Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Update.

Here's the deal. We are in Southern Thailand and will be heading back to the states in about 4 days. We flew out of Lahore almost 5 days ago. We threw away all our clothes before flying out and I left with only the clothes I was wearing. Breckan opted to throw away ALL her clothes and left wearing only a headscarf. This seemed to cause quite a stir, you would think Pakistan was a little more liberal than that. So for the time being we are chilling in Southern Thailand after spending some time buying new clothes in BKK. And now here is an update...

If you ever find yourself with three weeks to kill and you're having a hard time figuring out where to go; buy a bike, fly into kashgar (try to avoid the riots), and ride down to Gilgit, Pakistan. The riding is pretty easy. The scenery is absolutely non-stop, and once you leave China the food is fantastic.

We left Kashgar and pedaled through rolling hills and then dramatic peaks. The second night out we spent in a culvert next to an abandoned road. We cooked our ramen and went to sleep watching a sandstorm pound pink light across a neighboring mountain. The next day we spent in yurt! A real yurt! Like it was brought there on a camel. The couple that hosted us made all our food (like she literally made the noodles as we watched). It snowed all night and we woke up to wet roads. The last riding day in China rolled by with no major incidents. The road wound through a large valley dotted with small mud tenements and old men driving donkey carts. Several passes brought snow and we ended up making lunch in a willow grove next to a stream. Rain began to stream down as we rolled into Tashkurgan and we arrived soaking wet. It was the first and last time we would ride in the rain.

After several days of being broken on Chinese bureaucracy we made it across the China-Pakistan border. Pakistan felt like a breath of fresh air. The food was familiar and English speakers were everywhere. The riding slowed once we realized we didn't have much more time left in mountains. We started riding 30-40 kms a day and checking in early. The mountains were to much and perhaps we were beginning to delay the inevitable conclusion of the trip. It took us almost 2 weeks to ride down the 300 kms to gilgit. We did trek after trek after trek. Rakaposhi. Rush Peak. Nanga Parbat. Big mountains.

Breckan and I spent our last day on a bike riding to a polo festival held at 3,900 meters. It was bittersweet. As the road went to seed a van of about 10 guys on a brocation pulled over. "Come with us!," they yelled. We left our bikes at a guest house and spent the next three days with them. It was fantastic. I'll write more about it later.

We met up with Charlie in Lahore. Ate. Ate some more. Packed up our bikes and took a ride to the airport with the world's fattest rickshaw driver. And now we are back in Thailand. Soon we will be home. I'll post one or two more times and then Breckan and I will be done with this long strange trip.

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