On the swivelling road. (Part 2) /
Earlier that day, on 14th August, we'd risen from our tents at the highest camping point in Hunza, Eagle's Nest. The night had still covered the earth like a blanket and we'd walked, bleary eyed to reach a vantage point to view the sunrise that turned the mountains of the valley into golden peaks. Fumbling in the dark, stepping through slippery sand, we'd managed to reach the height where the entire city lay bare before us, Altit and Baltit small specks of dust in the distance. The cold had seeped into our bones, as the peaks had slowly turned a brilliant gold. Rakaposhi, Ultar, Ladyfinger. There are some things words can never get right. The scene that unfolded infront of my eyes amongst the mountains of Hunza is one of those. /
We'd found our way back to the camp, only to pack quickly into the coaster that would take us to the lakeside hotel at Attabad, then onto Khunjerab Pass, the China-Pakistan border further up in the mountains. The sharp peaked Passu cones had watched in all their ancient grandeur, as we had swerved and sped on the curving Karakoram Highway, the old silk road in the distance, a sharp reminder of how dangerous travelling this terrain had been once. /
The bends in the road had kept increasing as we'd neared our destination, till they'd finally given way to the highest border in the world. Sheltered amongst the towering peaks of the Karakoram range, the border was surrounded by a magnificent view. Large patches of snow, with islands of grass in between, where the yaks grazed peacefully. The air reeked of celebrations, the spirit of 14th August had attracted large crowds to the edge of the country that morning. We had marched to the monument that separated Pakistan from China, singing naghmey and the tarana, the flavour of liberation fresh on our tongues and our souls.