8.40 am monday dec 29
the commotion outside woke me up. just as well cause reception never called at 7am as i had asked. it was 7.40am. packed my things and went straight to the check out desk, snowing again. called a taxi. traffic moving gingerly on the slick streets, like the women in their high heeled boots. taxi driver was quick to turn right out of the busy main roads and take the side streets instead. got to the bus station to find that I'm the 30th passenger on a 38 passenger bus. so no front seat for moi this time. hope some considerate Pakistani will allow me to sit by myself. we'll see. meanwhile i sit in the restaurant next door to the bus stop, for a breakfast of the ubiquitous tasteless watery green tea, my favourite - qitiq (yoghurt) - and naan i bought form a street vendor outside the restaurant. they eat a steam bun of sorts, that they break in pieces or bite into, with a plate of soupy looking vegetables and meat. chai of course. some kind of b rated war movie dubbed in Uighur on TV. cant make out which country. the actors or uniforms aren't familiar. strange how watching a movie even for 10 minutes or so transports you right out of where you are, into the other world of the movie. better than sitting in the drab bus station. lesson learned - don't carry so many things- travel light - 2 pants - 2 shirts - 2 socks 2 sets of undergarments, one towel, one sleeping bag, one pair of shoes, minimum toiletries, camera, extra batteries, pens paper/note pads, map, pillow,water bottle, diarrhea, headache and cold medicine (R1 R4), gloves hat sunglasses and money. next time that's all i need.
10.50am snowing - were standing outside - controlled chaos by the bus - the conductor loads up, taking bribes form the Pakistani traders for the excess luggage they're carrying, once hes got all that done, hell load us ordinary folks. hes got everyones passports and tickets, hes raking it in. its bloody freezing, theres a group of Chinese from Beijing, traveling to Pakistan, touring would you believe! some speak a little English, one of them fluently - studies in Chicago, nephews off to Pasadena in a couple of months!!! wants to do his mba. starting at PCC (Pasadena city college) at this rate well be waiting our turn for another hour. they all know the game well, bus conductor and traders. they all speak each others language literally and figuratively. theres much argument and discussion, slowly but surely the samaan is getting loaded on top of the bus. once that's done they'll open the bottom hold for a our luggage. wish i had a movie camera to film all this excitement. the Chinese tourists are pretty calm and pleasant about it - never a shortage of surprises here.
11.40am bus is loaded to the gills. were packed in here like sardines. I'm sitting in the second last row - over the wheels! bags all around me - 4 fellows from jhelum sitting in the last row. (they're deportees) people passing bags in through the windows. my old Gilgiti travel companions have squeezed themselves in right next to me- zulfiqar talks too much - beggars cant be choosers. were sitting 5 in a row even though there are two seats on each side. Aslam, zulfiqars uncle is alot more soft spoken and helpful in a gentle manner. promised to get me a seat up front a little later. doubt very much if anyone is giving up their front seats.
moving out of the bus station 12.10pm! got here at 7.40amsanawar gateway hotel gilgit
works through Naghma gemstone -
mining in jun july aug sept - village sumayar nagar
mine at chimar bokor 18000ft for
aquamarine pink and red flouride quartz and hepitite
all this form a fellow traveller - one of the add on passengers in tashkorgan - young skinny with long shinny hair - has invited me to come see the mining work up at 18000 ft! hell take me himself. any time you want baaji. come stay with us for a few monthsn.y Pakistani fast food restaurant - syed mohd shah, chacha to mohd farooq gilgiti - another chatty travellers info for my records
and so they each go on---i listen mostly, to their own discussions, as they chat with me telling me what they do where theyre from, asking where im from, what i do or rather what am i doing (here)???? trying to learn Chinese by travelling to china.. in 5 days??? in winter??? theres a much easier, better way to do this baaji-- rent your self an apartment in kashgar for 6 months.. go stay in the summer and talk all you want - will cost you alot less and you'll look alot nicer too!!!!(i imagined they were thinking that-- what does she look like under this grimy garb of feathers??)