Guns, weed but no booze: Pakistan on a GS (150..)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Asianrider, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. ADVDucs33

    ADVDucs33 Been here awhile

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    Western NY, sticks.
    They know how to get it done. :deal

    Absolutely amazing location, people and trip. The world is beautiful, more so on a small bike. :-)
    twflybum, knight and Asianrider like this.
  2. Runswithscizzors

    Runswithscizzors Been here awhile

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    Amazing scenery. Thanks for sharing.
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  3. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    probably buy one for
    $25 US , they would throw in 100 rounds and 2 banana clips with sling. cleaning kit instructions in chinese.
  4. everready

    everready Stuck in Ohio....Ugh!!!

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    Pretty cool adventure for sure. That first B&W picture with the two boys, man they look creepy.
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  5. elron

    elron Still Standing Supporter

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    Noting the 'cultural" (?) absence of women at least in a participatory or seen role in the mountain 'retreat'. Fantastic scenes and photography.
    Asianrider likes this.
  6. Gestalt

    Gestalt Been here awhile

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    I would never have had any idea as to this region or its beauty, people or indeed anything as I doubt I would have given it any thought without your report, so while that walk may have been hard for you my friend, your pain was most defiantly my gain, I thank you.
  7. Northstar Beemer

    Northstar Beemer Face Plant

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    So I'll echo the other's sentiments - what an amazing adventure and your photography is stunning. You've transformed my mental image of Pakistan completely. Thank you for crafting this great report.
  8. IndiBiker

    IndiBiker Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'd posted that I couldn't see the pics. Some problem at my end - could see them all. Spectacular RR! What images.
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  9. biker7one

    biker7one Adventurer

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    Spectacular report, superlatives are not enough to express my enjoyment, thank you for sharing.

    More power to your pen and camera.
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  10. Caesars_ghost

    Caesars_ghost Air Cooled.

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    Stunning photos, and superb commentary. Thanks for taking the time to share.
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  11. DCrider

    DCrider Live from THE Hill

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    Keep the amazing coming :D
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  12. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

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    Guys,
    I'm back from my summer trip in Central Asia, so I should get back to this RR and finish it up. But first a little digression and some photos of Tajikistan, for good measure.

    I've been riding in amazing places in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and that made me think about Pakistan, because the terrain is pretty similar. High mountains, a mix of really bad roads and very smooth tar, some fast gravel road (though not so much in Pakistan). This time I was on an 800GSA, and I was thinking: was it better on a the big bike or the small nimble one ?

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    One thing for sure, when I had loaded up the beast, with its aluminium panniers, although without too much crap in it, and I first raised it from the side stand, I thought: holy crap, this is heavy! and when I first dropped it and I picked it up, it felt like I had loaded it with anvils. But I rode through some pretty technical stuff nonetheless.

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    So it made me think: which one is best ? the small, light one that's easy to pick up and balance, or the big one with its much better suspension and engine ? one thing for sure, both would make it through. I did get both to 4600m altitude without issue - although much slower on the 150 than on the 800 for sure.

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    Much broke on the 150, none on the 800, although nothing left me stranded. The advantage is that to fix the 150 is about 10x cheaper than the BMW to fix (parts for the big one needs to be shipped in and taxes paid for). I didn't have to fix it because it didn't break and it was a rental. Now about the price.. of course, I paid more for renting out the BMW for 2 weeks than for buying the Suzuki 150 second hand..!

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    But there's another factor: fun. I had the option of renting out a crappy XT600 from another guy, for less money. By coincidence I met that bike on the road and the guy who had rented it was NOT pleased.. it didn't idle, had crappy brakes and suspension. I met 2 other guys who had rented other XT600s (seems to be popular in Kyrgyzstan) and on one of them the sprocket was so worn out after just a couple days that he bought he wouldn't make it back to the capital. So my bike was in top notch condition.

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    But I'd be lying if I said I had fund every day of the 150. The bad roads have definitely taken a toll on my back because of the bad suspension and the lousy riding position. It felt much better on the 800GS, obviously. And this is particularly true on fast gravel roads with corrugation, of which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have plenty of. I could ride at fairly high speed and "glide" over the corrugation and shallow potholes. Not so with the Suzuki, as you can imagine. Also, I could make a fun climb of the 4600m-high Ak-Baital pass utilizing the full 80 hp (only 40 hp I guess at this altitude) of the BMW, one stretch that would have been just slow and annoying on the 15 hp (divided by two..) Suzuki.

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    In a couple occasions, the lack of power almost left me stranded in the rough, very steep roads of Pakistan. In Tajikistan I could extricate myself in tricky situations with the good low-end torque of the 800. On the other hand, the light weight and low seat position allowed to recover my balance more easily on the 150 by using my feet.

    So it felt great to be able to ride a "proper" adv bike in Tajikistan, but if you have no choice, then a small crappy Chinese bike will do the trick too.

    Now let's go back to Pakistan (incidentally, 100km or so south of Wakhan valley In Tajikistan).

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  13. headstaller

    headstaller Long timer Supporter

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    one word....... 'WOW'.
    Thanks for taking the time to share. :thumb
  14. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Looking forward to reading more about both rides!

    Wonder if renting a 400cc Himalyan isn't the logical, Golden Mean, Goldilocks solution...?
  15. Francistor83

    Francistor83 Been here awhile

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    Thank you for taking the time to put up this amazing report and beautiful pics. Keep them coming please!
  16. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

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    I haven't tried the Himalayan, but I know the Bullet. From what I gather, the Himalayan is just as heavy and under-powered, so not the golden mean as much as an overweight bastard child. All it has for itself is the riding position and the suspension travel (not sure about the quality of the suspension itself). And the low price, of course, but it's still more expensive than a 150. I can't possibly see myself buying one, in Europe there are 2nd-hand trail bikes much more suitable (AT, XT600, DR650, etc.), lower priced and probably will give you less trouble, quality-wise.
    In India, there are other options from Bajaj, etc. that would make more sense, e.g. for the Ladakh roads which are in general pretty good. Now if only KTM India would come up with a 390 adv... then we'd be talking !
    In any case, the Enfields aren't available in Pakistan, and probably never will given the strained relationship with India.
  17. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    there is a good report on the himalayan capabilities in the thread: going to montana for a demo ride.
  18. td63

    td63 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Ha -- laughing at my own geo-political faux pas: of course no Royal Enfield in Pakistan.
    IndiBiker likes this.
  19. go_modem_go

    go_modem_go Earth Crawler

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    Germany, France, World
    We may be in luck!

    KTM has just announced a 390 Adv, as well as a whole series of KTM 490cc twins (incl. Enduro and ADV), to be build in India by Bajaj. Not ready for this season though (expect a showing at EICMA '19 in Milan). Furthermore, there are rumours for a KTM 250cc single ADV for the Indian market (same frame base than the '390).

    For the roads and side-paths that you have been taking in Pakistan, anything above 250cc or 150kg wet weight would have severely restricted you...

    In ex-Soviet states, that's another matter, as I've just found out taking my "small" 149kg 690cc KTM Duke to Odessa/UA via Romania, Moldowa and PMR / Transnistria. This lightweight Duke was just perfect on remote Romanian mountain paths, ideal for side-tracking into uncharted territory. OTOH, it felt too flimsy for long stretches of those large, endless straights of ex-Soviet highways...

    Anyway, looking forward to further posts on your Pakistan ride!
  20. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

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    Pakistan on a Suzuki GS150 Part Deux

    Back in Gilgit, the province capital and main travel hub go the Karakoram, I check in to the same hotel. Time for a beer, some laundry and good food.

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    I can recommend the chicken Karihi, excellent. Anyway, the next goal is explore the upper reaches of the KKH, the newly rebuilt highway that reaches all the way to the Chinese border. So a couple days later I'm back on the road, heading upon very smooth pavement. The region is pretty touristy and most tourists don't get far off the main highway, which is understandable when you drive a normal sedan car. When I came here the first time, 13 years ago, on an XT600 Ténéré, I had little idea what other roads existed or what to do. Guidebooks were pretty thin and online maps lacking. And I have to admit that I was blown away by what I was seeing. But in the meantime, with the boom of indigenous tourism, the infrastructure has followed a similar exponential development.

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    E.g. there's this rest stop at the base of Rakaposhi (7788 m !) which is a pretty nice place (although other places higher up are better for photos). The altitude here is 1970m, I guess it's the only place in the world reachable by paved road where you can see an almost uninterrupted drop of almost 6000 meters...!

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    I skip Hunza and Karimabad, which has become something of a tourist trap with tons of (mainly Pakistani) tourists flocking there and continue up on the road that had been cut off a few years back my a huge landslide which dammed the river and flooded the road under a new lake. For a few years, the lake had to be crossed by boat, perilously balancing your precious car on wooden boats (google it on youtube, "Attabad Lake"). But the Chinese couldn't abandon this road, and the access to the sea it gives to their western province, so they drilled a few tunnels into the mountain to bypass the lake. Incidentally, the lake is now yet another attraction on the KKH.

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    It's not quite up to our standards yet, as when I crossed it all lights were out. It was a bit scary with my flimsy headlight. Further up I just had to stop at the famous Hussaini suspension bridge. Again, they made a tourist attraction of a bridge that was used only by locals to cross the river. I used to be pretty sketchy, but it has been rebuilt ans now there's a fee to get on it !

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    As you can see, the plank budget was at a minimum. Plus it is swinging a bit when you walk on it. So it's a bit scary at first. So many people come here just to dare their friends to cross it and and get a selfie. The gate keeper told me there's an informa record for running across it, a round 40 seconds !

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    But the view away from it is mind blowing.

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    There's actually another suspension bridge a little further upstream that's in worse shape but the backdrop isn't as impressive. Those peaks are called "Passu Cones" and you get a better view on them just before Passu village, another obligatory stop for selfies.

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    There's also a nice view on the glacier not far from the road.

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    Yet another obligatory stop is just a few km farther up. There's a restaurant with a terrasse that offers an incredible view across the valley.

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    Not bad, but the real reason the Glacier Breeze restaurant is famous among the overloading community is because of its apricot cake.

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    I would say it ranks pretty high up in the overloading gastronomy, next to the much more famous Apple strudel of Solitaire in Namibia. Maybe someday I should write a Michelin guidebook of the best restaurants situated in unlikely remote places. :dukegirl

    Next up on my list is a detour to Borit Lake and further on to the end of the road, from where one can walk 20 minutes to get right next to Passu glacier. The access road is rough and steep so the little Suzuki is struggling but by now I'm used to it.

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    With the sun going down in the late afternoon I better look for a place to sleep so I'm heading back to the main road.

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    What better place to chose than right across the valley from the Passu cones ?

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    The country being what it is, I would have to do with tea instead of a gin and tonic sundowner, but the panorama makes up for the lack of alcoholic beverages.

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    That's been a most excellent day, totally on the tourist trail but hey, if it's good it's good !
    twflybum, knight, ObdewlaX and 19 others like this.