I couldn’t bear to leave the beauty of Passu so soon, so here I am again for a second night. I had pretty much decided last night that I’d stay again and the deal was sealed when I woke up lacking energy with a headache and a queasy stomach, of which I think the altitude is the cause. Unfortunately this meant I didn’t feel up to exploring the area like I’d planned. Instead, once my tent got too hot I lay out my sleeping mat outside and chased the shadow of a small tree until it was non-existent. By this time Ahmed had come to check on me. He kindly prepared some green tea to ease my headache and some rice soup to alleviate my stomach woes. I continued to lie around until about 3pm, when I moved shifted my tent to the front of the restaurant. Last night I had woken up to find my tent sitting on a shallow pool of water, a consequence of being located too close to a garden hose. I lay down for another hour or so before going for a walk through village. My love of the place only increased as I got a closer (albeit superficial) glimpse of local life here. On my return home I sat out the front of the restaurant with Ahmed and asked him questions as the sun went down.
I learned that fresh drinking water is available all year, even when the place is under a thick blanket of snow, courtesy of bores that access underground water fed from springs and snow melt. Sewage is managed via septic tanks. When one is full, it is closed and another opened nearby. The mosque and school are community centres, but all other land is privately managed. The people of Passu follow the branch of Islam called Ismailism, which is relatively open-minded and gender-equal, compared with other sects. Women work alongside the men and prayer is community-based, with both men and women gathering together at the mosque at particular times to worship and hear community news. Before the 1970s, when the first Karakoram Highway was constructed, Passu was only accessible by foot traffic (the old Silk Road being located in another valley). Construction of the Karakoram Highway has ruined the peace and natural beauty of Passu and the widening of the road as part of the CPEC plan will only further disturb the quiet little town without bringing any benefit to the local people. The government does not care for the plight of people from the Northern Areas when they are distracted by the glimmer of the money they are getting from giving the Chinese greater access to Pakistan.
|Accommodation||$ Cheap camping|
|Distance ridden today||0km|
|Total distance ridden||18,953km|