A (great) day of (slight) changes. Things are starting to look clearer…
I was feeling better after the heatstroke so it was time to move on. Still lacking energy and my stomach was hurting quite a lot, but hoping I’d make it through the day with no problems. That was the case (more or less).
The first change hit us as soon as we hit the KKH again: we were pedalling amongst trees. We had seen some trees before, but almost never on the road (except when we were really close to Gilgit). This time the trees were there to stay. That meant water was near as well, and all of that made the day fresher.
The second change was given by the signs. First, road signs saying that the USA have helped to develop this and that (mostly water systems), then some saying that Italy has helped on similar issues, some other written by Chinese remembering how much work they’ve done in the KKH construction/reparation, and at last those graffities saying “Down with USA and Israel” or “USA dog Israel puppy”. People didn’t seem to bother much though, as you could see clothes with the Yankees’ symbol or USA flags.
There was another cool sign: the one marking the place where the Indian and the Eurasian techtonic plates collide. That’s actually the reason why this mountain range exists (and why the mountains keep growing). You’ll find this right before the entry to the natural park (around km 50).
The route: starts ok, very nice due to the new-found freshness provided by the trees. We stopped for lunch/rest-from-the-heat at Rahim Abad. After that point the road gets SPECTACULAR, it’ll provide you great views of stunning places. Once you can see the Karapuchi mountain (again, since it can be seen from Gilgit as well), it’s just one town after the other. Basic and small towns, but towns nevertheless. The old Silk Road path can be found here as well. There’re not many guest houses nor hotels though, and even if there’re tons of great camping places, expect kids or locals to pop around.
But above it all, you’ll find millions of spots where you’d like to stop and take a picture. I did at least. Enjoy yourself!!
PD I’ll write about this somewhere else again, but today I needed to point it. Pakistani people are great. Honest. Lots come around and ask you the few questions they know in English (what’s your name, how are you, where do you come from), but they’ll let you alone in few minutes. But then soke will buy you tea or food just because. They give your their phone numbers so you can call them if you ever have a problem. They don’t stop telling you they’re very grateful you’re visiting their country. Can you imagine yourself going into a bar wherever you live, seeing a foreigner and then buying him some food (even if it looks as if they may have more money than you), just because?