After a week in the mountains, in Karimabad, Murtazaabad and Ataabad in Hunza, Gilgit, Phandar and Skardu, we will finally be on our way to Shigar in the afternoon today. Filmed rock carvings of the buddha in Skardu yesterday, and went to a nearby spring to fill real water for our poor travelled tummies.
It's been a good two restful days in Skardu.. well, not quite exactly. We are jarred out of our sleep at 4am sharp mountain time, when the birds suddenly decide to wake up even though it is pitch dark outside, and the 13 mosques turn their loudspeakers on full blast, and the construction workers start chucking rocks into their tractor trolley for no rhyme or reason.
The rest of our day is then spent figuring out how to get to Shigar.
Yesterday, while sipping coffee at dusk sitting by our hosts' vegetable patch, and badgering them why they don't walk their cow, we wondered why people in the cities don't grow vegetables in their yards like people in small towns do. After all, so many city folks have the space and the manpower to manage vegetable patches, but they are so adamant about manicuring the bejeezus ou
t of their lush lawns, that they can't see anything beyond the american grass and ornamental shrubs that are soaking in much precious city water.
On climbing mountains
This morning I actually climbed a mountain. And then actually climbed it back down, slipping and sliding every which way of the shortcut. The early morning sun had just begun to light up the valley, with spectacular views of Skardu town and the nearby sand dunes next to the Indus river. We had followed a water channel on foot for about an hour. Spotted a bunch of black tadpoles darting about in the channel, and then two grown ones making merry a little upstream. We passed by a Russian olive tree, and just as I was thinking 'what's a Russian olive tree doing in Skardu', there we were at the end of our little trek. What would've taken a local 20min, had taken me an hour and then some. I plonked the camera down (not that I was carrying it all this while to begin with – you try tripping and balancing over a stony path on a steep mountainside while lugging an unwieldy camera at the same time) and started filming while my host took a nap.
It was a clear morning, as opposed to the dust storm that had whipped up just a day earlier. To our left was the valley which led to Satpara lake, where the new dam has just been constructed. The same valley takes you to the Deosai Plains which is a must see in July/August.
We will be off to Shigs in the afternoon today. There is much to do before we take off… websites to update, photos to sort, suitcases to stuff our belongings into, squeeze in a nap or two, mingle with our hosts, etc. etc.
The journey begins.