Thursday, July 30, 2009

Overland from China to Pakistan

Landing point
Exit point at China: Tashkurgan
Entry point at Pakistan: Sust

Transportation
1. International bus from Kashgar to Sust/Gilgit depart everyday from Kashgar International Bus Terminal. Natco bus (seater) from Pakistan and Chinese bus (sleeper) run the journey on every alternate day. Note that the bus only go until Sust on weekends.

2. The official time for the bus to leave Kashgar is 12 noon, with a request of a minimum of 10 passengers. But there is still possibility for the bus to leave after 12 if there is enough people, so leave your contact to the worker doing loading/unloading to give you a ring whenever a bus is going. The journey takes 2 day with the first night stopping over at Tashkurgan. Leaving Tashkurgan 10am Beijing time on the next morning.
Alternatively you can charter a private car for 80yuan/person (4 in a group) to Tashkurgan and continue with the international bus on the next day morning.

3. The cost are as below:
Kashgar - Sust: 270yuan
Kashgar - Gilgit: 350yuan

Pakistan Visa
Single visa entry issued at Sust. One photo needed.
Visa fees are different depends on your country:
Malaysia: 8USD
Singapore: 15USD
Japanese: Free
China: Free
USA: 150USD
..etc..

The Karakoram
1. Sit on the left (if you are from Kashgar)
2. If you are asked to pay for the Karakoram National Park, and you look chinese, say you are from China. Foreigners are to pay 4USD for the NP, Pakistani 20rupees, Chinese free of change.

Danger and Annoyances
Do hear complain that the immigration try to sexual harass women travelers by searching through the body for drug or whatever. There is no female officer who you can ask for help. It wasn't happened to me, the officer just offered to host me and ask me (with the tone of ordering) to have dinner with him. Afterwards he said he has big car big house and can drive me around, and try to make the visa application very very slow. The bus was about to leave without me and it really frightened me up, so I asked the student from the bus, no matter what happened, ask the driver to wait for me. It was a big relieve when I finally got back my passport, yes it is immigration, but who knows bad thing can't happen at the immigration?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bargain

I told the French guy staying beside my room that I think I have paid too much for the tomatoes (he was the 'Crazy1' in the previous passage).

You don't bargain for it?
No, I didn't, do you bargain for 10 rupees? (RM0.5)
Yes of course!
...
How do you know it is expensive?
I bought 3 tomatoes for 5 rupees in Gilgit, but here 4 costs me 10 rupees.
Oh it is expensive!
...
This is Pakistan, you bargain for EVERYTHING.
You bargain for your room?
Yes of course!
The transportation you took?
Yes of course!
The cost of your meals?
Yes of course!
=X

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hunza Valley



从房间走出来就是这片景,贴切一点,在这儿几乎每处一抬头就是这种景,高山深谷,蓝天绿林,景色超越言语,即便是再好的摄影技术,也无法传达。

Monday, July 27, 2009

疯子

昨晚几个人坐着闲聊。

疯子一号是同房的法国男生,20岁,长卷的头发大眼睛高鼻梁,带着一顶欧洲旧时代的勇士帽,只差没有插上两根羽毛和配上剑,长得比门还高,睡觉时必须把双脚卷起来,说话时像演一场默剧一样表情丰富。

他年轻到坚信有志者事竟成。在土耳其知道申请伊朗签证无望后连续半个月跑到土耳其港口要求货轮把他载到新加坡港口,和船上的每个成员交朋友,从船长到搬货员,半个月后才放弃。后来找到便宜机票从土耳其飞到斯里兰卡,在斯里兰卡码头让船夫以二十块美金把他渡到印度,船夫说那二十块钱足够他全家三个月的开销,但肯定会要了他们两人的命。于是他飞到南印度,开始徒步。一天50公里,他说。因为他有很长很长的脚,所以我想他走一个月的路程我应该要走两个月。他从Titucorin走到Calcutta,再往西走到Varanasi,走到他上了当地的报纸,走到新德里。在新德里他再次展现他有志者事竟成的信仰,到巴基斯坦驻印度大使馆申请巴基斯坦签证,这次足足去了十天。他和大使交朋友,通电话喝茶聊天吃饭。十天过后人家把签证发了给他,一天后又把那签证注销。基于印度签证就要到期,他飞也似的赶到尼泊尔拿巴基斯坦签证,然后飞也似的从印度过境到巴基斯坦。Phew,有惊无险。可以相信有志者事竟成是年轻的本钱,我比较相信谋事在人成事在天,有志者事竟成这种想法,已经太过奢侈。

疯子二号也是同房的男生,美国人,有一张帅气的脸,看样子不过二十左右。这些年轻人总是精力充沛,他们话里总有那么多对生活的热诚,世界永远是新的,充满所有可能性,令人羡慕。

他和疯子一号在印度遇上后觉得大家疯狂的程度一致,于是决定同行。因为巴基斯坦不太容易找书交换,他背着二十几本书走。下午听见他跟一群巴基斯坦人在闲聊:
What is more precious than our life, more evil than devil, the rich need it, the poor have it and if you eat it, you will die.
有个巴基斯坦人说:nothing
Bingo! you are right.

疯子三号是瑞典人,二十四岁,绑着小马尾。他不和我们同房,他和另一个中国女生同房,他们是一起的。

他出来十八个月,在这儿我们总是用月或星期来计算时间,星期几的意义不大。他背着吉他上路,煮自己的食物,在巴基斯坦待了三个月,说他的预算是一天三块钱。他说马来西亚有最好的医疗系统,他在泰国染上骨痛热症,马来西亚给他免费治疗,全套的医疗,一日三餐,热情的护士,一分钱也不用付。他说他在中国买了足够他用三年的衣服和茶叶寄回家,他还要回中国去淘宝,那是世界上最棒的购物网络,然后从西藏回到印度,那时他要从一个笨旅客手上买一辆二手摩多车环游印度,在离开前把摩多车卖给另一个笨旅客,卖价一定要比买价高,然后回家。他要在印度买一堆烟筒回家卖,回到家时他已经一分钱也没有,也许一路还要乞讨别人的收留。他说话时牙龈是拱起的,里头是一种叫snooze的东西,不止可以代替香烟,而且一粒就等于六根香烟的尼古丁,这东西不会给你肺癌,只会给你口腔癌。当然,一天三块钱在巴基斯坦还是不可能的,所以他要到Skardu去买帐篷了。

疯子四号是疯子三号的伴,我觉得其实她正常得很,直到她分享了她的美容秘诀。这女生来自江苏,样子非常沉静,话不多。她有一头长而乌黑的头发,总是披着披肩,四十二岁,

四十二岁?疯子一号呆了,那不可能!你看来顶多二十五六岁。
真的,四十二。
那你可以当我妈了!你是怎么保养的?
第一,需要一个年轻的男人,那非常重要(她拍拍疯子三号的肩);第二,瑜伽,每天两小时;第三,把芒果,鸡蛋和蜜糖混合敷脸;第四,用香蕉按摩脚板。
疯子一号不信,于是她开始用香蕉按摩脚板来示范。

Saturday, July 25, 2009

For the northern area

07/25/09
Day 355 Week 51

1. Just noticed that I have out of job for 1 year, gosh time is fast!

2. The second day in Gilgit is not that bad, today I went out with veil covering my face, others can still recognized me as a foreigners with my small eyes and awkward glasses, still stared at me but much better than yesterday.

3. Avoid eating in restaurant by buying yogurt and biscuits and settled in the guesthouse.

4. There are Efes, the Turkish beer sold in the store, in this Muslim country.

5. Sunni and Shi'te are attending different mosque! But what's different between the mosque?...

6. Got an expired Pakistan LP from a guy in the dormitory.. yaahoo!.. I hate LP but need one desperately. It was a total blank to me on Pakistan as China don't sell books on Pakistan and no internet for the time I was in XinJiang. I know nothing about the country except not to go Peshawar and Swat, there are Talibans.

7. 2 guys from my room said they went to Peshawar for the weapon market and it was life risking. Crazy.

8. I guess the women in Pakistan have a good life. They seldom come out, all the tailors, barbers, whoever you see in restaurants, hotels, petrol stations, shops, markets, are men.

9. Leaving for Passu tomorrow. Will be out of internet until I get from Passu to Karimabad. Take care :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back from Mars

07/24/09
Day 354 Week 51

In Pakistan
Crossing the Khunjerab Pass through Karakoram Highway into Pakistan, arrived at Gilgit last night.
Pakistan is so different from the rest of the places I have been visited, with the smell of middle east, even though it is still in Asia, and there are rarely women on the street, and I am yet to get myself a local dress, so I got to bear with the strange stares from the Pakistani men.. =|

The Karakoram Highway is nice, after all it is where the Himalayas, Karakoram, Pamis and Hindu Kush converged. The scenery in Pakistan side after entering Sust is just stunning, it can't be described by any word, not to say I have a poor vocabularies :)
Even for one that crossed the highlands in Tibet, these mountains take your breath away, and can't be compared.

Gilgit is a small town. It is the capital of the Northern area but still, a small town with a few streets, and of course, a lot of Pakistani men. I was thinking of stocking up a few books before moving north to the mountain areas but seems like the hope is slim. Will try to look for long sleeves again later today (currently I only have 1 long sleeves), can't imagine what happened if you are the only alien wearing short sleeves in this part of the world.

Time in MARS
We were thrown to outer space after the 7.5 incident of Urumqi. I was thinking of going Carrefour that night to get a scarf but change my mind to sleep early. (Carrefour is exactly where the area that the incident happened) Before that a Japanese in my room told me there are demonstrations on the streets in the evening, but no one pay much attention on it.

With the whole night sirens, I woke up the next day morning and they told me what had happened. I was eager enough to know more and found out that the internet access of the whole XinJiang province had been cut. I send an sms home telling my mum people died in the unrest but I am okay. A lot of people trying to call home but it was an empty tone reply. The TVs in the youth hostel are not working so we dont know what happened outside even t hrough we are 15 minutes away from where the incident happened, except rumours.

Everyone live in horror the second day. I was just outside the clinic when a nurse shouted 'they are here, run!!' I ran fast into the clinic and it turned out that she is too phobia after the incident. Most of the chinese in the hostel cancelled their XinJiang trip and heading home; most foreigners flew out of the province or country. Most of the citizens in the town start to carry weapon when they are on the streets. And of course, curfew.

I was still there on the 3rd day. Finally 1 TV is working and we sat in front of the TV watching repeating news from China station. Repeating shots, repeating sentences, repeating video records and repeating facial expression. Some Hans (chinese) gone crazy on the 3rd day, they started their demonstration from the train station and shouted 'Uighur, kill!' all the way to where the incident happened. They carried whatever weapon they can find - big knive, wood, stick, L-bars, saw, shovel.. anything you can think of, to kill but not to self-protect.

I was out for food that evening not knowing that there is curfew, and took a long way back because the road was closed later when I got my dinner with me. And that's when I saw the demonstations, which Hans breaking Uighurs windows and shouting loud along the streets, with army following the line without stopping them. It is at that moment that I am totally disappointed with Chinese government and decided to leave.

It is not much to my concern when it is a terrorist issue, which I believe it was on the 7.5. But on the 7.7, I witnessed that it turned into a racial issue, and if it is a racial issue, I am a Han and I might have problem. And you will be surprised that most chinese in China know that Hans is beating Uighur on the 7.7 and they dont think that is a problem. 'We cant just let people bully us.', they said, among them are educated. And that's the message the government indirectly gave them by allowing the demonstration on the 7.7.

I left Urumqi on the 7.8, that's the start of the day when all the msg from mobile phone are prohibited. And the first time ever I felt so much of being thrown into the outer space. Can you imagine how we live without accessing information in this modern world?!! and China is doing this, of course with the reason behind, but too much backwards, of course ridiculous to a foreigners; and this is the only way to keep them in control, they always say.

But still I traveled to southern XinJiang, just because I wanted to cross overland to Pakistan. Along the way people telling me to leave, and along the way I met a lot of kind hearted Uighur who helps me without asking for price. I see how Han looks down at Uighur, and see how they treat Uighur when others need a hand.

Well, after reading this a chinese from inner land will definitely comment: how dare you made judgement, you are not reciding in China and what do you know about us. Oh well really I dont know anything in depth, but I know the brain-washing education, information filtring system. But for sure, I admired your patriotism.