A bit of a dodgy place to stay... But a bonus Praying Mantis!

We left Gilgit as planned.  The massive problem with the bike turned out to be the starter motor.  It was a good job we had Brock the mechanic to help, and a mechanic scraped the carbon off some important bit, and it was all go again.  In England they would have just replaced the starter motor completely.  Here, anything is possible. 

With Manfred purring happily again, we bombed it down the hill.  There were no major hiccups, and it all went a lot easier the second time. 


We bounced over the same holes and through the same rivers, and whizzed through checkpoints with made up visa numbers and silly occupations like ‘gymnast’ and ‘dictator’.


We raced all the way through to Besham. 

We stopped for lunch in Dasu.  We met a guide, who advised us against staying in Besham & Batagram because of the Swat Valley fanatics.  He mimed a giant beard, to explain.  

(The Swat Valley has its transport hub at Besham- this is where the Karakoram Highway divides the road towards Peshawar.  The area between Peshawar and Besham is considered the most dangeous at the moment.)
He told us about a good place to stay further along.


We placated him and ourselves, and zoomed off through the dodgiest bits for the second time.

 Again, most people waved and smiled.  Again, one boy threw a rock.

The weather changed and a storm started brewing.  The trees looked like they were thinking about walking off.  The rain started, and the sky was exactly the wrong shade of black.  We called it a day. 

We were in Besham.  I didn’t see a huge number of giant beards, but I can’t say I was looking. 

I do know that the first hotel we tried had Talibanalikes on the door, and they weren’t going to give us a room.  They were full, predictably.
We went to the smartest hotel in town.  We bargained hard, but paid a fortune.  The hotel man nearly ripped Adam’s arm off when he paid. 

There was, however, a giant Praying Mantis that decided to adventure onto our carpet.  That was a plus point. 


We ate our melted chocolate and substandard biscuits in the powercuts that followed. 

An hour after we left the next day, we came to a lovely hotel on a hill-side.  We ate an enormous breakfast, and met the fantastic manager.  He had lived in Leeds on the same street as Adam, and had sold rugs at Camden market.  We talked stall prices and the best days for trade, and had a really good morning.  If only we had carried on for another hour…

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