I sat there calm and silent. Observing the view before me. It was the most amazing land I had ever witnessed in my life. If truth be told, for few moments, I cried. It seemed like I am an ant and everything around me is super big, super giant and 10000 times greater than me. I sat there as long as I needed to catch my breath and fresh my senses. Then I stood up, went closer to the edge and marveled at the glaciers below. I was grateful for sensing everything around me, the giant mountains, the mighty winds and everything just terrific right in front of my human eyes. The air was cold and fresh. The handsome mountains were standing tall like they were going to devour tiny me. I was finally there. After days of traveling, and hours of hectic trek, I was finally there. Seeing Nanga Parbat base camp had become a reality. It was supposed to make me feel satisfied, Right? But that’s not how I felt.
What I felt was totally unexpected. Imagine, you are traveling down the road to reach somewhere, but when you actually get there , all your expectations are turned upside down. and you’re a completely new person. Something like that happened with me when I reached the top. It wasn’t the top of the world, just a stepping stone you can say, but standing there I realized many things that I wouldn’t have noticed while being down there at the bottom.
Let me reverse everything and go back from where it all started.
If I were to write a book on this expedition, I would name it this way.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Omelets.
Why is that? Well, You’ll see, as you stick around and listen to my stories from the journey.
I have traveled to foreign lands, yes, but I hadn’t been to anywhere this mind-boggling in my life before so going on a trekking trip, that too, directly to Nanga Parbat Base camp without any prior climbing or trek experience, was a horror for my family. They knew I do not have the stamina for this. I, also knew I do not possess the athletic qualities. But this turned out to be one of the best and most adventurous journeys of my life that changed me all together. I can see myself as an adrenaline junkie now, seeking out mad adventure but denied by parental control.
The travel to awesome land began on the night of 20th June. Summer time in Lahore where I reside, so the prospect of seeing snow and experiencing cold up in the mountains was something I was really looking forward to. It was like being onto the long road to El Darado. All the excitement was literally oozing out of me and my cousin brother. The great herculean task of packing the bags, and making sure that I had my matching scarves with me, extra camera memory cards, batteries, hiking sticks, lots and lots of warm socks and medicines in case of emergency, was only the beginning of madness. The world I saw beyond the roads of my city, was simply wild. And it seemed even more fascinating because of my daydreaming about the place earlier when I had my seat confirmed for it. Isn’t it how it all goes? Whenever we pack & plan for a journey, we imagine alot of great things about the coming days. This raises our expectations, along with the rise in adventure hormones.
It feels great.
But It’s also a bit delusional.
I don’t know why but whenever I day dreamed about this trip, All I saw in my overly imaginative head was a neat straight easy-peasy trek to Nanga Parbat base camp where I wouldn’t have to get tired even a dime. As if I would be magically transported to the top of the mountain somehow. I am funny, isnt it? It was utterly childish of me. I was wrong about alot of things.
The long trip did begin with excitement, but never in my life, had I ever imagined, that I–the victim of Low blood pressure and good-for-no-walk would be pushed to trek for long long endless and let me emphasize more on this by saying, really long long brutally endless hours.
I swear! I am not exaggerating the story, That’s how Nanga Parbat took revenge on me for taking it lightly. I was like a balloon of hot air one minute, and the next, all the air was out of me. This almost became a joke for my guide during the trek. He would tell me to sit down at some points without even me begging him for a break so I can catch my breath, and when I would shamelessly cease the offer and take a break–he would laugh out loud telling every one around! “HA HA HA look! sitting down is her favorite thing”
At moments like those, I had asked myself numerous times. “Why the heck did I come if I can’t walk? Why can’t I walk , like seriously, without losing my breath? Am I sick without knowing it?”
And the answer to that would be more laughs of my guide. God bless him.
“Though the road’s been rocky it sure feels good to me.”
Let me take you to the beginning point and show you the roads I traveled on, cities I passed through to reach my final destination.
It’s the longest I have traveled so far in my life. 831km according to the google maps. But not all the roads en route to Nanga Parbat were crossed on a safe vehicle. At one point, I rode on a pony. At other point, I experienced a crazy drive in a jeep over the mountains. And finally, my feet.
The itinerary was simple.
Lahore to Islamabad. From Islamabad to Chillas. From Chillas to Fairy Meadows and then to Nanga Parbat Base camp. But on way there, I came to visit alot of places, alot of cities, met alot of people, ate different food and saw several new roads. Here’s a map of the places we crossed on our way.
Around Fajr prayer in the morning, at 4, I was half asleep half yawning. The view of the rising sun from the window was simply beautiful. This was the same Motorway to Islamabad which I had traveled before as well, but now that I knew it would take me to Nanga Parbat , I experienced it differently. For the most part of the journey till chilas, I had happily managed to post snaps at instagram and check in places at FB. But once we left for Fairy meadows, I was rather glad that no signals were available. This gave me the excuse to happily tuck away my cell and get obsessed over photography.
Then began the Battles of the stomach!
We traveled from Islamabad to reach Abbotabbad for breakfast at Green Valley Restaurant. This was a surprise for me. Not knowing that we would make a stop in this city, I was excited like a baby, imagining all sorts of delicious items in breakfast. Going overboard, I announced it on Facebook as well.
Breakfast was going to be heaven!
And then, my excitement burst into flames when we saw eggs and strange version of “Paratha” served in. To our surprise, egg was the only item on the menu, with paratha and tea.
Right. I manage a smile and called the waiter.
“Can I have something else to eat?”
“I’m sorry but that’s all we have.”
I eye my brother. My brother eyes me. I eye my friend. And then we all began eyeing the waiter.
Few minutes later. I still struggled with the idea of eating an omelet because I had my reasons. I am not an omelet hater. But I didn’t want to eat the egg yolk during my trip (my weird resolution). So I convinced myself to settle on a fried egg instead if eggs were our fate this morning.
I called the waiter again.
“Okay bhai sahab. can I please have a fried egg instead of an omelet?” I requested. He struggled with this plea but agreed. And few minutes later … I saw a gorgeous hot fried egg sitting in front of me–with its golden yolk flowing everywhere in the plate.
Great! My protesting at that time made everyone laugh at the table. There was no way that I was to be served a proper egg that morning.
There’s me with my camera. Trying to get a cool shot of myself in the mirror. Beautifully failed.
And this is that Green Valley restaurant with Legendary eggs. I would like to give this place a good rating, nonetheless. Because the place was really neat and clean. The waiters were nice and the eggs menu was not their fault, it was the only meal that we could afford. Or something our trip managers decided that we could afford.
Fish fash! Tip top! Off we go on the road.
Passing through Mansehra Bypass, we came across a gorgeous river flowing on our left side.
The greenery, the waters, the stones and the small huts like house. Everything was so new and so pleasing for our eyes that me and my cousin brother just sat there in our bus, with our eyes fixated on the view outside the window and head moving only to follow the trails the water made. It was like seeing something unbelievable and totally alien.
“I do not want this to end– I do not want this beauty to disappear. It is like a whole new world. A whole new me here. Just looking at it is so peaceful, I wonder how it would feel like if I actually make the bus stop, get out and roll on that grass over there on the mountain like a kid? or jump into that river just to see how far , how deep I go?
Oh my God! I LOVE this”
This was the hour when I began to realize how blessed I was just to be able to see all of this. Journeys like this, I believe, make you experience such emotional moments where you find wonders in your heart, in your own being. It’s like , you leave the ugly world behind you and find yourself drawn towards spirituality.
Such things do not exist in cities. And that was the very reason why we were in awe of it.
The river flowing by our side however, soon became a point of dispute among the people in the bus.
While some of the people said, its Indus river, technology on my cell said, it is river kunhar. I am still not confirmed about its actual name but which ever river it was, I found it to be one beautifully annoying stalker later on. It was like, a never ending long tail of the monster. Where ever we went, it followed us. Not stopping or disappearing even for a minute. But I guess, I am secretly glad it followed us, for now its all behind me and I kinda miss it.
To be continued… Our Stay at Besham.