Leaving Pakistan

Yesterday I made the crossing from Lahore to Amritsar in India at the Wagah border. Lahore was a fun city to wander round for a couple of days, and to rest after the harsh environment of the northern area. It also has an excellent bookshop.
I also saw the largest goat I have ever seen in my life. It was practically the size of a horse, well okay, not actually that big but huge by goat standards. Its floppy ears were a foot long. It was on a leash in the Old City (which just oozes with authentic subcontinental chaotic charm). I decided to bargain for the animal, as I reckon I could make a fortune exhibiting it as a curiosity in the malls of Orchard Road; however, my generous offer of 3000 rupees was ungratefully refused.
I also recommend the dessert I sampled from a street hawker in the Old City. I have no idea what was in it, but it tasted great!

A Brief History of the K2 Base Camp Trek

Days 1-4:
We arrive in Islamabad and are taken to the Flashman Hotel in Rawalpindi, where we are informed that the Gondogoro Pass is closed due to a massive crevasse opening up in the ice. Everyone is disappointed, but despite my purist suggestion to leap the crevasse carrying the ponies and kitchen staff, the others wimp out. The good news is that we can still trek to K2 base camp. The following three days are spent on the road: the first two days are in a bus on the Karakoram Highway (“Eighth Wonder of the World”), a road between Pakistan and China over the mountains, following the river Indus for much of the way; the third in a jeep winding precariously along a tributary to the Indus, towards Askole. We camp at Askole and are introduced to our kitchen staff, who serve an evening meal of chappatis, rice, chicken and dhal. We are ready to begin the trek.

Interlude to introduce the trekkers and staff:
The trekkers are
Anthony – a.k.a. “Lau Sai King”, for reasons which will become apparent
Herbert – rugged man of the mountains
“Uncle” Chia – bitten by a radioactive Ibex as a child, he has the power to adapt to high altitudes at a super fast rate
Yip – “Mr President”, he has the power to relate numerous anecdotes of previous expeditions
Lynn – our trek masseuse. Every trek needs one.
Moira – a.k.a. “The Kite Runner”
Eric – “The Twitcher” – spent the trek shamelessly chasing the birds
Timothy – faster than a speeding bullet, with trousers that can blind onlookers at a hundred metres
Darwin – “Talcum Boy”, his array of personal hygeine products is awesome

… and then there’s me, of course. The Purist himself.

The staff include Sadaqat Hussein, Chief Gobshite, I mean, er, Guide; Akhtar, a.k.a. “Son of the Boss”; “Uncle” Made, who seems to do, er, everything; Nissar, who cooks the food and agonizes over whether we are enjoying it; Ali and Jaffar, who help in the kitchen; two “Sadars”, who boss the porters around; and fifty three porters. Yep, that’s right, 53. We have porters to carry our food and porters to carry the food for those porters. There are loads of them and most look like Rumplestiltskin from hard lives carrying heavy stuff up and down the trail in the harsh sunlight.
I’ll show a few pics of all these guys as we go along, but right now, my fingers are tiring and i need a shower…

Stay tuned. In the next exciting installment, we actually start trekking.

The Way of the Purist

Behold! I return from my mountain wilderness like Zarathustra, bringing great wisdom!I have braved the wilds of the Baltoro Glacier almost single handed, with only a team of nine other trekkers, two guides, four kitchen staff and fifty-three porters for assistance. Not a gin-and-tonic or broadband internet connection to be found anywhere. It truly was a wasteland. Of course, all of the great wisdom-seekers and wise men of ages past spent extended periods in mountainous places. And I am no exception. In my quest for existential knowledge of the inner meaning of life etc., the mountains have proved invaluable. I now know how Jesus must have felt during his forty days playing chess with the devil in the Scandinavian wilderness. However, temptations were few and far between on the K2 base camp trek, so my ordeal was even tougher!In my selfless ongoing effort to pass on the spiritual fruits of my inner journey, I now intend to pass on to you, free of charge, Part I of “The Way of the Purist”. It’s a step-by-step guide to gaining the maximum enlightenment from any mountain experience by shunning all wordly pleasures, such as soap and clean socks, and fully embracing the harshness of mountain life. I haven’t written it yet, but when I have it’s guaranteed to change your life. Further installments can be ordered for $10.99 each via the PayPal form at the foot of this message.