fair for two hours), but they're all very educated and plan on fleeing ASAP.
Verbatim from Peshawar internet cafe.

honorably requested
you are requested:
Don't visit Bad sites, which may cause degrade your personality
visit good and informative sides, which could enhance your personality and knowledge
students are not allowed durings school hours
smoking is not allowed its injurious for your health
you are requested to visit some islamic sites during web-surifing (www.islam.com and www.quran.com, and there are sooooooooo many more islamic sites please search google
thanks for your co-operation
administrator

Friday, November 17, 2006

seriously swat

Made it to the Swat region after a grueling journey over the Lowari Pass. It was yet another exhausting ride with 8000 men in a vehicle designed for 10. All spitting their tobacco refuse between their legs and onto the floor, only to drip over to my bag. Loves it.

The Lowari Pass is a very scenic journey. Lots of zig-zagging to get up and over a mountain, and then back down it. This was basically my last chance to get out of Chitral and into Swat, as the snow was moving in. (As a sidenote, a few days later, the newspapers read 'Chitral is cut off from rest of Pakistan'. Basically what happened was that the pass finally closed due to snow and all flights were also cancelled, so the Chitral region would have to rely on its own resources for however long they could). I later met up with a guy that crossed the pass by foot with a few locals and nearly died. He doesn't remember much of the experience, except being carried through waist-high snow up and over the pass. See, I'm not the only retarded tourist in Pakistan.


Made it to Swat, which is touted as yet another 'most beautiful place in Pakistan'. And yes, it was beautiful, but while I certainly hit the more Northern areas at their peak time for loveliness, I just missed it in Swat; the leaves had already fallen off the trees and it was starting to get very chilly.

So, basically I holed myself up in Madyan, a small village in the valley for 3 days at the Madyan guesthouse. There were only two other tourists in town, a Swiss couple, who I hung out with the entire time on their balcony.

When I arrived, the police wanted to assign me a private armed guard to follow me around, but I had to decline that especially after my mistake early that day.

Basically what happened was that I needed to renew my visa. I thought I had found the correct office to do so, but before I knew it, I was getting a private, armed escort to the bus station, not the visa stamp I had originally asked for. He had 6 men in a jeep take me to the bus station. Hello, awkward. Make me a target much? I vowed to decline all future escorts, unless of course they were really, really hot.

This is the main street in Madyan. It was the first place I found that you could buy chicken liver on the street. Seriously my fave.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

scabie love child

My final day in the Kalash Valley, I realized I had contracted scabies. Not sure if it was my lack of bathing or the gross places I was sleeping. But people had warned me that I'd get it at one time or another while in Pakistan, guess my number was up.

So here's a visual of my Scabion lotion. And it wouldn't be complete without an equally disgusting visual of what routinely comes out of my nose. Yeah, that thing on the right is a tissue with my coal miner's snot on it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

guru

Embarked on a journey to the Kalasha Valleys. The people that live here are called Kalash (shocker) and are not Muslim. They believe in a wide array of gods and do that whole animal sacrifice thing once in a while. I stumbled upon one of these altars which was nothing more than a pile of rocks and wood, so I didn't take a picture. But while I was up there, all of the villagers started freaking out and started yelling at the guesthouse manager that he can't be letting the female tourists up there. Yes, they thought I was a girl. First, Japanese. Now, a girl.

Many of the Kalash are converting over to Islam at very young ages because of people coming in and preaching to the youngsters. They'll give the children gifts and promises of virgins in heaven. What I found interesting is that the kids will convert at really young ages without their parents involvement at all. Needless to say, the Kalash people (because you can't be Kalash and Muslim) will no longer exist in a couple more decades.

This is the entire village of Guru. Only about 300 people live on this mountainside.




We ended up staying in this house. It was the only guesthouse in town and was more of someone's home than a guesthouse. We spent a lot of time hanging out in the kitchen playing cherades with everyone.



This is me with a Kalash lady on the right and the Austrian anthropologist that'd been living there for two years. She spoke the language and was very helpful with letting us know about the inside scoop on everything. Koos and I decided that she'd been living there for a bit too long, though. Craaazzy.


This is what the all the females wear - even to bed. They keep their caps things on by a braiding their hair into five plaits at strategic points to always keep it propped up. The little girls have mostly shaved heads, except for a large braid in the front. They are allowed to grow their hair when they've, you know, ripened.

After Guru, we proceed to the Bombaret area. This is still technically Kalash. We did some hiking, caught some bedbugs, ate shitloads of delish food. To get out, we took this jeep. There were 23 people in it, but comfortably fit about 8 or 9. I kept thinking of Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez as we were pretty much falling off the side of the road and down into the gorge.

Okay. They thought I was girl because I was always prancing around in this fierce headgear.

Friday, November 10, 2006

this place has danger written all over it

Early it was. 10 of us and a driver piled into a jeep made for 6 + driver. We braced ourselves for 3 more hours of un-tarmac-ed riding to reach our final destination of Chitral. It sucked.

But after 1.5 hours we did reach tarmac. It was as if God had finally answered my prayers of providing road conditions that didn’t leave bruises on my delicate ass cheeks.

And we arrived in Chitral just in time for a lunch of tasty kebabs and peanut cake.

We also had to register with the District Police Officer, even though, as he said in his first sentence, (after grilling ME about MY life and ignoring the Jap and Dutchman) that Chitral was a ‘no-crime zone’ – no killings, no stealings.

“Okay, so why do we have to register? Because 2 Frenchmen a couple months ago got lost in the forest or because your borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan are unstable and insurgents can easily cross?”

“Oh, because of the Frenchmen, of course. This is a no-crime zone.”

He was a tool. He stank of nepotistic Paki bureaucratic regime nightmare grossness. After all, I was never very good at obeying authority figures – especially such transparent ones.

Especially after the Jap who was exhibiting symptoms of verbal diarrhea blurted out – your town is rary beautiful!

The officer looked at him without saying anything, but we all knew what his eyes said.

“Are you fucking kidding me? This place is a shithole! I’m just here for the money, free booze, and bricks of opium. What rock did you crawl out from under?”

He even had people standing around his desk waiting for him to request something that they could fetch and then return to him with a slight bow – it was all so contrived and sickening. It was all I could do to not pop a cap in his ass to break him out of this narcissistic wet dream he was caught in. It makes me so mad just thinking about it. But it makes me even sadder that he’s probably the best of the regime and that normal, everyday Pakis have to put up with much worse – no wonder they say their hopes and dreams have been crushed.

The electrical situation outside our hotel. Good thing it was raining.

Chitral traffic. Transport trucks going to/coming from Afghanistan.

Chitrali gun shop. I like that there was no shop-keeper. My fave is the automatic non-sense in the upper/middle of the picture. Loves it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

mastuj madness

Seeing as we had such a whoreanus day yesterday, we decided to sleep in and try to find a jeep to Chitral at the reasonable hour of 10am. But because nobody sleeps-in in Mastuj – all jeeps had left at 6am.

So we ended up chilling in the ‘center of town’ with all 12 of the other inhabitants of Mastuj staring at each other hoping that someone would provide entertainment so that they didn’t have to go back to the boring confines of their boring homes with their boring wives and boring children.

Mastuj to the right.


Mastuj to the left, featuring a participant in the staring contest. Loved his saggy drawers so much, I bought a pair of my own.


We sat for 2 hours. Waiting. But no jeeps came.

We went back to the guesthouse and sleep the rest of the day away. An early day was ahead of us.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

my wife is a prostitute

LP described the journey to Mastuj as a grueling one. Fuck yeah, it was grueling – it was also nauseating and suicide-inducing.

Actually, I handled it alright, but Koos was about ready to kill someone, anyone. It was then that I learned he hasn’t yet acquired the skill of tuning out ear-piercing music, the endless dribble that you have to listen to from the one dude that speaks English, and the throbbing pain you must endure in your ass bone as the bus jostles its way up endless, rocky roads.

Needless to say, he lost it a few times which made me feel a tad uncomfortable. I never know how to act when a friend goes off the deep-end and starts kicking up a storm about something so trivial to a local, yet so unbelievably annoying to a foreigner.

But I can lose it, too, I guess. Usually it’s more of a hurtful sarcastic comment.

What I hate is that everyone we meet asks the same, stupid questions – where are you from?, where are you going?, how many days will you stay?, how many days in Pakistan?, 1st time in Pakistan?, and maybe some off-handed remark about the easy life that Westerners have vs. Pakistanis, or our shitty foreign policy, or a request for a visa recommendation letter.

So whenever some person begins the conversation with ‘Which country from you are where?’, I don’t allow any breaks in my response, answering all foreseeable questions in one run-on sentence. Which I think is rather annoying for traveling companions because it just makes me look like a pompous asshole.

But then Koos will add something genius, like – Yes, I’m married, but my wife is in Amsterdam, she’s a prostitute – which will smooth everything over.

After a few bus break downs and scavenging for anything edible along the way (and having the dudes stare at us because we stand while we pee in nature instead of squatting like the Pakis), we arrived in Mastuj at 1030pm.

1030pm in Mastuj might as well be 3am because the town was D-E-A-D, ya’ll. No lights, no people, no nothing. We did end up finding a place to stay after someone at the 'bus station' was nice enough to call a friend of a friend for us. I’d even go so far as to say that the place was cute. it was a little guesthouse able to accommodate about 6 people. It turned out that there was a British girl who had been living there for two months already because she was teaching at an English-medium school for an unspecified amount of time (and I was under the impression that she was banging the 20-something Paki kid running the place – body odor, and all).

This wasn't the bus we rode.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

euro love

Returned to Gilgit. It was my 2nd time, Jan’s 3rd, and Koos’s 4th. It’s nice to return to a place that you’ve visited before. Of course, you don’t have the new sights and scents (we won’t go into what those scents usually are), but it’s comfortable. You know what to expect. Unless, of course, gun-fire breaks out. Which didn’t happen on this Gilgit experience, but I’m just saying.

We had a separation/breaking up dinner in the evening because Jan was going to Swat and Koos/I were going to Chitral. It was slightly awkward – straight men, goodbyes, etc. – even though they’re Euros. I tried to break it up by asking Jan not if, but how much, he’d miss me. I think he responded with something about hot beef injections.


The only gay in the village.

Monday, November 06, 2006

ballet bitches

Ridiculously early wake-up to go to Passu, a town further North on the KKH and one of the last stops before the Chinese border.

Passu was closed when we arrived because of a wedding. Not surprisingly, the entire town was at the wedding – so why leave things open? We figured we might as well follow the sounds of beating drums and gunshots to find someone with a bed, food, water.

We hung out long enough at the wedding to take a few pictures and for someone to notice that our backpacks needed a better resting place than a manure-covered field.

I don't have words to express their dancing.

This super-high quality picture is of the bride and the groom. The bride is in the blue head-dress and looks very unhappy, but very well-fed. The man to her left is the groom, he also looks very happy, but suspiciously like a maharajah. The man to her right is a queerface and hiding his head in fashion shame.


Later, after enquiring about places to eat – we proceeded in the direction of our hike-starting-point, which was also in the direction of supposedly the best restaurant in Northern Pakistan.

But since local advice is akin to LP-advice (seriously, the locals don’t even know what’s going on), the restaurant wasn’t open. NOTHING was open. How were we to hike 6 hours with no provisions?

Then suddenly, some wealthy Paki showed up in a jeep. He was sightseeing his own country. He asked the same fucking questions everyone else asks, but all he got in response was ‘Food. Do you have food? We want food.’ He got the hint and pulled out a box of half-eaten biscuits. Of which we devoured.

We started our “2 bridges walk”. The bridges were very Indiana Jones-ish. At the 2nd bridge, we had lost our way a bit, forcing Koos and I to stand on each other to get up onto the bridge. Jan, on the other hand, decided to ‘wade’ through the river. (It should be noted that the river water was water that was coming off of the snow-capped mountains). Before we knew it, he was up to his neck in the river and swimming across with his bag over his head.

One of the "2 Bridges". That's not a harnass around my waist; it's my fanny pack, ya'll!


Of course, the sun was just setting by the time Jan made it across making his health situation a precarious one considering we were miles from home and were planning on hitchhiking back. Who knew how long it would take for a car to come along?

Jan was a novice traveler. He was hiking with his passport, all of his currency, camera, visa letter from his school, pretty much everything of value. I realize that you probably shouldn’t leave things of value behind in your room, but…..

Instead of waiting for transport, Jan ran the 6km back to the hotel to keep warm, while Koos & I decided to buy cookies for what would turn out to be a very, very long walk back.

On the way to the market, we met two old biddies. I’d say they were 50 and 60 years old, but looked 65 and 85. They literally ran up to us and shook our hands, which simultaneously asking us if we were Japanese. Yes, Japanese.

Observations:

1) Refreshing to see women take a human role and acknowledge the fact that THEY are indeed humans and initiate contact in the form of PHYSICAL contact. It’s so refreshing to see this in a predominately Muslim country (after especially after having live in such environments for so long).

2) When the Egyptians used to ask ‘which country?’, I’d respond with ‘Japan’ because I was just so annoyed by that question. I mean, really, does it matter where I’m from? But they never fell for it even though I tried to reason with them that I have white skin, but it was possible that I could have been born in Japan, therefore making me Japanese. But the difference between nationality and heritage wasn’t something many of them were able to differentiate. But then we have the Northerners in Pakistan – have they not noticed the ONE thing that differentiates non-East Asians from East Asians???? (As a footnote, I was asked about 5 times during my stay in Pakistan if I was Japanese – are these people suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome?)

While Koos and I tried to maneuver our tired bodies around the stream running directly in front of the shop, the old women mumbled something. I joked that they probably said, “Look at these sissy mother-fuckers trying to hop-scotch their faggoty-asses over this trickle of water – let’s show these bitches how its really done.”

And they LEAPT like fucking ballet dancers over the stream!

They were fierce. Love them.

This is a view of the Passu Peak. There was a picture of it in the Lonely Planet that Koos and I talked about non-stop. It was the most amazing picture ever and really, we only came to Passu to figure out if LP had edited the picture to make it look so hot. Of course LP edited it (they are LP afterall), but I think it still looks TFO.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

respirator chic

I honestly don’t want to relive what happened today, but I’m sure one day – in a decade, or so – I’ll think my near-death experience was a total hoot.

It all started out as a 6-hour round-trip hike up to about 10,000 feet to a place called Ultar Meadows. The ascent was no problem. Yeah, we had to scale a few cliff-sides, but I’ve always been relatively strong in this arena. It’s the ‘going-down’ part that I’m a little unsure about myself and am therefore overly cautious, which usually ends up hurting me in the end. (This is my attempt at foreshadowing)

Scaling cliff-sides. Jan totally tries to give Koos a helping hand, but I don't think he was sufficiently lubed yet.



Me in Ultar Meadows with the dainty Ladyfinger peak in the background.


There were three ways to get down –

1) along a small path about 200m high on a sheer face
2) same way we came up (still don’t know why we didn’t do that)
3) a path that we had no idea what it was like

This is a visual of Option #1. The path is that tiny line on the left in the middle of the mountain.

The same path is on the right side as well. We were able to reach this at one point. And it's not like you're able to cling onto the side of the wall as you're walking, because there just so happens to be an irrigation canal there. Who built that? (The free-balling fort is in the background)


Koos somehow persuaded me that #3 was the best option. Duh, clearly!

All was going dandy as I was clinging to rocks like a fucking chameleon. No problem. Easy breezy, I thought. But eventually I had to cross a sandy bit that was at such an angle that the slightest movement – even a dung beetle running across it – would trigger a huge sheet of sand and loose rocks to slide 75 feet down into the rocky, rushing rapids.

I couldn’t get a secure footing anywhere since the cliff-face kept breaking away whenever I moved. I had gotten to a point of no return. I was stuck.

I was stranded on a semi-solid boulder in a sea of what amounted to quicksand. Koos somehow made it across on a lower portion of the face, but I wasn’t willing to re-enact it. I kept having visions of myself sliding down into the rapids and not necessarily dying, but turning into some vegetable that Jeb Bush refuses to pull the plug on. And honestly, that’s one look I know I can’t work. I can work a lot, but not a respirator.

I refused to go any further. I told Koos to continue the descent without me, find help in some form or another, and come back to haul my ass up to safety. He told me that was a shit idea and phrases like, “I know you can do it” and “if I fall will you catch me?” started to come out of our mouths. Which I had to roll my eyes at even then.

After 45 minutes of our made-for-TV dialogue, Koos started walking towards me on the ‘wall of death’ and somehow made it to my general vicinity. What a manly man!

We created a most-unstable chain using our most-unfashionable fanny-packs so that we could support each other’s weight as we took turns maneuvering back to safety.

It worked. Alhamdulilah!

I ended up with a few bruises and I tore Koos’s forearm to shreds with my death grip, but we survived.

I thought I had been scared at other points in my life, but the violent leg shaking was a new thing.

Once we made it to solid ground, we sat down, and I thanked Koos for saving my life. He said that it was no problem, but it could become one if Café d’Hunza was closed/out of walnut cake when we got to the bottom. (This is before we learned about the semi-permanent closure of Café d’Hunza). It made me giggle and wish Koos was a pillow-biter like me.

We ended the day by rolling joints from the huge marijuana bush that many a tourist had pilfered before us. A little something something to calm our nerves. But curiously, we never got around to smoking them.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

apricots and walnuts

Made our way to Karimabad – where we’d spend the next few days exploring. The town was small, but well-maintained. It was obvious that it catered to tourists, but since we were there in the off-season we literally had the place to ourselves.

A view from town into the Hunza valley.


We had a tour of the ancient fort dominating the village by a free-balling man without a belt. He eventually asked us to sign the guestbook – gave us a chair and a pen. I flipped through the book to find inspiration from past entries. But all of them were same-old, lame-old things like – ‘Wow’ and ‘I can’t wait to return’.

Koos and I decided to be our usual obnoxious selves and wrote:

“Why isn’t the sultan here? We came to see the sultan. And to eat apricot cake. Where’s the apricot cake?”

The fort. I'm sorry, but this picture is pretty hot.


Afterwards, we settled our asses in the Café d’Hunza. LP recommended their walnut cake. Since I hate LP, I didn’t get my hopes up. We ended up splurging on a whole loaf of said cake for 4$. As the boy was cutting it, it sounded as if it had been sitting in the display case long enough for it to become fossilized.

But once we spread that bad-boy open and looked inside we found that there was only about ¼” of cake surrounding a good 3” diameter worth of pure, candied walnut log-roll. And we all know how I love them log-rolls. Hello!

Unfortunately, we took for granted that they’d be open in the evening for an after-dinner snack, but no. They ended up closing after our snack and didn’t open up again during our entire stay in Karimabad.

Friday, November 03, 2006

put those boys on rok rok

Jan and I set a departure time of 630am for Rokaposhi base camp, but didn't actually get around to leaving until 730 because of a delayed breakfast and Jan's bowel problems.

Me in front of a very large mountain.


I was a bit scared of what lie ahead because the guestbook at the hotel used words like 'nearly impossible ascent' and 'dangerous paths' - plus, the term 'base camp' has a whole slew of difficult-to-attain connotations. But within an hour of the three-hour-initial-ascent I said to Jan that I expected worse as he forced himself up with his less-than-fierce cramps. But being the determined Czech man he is, he made it to the guesthouse before the final ascent to base camp at 10,261 feet.

I had to leave him there. But we parted on unclear plans as to whether we'd meet again and where - of course, I didn't realize the implications of this until later.

So, I was on my own for this leg of the trek. Great, considering the map/instructions we had were vague and I couldn't find the path that I was supposed to use to get to the top. So what I did was set my sight on the mountain pass and made straight for it - scaling over boulders, through snow, clinging onto tundra-like shrubbery on cliff-faces. You know, totally safe. Anything to get to that fucking snow-covered pass that I was promised would provide me with the best views November can provide in North Pakistan.

The path I was taking was retarded and unnecessary. I had to take frequent breaks because it was very hard and so very wrong. Great opportunity to take pictures of myself against the beautiful scenery so that my family and friends would have recent pictures of me should I tumble to a very foreseeable and likely death.

Guess now is as good a time as ever to eat that Granny Smith I've been carrying around in my fanny pack.


But alas, after two hours of a full-body workout hauling my ass up the mountain, I made it to the pass and proceeded to base camp which involved scooting on my ass on a 6-inch wide 'path' on the side of a mountain with a sheer, 50 meter drop into a heavily-crevassed glacier.

So I started the scooting while humming the lyrics to 'Like a Virgin' to calm myself.

Made it.

Woo-hoo!

Took pictures of myself and base camp which wasn't much more than a few eco-friendly toilets and a rock hut - base camp was officially closed due to the season (out of season).

The things on the bottom are crevasses from the glacier - huge, but you can't really tell on the picture. On the left is a rounded-tipped (yum) mountain in the clouds ... it's 21,000 feet tall. People climb it.


Yep. I'm bad with directions, but at least I pre-planned this bangin' photo opp.


On my way back down, I found the trail I was supposed to have used on my way up. It was a lazy, zig-zaggy trail that eventually led me to where I left Jan. But there was no sign of him - no note, no poopy toilet paper.

So I tended to nature and waited around a bit for him to show, but he didn't. I know from various films that one should never leave another person on a mountain, but I figured he must have gone back down due to his debilitating diarrhea.

I made it down to the village one hour before sunset and Jan hadn't arrived ahead of me. Shit!

I was very worried, since I should have seen him on my way down given the views of the valley.

But in the end, he showed up. He had napped for three hours and because I hadn't come back, he assumed I was injured and went up to find me. He left 5 minutes before I arrived and used a path I couldn't see him on.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and we proceeded to feast on some meat-stuffed chapatis.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

how much money does america give your country?

Befriended Jan from Czech Republic and Koos from the Netherlands. We'll be travelling together for the next week or so in the North. I'm the shortest one of the trio. We made our way to Minapin - the base for our trek to Rokaposhi base camp at 10,261 feet.

Jan and Koos playing that 'chasing a metal ring' game with local kids.



On the way, the man next to us in the bus told us that Prince Charles and Camila were gracing the Hunza valley with their presence. He even pointed out the huge messages the villagers had spelled out in English on the sides of the mountains.

I inadvertently deflated this man's bubble by telling him that Prince Charles doesn't actually do anything. He just shakes hands and smiles his fucked-up-toothy-smile for cameras.

On the way we stopped to buy stomachs wrapped with intestines. I think the fly really adds some dimension to the picture.

Then when we unloaded our bags, we realized there was a live sheep tied to the roof. I assume he/she defacated all over our belongings during the journey.


Arrived in Minapin to a slew of slogans in English and Urdu wishing the demise of USA & Israel. It was clear that this was an uneducated village and that the people believe what they're fed. I mean, I know we're evil - but to scrawl slogans on the mountains is a bit immature, don't you think?


A passing child even whispered 'Down with America'.

Everyone told us what a beautiful hostel and village it was - not sure if it could live up to my expectations, but it did.

The scenery was stunning with the jagged, snow-covered peaks. To think tomorrow we'd be climbing up into those snowy regions.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

turn that frown upside down

Easy, breezy day of Polo-watching.


There were no floppy-hats to be had. It was a total sausage-fest. I joked with my new-found friends that all of the women must be running through the streets naked while simultaneously combing their hair.

The crowd was very subdued - sedated possibly. There was no cheering. Just gormless, Yemeni-esque staring.



I asked a few people 'why the long faces?'

a) cricket is better
b) it's the police vs. the post office, we already know who's going to win

After the match, we were led into some bunker of a restaurant for tea and cake that tasted like soap. Delicious, I say.