Messner On Tour
Hello kids - what have I been up to? Thanks for asking! After a few days rest eating copious amounts of egg and chips (pointing at a picture of it Torremolinos 1989 stylee) we hit the trail again.... This one was a beast - hanging off 2000 feet crags after some lovely directions from a non English speaking shepherd....camping at 4800 metres and waking up to icicles and frost in the tent...... and reaching a new high - Rush Peak at 5100 metres. Fom this point we could see a distant K2 - I found this darn exciting but I can hear some readers glass eyes shattering from here - so onwards... From here it was a race to the border. Pakistan is a country that makes standard comic answers to the old English PC joke 'How many Pakistanis can you fit into a Nissan?' look conservative. Imagine our joy then when the rag tag stuck the union jack in the back row of a mini bus making ourselves relatively comfortable. Imagine our horror then as our driver slowed down after a few kilometres for a bump (note slowed down - not stopped) and a local, with a look of the Peter Sutcliffe's about him, jumped on to the back of the now accelerating bus. In one swift movement he had then joined us in the back seat after sliding through a window a la the dukes of hazard. Annoyance soon turned to concern as he put his arm around Phil and started to massage his bicep and rest his head on Phil's. Exit stage left 3 hours after this trapped bonding session began.... The next day we hopped onto a vehicle headed for the Chinese border. So goodbye Pakistan - a country where there is no word for 'rag tag', as such heady heights of organisation are but a pipe dream. It is also a country of amazing beauty, grandeur and where the locals are amazingly friendly and hospitable - I wouldn't hesitate to return. After passing the highest border crossing in the world at 16000 feet we entered China. An infuriatingly slow drive brought us to the first town of Tashkurgun last night were we had a lovely and normal evening of the Chinese army serving us food. When we asked them for as good place to eat - they came with us and kept bringing us chicken, beef, cod skin(?) in full military regalia - LOVELY AND NORMAL! The meal was good but unfortunatley had a strange effect that caught Phil short on the way back to the hotel, resulting into him soiling the mood.... literally.... Today we woke up nice and early to catch the bus to Kashgar - on the ancient silk route. We were thrown off the overcrowded small bus and were stumped as to what to do (one bus a day). Enter an entrepreneur on his way to Kashgar charging double the bus fare - we agreed. The driver turned out to be such a card - stopping 30 miles into the trip to run across 300 yards of scrubland and start a punch up with a JCB driver - oh how we laughed! Actually the guy seemed to be some kind of triad and we sat very still for the remaining 5 hours of the trip for fear of ending up in a shallow Chinese grave at the hands of the driver and his two burly mates.... Anyway - we are here -living the Chinese dream - long may it continue. Off on a marathon train journey in 2 days time - so will let you know how that went next time. Over and out Messner PS Photos will be available within 24 hours hopefully!