As our experience with the silk route festival in Karimabad was slightly dissapointing we have difficulties saying we are not interested. But the friendly owner of the gulmit tourist inn keeps persuading us to visit their silk route festival. We ask him why the festival is held at the end of the season. Everything closes in a weeks time and we haven¡¯t seen many tourists. He explains that because of Sars and the war in Iraq, the festival was postponed. As we can visit the Pasu glacier in the afternoon we agree to visit the gulmit festival.
We drive up to the Pologround giving us the chance to drive away when ever we want. The whole town and some surrounding towns have gathered around the Polo ground. We are still reluctant but then a proud looking man comes up to us.
Welcome, welcome dear guests. I am the major of Gulmit and i am so proud you¡¯ve come to visit the festival. Bummer… now we are stuck! As in Karimabad we get VIP seatings. Everybody is looking at us and why not… we are the only westerners in town. To our surprise we don¡¯t have to wait for an important person and within minutes a man is singing his lungs out. The old loudspeakers squeek under the noise but strange enough, it sounds quite nice. Then a girl does her performance and we enjoy it all. Some school classes are next with traditional dances. Some interesting, some boring. The highlight was definetely the sword dance performed by several men. It all looked quite amateuristic but it gave us a little insight in the local traditional culture.
Internet isn¡¯t available inbetween Gulmit and Kashgar in China and mobile phones are not working. Updating the site and e-mailing is therefor out of the question so we decide to try to call to our parents letting them know we are alright. Especially after the bad things that happend in Peshawar and Islamabad we feel obligated to inform everyone we are allright more often. But when we arrive at the phone office we hear that all lines are down. We are asked to come back later which we don¡¯t mind.
As we can¡¯t call we head to Passu. As we enter the valley of Passu we immediately know this is the most beautiful part of the Karakoram Highway. The huge white passu glacier lies majestically in the sun while passu is surrounded by high steep mountains. The view is breathtaking.
We try to find a road which could bring us close to the glacier but can¡¯t seem to find it. Then we are approached by a men who runs the glacier breeze restaurant on a hill in passu. He tells us we should park the car and that he will guide us to the glacier. We park the car but opt for hiking ourselves. There are two routes to the glacier, a lower and a higher one. We take the lower one that will bring us to feet of the glacier and the lake that has formed in front.
The lake is surrounded by what we think is soil. Maybe it¡¯s dangerous Elles warns me when i start walking on it. Looks fine to me, i shout back from a distance. But then we soil moves. First slowely, then more. I look down and notice it isn¡¯t soil but mud and only the top layer is hard. As soon as you stand in one place too long the top layer breaks and starts moving. It¡¯s funny and not dangerous and we play around for a while. Then we head for the bottom of the glacier. Some huge rocks are in front of it and we have to climb them. As true mountaingoats we climb the boulders and before we know it we stand in front of the Passu Glacier. Wow… we hear the ice melting and moving. For a few minutes we look in awe at the huge piece of nature. Fantastic!!
As it¡¯s getting dark we head back to the restaurant where we parked the car and have a drink. The views on the surrounding mountains is sublime. Yes, the karakoram is fantastic!