Just Exploring

Little by little we make small things big. Step by step we move forward. Following the right path, the Eightfold path, makes me calm, steady and happy. Did you find yours? Everybody has one, just some must look deeper or look for it longer. Just explore and it will unfold naturally.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cycling to Asia, week 13

What followed the next few days was unbelievable... Imagine 5 independent travelers, roaming around Asia for few months, completely free, totally open minded, extremists in a way -well I don't count my self into extremists but others might do - travelling anywhere, doing almost anything and than suddenly the local authorities decides to "protect" them! Yes they do make it safer but they acctually protect us from everything -even the experience of this country! 24/7 baby sitting is way too much for people who were used to be their own time managers. Suddenly there is always a smart guy asking us where we wanna go? What time we would like to go there? They think they give us all the freedom, but hey just the point that we have to think ahead and plan something is so much in contrary to what we have done so far. We spent two nights in Multan -supposedly a safe city -but never before anyone of us felt like a prisoner (well except of me, but that's a different story...). We went sightseeing -but they stole all the fun by constant patrol of our steps, we could go to Internet cafe, but with heavy armed fella next to you all the time... On the third day we run a way by taking a train to Rawalpindi -yes the place where just 3 days ago Elite police ended an overnight drama in a military headquarters, where 40 personnel where kept hostage by Taliban fighters -the dead toll was pretty high (17 people including 9 terrorist) but the media called it a success.
Train journey was an adventure on its own. We stirred some dust on the train station with our oversize bikes, trying to load the panniers together with bikes to the luggage wagon, but failed, so dragging them to the other side of the train, locate our seats, just to find out that they were taken, so politely kicking out the unlucky passengers, all this in hot and humid and jammed wagon. But eventually -as usually- we got what we wanted and managed to sleep for most of the night.
After the Multan police terror, we were fearing the worst in recent-terrorist-attacked Rawalpindi, but suffered a bit of a shock when we found our selves alone and could leave the station without the Kalashnikov guys! Wow! Freedom again! Cycling to Islamabad was short but the longest in Pakistan without escort. There we found a nice Rose & Jasmin garden where we could pitch our tents and go to find out how is it with our Burmese visas...
Now we are just waiting and chillin in the garden, thoroughly planing our Karakorum trip to the north. There are few other cyclists who came from Kirghistan and China, so they have all the valuable information about the must-to-do highway in Pakistan.

Islamabad is modern boring city, so we don't linger longer than necessary. Instead we took a bus from Rawalpindi to Skardu -capital of Baltistan in Karakoram eastern point. They told us that it's gonna take 25 hours... so we were expecting a bit of discomfort, but what was really ahead of us nobody would guess even in the worst joke! The bus ride was more like experiencing how a laundry feels in washing machine than actually appreciating the scenic mountains. Bone-shaking, stomach-bouncing and brain-numbing hell on earth ride trough the evening, night, morning and another evening was far beyond our level of acceptance. The last few hours I thought I will just give up, or I do something because my ribs were aching and my head was spinning...
It took us a whole day in fairytale Skardu to recover. We did a small half day trip to a near by lake -no panniers, just joy from riding. Unfortunately I underestimated my physical strength -still pretty much affected by the food poisoning and exhilarating bus ride and next day woke up with sore throat. Ahhhh!!! We are just setting out for our most memorable riding in the worlds highest mountains and as the locals proudly boast on the eight wonder of the world -the Karakoram highway... well sort of it, because the 136 km road that joins Skardu with KKH is not exactly part of the famous road.

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