Sunday, October 30, 2011

Back trek to Mithramdan : Day 7 / Volleyball at Sokhtarabad

After looking for some shots around I requested the police wallas and Naseer to re-start their game of volleyball. This, I must remind you, is a difficult thing to do under cold weather. The coldness can really hurt you in a game like volleyball. Nevertheless, they played it again and I got my photographs. This photograph is surely one of the those I always wanted with grand and beautiful mountains in the background and the players in superb action.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back trek to Mithramdan : Day 7 / Sokhtarabad again!

So we had returned to Sokhtarabad completely demoralized by the ineptitude, nay, dishonesty of the Trekkerz group of Pakistan. We were expecting Tanweer and Fareed (owners of this fraud group) to be honest, upright men, as they always tend to claim. But they thoroughly disappointed us. Not these men, though. These police wallas were playing a game of ludo happily under a brilliant blue sky. The sun was welcome and we soon got off our heavy clothing. Talat the cheater, as we now called him, told us that God wanted us to return. What a freak!

To Wakhan : Day 6 / To Chitti Boi glacier and back

The rains finally subsided today but after a long spell. So finally our lethargic group leader, Tanweer, decided to start the trek today (16th Sep, 2011). It wasn't a very good start. There was no breakfast except for a kheer (which is a rice mix) with chai, hardly a substance for trekkers on North Pakistan. Yet, surprisingly, no one really objected except for Zahid bhai. The trek began at 12 noon. So off course there was no chance of reaching our destination.

We walked and walked and rains again started. Tanweer bhai created a drama and sat down (he is the founder of a fraud group... and then Talat Saeed also sat down. That meant demise of our trekking. I felt the rat alongwith our trekking partners, Adeel Ather, Adeel, Danial and Zahid bhai. But we could do nothing so we had to call our forward going porters back from Chitti Boi. The cheaters group, as we named them that day (although they like to call themselves as Trekkerz), returned happily. There was general disagreement over the course of action but Tanweer seemed extremely fit to me and yet he was claiming his illness. An ill person cannot trek so fast (he reached destination very fast).

This is the group shot of (from L) Adeel, a local Gujjar, Zahid bhai and Zain.

Monday, October 17, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 5 / Yak with Nasir, Sokhtarabad

Via Flickr:
In this region Yak is known locally as 'Khush Gao'. It is a stout, beautiful animal and perfectly suitable to live among the giant mountains and extremely harsh climate. It can walk on snow as easily as it does on rocky terrain, foraging high above summer pastures. Rich and middle class men keep them. Pictured here is Naseer, a local Wakhi-Ismaili with his Yak. He has around 60 goats and probably 5 Yak.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 5 / Sokhtarabad

We had reached at our camp, damp and tired, at 9 PM. In fact it would be prudent to call it a stumble. And soon we heard the voice of our friend, Zahid Ali Khan (Known as ZAK in flickr and beyond) asking me and Adeel to join him and Danial for a much-needed dinner. It was raining so we went straight in the Kitchen camp. The bonfire there instantly saved our day and we happily munched on whatever we were offered (I think it was some sort of Lahori qorma). We ate our fill and then went to our camp, which was by now drenched from bottom to top. The bags were lying outside and we could not find out porters. It seemed that most of them had nothing to do with us. Our leader, Tanweer, was also not available for comment. So we opened our heavy, water-logged bags, got out our sleeping bags, which were also drenched, and slept. Or tried to. All night me and Adeel just tried to sleep. It was one of those nights which must be remembered for its usefulness as our teacher. We cursed Tanweer and his partner, Talat Saeed (also from Lahore) and slept.

I was the first to wake up and get out when the rains finally ceased sometime after 6 AM next morning. And this was the view I first saw from there. This frame was probably taken after sometime, after I had woken our chef, got some tea in stomach and then handled my Nikon D70s, dried it on fire and then the photography.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 4 / View of Chilingi glacier

Chilingi glacier connects Sost (border area with China) to Sokhtarabad village. It is a remarkably beautiful glacier and the landscape around it is just so sweet and tantalizing. As we left Wargoth and moved towards Sokhtarabad we could see Chilingi glacier on the opposite side (we were on this side to avoid the raging river).

This frame was shot with 50mm lens and the result is for all to see. I was lucky that the clouds had departed on that side and rains had, therefore, ceased. It was good omen. But we did not knew it at that time...

Monday, October 10, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 4 / Wargoth bon fire

We stopped here for an hour or so due to heavy rain fall. Some porters collected wood and we had this beautiful, colourful bon fire lit up. It was necessary too for it was getting excessively cold here. The porters also have us namkeen chai (salty tea), which was rather useful. We then moved on...

To Wakhan : Day 4 / Trek to Wargoth

Via Flickr:
Trekker crosses the treacherous Wargoth (also pronounced as Virgoth) glacier on his way to Wargoth camp site. This trek leads to Sokhtarabad and onwards to Chitti Boi glacier and then 1 day further trek leads to Karomber lake, arguably the most beautiful of Pakistan.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 4 / Trek to Wargoth

This is my friend, Adeel. Some of my best travel photographs with people feature him. For many years he was in America so I was contented with shooting my other travelling partners, Uzair and Raja Islam. But he is back now and I plan to do some trips with him and with Uzair more often.

This place was just after crossing glacier known as Wargoth (or, Wargodh) glacier. It is a small glacier but is nevertheless, dangerous for a newcomer like me. Porters helped us around. Someone skidded as well but was safe. Donkeys were also a bit jerky.

To Wakhan : Day 4 / Chota Yasin early morning

Next day we woke up to some wonderful mountains and some really nasty looking weather. I don't know but the rains in mid September (14th) in the middle of nowhere ain't a good idea. But I loved the scenery and I always have loved mountains with clouds. Many photographers really don't like it but I do. This frame was made with 50mm lens. Then it was time to move on.

To Wakhan : Day 3 / Chota Yasin Camp 1

This is Danial, my group mate on this trek. He is originally from Quetta (capital of Balochistan province) but lives and studies in Karachi. Previously, I was with him last year on our expedition to Balochistan (2010).

Danial usually never write notes but on this occasion I found him jotting something, on the back of a beautiful Sanober tree. Behind us were beautiful mountains.

Next day: To Wargoth and then to Sokhtarabad.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 3 / Trek from Mithramdan to Chota Yasin

This place is near a small village known as Pyakhin (and you can pronounce it as you wish). I found it exceedingly beautiful with small stream of cold water flowing, trees hanging around and stones scattered all over the place. No one from our group remained unmoved by the beauty of it all.

To Wakhan : Day 3 / Trek from Mithramdan to Chota Yasin

Trek from Mithramdan onwards is beautiful. In fact, it should be counted as a first rate place and no wonder so many foreigners have enjoyed these treks in previous years. This place is one of the safest in the whole region and yet I was told that this year foreigners did not arrive for this trek, though they made other treks around this region. I am not sure why.

This is Adeel, my friend who've just returned from USA after completing his Masters in Abstract Algebra (first from Utah and then continued at Chicago University). This trek was at time dangerous for most of us but we were very enthusiastic about it and no one really cared a bit. We just moved on. Our spirits were high and weather was just about fantastic. As good as it could get.

To Wakhan : Day 3 / Group prayers

Our group for the trek consisted of 12 people some of whom are visible in this frame. From R to L: Zain (only hands), Asad, Zahid bhai, Talat, Saeed and Adeel Ather. My friend, Muhammad Adeel was behind me and so were Danial and Faheem. We prayed, as is the custom in Pakistan before leaving for any trek, and then off we marched.

To Wakhan : Day 3 / Mithramdan school

You may call it Mathramdan or Mithramdan but it is a place to reckon with. It is a small Ismaili village from where the famous Wakhan trek begins officially. I mean all trekkers intend to begin their trek from here. And this was the school where we had slept the night before, instead of putting up our tents.

The teacher writing on the blackboard is Mr. Bul Bul Khan and he was from a nearby village. By religion he was also a Ismaili but ethnically he wasn't Wakhi. All his students are Wakhi so the students and teachers conversed in Urdu, which none understands any better. Though the teacher knew it pretty much better than even our so-called educated trekkers.

These girls were blonde, which surprised me a lot. But if you look closely they all have very European features - light coloured eyes, fair skin and so on.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

To Wakhan : Day 2 / Landscape

Two Jeeps ahead and we in tow. We knew from this instance what kind of landscape awaited us. It was chillingly cold here and it got colder as we proceeded.

To Wakhan : Day 2 / Going Immit

This was the 2nd day of our trip towards Wakhan. I have missed out on the photograph of the breakfast, which we had at Gilgit, because I was very hungry and unable to do anything except eat!

This was our Jeep ride from Immit to Mathramdan (also pronounced as Mithramdan by some locals). This cost us around Rs.4,500. We reached Mathramdan at maghrib time.

To Wakhan : Day 1 / Purchasing Walnuts

I purchased walnuts for myself and my friends from this young boy. He sold them fresh @100. They were good to eat and I am told that eating walnuts reduces the chances of heart attack.

I like the framing as well but some people ask me why the head is not shown. I think I wanted to show the walnuts and how they were being sold.