|Cheap Chocolate Milk
4 pieces of toast and some cornflakes are the start of a new day. We pack the car as good as we can to avoid movement of luggage while driving. The road from Besham to Gilgit was hit a few weeks ago by landslides due to heavy rain causing the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to be closed. Luckily the road is cleared and doesn’t stop us from driving to China. Due to the oilleakage we decide not to drive to Fairy Meadow, a place with apparently good views, but drive on to Gilgit. The road is in a reasonable condition although some parts a trecherous due to pointy stones and rocks. We drive slowely to avoid punctures and to enjoy the views. Advantage of driving in your own verhicle is that you can stop wherever you want. Every half an hour we stop to film and to take pictures. Halfway we reach a point on the KKH from where we can see the most snowy peaks and the first mountain over 8000 meter. A gorgeous 360 angle view.
In Gilgit we quickly find a place to stay the night and inform if there are mechanics in town to help us out with the oil leakage. The owner knows someone and sends someone with us. 50 meters from the hotel we drive onto a muddy field. The only thing we see is a dirty tractor and an old shed. This isn’t the workshop…. is it? Then an old men covered in grease comes up. He appears to be the mechanic. As the man doesn’t speak english, michel tries to draw out the problem. But without luck as the man looks at him with a face like “what in gods name are you doing?” Then michel tries something else and asks the men to have a look under the car. Still the man doesn’t have a clue and we wonder if we are at the right place.
The man realises this isn’t working and calls a friend from the dirty shed. 10 minutes later the man arrives. Oooh i have never seen a car like this before. At this point we are about to give up. For the last time we explain what the problem is and the man seems to know cars. But to check the oil level of the gearbox, they need tools. As they don’t seem to have the proper ones they decide to make them. It looks like they enjoy the challenge more then we do as we still have to drive more then 5000 kilometres through China. When the open the gearbox, oil runs out. We are shocked as this is something we just did not want. But then the man explains that there could have been too much oil in the gearbox and that due to pressure oil started leaking. Sounds reasonable but still we are uncertain. All the men seem to be satisfied and hand over the tool they just made. We hope we have made the right decision here. We thank the men and head to a restaurant for some food.
As the sun goes down, so does the temperature. As we have lived in tropical and desert climates for the last months, we are certainly not used to these temperatures. All our warm weather gear is still in the bus and we are shaking our buts of in the icecold restaurant. All the locals are wrapped in huge blankets and we look rather stupid in our summer outfit. We look forward to the warm food and the speciality of the house’ fresh appeljuice’. But it takes ages for anything to appear. ‘They probable have to pick the apples from the tree’, Elles jokes! Then after 45 minutes the applejuice arrives. “looks like cheap chocolatemilk’, Michel murmers. Then we take a sip and both look at each other in horror. Instead of grinding the apples, they probably grinded the tree, the roots and half the land with it. When we finally swallow it we examine the pulp. It does look like chocolate milk, Elles admits. Fortunately the food is better and satisfied we head for the room.
The room appears to be colder then the restaurant and quickly we collect our sleeping bags and warm weather gear from the bus. Michel installs the home cinema laptop and tucked in our sleepingbags we enjoy a movie. Well, Elles falls asleep after two minutes or so. Mmmmh, maybe next time a romantic movie instead of an action!