From now on we drove right towards the Karakorum Highway. But also with a bad feeling in the stomach. Everything was closed when we returned to Ayubia after we visited the church. Only one food place was open which was serving greasy chicken which was probably not so good for our body. Most of the time when I traveled through mountain regions I’ve found the people there closer and it needs a while to get warm with them. But it wasn’t like that in Pakistan. People from the first mountain village on were laughing, smiling, waving to us and tried to talk with us. Now the fear was gone and we felt very well in Pakistan already after two days.
After a while we could see the Indus. The dirty brown water found their way through a narrow valley. After the first bridge we entered a police checkpoint where they asked whether we want a police escort service. After the tragedy at the Nanga Parbat 2013 the security arrangements increased in the whole country. And tourists were the most secured people in the country. They wanted to avoid under any circumstances that something happens to foreigners and that international press brings Pakistan to another depression. We decided to not use the service as the Department of Foreign Affairs said that the security situation in the Karakorum valley is fine and other travelers also were more bothered by the police. By the end of the day we were looking for a place to camp but always the police showed up and was sending us back to the road. They said it is dangerous here which we couldn’t really believe when we saw the friendly people. Before it was getting dark we tried once again to leave to Karakorum Highway to find a quiet place but once again one police car spotted us. We explained the officers that we would like to camp and they told us that the only place to camp would be in front of the police station of the village. We agreed. The day was already too long. The actual camping spot was inside the police station and not in front of it. “Now you are free” said the police officer after we parked the car inside so we walked straight to the exit to have a short walk in the village. “No, no! You can’t go outside! It is dangerous!” It was an interesting interpretation of freedom. Later we found out that a 100 km long part of the Karakorum Highway was supposed to be dangerous because some muggings had happen. So it was alright to stay this night in the police station even though a walk through the village couldn’t be so dangerous as they said. Later the evening seven men from the local community came to the police station to see us. One officer told in the mosque about the weird visit so they came to talk with me. “We wanted to bring you a present but the market was already closed. So we brought some bananas and we hope it could be helpful on the long journey towards north.” It was a very nice and friendly gesture. Imagine how in Europe two Pakistani on a journey would be welcomed in a village. In a country of which so many people are afraid of I figured out that there are many things which we can learn from these people.
The part of the Pakistan which we crossed this time called Kohistan. This area is ethnologically less discovered. Many ethnic groups are living here; some of them deep in the mountains. We realized that only men are walking on the streets and we couldn’t spot any women. I confronted our visitors in the police station with this observance. “Well it is like that” started one of the men “You should know that in our culture the man is doing all the jobs of the society. Trade, politics, voting and conflicts are all task of men. Our women don’t have to do these things so they don’t need to go on the street. Many people think that is because of our religion but this is wrong. It is simply our culture.” I don’t really agree with this cultural habit but I also was surprised that they pointed this difference out. Indeed the people from the “western” countries are seeing this in a different way.
The next day we’ve got an armed police officer into our car. Our security dude was sitting on the copilot seat and had his AK47 between his legs which also looked from time to time too much into my direction. He left the car at the next police checkpoint with the words “Wait here. I am going to pick up the colleague who is going to join you for the next part.” When he entered the building Tina said “Go!” First I started slowly and then left as fast as possible. We wanted to meet our friends Anna und Heiner who knew a nice and save place for camping. And I am sure the security guard would not like that. We reached our camping without any police behind us. It was cloudy but by the evening the clouds disappear and we had a clear view to the Nanga Parbat. On my trip I saw all the 8000 mountains clearly without clouds. The luck was again on my side. In the light of the sunset we watched the ninth highest peak of the world.