We will test the suggestion, firstly by moving to Hunza, then over the 4733 meter Khunjerab Pass to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Province. More than managing us is Asghar Khan, an avuncular Hunzakut, whose ability to organize little mountains to be moved (if important by bulldozer), palms to be lubed and supper to touch base on time makes the KKH, for us no less than, a weakling.
The mythical Kingdom of Hunza, long a desert spring on this course, was not generally so effortlessly came to, nor so serene. Travelers, Silk Route brokers and magnificent intruders once needed to adjust on restricted foot trails scratched into the valley dividers. “Boisterous with kingdoms” was Marco Polo’s interpretation of this area in 1273.
And, after its all said and done, Baltit Fort towered over the town of Karimabad (previously known as Baltistan); after seven centuries, this 62-room royal residence cum-fortification, once possessed by the Mir (lord) of Hunza, still stands, confined by apexes of stone and snow.
We have supper in a similar royal residence room – now delightfully reestablished – in which Captain Francis Younghusband defied the Mir in 1889, requesting that he stop assaulting the trains that passed on their way from Central Asia to British India. The Mir challenged in words to the impact of, “Yet it’s our lone pay – in any case, if your Queen Victoria is miserable, I can cut her in on the goods”.