12. Army’s our best friend. Naran

After I woke up I went to check the reception. Yeah, he’s still there. The policeman with a big mustache and a face of a prick looked at me but I turned around. Here, in Naran our real problems started. Hoping to have a great weekend with our drivers who took us all the way there and offered a trip to Saif ul Maluk lake we went for a walk after we arrived to the hotel. At the tourist information we were told that due to ‘some’ security reasons we can’t go further to Hunza. Bad news. As I knew Pakistanis like to exaggerate we were ready to try anyway. Unfortunately our perfect plan was ruined by a policeman who due to lack of better things to do started to follow us. We managed to loose him and sneak into the hotel. “Hello, sir!”, after about 15 minutes we heard a voice behind the door. Around 20 people was at the reception waiting for us. What the hell…

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Dinner with our bodyguard

After visiting the police station and explaining our plans what we learned was that we can’t go to Hunza and tomorrow a security guard would accompany us during our trip to the lake. Even though I tried to discuss, a decision was made. So the next day, full of enthusiasm and hate at the same time, we jumped into a jeep with our Pakistani friends and our personal guard. The lake was really beautiful except piles of rubbish who Pakistani people like to throw everywhere. Our friends paid for our horse ride which, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy too much. I’m not an enthusiast of commercial tours and being surrounded by bunch of people looking after me. I prefer freedom. But in Naran I realized i have to forget about it.

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Saif ul Maluk lake

After our trip we didn’t want to stay in Naran longer. What for? Going out for a romantic dinner with our policeman? No, thanks. It took me a while to accept that it’s ”all for our security”. The fact is that the police was saving its own reputation because if anything happened to us they would pay for it. Few years ago a group of tourists was killed in this area and the security has been very strict since then. I get that. But it was not the most comfortable situation for us. But even though we were frustrated we didn’t give up. We made up a story that we were coming back to Islamabad but in fact we decided to turn back and take Karakoram highway in order to get to Hunza. But from then on we changed our tactic.

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Sneaking through Gilgit-Baltistan

No hitchhiking, only buses which are cheap anyway. All the way from Mansehra to Hunza was full of police check posts. If we wanted to avoid being stopped by the police again or everytime showing our documents we had to mix with the crowd. That’s how I became Pakistani woman and Callum a sleepy head hiding the face in his arms. That worked very well. In Chilas unfortunately we got a guard again but at least he was a funny guy and the police got a hotel discount for us. Even though Karakoram highway contained more holes than asphalt, somehow we managed to get to Karimabad where we planned to spend couple of, hopefully police free, days.

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Typical breakfast. Deep fried.
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