Following are the daily dispatches that Mr. Yasir Ahmed sent to Mr. Hasan Malhi while traveling in Gilgit Baltistan in May 2017.
Travel Update 1: Italian wants to go to Gilgit Hunza before going to Skardu so he joined a group (Falcon club) for Rs 25,000 for 8 days…I am leaving 10:00pm tomorrow for Gilgit via NATCO special costing 2200. Regular was 1900. Seat is number 31 which is not great. Its the last seat but the guy said that there would be more leg space. Gilgit to Skardu on Monday in daylight so I can see everything. Over and Out.
Travel Update 2: Took 10:30am Gilgit to Skardu NATCO, costing PKR 550. Lunch stop at 1:30pm. Reached PTDC at 5:00pm. Pretty nice place…beautiful view of the Skardu Valley. Manager first said PKR 3200 for standard room. But then I introduced myself and I was upgraded to the room where Imran and Jemimah used to stay (at less than the rate for standard). By the way road is decent but very narrow. Over and Out.
Travel Update 3: After checking out from PTDC Skardu and buying my PIA ticket for Islamabad left for Khaplu at 12:30pm. Got a front seat in Hiace for Rs.250. The road to Khaplu is quite decent, carpeted about 70% of the way. Definitely doable in a car. PTDC Khaplu is bit of a disappointment. Not that the building is not great or staff and service is not good. There is just no hustle bustle that a typical tourist spot would have. Maybe I am here too early in the season. And that was kind of the plan. Out to Shigar tomorrow. Over and Out.
Travel Update 4: After visiting Khaplu fort and Khaplu mosque took a free ride back to Skardu, some very kind Sindhi folks. Did not stop at Skardu and took the first available van to Shigar. Was informed about a certain Space Hotel by manager PTDC Khaplu. Quite a nice place and reasonable rent (PKR 1500/night). Next two days here. Just relaxing for a while. Over and Out.
Travel Update 5: The day was dedicated to testing my physical capabilities, first a 5 km trip to Shigar fort and back and then another 5 km trip towards the desert, on the other side of Shigar river. Feeling good. Plenty of tea and some Mohsin Hamid stories. Tomorrow is at least two of the following three: Kharpoocho Fort, Nansuk Village, Lower Kachura. Over and Out.
Travel Update 6: Hired a cabby to take me from Shigar to Lower Kachura (Shangrilla) and Kharpocho Fort. The trek to the fort was way tougher than I expected. Gave up about 50-100 ft before the destination, combination of fear and tiredness. Tonight in Skardu. Over and Out.
Travel Update 7: As expected PIA flight got canceled. Discussed with two friends who are staying at the same hotel and who were to fly the same PIA flight and it was decided to give it another chance on Sunday. The backup plan is to rent a car all the way to Isb (costs PKR 15,000 to 18,000 depending on the vehicle). All this fiasco resulted in the three of us going to Nansuk Village, a great trek and an interesting place. We have been told that we are about 15 day early as the Cherry (and other fruits) season would start in June. Over and Out.
Travel Update 8: As luck would have it, PIA flight was on time and we left for Islamabad around 10:15am. The 40 minute flight was really a documentary on the northern areas of Pakistan, provided you got a left side window seat. On display was Satpara Lake, Deosai Plains, Nanga Parbat, Babusar Top, Saif-ul-Malook and Neelum Valley. Touched down at 11:00am, happy and relieved that everything went to plan. Over and Out.
PS: I have made several contacts in Gilgit and Skardu and if somebody wants some help please do message me here.