[ Sept.1996 ] We stayed in a good hotel called Hunza Baltit Inn in Karimabad, the main town in Hunza Valley in Pakistan.
The room was nice and clean and comfortable, which cost 850 rupees ($1=37.53 rupees).
Later I found out that a Japanese tour group was staying here, too.
I was surprised at the fact that tours came all the way from Japan to this remote place to stay.
The breakfast was very British.
They served tea, fried eggs and slices of toast and we could choose porridge, too.
The way of serving was very polite, which reminded me of a butler.
This town was formed on the hillside of a mountain, so the streets were all slopes.
I was pleased to see that there were quite a few handicraft shops along the street.
The high mountains in front of me changed the colours by the minute and I never got tired of looking at them.
People were all friendly and everyone called out greetings when we passed them.
The calm and peaceful air was drifting everywhere.
After all, Hunza Valley was famous for longevity and it is said that the model of Shangri-La, the utopia in the novel called ‘Lost Horizon’ which I used to like very much.
There is a castle called Baltit Fort on top of the hill, which was closed for restoration work when we were there, but it was opening to the public soon and for the opening, Aga Kahn, the charismatic multimillionaire living in the UK would come, so all the hotels around here were booked up because everyone wanted to see him.
We walked up towards Baltit area and found 6 men playing music on top of a roof in a square called Old Polo Ground.
All of them were elderly.
The band was made up with 1 great drum, 2 snare drums and 3 trumpets.
The sound of the trumpets was high-pitched like a Suona.
It was impossible to understand the melody and I could not tell one music to another.
This place was just outside of a boys’ school and there were some boys wearing the grey Salwar Kameez, probably their uniform playing with balls.
By the way, we had an experience which told us how remote and isolated this place was.
It was very difficult to make a phone call.
We could not use the phone at the hotel, so we had to go down the dusty slope to the place called ‘Telephone Exchange’.
There, in a small room there were a table with an ordinary telephone and the phone which only received calls and about 7 chairs.
And it took as long as about one hour to connect to Islamabad, the capital of this country.
Also, when we went up to the post office to send some postcards, it was closed because they had run out of the stamps.
The utopia is a peaceful place away from the world.
Karimabad was just that.