News from location Payu

So positioned at 35’40.612N latitude 76’07.54E longitude along side the river bank in an area of the valley called Payu at 3274mts above sea level. Starting out from Skardu by jeep in the early hours of Wednesday morning with the jeeps heaven loaded with all the provisions required to carry out the expedition,signalled the expedition was well & truly on and the politics of transit permits was a distant yet frustrating memory. The jeeps we used were the old style Toyota ranger and I was delighted with my longer then average leg length to get the birds eye view front seat. The old Toyota ” as I smiled to my self” brought back some great old memories growing up as a young boy In and around Mc Fadden caravans with Brian my mate and his dad Joel using the same old jeep as we both used to learn to drive “great times”. The route to our next destination named “Askole” five hours and to say it was nearly undriveable is an under statement. The dirt roads were so so rough and the suspension of the jeep was been tested to its extreme. Water crossing twisting and turning and with a majority of the time staring down drops of 100ft. Our dark skinned elderly Pakistani driver with leather skin that eluded to his tough life as a mountain local, looked totally in control as he manovered this jeep up the valley. At times I tried to make light conversation but his English was practically zero ,extending to ending every question with a shake of the head “Ok Ok”. We made several bridge crossing, each magically made from wooden platforms suspended with metal wire rope and ingeniously design allowing the platform to float and move with the crossing jeep. Stopping for lunch at an small isolated wooden constructed dwelling with a beautiful outdoor garden with trees creating the perfect shade from now a blistering 30deg heat. News travelled fasted that strangers had arrived as within 10 mins we were centre of attention. Dal ” a typical Pakistan food” was the single choice, made up from a soup with meat and an alternative bowl with veg both rices based and a local wheat flat bread to soak up the soup when finished.” To explain the taste well is lovely but a bit like Guinness, takes a bit of getting used to”. But that’s the choice in this now very remote wilderness ,Dal or Dal. Short after with hand jesters the driver tried to explain we need to change vehicle ,looking puzzled we hadn’t a clue what we was talking about until we seen ahead that the next primitive bridge crossing had partially collapsed,allowing pedestrian crossing only we had to unload the jeeps by hand and foot as another jeep awaited on the other side, again the locals arrived in their droves eagerly keen to help in the blistering heat. And at the other side looking for that tip which the head Sherpa Dawa had in paying. With a warming wave good bye we travelled on a few more kilometres to the very small village of Askole. Greeted with the villages young children waving and jumping with joy with the arrival of new faces. The village now typical “the more isolated from the outside world” as it was very obvious that the villagers were very self sufficient growing there own produce and their goats ,chickens & small cows wandered freely. The kids followed us everywhere some with great E nglish,”obviously picked up in conversations with previous passing mountaineers” and like young kids there request was for chocolate again something we take for granted and a real treat to these beautiful young kids. Mountain life was tough for these villagers as was obvious in their housing ,they way dressed and hygiene ,normal to them i suppose and as a passing climber who was I to judge.That night Dal was the dinner with fresh chicken ,so fresh it was still warm as we went from 10 chicks to 5 that evening. Jason.

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