Friday, July 17, 2009

Haydn, Dianne. The KKH' Hunza Valley & Baulchistan No 5.

Kathmandu. Did not want to leave. Caught up with old mates. Dropped into Himalayan Encounters Trisuli Centre for morning tea and to see Durga, another old mate. Did not want to leave. Dropped into Bandipur for lunch and to see the latest lot of renovations at 'The Old Inn'. Did not want to leave. Stayed at their Base Camp at Pokhara and did not leave. they would not let me pay for my accommodation or meals. Had a great time, stayed two nights. Rode about 80 km up the Kali Kandaki Valley (the deepest on earth) The road, or track, is complete all the way to Jomsom, but not open yet. I got very close to Tatopani and was stopped by the Army. Tried to talk my way through and was politely told to fcuk off. The Jomson trek and the Annapurna Circuit trek will be no more after this season. pity. dragged myself away from Pokhara and rode west to India. Great ride and a couple more Maoist blockades. Stayed at a shitty village on the edge of the Terrai, Chisapani. A dump but lovely people. Crossed into India and rode the bike like I had stolen it. Met a guy on a Bullet 350 who advised me not to go into New Delhi if I was not going to spend time there as it was the Holli Festival. In this festival they throw red dye or water coloured with red dye, at anything that moves. As a tourist, and on a bike I was a prime target. New Delhi was the worst place for it. Headed north and stayed in an overpriced Indian resort. Rode hard to Amritsar. The most holly joint for the Sikh people. Managed to catch up with a couple of Aussies on a R1200GS. Haydn & Dianne Durnell.
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> The roads are more crowded in Bangladesh and the bus drivers are manic, the rest just lunatics. In India they are all fcuking manic. No fcuking idea!!!! They all believe when you die you go to a better place. I can't convince them I don't believe in that. I think when you die it is all over. I am not ready to go yet but they don't seem to care.
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> Day off on Amritsar. Golden Temple by night and by day. Fantastic. To the Indian/Pakistani Border to see the closing parade. Incredible. Crossed in to Pakistan and stayed in the dirtiest, most overpriced hotel in Asia, possibly the world. Attempted to ride the motorway to Islamabad. Motorcycles not allowed. Cops threw us off, highway was more interesting anyway. Stayed with friends of Haydn & Dianne. Old Zehad must be doing O.K. as his house had 9 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. Servants, the bloody lot.
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> Rode up and back on the Karakorm Highway (KKH) for a couple of weeks. It is hte main trade route between Pakistan and China.Only open for about 5 months a year. (snow) An amazing road. Constructed between 1966 and 1978, 20,00 Pakistani and 20,000 Chinese road workers. One Pakistani worker was killed for every 2.5 km of road. It is about 600 or 700 km long. First day we had a little rain. The Rooney goes alright in the wet. The back stepped out to let me know it was slippery. I slowed. A couple of little front and rear slides, I slowed more. Apparently not enough. The back stepped out and I was sliding down the road on my back watching the Rooney do the same. Bit of a scrape on Lachlan's panniers and Paul's crash bar. No problem.
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> The scenery on the KKH is incredible. 'The ultimate manifstation of mountain grandeur' (Eric Shipton, mountaineer) The best, most amazing ride of my life. Snow capped peaks on both side of the valley all the way. Sensary overload!! Went up as far as Sost. The border was closed, a couple of Customs guys took us about 10 km further up the road in their 4X4. The same walking track that Marco Polo used runs beside the road. I had to climb up and walk a few metres along it! Rode up to Scardu on the way back. A town of 40,000 and no crime what so ever. Amaxing again!!!Had a new horn fitted. The $US90 imported from the US horn had chucked it weeks before. Now have a $6 Pakistani horn and it would wake the dead. Did a side trip up the Astor Valley. Impressive as well. Last day on the way back to Islamabad we road for 8 hours in the rain. no one slows down (except us) It was hard, slippery as shit. The rucks drop plenty of dieso. We had to get out as the road can be blocked for weeks with landslides once it rains.
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> The people in Pakistan are simply the nicest I have ever met. Every day we are asked into someones home/office/shop or some where for tea, at least 6 or 10 times. They love Australians and Ricky Ponting must be the most famous Aussie ever. They even love the Americans. No malice at all. We go to purchase something and they will not take money as we are their 'guests'. Back in Islamabad we stay at Zehad's mansion again. They will not let us put our hands in our pockets at all. Had the bikes oil changed and took a couple of days leisure leave. One of his boys even washed my bike.
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> Left Islamabad just on daylight. We had a few long days to go to get to the Iranian border. There is a problem with kidnapping and bandits in this area. At times we will only be 10km from Afganistan. The Defat travel advisory warning tells us not to go to these areas. They tell us to leave Pakistan immediately. We discussed it and thought, with a few precautions, we should be O.K. 45 minutes into the trip, a small town, we are on the second busiest
> road in the country (bit like the Hume), 70 kph speed limit, things going well. A group of people walk out in front of me. Brake, steer to the right toward a concrete barrier topped by a steel fence, sound the horn, people keep comeing, I hit one. They go down and so does the Rooney and I. Once again I watch the Rooney slide down the road. Ran back, punters helped the woman to her feet and put her in a tuk tuk to go to Hospital. Lucky two spectators speak english and tell me not to worry about the cops. They seem more worried about me and want me to go to hospital. I am worried about the sheila and the Rooney. What steps do I take? Fcuking big ones. Finally we reach Multan. Our smuggled rum had run out a few days before. I could have used a gallon that night.
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> We had been told to reach our destination no later than 4pm and then not to go outside at all until daylight. We travel with a Judge and his escorts, the biggest, meanest looking SAS type soldiers ever seen. All carrying automatic shot guns. The Judge is a good bloke and wants to have tea with us. We felt his escorts only attracted attention, not wanting to get caught in the middle of a gun fight we let them go ahead, stopped and talked to some villagers who took Haydn & Dianne for a donkey cart ride. Got to the outskirts of Sukkar, escorted to our hotel by the cops and instructed not to leave until our escort arrives in the morning. Up early and legged it right on daylight, before our escort arrived. Rode for an hour or so and were stopped at a Police road block. Many radio calls and we left. They have a good system. In the dangerous areas a Police Toyota Hilux waits and escorts you to the border of their area and hands you over to the next guys and the process is repeated. They all have shotgun or machinegun carrying blokes in the back. We make sure we are in front. That way we can set the pace. Sometimes they cannot keep up. I think they stuffed a few Toyota utes trying. One guy even sounded the siren every time we wanted to pass a truck. I liked his style. We were in Baluchastan. Incredibly harsh, beautiful country. They want independance from Pakistan and Iran so have been taking tourists hostage. Last one was Japanese, has been missing 6 months. No wonder they are all jumpy.
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> Escorted into Quetta by two motorcycles. The rear one, of course, had an auto shotgun. Police told us to ring them for an armed escort if we wanted to walk outside the hotel. We had a shower and went for a walk. Should have taken the ecort as it rained and we got wet. Left early the next day. Did 140 km before we realized we were on the wrong road. Saw some beautiful country that tourists never get to see. Got back to town and there was a 'wheel wrights' stike. No vehicle in the state could move. On the way back to our hotel it was weird, no civilian vehicles and many, many Police and Army. The people at the road blocks were friendly.
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> Left for Dalbandin early the next morning. What a fantastic ride. Great roads and scenerary. We were not allowed to stay in a hotel and had to sleep in the Police Station. It was like a fortress. Also served as a gaol. Had a look in at the prisoners, hope I never go to a Pakistani gaol!! We had to wait until they could spare a Policeman and a Gunman to escort us to the shops. Interesting to say the least. Had a chapati and a tin of tuna for tea. the cops didn't feed us.
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> Left at daylight for the border. Typical border town shitfight joint. Crossed into Iran. Like moveing to the 21st century.We could not believe how modern and civilized it is. The Police escort had to travel on the back of the Rooney. I do not have a pillion seat, I bet his arse still hurts. Shouted ourselves a nice hotel in Zahaden, had trouble accepting the change from a shitty cop shop/gaol the night before to a 3 star hotel.
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> Rode into Bam. What a mess. An earthquake killed between 40,000 and 60,000 a few years ago. I feel privilaged to have seen the old mud city years ago. now it is a pile of dirt. The hotel has a Pommie motorcyclist, who was killed in the quake, bike left there. Very sad. The people of Bam are very grateful for the help western countries, includeing Australia and the US, gave them after the quake. The Iranians are lovely people. they like Aussies and even the Americans as well. We have met US travellers. No problem. I feel guilty for not putting Australia stickers on my bike. It is covered in them now. Had to take an escort when we toured the old city. A Policeman even slept outside our hotel door. As soon as the escort arrived we left, our last day with an escort. About time!!
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> Put a 600 km day in to get to Yazd. Fcuk me. I had to spend a day here. I will come back to Iran. Lovely people, food and buildings. Don't believe all the bullshit we hear!
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> Haydn and Dianne are staying here for a week. They have been the best to ride with. Sorry to see them stay. should be on Turkey in 3 days and then in Istanbul in another 4. Hopefully will make Anzac Day.
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> Chris.
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