As I was wondering where should I start to share my experience of northern areas as MOTORBIKER as I have never written it before but I am regular reader of PW forums.
I was excited and happy about this upcoming trip of my senior friends but I was uncertain about the permission from my parents though I am a teacher and father of three schools going boys and travelled extensively throughout Europe on 4x4 and suburbs of Pakistan. However I was hopeful I will get permission to get on my new purchased Suzuki GS-150. This trip I was so excited about and relatively disparate to get along with the two very professional riders Baseer Bahi and Naeem Bahi and along with them Haji Sahib the army retired officer with enthusiasm and energy which any rider essentials.
After long discussions and arguments at last I have convinced my parents conditionally if I will get myself proper gear and for short trip not more than 5 days ( which later extended to 10 days).
So I went to Naeem Bahi and Baseer Bahi to inform updates and get some tip and techniques for riding which could be helpful during the trip that how to shift the gear skillfully, what is proper position for bike how to do maneuvers , accelerate and braking. Even I had few lessons from them that how to comport yourself on uphill and downhill on the bike while riding. So every possible help to become a better rider from new rider. In between we had 15 days for training and test of my newly learned skills. If I pass the test they ll happy to take me with them if not I have to wait for another year as I will become a attired rider.
We all had our planning and imported the new high altitude camp as we had to do lot of camping. We had prepared our bikes for a trip as change the tires with off road tires and some other amendments services and brake pads etc.
Trip Route: Abbottabad to Naran to BabuSarTop Chillas , Ghinni, Thilichi to Asotre to DeoSAi Plain to Sakardu ,Sadpara to Manthoga Waterfall, Gharmang valley and ghamang waterfall to Olding.Olding to Sakardu to Baghicha to Gilgit to Ghizer Vally to Slipi Bala and Back to Abbottabad.
We all woke up about round about 8 or 9 am in the morning and went out to mobile toilet boxes and for morning usual things for next day go. Water was so cold that we couldn?t comfortably wash our faces. However there was lot of water and by side huge BARA PANNI. Me and Naeem Bahi started frying meat for breakfast and Haji Sahib went out to wash stencils of our Pakhtoon temporary neighbors. Baseer Bahi and juanid Khan went out for fishing with massive rods and we were forestalling about 2 Kgs of fish of any kind though I don?t mind trout fish. Haji Sahib came back and straight went into the camp despite this that we had wonderful sunshine and breeze. The sunlight was not alone it brought lot of happiness and fluffy mosquitoes which we struggling to safe us from. I said fluffy because they were quite different in their nature where ever they stung you they get stuck with your skin and you left with no choice but to execute them. Though we were enjoying cooking and smell of organic lamb which was about to in my plate and straight to stomach when Naeem Bahi said Hamza take this lamb meat full plate to those pakhtoons as a courtesy. ? NA NOT THIS ONE .. NEXT GO WILL BE THIERS?. This was what I was thinking but did not say a word. They received it with such a humble and I thought I should give them all the lamb.
?I am feeling hungry? Baseer Bahi was already in the tent with not a single fish at all. Though he thought that they will catch fishes later first he needs to have a breakfast. Well he justified it because he had such a great pictures of surroundings.
We had done with meat and tea and packing so we were about to off for Sadpara Lake when I saw some locals sitting in circle and singing their BALTI SONGS or I don?t know which language was that but it was remixed with urdu. It looked superb and dancing and singing and happy as they were welcoming the guests and summer. Summer is something very odd to them which come for very little time max for 3 months. So we left them singing locals there to Sakardu Sadpara Lake.
Another long ride but it was way way better than last night. I was with Naeem Bahi and all others were on their bikes cursing through Deosai Plain. There is one thing which was quite interesting for me that as soon as its dawn you consider deosai proper track for people who travels astore to sakardu. You can experience lot of vehicles in and out to Sakardu. All sudden we had reached some place where plain had finished and downhill has started but before that we had stopped for a cup of tea at very local hotel where Naeem Bahi and Baseer Bahi came about 10 years ago and stayed night in there. Hotel owner recognized them and offer us a food for free but we courteously refused for a reason.
We left from there and it was the hell lot of dangerous descending. It was rocky road and positive probabilities of skidding so elders keep commanding directions. At last we have reached some concrete roads and reached Sadpara Village. We were on bikes and we proverb some kids consecutively towards us to shake hands. So we passed some candies to them and off to Sadpara Hotel. The very old friend of Elders who comfy us as personal guest. It was it first kind of hotel in last 2 days were we can utilize all the facilities of a actual hotel. We assembled our tent and went to wash rooms to have a long and warm shower. I was quite relaxed as we reached there on time and seating place was quite posh in the lawn. So we settled there and I have changed to my relax trouser and sandals and seated to the view towards Sadpara Lake which has become a dam now. I had closed my eyes when I heard some tickling sound of cups and smell of fresh hot pakorays served with tomato sauce. So all enjoyed the tea together and we had introduced some other riders seems quite young in their late teens on their bikes asking about the road condition up to Deosai. Elders recommend them to stay here and leave early to deosai as it was about 7 o clock in evening and security might not let them go ahead from sadpara village. They introduced themselves as A6 rider club from Lahore. Young , Energetic and enthusiastic Allah Bless them All.
We had been served our dinner and off to bed as we had become so tired too much and restless sleep of yesterday had some symptoms till now. So we all were dozing around. I slept well and pretty sure about others as no one had any complain.
Next morning we woke up about 7 o clock and we done all usual morning things and ready our rides for next day trip. Then we realized our bikes are well muddy which was obvious for the track we had done. First Sakardu sight was cantt side and it was quite and calm. I heard lot about the city but this city was so clean and pretty. There was soothing feeling around mean very gentle surroundings and all sudden elder shouted at me to stick with road. So I broke my transition of thoughts which was good for me while I was actually riding a bike.
We spotted a service station and parked our bike their and left our belongings there and we all spread out there to markets and bazar to wonder around. After 3 hours our rides had been done and we went out from there to do some mechanics with our bikes like oil change and stuff.
The whole day wasted their while mechanics were muddling our bikes specially Haji Sahib
& Naeem Bahi GS150s. Later that evening we left sakardu to Manthoga Waterfall. It was about to 8 o clock when we saw some rider standing at corner and having a puff. It was quite dark so we stopped near to him to ask some directions. He furnished his services to us and asked us to follow him through this new but dark road. So we followed him for an hour when he parked his bike at some village for a cup of tea in local hotel. We had tea and left again and ALLAH Bless him as we were crossing his village that this is my village you are most welcome to stay at my place if not then I will go with you to leave you exact right place. So did he.
As we reached Manthoga waterfall, off the track there was beautiful hotel but empty. No one was there . Sound of splash of waterfall and dark and hotel and no one there as well. We all went to walk around and were calling but no answer. So we decided to leave because Baseer Bahi had created a horror story scene. Hence there was no one was ready there to stay here. It was about mid night and we have no place to go. No hotel and no place to live and even no one to ask for directions.
There was masjid and it have quite covered place so we thought to take any kind of foolish step to move on or move back. We thought ALLAH house is the best house and most safe place to spend a night and off to bed.
We woke up quite early in the morning as we were sleeping in masjid so we completed usual morning things and we all went out from the junction. So we took off Tharmung Water fall and we have been told by some local that it will take about 2 hours to reach waterfall. So we decided to eat apricots on the way. So as soon we have seen massive gardens of apricot we blasted to the trees and ate up to neck.
After we had finished with apricots we had move to see Manthoga waterfall. It is like ocean is dipping from sky to earth it was not a water fall it was something so gigantic. Huge pale of water fell on ground and you feel water vapors miles away. We decided to go close but all in vain it has its own buff it make you to admire her. Admire her beauty, power and authority.
I was shivering like a leaf as I tried to copy Elders to get in stream of manthoga waterfall to have a bath. Which was biggest mistake.
We had spent approximately 3 hours by water fall. So we moved ahead to Olding to visit last village before the indain boarder. We were riding to Olding through paved and un paved road when all sudden I fell off from the bike and it was bit speedy and bit hard.
Allah safe me from any serious injuries as I was wearing helmet and other safety gears but for sure I was well shaken. Junaid took over form me and we all ascending towards Olding. We have seen the indian control mountains and right by the road we have seen our ARMED FORCES armor depot and conveying vehicles.
As soon we reached olding the temperature was over like 34C as we felt it. We welcomed by an civilian form agencies personal for our id cards and reason to visit. So again we have Haji Saib Major? with us so no problem at all. We parked our bikes their and decided to cook lunch there. So we all took part in it without me. As I was feeling some aftershock pains. After we had lunch we rode back to sakurdu. As soon we reached Khaplo vally junction we asked some local about road conditions. As per his recommendation we cancelled our visit to Khaplo but we were sitting there for more than an hour with wishful eyes on road.
As we were sitting there Junaid received call from his office to visit as soon as possible for some technical problem. So we all decided to go straight to PIA office sakardu from the junction of Kahplo. ?We are closed sir and no tickets available here. Why you don?t try some ticket office might be they going to help you? PIA personal said. So we went to city and we saw a car and asked him if he could direct us towards any ticket office.
He asked us to follow him and parked right before a ticketing office. The gentleman name is Akmal Mehdi. He helped us out of the way. I was really impressed with the hospitable behaviors of locals. Mean whom I met throughout my 5 days I was flabbergasted. He helped us a lot even to find us a hotel with his own reference at SNOWLAND GUEST HOUSE and later he handed over his car keys. I was like wow?
We took his car to have a biryani and realized that cars are more comfy than bikes but with no thrill and parked his car in hotel and returned keys at reception. This was something I cannot expect from anyone for any strangers to even your town or even village.
After having a breakfast we went to ticket office and still no flights for today as weather was bit upset. We decided to rent a car but Mehdi bahi said it will cost you more and he took us some private taxi company and helped junaid to book a seat. We went to K-2 motel and sat there for a while and enjoyed coffee and visited the world first pictorial museum of North. Very few expeditions leave from here due to some incident previously by base camp of Nanga Parbat and very few Guest or else by elders back in 4 to 5 years? time you have no place to sit because you find this place jam-packed with foreigners.
In between we thanks him and we took off to Shangrilla to see elders old friend and the owner of Shangrilla hotel Arif Aslam. We had good time with him and then we left to walk around in hotel as it was my first time to visit Shangrilla Sakardu and elders usually do their stay here if they have to.
So we received a call from taxi driver that he?s on the way to Shangri-La to pick junaid up so get ready. So we send him with taxi driver. And we all off to Gilgit. As soon as we reached village name Baghicha there was police check post and they requested to stop due to some Shia ceremony. So we thought to have a nap in between and here?s juanid coming out from car. We waited there for good 2 hours and at last police officer allowed us to leave. We left and got stuck again in land sliding. Luckily we crossed sliding as one advantage of bike so we crossed through and all others stuck there. We left junaid behind again and moved towards Gilgit but it was becoming dark and dull.
Haji Sahib was experiencing some problem with his clutch and he was anticipating some big issue so being a experienced rider he asked us to hold as soon we reached some local population. He expressed his problem which could not be easy for us to get it settled if we were accompanied by Naeem Bahi. ?The automobile engineer?. He observed that there is not a problem with engine its just a cable so we have to clean the cable to make it done. It took approximately 2 more hours to get thing sorted. And we were back on track on such a dangerous road. And Sakardu Rd in one of the dangerous road ever I have ever travelled. Elder decided to stop here might be because of me but we decided to stop in one Kohistani Hotel on Sakardu Road as it was so dirty but and food we had there last night was so terrible that we all experienced digestive problem. Weather was alright and we were off to dreams.
We took off from hotel very early in the morning as Road was quite as usual. I was trying to ride confidently but truth is I was not confident at all. Elder realized the situations and took their positions from my side. So I was riding by mountain side regardless my side and elders were riding by my side whole way to Baltistan Bridge. As soon as I have seen the Baltistan desert I joined Baseer Bahi and we both kicked off the bikes bit in speed as we were riding very slow because of me. At last we reached and crossed the bridge of Baltistan and proceeded in Gilgit.
As soon as we touch the KKH we have seen long pile of traffic ahead lot of trucks coasters , cars, and even 4x4 all parked in the road. Though we were quite behind the queue we had no idea what is happening. Again bikers always have some advantages so we took advantage and rode through and in between the traffic and reached right before the problem. It was land sliding and heavy machinery of FWO was trying to remove it from the road. We rode over the sliding though it was not too dangerous and I followed Haji Sahib and with the help of people we were other side of sliding. Off to Gilgit again it was wonderful road with high standards of construction. We did not stop in Gilgit entrance but we were moving towards the far end of market as I was following elders. We turned to the corner into small road to park our bikes. I was personally so thirsty and wanted to have a warm shower though it was quite warm but warm shower always make me relax. I have no clue about this but I do feel comfortable. I took permission form elders that I have to go for trimming and a shower if you allow me and on top before departing I wanted to have a glass of water.
So Naeem Bahi asked me do you know why we have parked our bike this far from the city center and I have nothing to say but to say No. So he asked some shop keeper to serve us with local juice called CHEMOOS. Its and shake of apricots served with almonds. After pouring a glass of chemoos I ordered one more and I had wonderful feeling and it was superb sensation than any cold glass of fizzy drink. However my thirst had been satisfied and me off to barbershop. I was wondering in NLI market of Gilgit when I recived called form elders to move on to Ghizer Vally. I have asked them for a lunch they said no we are going to have lunch on the way to Ghizer valley with very traditional food. We off to Ghizer vally thorugh Chitral Rd which was so amazing to ride on these roads.
After 2 hour of ride on bike we parked our bikes with very traditional restaurant who served boil potatoes , fries which were so different from usual fires. They were not sweets and importantly they melt in your own mouth like chocolate melt in mouth. If someone visit there he must try local fires prepared with local potatoes and second thing which I had very first time was MANTOO with traditional sauce. We enjoyed all those things and went to Ghizer. As soon as we reached near to city we took right from main Road to the bridge to SilpiBala. I was shocked that were are going? But as usual I preferred to stay silent and followed them when elders parked their bikes on the corner and informed me about the village and plans. Ghizer District is the westernmost part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Its capital is Gahkuch. Ghizer is crossroads between Gilgit and Chitral and also to China, Tajikistan via Qurumber pass through Ishkomen/Darkut Yasin which are connected via Shandur Pass. Ghizer is a multi-ethnic district and three major languages are spoken; shina, khowar and Burushaski. There are also Wakhi speakers in Ishkoman and some Tajiks.
We drove for approximately 10 more miles when I reached a junction where we have to move in village to stay with local friends of elder name Rehmat Bahi. He owns the massive trout farm which was in the Island of River Ghizer. So we rode from small village roads and pavements to him and we made it atlast. The bad news was the rain has started and when ever they have rain there which is kind of drizzling they came across some floods. As I think they have very high mountains in North and rainy clouds touches the peak and pour the rain on top heavily and consequently people in valley suffers proper floods from the mountains and road blockage due to land sliding. This is why they became alert after little bit of rain.
So Rehmat Bahi have lot of huts so he prepared one hut for us. It was about 6 o clock in the evening and it was bit cold so we all jumped in the hut for good chit chat. In the mean time Rehmat Bahi made us dinner. And we all went to sleep.
As I was quite tired and my hips was hurting too much because of riding a bike for long 9 days. I was amazed how can I be so outrageous that I am on the road for this long with no plans. As juanid was also stuck in the sliding in between Dassu and Basham for two days. We elders decided to leave for back home bit early anticipating some extra days on the road due to rain, land sliding and weather.
Well we been served a breakfast early in the morning with the trout fish. We picked by our self from the River Ghizer and few Rehmat nicked from us from his farm house. So we had been done with the breakfast mean very posh breakfast and we left for Gilgit later that afternoon.
We stopped by a local hospital as Haji Sahib was feeling some pain on his leg in Ghizer Valley. I accompanied him in hospital but I was amazed to see their small but neat, tidy and hygienic setup. We went to collect some slip form reception which was free ALLAH knows I haven?t seen such a beautiful & professional paramedic staff ever in any corner of Pakistan.
As we were waiting in room the doctor called Haji Sahib name and requested him to come along. They have such a clean room and all apparatus whatever they used to check haji sahib was sterilized and cover in proper sterilized sheets. After some necessary checkup they give us a signal to go. So we were more than grateful when leaving the premises.
We moved ahead and stopped by Gilgit NLI Market for some necessary shopping like dry fruit which is speicality of Northren area. After done some shopping we had moved on to home and we parked our bikes by the Gilgit Petroleoum which was far end from central city and entrance from KKH to city to refill our bikes.
Cruising towards the Jaglot we were parked our bikes in between some places for a cup of tea at driver hotel and we started our journey towards home. As soon we reached Jaglot we had some pictures their of Nanga Parbat which was lucky quite clear that time. It was right before the sun set so we had clear vision of the killer mountain. We stopped our bike at driver hotel where elder always used to parked their bikes for a dinner. I don?t know while we were having a dinner I felt exhausted all sudden. I have managed to stay quite that was my biggest mistake of the trip.
We took off from there when we met some local youngsters who were from chillas but they were quite hospitable and humble to us as they offer to pay our bill. And they share lot of their trip stories with us as we were not aspecting this from CHILLIS.
We were hunting miles after miles though I was not in a mood of doing a single mile. I was so tired and I was feeling since evening and it was dark now. And I have to rode on bike carefully as we were crossing lot of land sliding. I made a blunder when I was waiting for a truck to cross me I moved ahead of truck and he just applied a brake and turn over the turck over the mud track to safe me or else I might end under the truck.
I had enough for today and I was wishing them to stay somewhere but there wasn?t any place to take a break. We have stopped our bike to let the trucks convey cross the suspension bridge and as soon as I have took off on my turn my bike get slipped on the bridge and I was about to end up down in the Sindh. Luckily I was safe this time again due to safety gaurds and proper helmet. My helmet have lot of scratches on it side mirror had broken but I was fine and bike was OK to run ahead. So I said I am so tired to move on. Please stop some where so I can take some rest. So we took over again and after next possible stop which was Ghinni hotel we stop there and slept over on the massive benches or beds I really don?t know.
It was hot and restless night. But early in the morning we had proper bath with fresh water spring. Which was quite refreshing. However we had a breakfast to headed towards the Babusar Top. It took us max and hour n half when we were on top. It was quite than usual as I was thinking its quite early for people to be here about 9 am in the morning.
We started descending towards Naran and road was quite as compared to way in. We stopped in between lot of places and enjoyed the sceneries of Batakundi and Jhalkhad while having our lunch in Basiyaan we reached Naran. Busy as usual and full of people. So we thought to move on towards Mansehra. We pop out from the rush of main city and parked our bikes at Parus and thinking to have lunch again with chicken kirahi and local chick peas. Though we were enjoying too much of fruit and meat but we haven?t had a chicken in these 10 days. So after having a lunch we went back to our bikes and off to home when we saw Naeem Bahi parked at corner taking call. We crossed him and waited for him by Mansehra bypass. Then after waiting there for 2 hours me and Baseer Bahi became worry. We called and then Haji Sahib said that my bike had broken its chain but as we have Naeem Bahi with us we never worried about these little bit problems as he him self is very technical person. So sorted the bike on the spot and met us at Mansehra bypass.
We moved ahead form there but from Mansehra to Abbottabad it was proper traffic with lot of cars heading out of mansehra to Abbottabad. By making our way by hook or crook we manage to reach Abbottabad. We stopped at Abbottabd right before the Ayub teaching Hospital and take Haji Sahib to doctor. As he needed to change his bandage. I mean time I thought to do some shopping for my kids like I bought some Games for his play station and Stationary for middle one and some toys for my younger one and my nephew. Though for mom and dad I have already bought considerable amount of dry fruit which would probably helpful to there heartless anger. ):
So here they came out from hospital and we took off to Baseer Bahi Hujra where we started. We left all camping things there as it was too late like 10:30 pm so I have left for home with everyone else after a long satisfied trip.