Karimabad is famous for it¡¯s Baltit palace or fortress. As we waisted our time waiting for the Japanese ambassador the day before, we start climbing early in the morning. The weather has changed in our favor as the dark clouds of last night had made way for another bright sunny day. The bright white fortress lies majestically above Karimabad. At the entrance we hear the fee is 300 per person for a 15 minute tour. ¡®Quite a steep price for only fifteen minutes¡¯ we tell the man. Yes but we won the Iberian airways tourist award. ¡®aahh we see... now that makes difference!
We decide to skip the tour, as the man doesn¡¯t seem to be interested in convincing us, and walk around the fortress. Then michel spots an open door. To get there we need to do a bit of climbing. When we get there we peek inside and see one of the rooms! As there is nobody there we sneak inside and have a look around, trying to make as less noice as possible. We must say it is quite nice and in a good and traditional condition. Okay, still not worth 300 per head. Then we climb down, pass a derelict cannon and walk towards the entrance. Wanna see the inside? Euuuh well not really interested.. thanks! We feel like two penny pinching dutchies but seeing the fortress was much more adventurous then taking a tour! We head back to the hotel and pack our bags!
The next stage of the karakoram highway leads from Karimabad to Gulmit, only 30 kilometres away. On our way we notice that the mountains start looking more and more rough and do some filming. Then Elles shouts we have to move the car. I am still inside the car and unaware of what is happening. ¡®Landslide!!¡¯, Elles shouts and jumps in the car. No shit...,some stones are falling off the mountain. We know this could easily cause a bigger landslide. We quickly take off and from a distance we look at some debrish coming down. The sound is spectacular but we are happy no real landslide occured. Excited we head towards Gulmit.
Gulmit is the area to do small and longer trekkings. The area is well known for it¡¯s glaciers. We head to Gulkhin a little village 3 kilometres from Gulmit for a three hour trek across a black glacier. It¡¯s black we are told because of all the stones and dirt it collected on it¡¯s way down. When we drive into the village we see little kids with stones in their hands and hope for the best. Hippie, our oldtimer has a charm we call the ¡®funny factor¡¯. Because people and especially children are suprised to see this funny car, they don¡¯t do it any harm. We have heard loads of stories from people cycling the KKH having stones thrown at them as well as foreigners driving four wheel drive cars that were pestered by youngsters. Here the kids only want to jump on the back of the car. We have to stop before they break something. Elles decides to become friends with the little buggers and the tactic works. They all gather round the car and that¡¯s where we meet Rehman, a 12 year old kid who offers to bring us across the glacier.
Walking across glaciers is not for the faint of heart. As glaciers are constantly moving, the risk for deep holes is there. The Ghulkin Glacier is huge and Rehman knows his way across it. As the people of Ghulkin work in a village on the other side they cross it everyday. We never could have found our way across it. The melting water, squeeking noices of the moving glacier, the large rocks of ice and loads of stones make it a great journey across. In the distance, the catherdral mountains gloom as the sun sets. Just after sunset we leave Ghulkin and drive back to Gulmit. The temperature drops quickly but after dinner we are offered an electric heater for on the room. Yeah, sure why not.. we are freezing our butts of. Then the hotelowner plugs it in. Flash#&%$ and all lights are off in the room. But not only in the room?
When we look outside, the whole village is without electricity. Whoops.. did we do that?