Horribly ill Halfway up a Mountain

We didn’t get attacked by any cheetahs. 

There was a fairly horrendous attack of food poisoning though.  I woke in the pitchblack, covered in sweat and groaning with stomach pains. 

I spent the next 6 hours until daylight making painful urgent excursions up the hillside with a headtorch on to deposit my Pringles in strategic locations.  Vomiting whilst wearing a headtorch is a bizarre experience…

With daybreak, I started to deposit from the other end too, which got a lot more difficult as people started walking up and down the hill. 

Then my legs gave way in the middle of the path, and I sat there pathetically, unable to stand, while Adam and the German slept on.   Eventually Adam got up and rescued me.

They were quite sweet about it and barely mentioned the violent noises they’d been subjected to all night.

I had a beautiful private moment of hilarity at about 7am, when I had made it up to truly spectacular spot to erm, deposit.  I squatted amongst the beautiful trees and watched the sun hit the leaves and listened to the bird calls, and thought how lucky I was to have become so incredibly incontinent as I’d otherwise have missed it.

Anyway, it was very bad timing.  It was a lasting bout and showed no signs of slowing.  I was feeling very weak, and was trying to get through litres of oral rehydration salts, but they wouldn’t stay down either.  There was no way to go but up, and I obviously could do with a hotel for my next bout, so couldn’t stay where I was. 

We set off to Mansehra.  We were supposed to go to Gilgit in one day, but there was just no way I would make it. 


We were heading through Kohistan.  It is a tribal, conservative Shi’i Muslim area.  It is said to be inhospitable and dangerous to outsiders.  You are advised not to stop.

We stopped for tea.  Everyone was lovely.


The traffic thinned out, the air was fresh, and there were stepped terraces with rice paddies cut into the hills. 

Children waved.  Some of them pulled scary faces.  We pulled them back. 

The little towns had cows strung up, whole, including their tails.  The skins lay in piles beside them. 


There were only men.  Someone had stolen all the women, like the Pied Piper.

People’s faces started to change, and there were lots of startlingly green Kashmiri eyes, and wider Hazara faces with oriental-ish features.  There were some very beautiful people wandering around. 

I began to feel worse and worse.  The longer I went without food the worse I got.  There was nothing left in me, and I was seriously dehydrated. 

Eventually we made it to Mansehra, which was horrendously gridlocked all the way through town.  This was the official start of the Karakoram Highway.  It wasn’t the most auspicious one.  The trucks overtook us on tight bends, sending us off the road into gravel. 

The town was large and dusty.  We stood stationary in the traffic as an old evil-looking guy led over a blind, retarded man with a blank face and a felt necklace, dressed entirely in green rags.  He made him beg and kiss Adam’s hands. 


The men wore round felt hats, or really ornately embroidered Muslim caps, and all young boys wore Haj-style rigid Muslim caps. 

We stood out a little. 

At the hotel I lay groaning in the dark as the power failed for three hours and the water cut off.  It had been 24 hours since any food had stayed down, and I was very unwell indeed.  I compared it to past food poisionings, and found, quite cheerfully, that it beat them hands down. 

Adam went out to find provisions.  He reported back that everyone was friendly and the bustling town felt quite peaceful.  He got back, and the hotel manager told him off and said it was too dangerous to go out.  He said he would have to call the police to let them know we were there. 

Possibly a reader or two may think we are a bit mad for consistently ignoring people’s advice.  It is just that as you go through, everyone always tells you the next town up the road is dodgy and to be careful.  Then you get there, and everyone is nice as pie, but warns you of the hoodlums up the road.   And so it goes on.  Even from country to country.  Some Iranians we met expressed concern at our travelling through Turkey and Pakistan.  And sometimes even within a town, people will mistrust other, slightly different people.  So, unless it feels unsafe, we’ll carry on.


Anyway, I ate some noodles and a tomato that night, and was proud.

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