The cycling adventure has begun! As I left Gilgit, I crossed a bridge to the western side of the Hunza River and headed north towards Nomal. Along the way I picked up a friend by the name of Abdul, a 19-year-old soldier in training who has two days’ leave from his duties and was using the time to visit some friends in Gilgit. Today he was out to explore the area on his motorbike. It took me several hours to piece his story together, owing to our lack of a shared language. At first I was slightly annoyed that he decided to tag along with me, but in the end he proved to be good company. He waited patiently while I shot video footage, he jumped stone walls to raid mulberry and cherry orchards for delicious snacks, and we were able to share some laughs. All the while the scenery blew my mind. Rocky, barren hills loomed in the foreground while icy peaks loomed in the background. The river was lined with sprawling villages, lush green with food-producing gardens and orchards divided by sturdy stone walls. I began to ride slowly to give myself a better chance of taking it all in. I arrived at the Rakaposhi Viewpoint area around 4pm and decided it would be a great place to spend the night. Laughing off a 3000r price tag for a room at one place, I ended up setting up my tent on the rooftop of the Rakaposhi Viewpoint Hotel, which charged just 200r per night. As I settled in, I observed van load after van load of college students stop by Rakaposhi for a photo opportunity. It became apparent that it is a popular thing for groups of college students from across Pakistan to organise holiday road trips to Gilgit-Baltistan. One student came up to me and asked, ‘Are you the Australian cyclist?’ Apparently he’d read the newspaper article about me via Facebook.
|Accommodation||$ Camping on a hotel roof|
|Distance ridden today||71.19km|
|Average cycling speed||13.2kph|
|Total distance ridden||18,870km|