Making of the plan…
I’m not that well-traveled but I have seen a couple of places and I have had some experiences that I’d like to share. The most exhilarating experience for me was when I first travelled without anyone I knew personally. I just randomly picked a group from Facebook and joined it. Obviously, there was a lot of objections from my family and friends but I was in a state where no one could have stopped me. It was an eight days trip to Hunza. A beautiful northern area of Pakistan. If you ever come to Pakistan, especially in October, trust me you wouldn’t want to miss the autumn in Hunza. Autumn is already very pretty but in Hunza, it is something extraordinary. Everything is orange. It’s like a dream.
The journey begins…
Anyway I packed all my stuff and I was feeling 95% excited and 5% nervous. After all, this was the first I was traveling like this. I had to be a bit nervous. My father dropped me off at the pickup point and from there I was on my own. I got my suitcase loaded on the bus and took my favorite seat before anyone else could. The one above the tire. I always take that seat whenever I’m traveling in a bus. And it was a long journey so I had to make sure I’m comfortable.
When all the group members were finally seated, we began our journey. There was this old couple who were being friendly with everyone and obviously being an introvert I found them a bit annoying. And then there was another girl who was alone like me but I didn’t really like her either. There were two doctors with us, husband and wife. They were nice, neither very chatty nor rude. Then there was a group of cousins. One guy and four girls with one woman around her fifties. There were all very nice. I got to know them in those eight days and found all of them very interesting.
First stop: Chillas
We traveled for almost 12 hours with only one stop where we had our breakfast and then we stayed in Chillas for the night before we could continue our journey again. The hotel in Chillas was horrible. I couldn’t sleep well. I only slept for 3 hours. I met another group member who joined us from Islamabad. Oh and by the way I’m from Lahore. She was also traveling alone so she sharing the room with me and the other girl who was alone. Three of us shared the room for eight days. I liked one of my two roommates. She wasn’t very chatty and so she wasn’t annoying. Like I said I’m an introvert and I’m not very comfortable with people who expect me to engage with them a lot.
Our next stop was for lunch at Rakaposhi view point. We had our food near the river and we could see the mighty mountain named Rakaposhi in front of us. From there we went to a guesthouse in a place called Minapin. This place was nice. It had a garden with different fruits. A highlight from Minapin was sitting by the river around sunset time and having tea. It was a wonderful experience. Later we had dinner with the group and then I went to sleep. That night I was very tired so I slept well.
Next day we went to see the Altit and Baltit fort. These forts were made hundreds of years ago. They were fascinating mainly because of the history attached to them. Next, we saw the beautiful lake of Attabad. This lake has its story too. In 2010 an earthquake hit this area of Pakistan and a whole village was destroyed by that earthquake. The village literally vanished. And a lake formed where that village used to be. The village’s name was Attabad so the lake was named after that village. It’s astonishing how tragedy can be so beautiful.
Once we crossed the lake we took a bus and headed to our next stop, Gulmit. This was my favorite place from this trip. It was a village and it wasn’t very famous among tourists so it still had that natural beauty that was very captivating. I and T went for a walk to discover the area. I loved it. So peaceful and serene. Life seemed so simple and easy there. I can’t deny that for a moment I wished I could stay there my whole life. We stayed there for two nights. At night I would go to the rooftop to watch stars. It was amazing.
Next day we went to Khunjerab pass. This is the highest paved border in the world. A border between China and Pakistan. It’s around 15,000 feet high. If you stay there more than half an hour you start to feel a little dizzy.
I had a very interesting moment there. For the first time in that, I trip I had the realization that I was so far for my people with a group of strangers. No cell service. No contact with my family or friends. If I had just slipped away no one would even notice. I could actually disappear. That was an overwhelming feeling. I felt great. That was a moment I decided how amazing it was to travel without anyone you know. I still hold that ground. I have traveled with my parents, siblings, husband, friends, and even extended family but I’ve never enjoyed as much as when I’m traveling alone.
Anyway from there on things went kind of downhill. We went to Gilgit and from there we had to head back to Lahore. The plan was to stay in Gilgit one night but due to land sliding, we had to stay two nights and then we deviated from the original plan of resting a night at Besham. So we went to Lahore in one go which was almost 34-hour long journey. And needless to say, it was exhausting.
When I finally got home, I slept for two days and I still felt tired. The sunburn stayed with me long after I got back.