As I climb out of the desert and venture past the final community in China I begin to climb into the Kunjerab Pass. An expensive dark Chinese’s SUV arrives. I am immigration, it is Chinese law, no cycling the border crossing in China, you must take bus to Sost, Pakistan. No you are kidding, really? I am so lost, thank you for stopping and helping me I say with a devilish grin. My pedaling soul REALLY wants to pedal over the 5400 meter pass and silly me may have known that China wouldn’t let me and may of tried pedaling down the road into the mountains anyway.
I board the bus into Pakistan with Pandemic The Magic Bicycle tied to the top . However, the Pakistani men on the bus with me are ridiculously friendly and nice as a bus load of people I just met can be. We share chapatti bread, I am invited to stay for a visit on route, one man puts his wife on the phone for a chat and we discuss a few no go regions for magic bicycles.
Over the pass I go by bus, drooling out the windows at the snow filled pass and then descending 85 kilometers down the Karakorum Highway into Pakistan to the immigration area for my Pakistan visa stamp. Being a woman definitely has some bennies in this manly environment. I haven’t felt such a sea of friendly warm testosterone since my Alaska days, south of the Arctic Circle were the man/women ration is about 10:1. I am given the only chair in the immigration office in Sost by a man with a great hat, beautiful smiling eyes and gentle demeanor.
As I sit in my chair watching a flowing curtain of beautifully dressed Pakistani men in long traditional tops and baggy pants, I peer up and giggle hard for there is a giant friendly GEO News TV camera looking at me. I lower my head and hide, laugh and think now this is definitely one unique way to pedal a country. Off I go from immigration with a new friend, a Geo News camera man who will be taking photos and film for the news in Pakistan.
Camped a few kilometers from here and was warmly welcomed by a group of truck drivers and university students. Drank tea with new friends and talked about the mountains for most of the evening...
Geo news and I will be putting a shout out to everyone but mostly women to come out and pedal with me in Pakistan, together promoting WOW (Women On Wheels), women’s cycling internationally and locally. Tonight from outside of my little tent I was put on live TV. The irony here is I actually haven’t even had a TV in about 12 years and now apparently I am on the TV. Paris Hilton in all her pseudo fame glory has arrived among a ridiculously warm welcome to pedal the Karakorum Highway of Pakistan.