Life isn't about the destination but the journey that gets us there.
Some people love adventure and traveling, I'm among them. Since my childhood my mom took me to the places that were worth seeing and that was how i developed my interest towards traveling and exploring.
It's about the journey which I'm glad to share with you all and is among the tiring yet most adventurous travel in my life.
My first semester was going to end and we were having exams. I was homesick and was rushing towards the thoughts of going back home in summer vacations.
Usually we take international flights for other countries but someone introduced us something very interesting.
As everyone is familiar with the famous Silk Road which was also called "Silu" in Chinese and also known as "Khunjerab Pass". But how much you know about that road and the ways that take you there?
Those were our exam days when along with me, many other students came across the idea of going back home by road, yes, by road.
One senior student booked train tickets for us. We were not few but many groups of friends traveling together from same university.
The day came, we finished the last exam and moved towards the train station in that rainy day. It was like a big crowd of foreign students. I started my journey as an individual and didn't belong to any group of students around me at that time.
The first train was fast train from Jingzhou to Wuhan. Though I managed alone upto that point and I was excited to explore the places.
Not aware of the coming time ahead, that it would be among one of the best journeys ever, I sat quietly in the train thinking about the decision I took to travel by road without any aid. But when you rely only on God, He definitely makes your way easier than you ever think.
Coming out from the train on Wuhan train station, with two suitcases that were heavy enough to carry, somebody called my name and I looked towards them. They were my batchmates and a senior girl who were the sister of one of my batchmate. they offered me to let them help me. At first I refused because I felt not good to put my burden on someone else when they have their own luggage to carry at the same time. But they insisted to join them as I was alone and we all had organised our class party together. So, we all know each other a bit.
Now we all moved ahead to catch our next train. At first I was alone now I'm with 6 people who became friends along with this.
Thus traveling takes you to explore and meet people of different mind set and teaches you a lot, help you to grow, so it did.
I always had a fear of not missing my train. Taking big footsteps, panting and running let us reached at the platform where our next train, from Wuhan to Lanzhou, arrived with the transferring of one more train ahead after this one to Urumqi.
We with our luggage stepped in the train, and we got hard seats of a slow train that took almost 2 days in total from Wuhan to Urumqi. That was too tiring but we managed to make ourselves fresh by talking, cracking jokes, playing cards and recalling memories.
There we learnt how to spent time in a best way in time period and that increased our stamina. we somehow managed to sleep on the seats by giving everyone an equal chance to sleep properly. Though it was an audacious idea but it worked.
In the train, being a foreigner and having a huge language barrier at that time, we hardly understood anything Chinese people try to ask and we with our utmost effort, try to reply them. That's how we enjoyed with them.
Witnessing the scenic vista from the window of the train, I was amazed by the creativity of God, that how beautifully He puts the blanket of greenery on some hills and mountains and made other mountains tough and rocky.
The long train moving through the tunnels, letting the phone service unreachable, waiting to connect again to our families through this was atrocious.
Finally we reached Urumqi after 2 days spent in the trains and our heads had have the feeling of dizziness and it felt that we were still in the train.
We all students gathered outside the station to decide where to stay to have a good rest. Not knowing anything about that place put us in a huge effort to find a hotel and then finally we found where many other foreigners were staying. I still remember the way from the train station to that hotel like a slideshow of that journey in front of my eyes rolling down the bags on the roads towards the hotel. Unfortunately the tyres of my suitcase were broken on train station while scanning-through process which made us to pull the bags that felt like having stones in them. That was crazy time.
Spending 1 night and 2 days in Urumqi, we explored the tempting food there and the view all around that place was amazing. Walking on the roads on that calm night was peaceful. Due to tiredness, I got fever but still I walked along my friends exploring the city. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and in western China and has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world.
The next day we had to leave for Kashgar and it was another train of about 1 day travel. Finally we reached Kashgar but the journey didn't end, in fact it was started at this point in actual. Kashgar also known as Kashi is an oasis city in Xinjiang and it has served a trading post and strategically important city on the Silk Road.
From kashgar we went to Tashkurgan town on minivan. Tashkurgan is a market town for sheep, wool and woollen goods, particularly carpets and it has a cold desert climate. The view all along the roads was mesmerizing and appealing to stop there to adore that. We arrived at Shina's immigration Office but we came to know that we had have to wait for some days. At that moment after 4 to 5 days travel, we got stucked over there having mental disturbance because of that issue. We didn't know the actual reason but just knew that we are many and the first you come to the immigration office the first you'll the exit stamp and you can leave on the bus.
Many more students were coming behind us to that place and more people would lead to more time taken by the immigration office. But a twist occur, the next morning all students and other travellers were standing outside the immigration office even before it's opening time. and fortunately we all get the exit stamp and moved ahead towards our country on sleeper busses that made our nerves to calm down. Now we all were relaxed that we're going towards our destination.
The Silk Road started that's the ancien network of trade that connected the East and West and we witnessed the beauty which was remarkable and breathtaking. The view was worth capturing. The Pamir mountains are a mountain range in Central Asia that knot of the Himalayas, Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun and Hindu Kush ranges. Silk Road crossed a number of Pamir Mountain ranges and these are among the highest mountains, they have been known as the "Roof of the world" since Victorian times.
Hypnotizing beauty of Hindu Kash along the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan and Gilgit-Baltistan is mesmerizing. we arrived Sust. Then comes the Khunjerab River at the point of confluence, switching to Hunza River that cuts the Karakoram range, flowing from north to south.
Passing the Khunjerab Pass, we met military people on duty and saluted them for their work and continue to move on with the name God.
Sost or Sust is a village in Gojal, Upper Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan which has it's significant importance as a trading port. From there we reached Aliabad that's a Valley between forks of Hunza River. Attabad Lake is about 21 km long and more than 100 meters deep, and the only way to cross it is with small boats that shuttle across the lake and so we did at midnight along with our luggage. I suggest you to never take huge amount of stuff or luggage when you are travelling through this route.
Hunza has an eye-capturing scenic views along with tall Rakaposhi mountain towers over Hunza. It has a smooth and nice road.
This lake was created by a landslide that blocked the Hunza River for few months.
I was spellbound to the beauty of the lake which looked like a shimmery way between the mountains and it looked like the stars came on the lake at midnight making it like a milky way. It was amazing and cold climate at night that let us shiver.
At last we arrived at Aliabad over night and we waited in a restaurant for the next bus that would take us to Islamabad through Gilgit. It took almost 18 hours but keep 3 to 4 hours as backup in case of road block. Unfortunately it's pretty hard to take good photos through the window of the bus, the roads are bumpy, so not to waste the battery just enjoy the view. There were few military checkpoints and it's really no hassle.
Among us was a girl who suffered the mountain sickness through that way but still we managed somehow to calm her down.
Finally we arrived Islamabad, it's is the capital city of Pakistan and from there we all moved to our hometowns.
This was my journey that took around 7 days exploring the the northwest part of China, Xinjiang Region, Khunjerab pass, mountain ranges on Silk Road, Hunza River Valley, Attabad Lake, Gilgit and finally our capital city Islamabad.
It was worth exploring and worth sharing tour that I ever had.
Dr. Mah Rukhs Butt
Yangtze University, jingzhou, Hubei, China
Home Town: Hafizabad, Pakistan