Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

On travelling

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I travel by any means available. I have walked, walked, walked, ridden donkeys, horses (in eternal fear of them galloping off with me or without me but with my gear), camels (both dromedaries and Bactrian double-humped ones), bicycled, motorcycled and been on jeeps with drivers to scare the daylights out of the bravest person.

There is one key to getting to know a place: keep the eyes and ears wide open and see and hear, not just look and listen. Register the sights, sounds, smells, the birdsong, the quartering eagle in the cloud-laden sky; the nattering birds in the thickets; the fragrance of the wild rose and that of the thyme and artemesia crushed underfoot; the sound of the water and the soughing of the wind. And you know the place.

I do not ‘often’ travel by motorcycle. I rediscovered this thing last October when I rode two wheels into Kashmir. I had one in 1984-85 that took me around much of Pakistan. Thereafter it was either shanks mare or four wheels or bicycle (short trips). It is very interesting for someone to mention Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that was published back in the early 1970s! But what I wrote in one of these posts was very similar, though I have not read the book.

Someone once said that the joy of travelling is inversely proportional to the speed: the faster you go the less you enjoy and learn and vice versa. On a motorcycle, I go very easy. In Kashmir, I hardly ever went above 45 km/h. I watched the scenery go by, stopped where I fancied. In a car, zooming along at even 60 km/h by the time you react, your way past what had interested you and then you say, ‘Oh, shucks, I’ll catch that on the way back.’ But you never do. There is also the liberty of going off road, even on trails where you would not risk a jeep.

Mintaka Pass was by foot from village Misgar. Great trek it was until my blisters from my three year-old boots started to kill me. Then I rode the donkey. And that also almost killed me. But what a great adventure it was in August 2009.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:30,


At 29 April 2013 at 16:49, Blogger Nayyar Julian said...

Reading your work, I can see you prefer walking.

At 29 April 2013 at 19:37, Blogger Sajini Chandrasekera said...

I can fully imagine how beautiful it is to walk and to enjoy every thing that pass along you......though it's tiring it's worth it ....

At 2 May 2013 at 22:40, Anonymous Jessica M said...

This is my first time on your blog. Wow, seems like you have quite the stories and experiences to share! How blessed to be able to travel so much and in such various ways!

Your description of traveling via motorcycle reminds me of a book I read awhile back, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". I think so much more can be experienced when we take the time to slow down and take in all that is around us.

At 4 May 2013 at 12:47, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Thank you, folks. Nayyar, walking was my way. that was because I wanted to go places where the where the wheel had never been.
Sajini, You know, we have forgotten the art of rough travel and of making friends with trees, birds, wild creatures, everything that we pass: even the rocks.
A warm welcome to you, Jessica. You are the second person to mention Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance. Spot on.


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days