[ Sept.1996 ] We left Karimabad, the utopia in the northern Pakistan chartering a jeep again with the British man with whom we were together when we had crossed the border and went further down the Karakoram Highway to Gilgit, the capital of this region.
On the way, we came across a point where we could see the glacier of Rakaposhi whose height is apparently 7788 metres as well as the cliff edge where the river was a few hundred of metres down.
But to be honest, because my eyes were used to the magnificent views, I did not get surprised anymore.
The most interesting moment was when we crossed the river on the wooden suspension bridge after going through a narrow tunnel.
It was more scary after the crossing when I looked back at the bridge to find that it was so high and so fragile than the actual crossing itself.
Arriving in Gilgit, we visited a few hotels and decided to stay at North Inn which was quite far from the town centre.
The British man wanted to stay nearer to the centre, so we parted then.
After resting, we went to the town centre by a kind of bus which was the modified mini-truck and people called it ‘Suzuki’ (3 rupees for one way per person : $1=37.53 rupees in those days).
The other passengers as well as those whom we asked the way were kind, but the people in the town were all greyish men.
Some of them had paler hair and paler eyes, so they looked like white people, but all of them had beard which made them look scary.
The kindness of those people were addressed only to my companion who was a man and they rarely talked to me.
I started feeling uncomfortable.
It was so different from the lovely Karimabad where everyone called out “Hello!”.
After the chore we needed to do, we visited a tea room which was listed in our guidebook.
An old man was sitting and working on his own, boiling water, washing the cups and so on.
Everything was placed where he can reach and he made tea efficiently.
On the wall, there were photos of him with tourists and some letters.
And while we were waiting, he showed us his letters which seemed his treasures.
The tea itself was apparently a kind of green tea, but I had never tasted anything like that.
The taste was peculiar and sweet and I liked it .
Thanks to this old man and the tea, finally I felt relaxed and started enjoying here.
With this happy feeling, we did a bit of shopping.
At the Hunza Intersection where there were a handful of souvenir shops I found one waistcoat made of kilim.
It looked quite sturdy and it would me nice to wear on top of a jacket.
It could have been for a man actually.
Imagining it would be very expensive, I asked the price and he said it was 500 rupees.
“Oh, that is cheap!” I thought happily in my mind, but showed that I was hesitating, then the price went down to 470 rupees, so I bought it.
My companion bought a pullover made of Hunza Wool for 240 rupees.
We got on another ‘Suzuki’ triumphantly, but here again there was something which made me feel down.
After travelling in it for a while, a man sitting in front of us told my companion who was sitting at the end of the seat to exchange the seat with me with the angry expression.
There was another man sitting on the opposite side of me and apparently this man did not like that a woman sitting next to a male stranger.
We did what he told us without any argument, but I felt very angry and disgusted.
After that, we went to the restaurant at the hotel, but again all the customers were men and I felt uncomfortable.
They say ‘In Rome, do as the Romans do’ which is the truth, so there is no point being against it on my own, but this society made me indignant.