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brad’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 25 Jul 2007

Location: On the road to Hoper, Pakistan

MapThere is Philosophy, Then Priority.

"We condemn the Taliban beliefs" reinterates the teacher. "In the northern provinces of Pakistan the people are simple living simple lives. They don't care for the troubles of the city or those of the south - the extremists. It's like a separate country". We find ourselves sardined into a 12 seater Toyota Hi-Ace with no less than 48 arse cheeks vying for space. Pete's engrossed in The Grish while I'm in conversation with a school teacher. Personal space encroached and political discourse make for an intense journey, amplified more-so by this delipidated road etched into the mountainside with only a foot separating the wheels from a perilous drop. "In Pakistan you are our guest. We are obligated to help you and make you feel welcome". This code of Islam preached by the teacher is firmly upheld by the Pakistanis. We have been more likely to receive a discount as a foreigner than be ripped off, we've received many invitations into homes and have been generally assisted beyond call. In Gilgit while searching for a rumoured internet connection that actually functioned, Pete asked a shopkeeper for directions. Numerous cups of tea later (and knowing Pete about 20 piss breaks) the shop keeper called his cousin who arrived by motorbike and pillioned Pete directo to the net cafe.
A 1/2 hour from our destination and the journey comes to a momentary halt while a flat tyre is changed. The road winds its way around the mountainside just above an apricot orchard (Pakistan has the most divine tasting apricots the world has ever known). Conveniently we've stopped where the tops of branches from the last row of trees are accessible from the road. The teacher and another passenger climb into and pillage a tree of its fruit. Like santa with a lollie sack at a kids fair they throw handfuls of apricots to the gleeful crowd waiting by the roadside. I wonder how blantant theft fits into the Islamic code? But with apricots that taste this good, who cares.
The road terminates at Hoper village where our next trek will begin. As we unload our bags the driver asks us for 300 rupees for a 140 rupee trip. A number of guides and porters have gathered to 'assist us', and the owner of a guest house harps on about seeing his postcards and gemstones. I'm left thinking..... What happened to the Islamic code you bastards? Go home and read the Koran. But with tourist dollars that smell this good, who cares.