Gilgit, Pakistan

Distance: 0 miles
Time on bikes: 0 hours

The first priority this morning is to try and sort out our visa extensions as we’ve only got six days left on the current ones. We’ve made a few enquiries and it seems that Pakistan are quite relaxed about us staying in the country for as much as fourteen days after the visas have expired, but we’re slightly concerned that other countries may not like the look of that in our passports when applying for other visas.

After a light breakfast, we get to the immigration office for 9 am. We’re slightly proud that we managed to get there using one of the Suzuki pick-up taxis which run around town, often with about ten people hanging of the sides and back. It only cost about 8p each for the 5 minute journey, which certainly makes walking a bad deal.

When we arrive at the immigration office we’re the only ones there; but after hoping for a quick turn around we get told that there’s no power and they can’t print the forms for us to make a visa extension application. We sit there chatting for two hours with the guys and thankfully power returns. They tell us to take the forms and return at 2 pm to obtain the new visas.

We return to the hotel by taxi for about £1.20 as we can’t see any Suzuki pick-up taxis around and collect a few nibbles on the way. We take them back to the hotel to share with the group and eat out of sight of any locals to avoid any problems by being seen to eat during Ramadan.

After the nibbles we give the clutch cables on the bikes a bit of a clean and lube to keep them running sweet and then return to the immigration office to try and sort our visa extensions. We again manage to get the Suzuki pick-up to take us along the road and get there five minutes early. The doors are closed when we arrive but we soon realise they are actually open and are just waiting for us to return with the completed form, a letter from our hotel, two passport photographs, our passports and photocopies of our passport, the visa and the entry stamp into the country. Within ten minutes we both have thirty day visas and it costs us nothing. Why is it so difficult to do the same thing in London?

We return to the hotel, still keen to try and get a Suzuki pick-up for the return leg. Unfortunately the only ones passing are packed with people hanging off the outside. In the end we decide to just go for it and are soon both hanging onto the back of one of the passing vans. The position is actually a lot more comfortable than it looks, but it doesn’t take long for some of the gents inside to make room so Béné can have a seat. A few minutes later Carl also has a seat for the rest of the journey.

When we get back to the hotel, the group has now decided that we’ll delay our exit from Gilgit until tomorrow morning. Apparently Donato has made it through the landslide but had to pay about £12 for some guys to help him through with the bike. We’ll make an early start in the morning to give us the best chance of getting through in one day.

It doesn’t take long to decide to go back to the Serena Hotel for dinner this evening, but beforehand Carl decides to get another little repair done on his bike – the chain guard has taken a few blows from the pannier rack when the suspension is under full compression and needs a couple of small bolts to reinforce the plastic where it’s started to crack. With this job sorted the bike is back to being tip top and ready to go.

We again enjoy a lovely dinner at the Serena and are joined by Juan, the Spanish chap who’s been in touch with Fabian and has been providing information to us about the Highway. It looks like he’ll be joining us tomorrow so we can approach the landslide crossing as a group to give us all the best chance of getting through.

When we get back to the hotel we see a small 70cc Honda parked outside, much like the many we see riding around town. It strikes Carl that it would be a good idea for Fabian to try and buy a small bike in Gilgit and ride with us down to Islamabad, where he can then sell it on. We’ll have a look into this tomorrow and see whether it’s a feasible option. We’ll allow a couple of hours in the morning to try and source a bike before heading off on the road to Chilas.

Jour 144 – Jeudi 9 Septembre 2010. Gilgit, Pakistan

Distance: 0 km – Temps a moto: 0 hours

Nous pensions partir ce matin, mais comme les nouvelles de Donato sont que la route est bloquée par un effondrement de terrain, nous décidons de rester et de compléter notre extension de Visa, car en Angleterre nous n’avions reussi a obrenir un visa que pour 15 jours et nous ne savons pas si nous arriverons a arriver a la frontirere a temps vu l’etat des routes et a l’hôtel, le personnel nous a dit qu’ilsera facile et rapide d’obtenir l’extention.

Nous passons au bureau des visas, et comme il n’y a pas d’électricité nous attendons pendant 2 heures pour qu’ils puissent nous donner une copie des formes à remplir. Une fois que nous les avons ils nous disent de passer vers 14 heures pour compléter la procédure. Nous rentrons donc à l’hôtel le temps de manger un morceau et de discuter avec les autres. Nous décidons de rester ce soir et de partir tôt le lendemain pour aller voir l’état de la route. Donato nous contacté pour nous dire qu’il a réussi à passer la partie de la route abimée, mais il lui a fallu 5 heures pour faire 40 km…

Nous retournons au bureau des visas vers 2 heures et l’extension de visas est faite en 10 minutes sans frais. Une fois de retours a l’hôtel nous bricolons un peu sur les motos : nettoyage de chaines, de câble d’embrayage et inspection générale, avant de reprendre un taxi vers l’Hôtel Serena ou nous espérons profiter de la vue, nous y sommes arrivés trop tard la veille.

Le taxi que nous trouvons est une toute petite voiture, une Dihatzu Charade, mais le chauffeur nous dit qu’il y a de la place pour nous 6, nous nous y coinçons comme des sardines en boite et il nous emmène a l’hôtel Serena. Nous y arrivons juste alors que la nuit tombe, la vue est superbe sur les montagnes, et ce soir, nous sommes assez tôt pour l’entrée: des salades, samossas, et autres choses à grignoter et une boisson a la rose un peu bizarre. Le reste du repas est aussi bon que celui de la veille et nous n’arrivons pas à nous retenir et mangeons a nouveau bien trop, une autre soirée agréable. Pour le retours a notre hôtel nous prenons le même taxi que la veille.

En arrivant a l’hôtel, il y a une petite moto locale garée devant, et les gars décident qu’il serait une bonne idée pour Fabian d’en acheter une et de la revendre à Islamabad. Fabian n’est pas persuadé au départ mais il fini par être convaincu, nous verrons demain si c’est possible.