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Himalaya

Day 17: The Shandur Pass

Michael Palin - HimalayaI've acquired a thick Chinese blanket from the temporary shopping mall up here on the Pass and though my tent remains an ice-box, I actually slept last night, after an unpromising start when I was kept awake, not by drums and pipes but by someone being very funny
near my tent. I couldn't tell whether it was Urdu or Pashto they were speaking, but it didn't really matter. His total control of the audience was wonderfully infectious and I lay curled up in my many layers of thermals, shirts, sweaters and fleeces, giggling away, without understanding a word.

More people have arrived overnight and our encampment is now part of a growing community. Figures are scattered among the grassy boulders, cleaning teeth, scrubbing feet and washing faces in bowls of water heated on a brushwood fire, which Maboub, who is in charge of these matters, has to keep continually tended, as thinner air at this height make things harder to burn. In the kitchen tent, where a violent gas fire looks like an accident waiting to happen, Zahoor, the chef, produces scrambled eggs, fried potatoes and even porridge for our breakfast.

At the far end of the valley, away from the hustle and bustle of the ever-expanding encampment, the 'A' teams are out beside the lake practising shots, gallops, passes and tight-reined turns. Both sides exercise together in the cool of early morning, then return to their separate camps.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 17: The Shandur Pass
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: The Shandur Pass
  • Book page no: 38

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