As I began the last part of my drive for the day towards Naran, I took one quick stop for a photograph but two boys walking up to me said their Salams and inquired as to where I was coming from. They were local residents walking on the road.
So we got talking and when I finally told them where I was headed, the elder of the two boys said its getting dark now so why not stay for the night in Shugran and then carry on in the morning. I explained to them that Naran is only a little while longer so I will try to make it there as it was only 6:30 pm at that time. He said it will get dark very fast here and it might be difficult to drive in the dark.
I said, from what I heard its expensive in Shugran and I am hoping to get a Hotel in Naran at approximately Rs 300. He said I could also get a room in Shugran for the same price. I asked how that could be possible? To this day I cannot forget his name; Zeshan. He said that if I just drive up to the hotel .... Oh I am forgetting the name now in Shugran, well just go there and say that Zeshan sent you and they will agree to your rate of Rs 300 because he works there but he is current off duty.
I gave the idea some thought, even considered that I would have the opportunity to visit Siri Paya in the morning and then carry on towards Naran in the afternoon. However, I figured that I really wanted to get to Naran and spend time there. So I thanked Zeshan for the offer and said I would take him up on his offer on my way back and then spend the night there.
By the time we finished our conversation I noticed it was getting dark and although I could have taken a picture I needed get my but back on the road and boot it down to Naran as soon as possible so as not to get caught in the pitch darkness of the mountains.
Well, that was not going to happen. The winding roads, the beautiful waterfalls running across the road, and there were many. This slowed me down so much so that a distance of maybe 36 kms ended up taking me nearly 2 hours to cover. I turned on the HID which I had installed for such occasions and it worked perfectly.
I reached Naran at exactly 8:30 pm and drove all over the main road looking through Hotel Names to find Punjab Hotel which the guy who I thought was going to steel my bike told me about. I passed a hotel called Naran Punjab Hotel and I thought perhaps its another hotel and I should be looking for Punjab Hotel, so I kept driving till the end of the market and then realized that the Naran Punjab Hotel was indeed the same hotel I was searching for so I turned back around and went to that hotel.
At first I asked one of the five or six boys that worked there the rate for the night, he asked how many and I responded with just one (me). He said Rs 1,000 for the night. I tried bargaining and explained to him that there are plenty of hotels here and I can go anywhere. He then came down to Rs 500. I finally said that I will not pay a penny over Rs 300.
He said then I can just go to another hotel because they cannot give me a room for that rate. I said then please call .... obviously I forgot that boys name whom I met on my way. He asked where did I meet him, I said they were heading towards Abbottabad and I was coming here and he specifically told me to come here and said I will get the room for Rs 300 and if not then have you call him.
The boy didn't argue and said that if he gave you that rate then you can have the room for Rs 300. And that was that.
I first went to see the room, I saw one room, then the second and then the third and decided on the first he showed me. It was not what I had expected but for rate of 300 I guess I should not have been so picky.
Not knowing whether they had ever washed the bed sheets or pillow covers I was all prepared and pulled out my Sleeping Bag and Bed sheet I had brought along and placed that on the bed to sleep on. Below is the pic of that room which although is not very presentable but served the basic purpose for the price I got it for.
Anyways, I unloaded all my luggage from the bike and brought it up in two trips. It was tough to carry since I had some in my arms, some in my hand and even some under my armpits but oooh boy, it was a tough climb up two sets of stairs since I was on the second floor overlooking the market on the road.