We rode by jeep up to the Deosai plains and Skardu. It was a long, long journey.
The scenery was, as always, incredible. The roads were, as always, bloody awful.
The Deosai plains are at an altitude of 4000 meters. The villages had nomads with giant herds of various creatures flocking about, and strange herders on horseback. I have never been to Mongolia, but according to Jack it was very similar.
The villages up there are covered in 10 foot blankets of snow for two thirds of the year. It was an unbelievable sort of place. Everyone looked very hardy, like they’d been carved out of wood.
In the back of the jeep the conversations were animated- Peter the anarchist told outrageous conspiracy stories, talking a mile a minute and waving his hands around. Jack cut in occasionally with a question about dams. Brock tried to keep everyone serene.
Our friendly driver Yaqoob with his amazing hat took us to his tribal village for lunch at his family’s house. I was amazed to see a washing machine in the outhouse. (‘The Tibetans use washing machines to make Yak butter tea’ Peter mentioned more than once…)
We camped on the plains at 4000 metres. When we got out of the jeep, the boys had gone a funny blue colour, and there was a distinct noise of chattering teeth. (‘Hello Marjorie, how you doing these days?’ ‘Oh can’t complain, can’t complain, got gold-capped last week you know..’)
I ran up and down a hill to get warm, and we all donned every piece of clothing in the jeep. We looked like a bunch of raving nutters.
The air was thin, it made your breath get caught in your throat.
Golden marmots sat up inquisitively. One of them posed for the camera, and then bounded off with his great unwieldy tail stuck between his legs. It looked like the sort of thing a creature could get fed up with, and seemed to get in the way of efficient lolloping. I wondered what it was that ate marmots- they were everywhere up there.
There was a large, bright blue lake, and we positioned ourselves conveniently to watch the sun set over it.
Adam fetched snow off the hill to cook pasta with.
Then at 2am we were shocked awake by the vicious sound of a jeep with a full soundsystem playing Bollywood rap tearing frantically towards our tent.
We yelled, and heard them turn sharply to narrowly miss us, and heard Peter shout loudly to make them veer away again. He was lying outside in a sleeping bag. What he actually said is fairly unrepeatable, but probably internationally understood. Apparently he was very nearly crushed to death.
The jeep was full of city-kids, who laughed at Peter and settled down to make as much noise as humanly possible for the next 3 hours.