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

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

  1. Gone_Ridin

    Gone_Ridin Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2015
    Oddometer:
    307
    Location:
    Canada
    Maybe the self proclaimed snowmobile capitol, that province makes many false claims though!!
    You have to remember; there are 2 Ontario's. I live in Northwestern and our trails rival quebec's but we're 1,800km from Toronto and most people forget us!
  2. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    271
    No, but I rarely had trouble communicating in English.
  3. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    271
    Most impressive is the verticality of these mountains, they're much bigger and steeper than anything in, say, Ladakh, if you've been there. And obviously much bigger than in the Alps and the Rockies.
    In Tibet, Ladakh, Pamir, you have 7000 - 8000 meters peaks as well but you're looking at them from 3000 - 4000m altitude, in Pakistan the valley bottom is at 1000-1500m.. !
    Also the crazy roads carved into the cliffs and steep mountains sides.
  4. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
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    271
    The next day I went out trekking, so this post will be all about mountains photos. It starts in the early morning with the view from my tent.

    [​IMG]


    It's pretty cold but it's worth going out to the ledge to watch the sun hitting the top of Nanga Parbat.

    [​IMG]

    There's also another popular photo spot behind a small pond. Great light in the morning as well, the air is cold and crisp.

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    I go to the police station to check in for the trek to the glacier, as you're supposed to do. They tell me to join a group that's forming out there. I go out and find nobody, so I leave on foot and nobody cares. Good.

    [​IMG]

    There's no road so everything has to be carried on donkeys or on your back, for the planks and beams. About 30min away is Behar camp, another large meadow where a lot of building happens (as well).

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    It's a beautiful place, and much quieter than down at Fairy Meadow.

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    There are a few hotels there. I had a chat with a very nice guy who's been here for many years, and also told me that the place is developing too much and too quickly.

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    Another 1/2 hour or so, one reaches a very impressive viewpoint.

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    Higher up still is Nanga Parbat basecamp, but I have no intention on going there, it just doesn't get any better than that.

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    The colors of fall add up to the scenery. It's worth hiking this small hill for a better view down the valley.

    [​IMG]

    It's time to hike back to Fairy Meadows and enjoy the day.

    [​IMG]
    Merfman, DCrider, NSFW and 20 others like this.
  5. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    271
    The next morning, I hike down to get back on my bike (hopefully)..!

    [​IMG]

    It works well in black and white, too.

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    The way down is easier, obviously. For those overweight tourists there's a way up, too.

    [​IMG]

    Arriving down at the road head, I ask around for... a large nail. On the way up, I'd lost the pivot screw holding my front brake lever, so I finished the ride with no front brake - no going up but the ride down i'd rather have a front brake. So that nail will do just nice.

    [​IMG]

    The place is jammed with dozens of jeeps waiting for their customers. Obviously, one of them knocked my bike down while maneuvering, and the clutch lever broke.

    [​IMG]

    I took my chances leaving the bike here, so that's not totally unexpected but still. I ask around, looking pretty pissed, and nobody has seen anything (of course). Still, some guys come up and help me out with some material to do a quick-and-dirty repair.

    [​IMG]

    That'll do until I get to the next town.

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    The ride down is of course much easier but not any less uncomfortable.

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    The clutch and brake are holding fine despite the hard ride.

    [​IMG]

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    Down to the left is the hotel where I left my baggage and the KKH continuing to Islamabad.

    After repacking my other bags, I ride down until Chilas, the next large town. It has a pretty bad reputation of being very conservative and unfriendly toward foreigners. That's also what I remember from my last visit 10 years ago. I stop in the outskirts and find a workshop pretty quickly where people are actually pretty friendly, as everywhere in Pakistan.

    [​IMG]

    Nobody speaks English, but it"s pretty easy to explain what's wrong, and they quickly get to work. They don't have parts for the Suzuki, so again I get a Honda part adapted.

    While I'm at it, I ask if they have new brake shoes, because I'm still not happy with brakes and try all kind of fixes. They don't but they have a go and cleaning and polishing the shoes.

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't help but it was worth trying. I'll have to make do with that.

    The KKH continues towards Islamabad on a road impressively carved into the cliff of narrow gorges, as I remember from my previous trip. But I want to try the alternative road, over Babusar pass to Kaghan valley. It's a summer-only road but it's actually the preferred road from Islamabad to Gilgit, supposedly safer than the KKH. I have to backtrack a few km to a roundabout where, supposedly, you need to check in. I passed it earlier without being stopped but going up there a gate and I'm directed to the office nearby to fill up some papers.

    Coming from Islamabad that's where one enters the Gilgit-Baltistan province, so where one gets the permit. Going out there's nothing special to do other than filling in your details in a big book.

    The road up Babusar is great, smooth new tarmac.

    [​IMG]

    This is where I regret riding a 150 and not a 1290 Super Adventure, of course, those switch backs just ask for being scraped by footpegs. I manage to pass another 150GS riding two-up but the little motor is struggling, to say the least.

    I put on thermals as I'm gaining altitude pretty quickly. It was very hot in Chilas at 1200m but Babusar is 3000m higher.. indeed when I reach the top it's snowing.

    [​IMG]

    As you can imagine, the Pakistani tourists go crazy as for some of them it's the first time they see snow. There are tons of shacks on top of the pass that encroach on the road, so that causes a massive traffic jam there as everybody wants to stop and take a photo.

    [​IMG]

    It's quite late and the weather is yucky so I better hurry up.

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    The road is a little worse than on the other side, and there's still about 60 km to go until Naran, the valley's main town. I arrive there just as it's getting dark. Naran is a small town bustling with thousands of tourists, and dozens of restaurants. I visit a few up-market hotels that are either full or out of my price range. Finally I settle for a non-descript back alley hotel, but the sheets are clean and the water is hot.. NOT. But ok, I'm too knackered to argue after a pretty long but excellent day !
    TownPump, NSFW, yamalama and 24 others like this.
  6. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    Sarang and Asianrider like this.
  7. SteveTheLocal

    SteveTheLocal Been here awhile Supporter

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    Oct 24, 2010
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    298
    Location:
    Island in the Salish Sea
    Thank you! Your efforts are much appreciated.
    Asianrider, forgorin and ki_ote like this.
  8. allroadtoine

    allroadtoine Been here awhile

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    Dec 3, 2007
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    What a wonderfull story. Thnx
    Asianrider and ki_ote like this.
  9. Jarrod Weaver

    Jarrod Weaver Adventurer

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    May 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    60
    Location:
    Georgetown, Texas
    Thanks for sharing your RR Asianrider. This is a fabulous story and the pics are excellent.
    Asianrider likes this.
  10. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    271
    The next morning I wake up early and still no hot water. I go look for the manager but there's nobody in the office. I turn around the house and find the answer.

    [​IMG]

    So, yeah, it'll come.

    I've decided to take a day to explore the valley packing light, without all the bags. I ride up a few km and take a road I had marked down, going to Lalalzar, a beautiful pasture higher up that is quite famous. But my plan is quickly thwarted but the huge ruts and holes in the very steep road.

    [​IMG]

    I've had enough of this shit riding up Fairy Meadows so I turn back before I get too beat up. On the main road I notice jeeps waiting for tourists. I stop and start to chat with the guys. At that time, a party of Pakistani tourists arrive in two cars and proceed to negotiate a ride. I jump in and ask if they'd have free space. They have and they're happy to share the price. So we all pack in an old jeep and proceed on the destroyed road.

    [​IMG]

    The ride is pretty bumpy indeed but nowhere as bad as on the Suzuki.

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    For my mates it's the highlight of their trip, they're over-excited and scream at every bump and hole ! After 30 min or so we arrive at a high plateau with a few houses, of which a couple are also guesthouses.

    [​IMG]

    The guys hire horses and go for a ride while I sip a tea and walk around, we have one hour before coming back down.

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    Pretty much all the cars over here are jeeps. I ask to see what the've done with it, because it's pretty interesting.

    [​IMG]

    The jeeps are all pretty old, imported from the US but the first thing they did was swapping out the unreliable petrol motor for a rock-solid 4-cyl Toyota diesel. They're pretty happy about the result and they say they've got very few issues. Take the best from the US and Japan and do something much better than the original. Smart !

    [​IMG]

    After we've come back I hop on the bike and keep riding up the part of the main road that I'd ridden pretty quickly the day before at dusk.

    [​IMG]

    I stop at a road-side cafe to get some food. For those who wonder if one can get around in Pakistan with English, the answer is yes...

    [​IMG]

    .. if you like Chienes food, like chicken Painapple e.g. But I'll have biryani, thanks!

    I continue back up until the turn-off to the road toward Kashmir over Noori Top. The Pakistani-side of Kashmir is called either Azad Kashmir (free Kashmir) or PoK (Pakistan-occupied Kashmir) depending on which side you sit. That's a narrow strip of territory separated from Indian territory by the so-called LoC (line of control). Because there are frequent skirmishes, and by fear of spies I guess, this area is off-limit to foreigners. The other entrance to that valley is from the South, and the road is very exposed to "enemy fire", so they built this unsurfaced road to be able to get there quickly in case of conflict.

    [​IMG]

    It's too bad because it would make a fantastic itinerary to return to Islamabad by this road. Maybe one day. Still, I'm interested in finding out how far I can ride until I'm turned back.

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    The ride is pretty rough, but not too bad.

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    The area doesn't seem to be occupied, and indeed I'll cross nobody on this road. But there are traces that indicate that it used to be cultivated but is now abandoned. Maybe the lack of water ?

    [​IMG]

    The progress is slow on the small 150 (if only I had a proper bike...) and I've got nothing on me in case of trouble. So I give on trying to reach the top and turn back.

    [​IMG]

    Back on the main road I notice a few details that reminds me never to ride at night.

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    It's probably not a great idea to ride over these rebars as they may be sharp.

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    Returning to Naran I see the taxi stand where tourists hire a jeep to bring them to the biggest attraction of the valley, the alpine lakes of Saif-ul-Muluk at 3200m (Naran sits at 2500m). It looks crowded so I give it a miss.

    [​IMG]

    Naran is pretty crowded, loads of tourists come here during the summer. The main street is packed with hotels and restaurants, and pretty lively at night.

    [​IMG]

    Tomorrow I'll ride down the valley towards the plains - but only after a small detour..
  11. Osprey!

    Osprey! a.k.a. Opie Supporter

    Joined:
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    6,536
    Location:
    Boulder, CO
    [​IMG]

    Did you take a close look at the building in this photo? It appears to be log cabin style construction with 4x4s on cobblestone footers. Is that right? Super interesting...
    elron, Animo and BillUA like this.
  12. moffy

    moffy foolish fool

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    Jun 19, 2014
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    Location:
    Cle Elum
    Yea...I noticed too.
  13. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

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    Yup, it looks exactly like this.. but there's nothing more I can tell you. As you can see in the previous photo, they do (almost) everything by hand. Ictually, I heard a power tool connected to a generator while I was walking there, so some people have the money for it, but mostly they do everything by hand.

    The wood comes directly from the forest nearby. They fell the tree and cut it up in rough beams, transport it on foot (with donkeys where it's possible), then they finish it up on the spot while building the cabin. Currently there are still a lot of trees around but if they keep building new houses it'll seriously strain the forest.
  14. 9w6vx

    9w6vx Pergo et Perago

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2019
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    BKI Sabah
    Asianrider, what a fascinating and wonderful RR.

    I enjoyed reading it together with all the pictures.

    I wish I could do the same but to be really honest, I would not have the balls nor the financial means to do it.

    Thanks for sharing.
  15. mrmushman

    mrmushman Been here awhile

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    Jul 25, 2019
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    Location:
    Bozeman, MT
    Love this last photo of the girls giving that kid the business!

    Shimshal.jpg
    JMB_ADV likes this.
  16. TheNetworker

    TheNetworker Been here awhile Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
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    306
    Location:
    Germany, Lower Saxony
    Hello Asianrider,

    read the thread of this adventure ride over the last couple of days. This is the really spirit of ADV riding.
    Great report of a great journey.

    Thank you for the pictures, story and video you shared with us.

    Pakistan - great country to travel....
    JMB_ADV likes this.
  17. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

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    Apr 27, 2010
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    271
    Hi everybody, no I'm not in Saudi Arabia, it's just my iMac's hard drive that's crashed so it was a PITA to reinstall. Another kind of crash that's almost as painful...

    So Happy New Year to everybody and hopefully lots of adventures on the trails !
    Merfman, Kyron, torch and 3 others like this.
  18. Asianrider

    Asianrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    271
    So back in Naran, I wake up and go on the mains sweet looking for a brekkie.

    [​IMG]

    Notice all the jeeps waiting for customers. This is a hotspot for tourism in Pakistan.

    I take the road down the valley. It's a bit more than 100 km to Mansehra, where it joins up with the KKH. Incidentally, I passed not far from where the Pakistanis downed an Indian fighter plane a few months later, following a bombing by the Indians of a militia camp in Pakistan. The road passes pretty close to Pakistani Kashmir, and it's a well known that various government-backed militia stage attacks in Indian Kashmir from here. So there are some pretty hard-core militants around here, but you couldn't tell from driving down the road, it's just Pakistan as usual.

    [​IMG]

    .. which doesn't mean it's safe, it means you're more likely to see impaled on a rebar sticking out from the road than by the hand of a blood-thirsty islamist !! :(

    [​IMG]

    Road-side cafés are pretty basic but strategically placed for people to cool off during the midday heat. The road goes down from 2400m at Naran to 1000m in Mansehra so the heat increases correspondingly.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Yeah, there's no mistaking we're in Pakistan.



    The KKH continues from here to Islamabad.

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    The next major city on the KKH is Abottabad, which became famous a few years back when Osama Bin Laden was found living there (and killed as we know). But I'm not heading straight back home quite yet, after having a bite here I head back up the KKH to Besham, about the same distance than from Nara to here.

    [​IMG]

    If the Kaghna valley road was pretty good, the KKH here is a mess. It has to wind up a pretty narrow gorge where the road follows the terrain with many, many tight turns. It's also a pretty rainy region so landslides are common and roadworks are endless and make for long jams, which are fortunately easy to skip with a bike.

    [​IMG]

    For this reason (I guess), they've started some heavy road engineering to straighten up the road with bridges and tunnels.

    [​IMG]

    But it's far from done and in the mean time the Pakistani drivers hectic way of driving make it even more chaotic. Sometimes they need to blast lose rocks hanging above the road, but it's pretty difficult to help the drivers from driving right into the falling rocks...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    All this means that I arrive at dusk in Basham. I decide to aim right away for the PTDC motel instead of visiting several lousy hotels downtown. It's pretty large but almost empty, and this time I manage to negotiate a good rate. The location is nice too, above the river and away from the noise of the city.

    [​IMG]
  19. everready

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

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    Back in the early 80's I was 20-21 and we went TDY to Turkey. That was the first time I saw grown men holding hands. It was something very odd to me, still is.
  20. squadraquota

    squadraquota mostly harmless

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2007
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    Lowlands
    The decorations on the truck are incredible. Must have been loads of work. Any idea what is behind the custom of doing these decorations?
    Shaggie likes this.