Monday, September 11, 2006


Today wasn't a long cycling day. The plan was to renew my visa then take the bus to Skardu with Nick.

The visa renewal didn't happen as the only person in town able to action it, the Deputy Commissioner of Gilgit, was on holiday. Unfortunately I wasted much of the morning waiting around at his office to find this out.

Skardu is West of Gilgit, somewhat isolated by its position in the high Himalayas & being quite close to the Line of Control, the defacto border that separates Indian & Pakistani controlled Kashmir. Assaults on K2, the 2nd highest mountain start from there.

At the same time that the Karakorum Highway was built a road was cut along the side of the Indus Gorge to connect it with Skardu, which became a strategic town with the tensions over Kashmir. Being the only usable road into Skardu & not wanting to cycle in & out along both directions on it we opted to take the bus in & cycle out. Contributory in this decision was the fact that Skardu was quite a lot higher than Gilgit, so getting out would be easier on a bike that getting in.

The road was very narrow with hardly enough space for our mini-bus & the many trucks that we passed. The 200 km 7 hour journey with 17 other people crammed into a Hiace mini-bus counts as one of the least comfortable rides of my life. It was medieval torture! Though the gorge views were amazing. In the coming day we'll retrace the bus' path no doubt stopping for lots of photos along the way. We rolled into Skardu after dark & exhausted from the bus trip.

I cycled 7 km in 30 minutes
Total so far 10850 km in 167 days

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