Well here we are at world’s end. As colourful memories of the last 25 weeks steer the weathered rudder towards unexplored territory, I’m reminded of what I’ve been upto this year. Pakistan is quite the place to be sailing around as I’ve discovered, hence Memoirs of Pakistan was born.
I’ve put together a gallery with my favourite captures that I feel expresses my time in Pakistan, the place where I spent the last day of 2016, and the first of 2017! So in all its glory here it is! I hope you enjoy perusing through some of my fondest memories – what a place!
Memoirs of Pakistan
“It didn’t take much for the night to quickly close in on us. However, before Katapana enveloped us completely in her growing shadows, the gingerbread man managed to find a neat trail up the side of a mountain – where we both enjoyed watching the last colours of the day fan out across a most remarkable Baltistan landscape.” – the full story surrounding Katapana.
“I couldn’t pass through Nagar valley without stopping by to see an old friend, so we pulled over at Esan Ali’s place for a hello… Esan Ali is the tailor that works at the sawmill along the KKH in Nagar Valley. Being the legend that he is, Esan Ali had two cups of steaming tea waiting for us after being shown around the flour and sawmill.” – Nagar Valley and beyond
Lahore is a foodies heaven, which may prompt questions about why I have no captures of food. The answer to that would be that food is for eating. I like to enjoy my food the instant it is served, why waste the freshness?! So instead, here’s a capture of the Shahi Hammam.
“Fiercely unique, the cathedrals looked on as I zipped my way out of Shimshal Valley. Incredible earthy shades of grey through red towered over me as the last white traces of winter still clung on for life. I haven’t found a range of mountains so special or so utterly beautiful… it’s as if the Karakoram is in a class of it’s own, leaving the rest of the world’s mountains to duke it out for second place.”
“Local products like this Yak hair, lined the steep, stony path up to Baltit fort. A range of Pakuls hung off nails surrounded by all types of antiques necklaces I’d never seen before. The differences in language, food and styles of art made me realise how culturally rich Pakistan is.”
Juglot meat market
“Across the road, huge bony bottomed buffalo stared at us while munching away on a large pile of hay. I wondered if their days were numbered. Seemed like a bit of a job to have to hack away at these monsters, which led me to a imagining what it’s like being a butcher in these parts. Must have some long knives – and some short fingers.” – the Karakoram Highway part 2
Upper Karakoram Highway
“The avalanche had been cleared – a relative term, since there were precariously high walls of snot coloured snow stacked willy nilly either side of the road… Perfectly smooth sheets of terrific white powder covered the sides of the mountains, blending in with the dreamy clouds chasing two riders up the pass. Tiny lakes and waterfalls froze in time, bleeding strands of blue ice down the sides of cold rock.” – Riding in Gilgit-Baltistan
“The first thing that caught my eyes were fair hands. Fair hands with perfectly painted red fingernails folded comfortably over one another rested on long black robes. Loud embroidery sang out on feminine shoulders in the warm afternoon sun, where fluro red flared and scorching yellows seemingly danced at the smallest movement. A stitched belt sat above a resting hip, red and white tassles danging gently off the thick handwork.” – The road to Kalash Valley
“A few hundred metres later I stumbled across the real Karachi Kings. Stumps were spread across the 4 lane road with broken bricks that marked the cricket pitch. Balls were smashed across the area as colourfully dressed youths chased after them, while batters looked on, awaiting their turns inside huge, shady, concrete pipes. Street cricket at its finest, where champions are born!” – The Karachi experience
“Not only was the jeep track bags of fun, but the surrounding views were insanely beautiful. Enormous, tooth like mountains glared down from above onto the dirt track. The valley appeared to be so raw, so… tough. Even so, life still existed here between the Karakoram and the Pamirs, on the edge of the Wakhan Corridor.” – Riding in Gilgit-Baltistan
“Finally we found a bloke, who sort of appeared out of thin air. A bit like Jesus does it I suppose. Not wanting to throw in another new tube on a hire bike, we opted for the more economical patch option… He appeared out of thin air, fixed the tube then disappeared. We don’t know much about him, except he’s a selfless legend!” – KKH PART 2
“The last kilometres to Karimabad were spread with cherry blossoms – baby pinks, marriage whites and sexually frustrated purples. This was my first time seeing the reknowned cherry blossoms of Hunza and the beauty of them wasn’t lost on me for a minute. As Karimabad grew close, so did masses of cherry blossom trees spread all over Hunza… all the way up to the roof of the world.” – Karakoram Highway – up, up and away!
“…the position of our tents were perfectly seated for an outrageous view of the huge starry mat hanging above us. As a dinner of peanut butter and jam on bread digested, our necks craned back to soak in the scenery . The razor sharp mountains surrounding us seemed to hold up the immense night sky, as shooting stars played polo with the occasional roaming satellite.” – Saling, Baltistan
“Eventually the road climbed out of the drab brown valley, and we saw for the first time, the sandy river bed outside Skardu. Mountains never cease to amaze me, and here was no exception. Tipped in white, they pointed skyward, guarding the sandy river bed and completely encircling two grubby riders from Australia.” – Riding in Skardu
PC – Rowan Carroll
“Jingle trucks – an assault on your senses. You may go blind from the outrageous colours. You may go deaf from the clanging bells and chimes fitted to the undercarriage. I jumped out of my skin the first time I heard them bellow from the horn tip. Really, they could be a carnival on wheels.” – Jingle trucks, a yet to be submitted article.
“I’ve never felt a cold like I did that day, except for the snow storm I was caught off guard in Turkey with. Wind cut through my five layers of wool and windstoppers. Although the weather wasn’t in our warm favours, it still put on a remarkable show on the jaws of the karakoram highway.” – KKH part 1.
“…the marbling of the Hindu Kush had disappeared and been magicked into harsh brown coloured rock, accompanied by a dusty gravel road. Riding along the mountain edge, I was afforded magnificent views of miniscule green villages that consisted of no more then a handful of houses, nestled between mountains, like a baby does in her mothers arms.” – The road to Kalash Valley
“We wandered his garden where he had planted all kinds of fruit trees, which was a first in the region of Chapursan, and especially Zudkhun. Green shoots of the first spring onions had begun to squeeze through the soil. His daughter Coom Coom ran amongst the the new trees, playing hide and seek with us as we drifted.” – Riding in Gilgit Baltistan
“Nomadic herders were seldom seen this early in the morning on Shandur, so my only company was the sound of a whirring exhaust and the giant, white veined wardens either side of me…
I had never seen a such a plain before. Spring greens ran as far as the eyes could see. Hairy yak grazing on the long lush plain were complemented by the smell of fresh dew amongst the snow capped mountains… and me, one grubby Australian.” – Shandur, the road to Kalash Valley
“Halfway into the mountains we neared Quetta and the changeovers began to get extremely regular. Every fifteen minutes we’d swap for a new escort and even though I knew it was all for our own safety patience was starting to wear thin. Maybe the heat was finally having its way with me. We’d chopped through over 20 checkpoints and still had more to go!”
PC – Anni Hansen
“Turqoise waters reflect the tiniest amount of sunlight between the many coloured behemoths who watch us with thousands of rocky eyes from across the water. The old KKH is broken and defeated on the edges of the mysterious karakoram mountains. Parts of the KKH disappeared completely into the lake, or lay crushed under huge mounds of rock.” – Karakoram Highway – up, up and away
Me to Rowan – “You know what mate? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful part of the world to date. Every corner you turn, there’s just another gorgeous picture of a unique mountain on the other side…”
His reply – “I don’t think I have either. It’s like, you try a hundred different ways to capture it, and you just can’t do it justice. You’re better off just absorbing it instead”.
“Yeah I got kidnapped alright… and loved it too. Everybody wants to hang out. Especially those cheeky old blokes that smoke cigarettes and play cards in the street corner hidden from their wives.” – Pakistan, the pistachio to my kulfi
“The only sound that played tango on my eardrums was the rushing river far below. Tires spat out small gems of gravel as I churned along in complete peace. Shimshal Valley, like Chapursan, was a world away from the rest…”
“The Golden Peak at the opposite end of the Hunza almost looked like it was challenging Rakaposhi’s reign of towering beauty. I can’t say I wasn’t awestruck, because I was.” – The Karakoram Highway Part 1
Khaplu – Saling Bridge
“A daal mash later, the suspension bridge to Saling beckoned us over the Shyok – right into the face of razor sharp mountains. The road switched from asphalt to a jeep cobbled road between a large goat herd and villagers who looked quite surprised to see two aliens dressed akin to something like transformers.” – Baltistan, the gingerbread mans final chapter.
Tea time, Sost
“At home it would be – “Oi, you wanna cuppa mate?”.
But this isn’t home, so it’s – “Chai piyo gay bhai?”.
I’ve had tea in some very cool places, but never in the back of the jingle truck… until now! Let me just tick that one off the list…”
“Oh not this business again… with night approaching outside Dasu, a pinch on the front tire had brought the tube down. Damn these bloody potholes. They were too deep, too sharp and gave me too many flats… time to get to work!”
“Choppy gravel road met our front tires as we ground our way up, deep into Bagrote. Beginning as a dry, dusty climb, the greenery slowly came to life the deeper we rode. Soon enough, pink cherry blossoms were littering the road with petals, as we passed by children finishing school for the day.” – Riding in Gilgit – Baltistan
“Charging through the snow, a group of enormous horned beasts stomped through the few feet of snow. Silenty I wondered where the hell they had been when I started walking up this cold hell… it would have been nice to have been offered a lift by those beasts of beauty is all I’m saying.”
“The lower halves of the Hindu Kush marbled from the metaled-reds into soft yellow and earthen hues. I had ridden into yet another amazingly beautiful part of the north amongst the small villages of Ghizer. As the shadows enveloped a green Phander Valley, a silent beauty was not absent from snow crusted mountaintops, whose only voice was the wind sweeping through it’s worn crevices.” – The road to Kalash Valley
Late spring, Hunza
“My last few days in Gilgit – Baltistan were spent in Hunza, with Piru, my Sindhi friend. The day would consist of late breakfast, drinking tea and staring at the valley all afternoon waiting for sunset. After dinner, we’d head over to world roof for numerous games of Bazaar with Shah while listening to spotify playlists on the stereo system. An incredibly beatiful and easy place to relax… that’s Hunza.”