This video was filmed in November 2022 in western Cambodia. Phnom Penh – Battambang – Kampot. Some new dual highway and some red, soapy mud! Incredients for a great ride!
All posts by Reijo
Beautiful Faces of Vietnam
These photographs were taken in Vietnam during November 2022. Locations cover the length of the country. Hanoi – Ha Long Bay / Cat Ba Island – Ninh Binh – Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City.
Beautiful People of Cambodia – មុខខ្មែរស្អាត
Cambodian Beautiful Faces – ខ្មែរស្អាត
Friendly faces – did not meet any other kind – from my ride in November 2022.
Video: Shimshal Valley Road
Shimshal Valley Road
Shimshal Valley Road in Gilgit-Baltistan, northern Pakistan truly is one of the most spectacular and dangerous balcony roads in the world. The road leads to Shimshal Valley located at some 3100 meters altitude. The road starts from Passu (2500m) and was completed as a jeep-able road only 2003 after eighteen years of more-or-less manual handwork carving the road in the mountain side.
Until then the route to Shimshal valley was a 3-day trip crossing three high (5000m) passes. The new mountain balcony road leads from Shimshal valley to Karakoram Highway, which connects Pakistan with China and in large part made this road feasible.
Even now the road is snow-covered most of the year, seven to eight months. The Shimshal valley road runs relatively near the Khunjerab pass Pakistan – China border station, which also is closed for the winter.
The road is a true balcony gravel road and is very high indeed in sections. It is also so narrow, that usually only one car can fit on the road and does not leave much room on either side.
At the bottom of high gorges runs Shimshal river. Scary wooden bridges are a given, but also some stretches of moon-like scenery. Rocks have rolled down the mountains and are now decorating the valley areas on the road.
I was told that earlier, instead of prison, the authorities in Hunza sent people who had committed a crime to Shimshal as punishment.
The mountains hide the actual Shimshal Valley, a miraculous green oasis in the middle of the barren landscape. While the valley seems that time has forgotten it, new, more modern houses are being built.
The Shimshal Valley Road will stay in my mind forever. An unbelievable ride and something to cherish.
Video: To Pakistan – China border
The Pakistan – China border station in Khunjerab pass on Karakoram highway leads from Pakistan to China, on Karakoram Highway. Depending on the source and measurement point, it lies at around 4700 – 5000 meters altitude. From November to March the border is closed due to snow.
The border itself is an attraction and interesting as such. For us however, it was not the border but the ROAD leading there. Now it was truly the ride, not the destination!
The scenery on Karakoram Highway leading to the border from Hunza Nagar / Passu is just magnificent. Absolutely mesmerizing, as you will see on the video. Some scenes on the video look unreal and like they were put together from at least two clips, but it is all real as much as a video can be.
Never have I seen such sharp peaks, nor so many high mountains. Approaching the high peaks leaves one filled with awe from the first minutes on the road.
While we are on Karakoram proper, this is also the region where the the Himalayas, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountain ranges come together with the highest peaks in the world.
- Himalayas range over India, China, Tibet Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan
- Karakoram ranges over China, India, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan
- Hindu Kush ranges over Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan
Karakoram Mountains and Northern Pakistan
The BIG day finally arrived and we were in Islamabad, Pakistan. Ready for our adventure ride in the Karakoram mountains and Northern Pakistan.
Our local contact Salman was at the airport to meet us and presented us the customary Pakistani flower leis, much like in Hawaii. Although I get the sense that this is where the similarities end.
Islamabad may not look like the most welcoming city in the intense heat of the summer and remembering its violent history, but the people we meet are extremely kind and ready to help us in all possible ways. We are now in an Islamic country and although we have two women in the group, the people we meet are virtually all men.
Notable exception to this is the quite amazing mosque, which we visited the first night.
After settling into our hotel, it was time to give a closer look at our bikes. We saw them briefly on the arrival and with a closer inspection, they turned out even more challenging than originally thought. Knacked Suzuki 250’s, although clean and apparently serviced for the trip, held together partly with wire and duct tape – Well, we all know that wire and duct tape often do the job!
These were really not the kind of bikes we would choose for the kind of trip we were about to embark. The bikes may be great for commuting but are not designed for off-roading or long distance riding. None of the gauges on my bike worked and turn signals had a mind of their own. It was going to be a very Pakistani experience, also in respect of the bikes. A mechanic followed us along the route and his skills were needed on daily basis.
At this point it is also worth mentioning that Salman received new bikes soon after our departure, better suited for off road riding as well. To my understanding, acquiring bikes of one’s desire is not easy in Pakistan and the Suzukis were the industry standard. On the other hand, the Suzukis were familiar to Salman and his mechanic. They knew the bikes inside-out and would be able to fix anything on the road.
Heading north: Islamabad – Naran – Gilgit
A chaotic first day riding, heading out of Islamabad in intense heat towards cooler air and the town of Naran, some 300 km north. A 12 hour day on the bikes getting used to the Pakistani road culture and the bikes with a temper of their own.
Most bikes had disc brakes in the front, some had only worn drums that were very difficult to control. Drum brakes slowed down the bike very little just before locking the wheel with a screeching sound. The result was two riders down the first day, luckily without any major injuries. Continue reading Karakoram Mountains and Northern Pakistan