As-salamu alaykum

What a great way to say hi to someone, wishing them to be at peace with themselves. Pakistan was a very scary place for me, culturally speaking. in retrospect it turns out I should have been more intimidated by the mountains than the people. I found everyone I met to be very open and accepting. My interactions were mostly with men, but from all walks of life. And they all met me with and hand shake and “May peace be with you”. To which I would reply ” Wa alaykumu s-salam”, or and unto you peace.

The travels through pakistan where incredible, the smells vivid, the visuals captivating. I loved the experience, the food, a refreshing view of another lifestyle. One where women are conspicuously absent.

We drove up the karakoram highway, though many cities and villages. The smells at times mouthwatering, tantalizing hinting of flavourful food, seconds later of burning rubber. As much a journey through smells as sights. We were traveling with Nanga Parbat Adventures, an experienced and well run operation. Our lead guide/ interpreter was Mirghani, a hyper little fellow. We trusted the company explicitly as they expected us to. Through them our journey was made possible.

A good travel writer could write a book on the simple experience of driving up the KKH. Its a visceral ride, where thousands of different incredible sights are seen.Sights like 20 school boys pilled onto a datsun.

Eventually we organized, or Mirghani organized our luggage to be carried to basecamp and we loaded up into a jeep and drove deeper into the mountains.

As we hiked up into the mountains I was blown away by the resourfullness of the people. The terrain was incredible rugged, and dry, yet they had carved out these little oasis of green. By diverting creeks from hundreds of meters away, they would would water and turn a barren wasteland into a thriving acreage. This would happen over generations and a way to survive would evolve. Cultivated almond, apricot,peach,apple trees, rotating gardens, re-using dung for garden fertilizer, everything was essential.

Villages that seemed a part of the landscape. A world that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years and will continue indefinitely.

Around a year ago, ten mountaineers were murdered in their sleep, while attempting to climb Nanga Parbat. This atrocity was a shock to the villages and people of these valleys. “Like a tree being uprooted and thrown to the ground”. The betrayal the people felt from this shocking disaster is obvious. What has been a steady source of income has dwindled since then. Obviously something that was on my mind, yet a freak occurrence that would most likely not happen again. For that reason we had two armed guards with us. Who also remained in basecamp.

This guy isn’t our armed guard but I liked his steaze

By the time we arrived in base camp I was fulfilled, the trip had refreshed me with its different perception of life. It was an adventure in itself. But there was more ahead.

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