Trip Start Aug 23, 1996
574Trip End Ongoing
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We needed to take a bus, up to Dir, then jump into a 4-wheel drive and go over the Lowari Pass and end up in Chitral.
Up early, we jumped into a cab, who drove straight past the bus station. When questioning this, he spoke in Urdu, so fuck knows what he said. Eventually, he kicked us out at a minibus station. We were pushed into a minibus, being told that indeed this was the bus for Dir, and then we were off. After about 4 hours, most of it I was asleep for, we were kicked out. I did not see any 4-wheel drives, but we were pushed into another minibus, once again, being assured that this bus was going to Chitral. So we sat back and went along for the ride. As we went, I tried to stay awake, but I fell asleep. I was awoken when we pulled into Dir. As we had paid for the trip to Chitral, we did not get into a 4-wheel drive, which could be a good thing/bad thing !!! Then we came to the mountains. They were huge. On the way up, a noise started to come out from the back wheel. Then the van started to run on 3, then 2 cylinders. Then it died. The tools came out. They got it going. Then we stopped again. The noise was worrying the homies. They ripped off the wheel, and they had a bearing in their hands. How could they change it when they had no new oil to put in the axle ??? They put the wheel back on, got the shitter going on 3 cylinders, and off we went over the pass which is around 4000 metres high, with snow on it. We made it over the top, and then the shitter died completely. The homie tried to clutch start it, but it was dead. He then decided to roll it down the mountain, whilst we were sitting in it !!!. It didn't work though. As darkness grew, ramazan finished, and the food was broken out. Once the homies were fed, they managed to get the bus running on 4 cylinders, and once again we were off. The noise was getting worse from the wheel, so eventually, we stopped again, and had dinner. One homie insisted on paying, can't argue with that !!! And then we were off again, complete with noise that was getting worse by the minute. I was slightly worried that the wheel was going to fall off, but as we were now pretty much down near the bottom of the pass, we would not have as far to get to the bottom, when we went over the edge !!!. The driver, after about an hour of screaming from the wheel, pulled over into a garage, and there was a huge bang. The tyre had let go, and was a shredded mess. The drum was red hot. After letting it cool down, they put on the spare which was a slick !!! We drove slowly with it for about 1/2 an hour, then they pulled over and said they could go no further. One homie said that we would get 50 back, but have to pay 20 for a new bus. Cool, a profit of 60 for the two of us. We waited an hour, and then the minibus showed up. Bags onto the roof, and grabbed our seats. Then it happened, all the homies started passing 50 each to the new driver. I asked the only English speaking homie what was going on, and he said we now have to pay 50. Fuck that !!! The driver asked me for 100, for Lucy and me, and I told him that the old driver was going to pay. The old one ignored me. Both me and Lucy started to yell. The old driver put his hand in his pocket and paid 50. Fuck that I told him. I had paid for a trip to Chitral, and he was going to pay for both of us. Then he handed over another 50 !!! The other homies were not happy with us, but fuck me, they should have kicked up a fuss !!!. The new driver, then drove off, and eventually, we arrived in Chitral, where he dropped us off at our new digs.
We awoke, walked out onto the hotel balcony, and we were in the middle of a valley. Mountains all around us, it was beautiful. We walked out and went to register with the police, because this is what you have to do. On the way, we passed a cricket ground, and the local homies were playing a game. I could not wait to get back and watch. Once registered, we decided to visit the old fort/palace first. It was falling down, but you could still see the grandness that was left there. After finishing up, we went to the Shahi Mosque. Now in the last 3 months, I have seen loads of mosques, but this is probably my favourite. It was not special. There were no colourful tiles or paint, but there was a cricket ground in front and mountains in the background. What more could you ask for. So we sat down to watch the cricket. Pretty soon, I was surrounded by homies, talking cricket and telling us that we were watching a tournament. It was pretty cool. As usual, they all loved the Aussie side. Blah, blah, blah. Typical homies !!! The day went quite quickly. It would have been better, if we had a few beers !!!!!
Up early, we were lead down to the minibus station once again, as we wanted to go to the Kalash Valley. Home of the only non-muslim people in Pakistan. Jumped into one pretty quickly, and we were off. Eventually, the driver dumped us at the last stop, and we set off walking. It was only around 8 K's, which isn't much really. Off we set. After about 45 minutes, we found out we were going to the wrong valley !!! School boy error or what. We jumped into a jeep, and was dropped off at the turn-off. Up we went. Straight up. At the top of the hill, a 4WD, picked us up, and drove us to Rumbur Valley. They say it is the friendliest and most peaceful, so we grabbed a room at a guest house owned by a guy named Jan, and went for a walk. The women here do not like to be photographed, so we took some shots of the kids instead. It is a pity as the women dress so colourfully. We walked through the valley. It was great. Women were working in the fields, whilst the men sat back and smoked !!! After a while, a little boy started screaming at us. He told us that Lucy could go no further as we were at the goat sacrificing spot, and only men could go there. I then spotted something that looked like a wicket, and I asked the kid what it was. To my surprise, I had found a Kalash homie !!! And he wasn't the only one. We walked back, and was served dinner by Jan's son. We were talking about how the Kalash people came into being. Some people say that they go back to Alexander the Great, but this boy was having none of it. He did look very European with his blue eyes and Euro shaped face. I then mentioned that Micheal Palin had made a series called Himalaya and the Kalash valley was shown. He said that he had stayed at their guest house and that it was in this valley that the filming was done. I also asked whether tourism had picked up since, but he said no. He suggested that we leave the next morning and go to Bumboret Valley, as it was prettier, but more muslims lived there, so that was to be our plan.
After breakfast, which was home made walnut bread and honey, we started our 3 hour walk to the next valley. The previous night it had been freezing, but the sun was out, so we had an enjoyable walk. Once there, we secured our room, at a guest house and then set about taking a look. It was so different. After seeing only a little electricity and no TV's, this valley had it all, including about 50% muslim people. The valley was extremely pretty, and there was snow on the mountains. We walked for ages, and then there was nothing so we turned and came back. Once back, we got a homie to go and buy us some local white wine !!! Drinking is allowed here, so when in Rome !!! After dinner, we cracked it open. Luckily, I had a cold as the smell was pretty bad. I drank it, whilst talking to a posh homie. We discussed everything from unmarried sex to Pakistani politics and of course cricket !!! It was great to finally speak to an intelligent homie !!! Once the bottle was finished, I crashed for the night. Once again, it was fucking freezing. Luckily, the wine put me into a coma !!! When we awoke in the morning, it was raining pretty hard. It had rained all night, but when we looked up, the mountains were covered in snow. We grabbed a 4WD, and went back to Chitral, as we had to pick up our backpacks. We also decided to stay one more day. We looked into going over the Shandur Pass as we wanted to go to Gilgut, but, there was now a 24 hour curfew in place, and we were advised by the police, not to go. So, we went to the only hotel in town which had TV, and sat down and watched cricket with the homies. As usual, blah, blah, blah !!! Night came and went, and when we awoke the next morning, the mountains had even more snow. We decided to leave, there and then as we were slightly worried about being snowed in
The Return Trip
This time, with the way the weather was, we grabbed a 4WD. Off we went. Within the hour, our 4WD was making a noise from the front. Our driver went slow. Eventually pulling over in a garage. The homie had a look under it and we all could see that the front left leaf spring was broken. Another homie ran off to get another one. He came back pretty quickly, but it was the wrong one. Doh. They got another one, measured it against the old one, and it was correct. 45 minutes later, we were back on the road. Off we went. There was snow everywhere. Thank god this time we were in a 4WD. It was going all over the road, and there were no crash barriers. As we climbed, the snow was getting thicker and thicker. At the top, Lucy wanted to get out and play !!! There was loads of it. Bucket fulls. Down the otherside we went until we got to Dir. Out of the 4WD, into a minibus, for another trip to Timargarha, where we would have to pick up another minibus. The drive was uneventful, except when the homies stopped to get out and pray !!! Once in Timargarha, the busboy, tried to double the price. A quick fuck off or you get no money, and he took the correct amount and then fucked off. Into another minibus, we were now heading for Rawalpindi. Off we went, speeding along. Our driver was fucking crazy, but at least he was getting us there fast. As usual, ramazan finished, and all the food was broken out. The homie next to me was a doctor and started speaking to me. We pulled over for dinner, and after eating, Doctor homie insisted on paying !!! We were getting so much free food, it was unbelievable. Once he ws out of the bus, we swapped emails and he was on his way. After another couple of hours, we arrived at Rawalpindi, all set to do the usual song and dance number with the drivers. One guy spotted me and asked if I wanted a taxi. I said that I would tell him to fuck off of he gave me a stupid price. As usual, the price was stupid, so I told him to fuck off !!! We eventually found a guy with a motorbike with an attachment which can sit 6 people in. The price was cheap and we asked him to take us to Saddar Bazaar. He said ok. Once in, Lucy was in the back, when some sleazy fucker grabbed one of her breasts. I made the guy stop, and I jumped out. The fucker saw me and ran. I walked after him. Luckily for him, I could not find him, because I don't really know what I would have done. A policeman saw it as well, and told me that when he caught him, he would beat him with a stick !!! After a short trip,the driver pulled up and said here we are, Rajah bazaar. Lucy said no, Saddar bazaar
Him - Rajah bazaar
Lucy - No, Saddar bazaar
Him - Rajah bazaar
Lucy - No, Saddar bazaar
Him - Rajah bazaar
Lucy - No, Saddar bazaar
Him - Rajah bazaar
Me - Fuck off
With that, we grabbed our bags and walked off. He chased us with his bike thingy, but we just ignored him. We jumped into a shared taxi which was going to Saddar bazaar, and we never saw him again. Once there, we checked into Hotel Tadek again, for another unenjoyable night in this uninspiring hotel
That was the trip to Chitral and back. We would liked to have gone further North, but it was hard with the snow and the curfew. We have decided to come back again in 6 months time when it is warmer. Also, we have to be in Islamabad tomorrow as we need to pick up our passports with our Indian visas