After several days of travelling by bus from Pakistan to China I finally arrived in Kashgar. There I had look around.
The Kah Mosque in Kashgar.
Peoples Park in Kashgar.
The Kashgar animal market is held every week. There are traders and tourists from near and far.
Final test drive before settling the contract.
Kitchen at the roadside. Here one notices in particular that this is not really China.
And then I bought a bike. That's a long story. In the end I got one for 100 bugs.
After the bike was modified I went off.
Fully loaded bike on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) and colourful rock formations in the background
Even a perfect road like the KKH it was hard to get higher and higher.
Well, "our" characters can not be read by anybody.
Then the good roads were over and it went on gravel road. This is my preferred terrain anyway.
Large vast areas with free running yaks and other animals.
It just went up. The weather changed and there was some strong snowfall.
That was the right time to ask at a lonely house if I could stay here overnight. I was allowed. And that was a good thing because the snow storm got worse and probably would had destroyed my tent.
I arrived at Kara Kul. A mind blowing landscape. The Kongur with 7.719m at the roadside. And the other mountains are not much lower.
Just as the Muztagh Ata 7.546m.
People's lives is still traditionally strong. This relates not only to the houses
But includes the clothing of the people as well.
Riding further down the road offers new stunning views on the Kongur.
Surprisingly, even camels are found in this altitude. They have proven themselves, in addition to the desert, even here.
In between there were always sections with a perfect new road.
Unfortunately I reached Tashkurgan far too soon. After Tashkurgan the Chinese forbid to cycle on. They even collected the passport to make sure that you don’t try it anyway.
On the Khunjerab Pass is the border with Pakistan. Even there I did not get my passport back. It did really hurt not to be able to cycle this beautiful stretch. What a shame.
And then I was back in Pakistan. Just across the border lies Pasu. A small pleasant town in the mountains. From there you can explore the great countryside.
So you can cross by a bridge over the Gilgit Passu River, a tributary of the Ganges, after Zarabad. Bridge is not to be understood in our sense. You come across on foot only.
Harvest in Zarabad.
The Passu Glacier is massive.
But the Batura glacier beats everything. One of the largest glaciers in the world. Absolutely worth seeing.
In the region there is the KKH as the only "proper" road. Therefore it is used extensively by everybody. So does the yak herder. They had the animals just forced the yaks out of China and over the mountains into Pakistan
The Fortress of Karimabad is on an exposed ridge. From there you have a fantastic view over the surrounding area. A tour of the fort is absolutely recommended.
View from Rakaposhi Basecamp.
The Rakaposhi (7.788 m) with its Basecamp. The season was already over and I was all alone there. Overnight, there was then the first snow of the year. The snow was so dense that it was dark in the tent.
This was a typical night in the tent. I took the bike always inside. Was probably not necessary. But it gave me a secure feeling, because everything was "in sight".
On 8 October 2005 at 8:50:38 local time the trip turned into a nightmare. With a magnitude of 7.6 the strongest earthquake for 100 years hit the region. The government announced month later that 84,000 people did during the earthquake. Many villages were completely wiped out. I had enormous luck. At that time I was already on the bike. The section of the road consisted of gravel, it lurched heavily anyway. I have not noticed the earthquake at all. Until I came to the next village. I should rather say, what was left over. It was terrible. And as if that was not enough, there was a high religious holiday. Every year there is a dispute between Sunnis and Shiites. This year, however, it escalated. Particularly affected was the capital of Gilgit region. There had been some people killed. Then, the military invaded and imposed a 24-hour curfew.
I was stuck in the trap, because I needed to go to Gilgit. I was running low on cash had to get to the bank. But it was impossible. A military escort picked my up. I was lucky that they had taken my bike. Then it went down for several hours at a breakneck speed down the KKH. On the bunk next to me sat some soldiers with heavy "equipment" keeping an eye on the road. Luckily nothing happened and we arrived somewhere in the dark. I still was without money. Not good. Particularly in the area because it is famous for disliking strangers. This does not necessarily mean Christian foreigners. No, even Pakistanis. They are known for throwing stones at strangers. And right in the centre of the region I was dropped.
But the people were very nice and helpful. I met a Pakistani who took me to Lahore and took me to his home. The hospitality of the Pakistanis is exemplary!
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is impressive not just because of its sheer size.
The level of details is impressive.
In Lahore, I sold the bike and took a bus to Peshawar. At the time the Americans' war was still limited to Afghanistan. So I could even drive until the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Peshawar was a short trip only and I had to return to Islamabad, from where I flew back home. Too bad I really had a good time on the KKH.