Souvenir from Hunza

Surrounded by the 7,000m-class high peaks of Karakorum, this Hunza village is famous for the amazing pink apricot flowers that bloom all over the valley.

The main street of Karimabad, the center of Hunza, which is lined with stalls selling local products. It’s not very big, but it’s a place where you can go casually and enjoy a stroll while sightseeing.

Bazaar at Karimabad

First of all, I will introduce dried fruits and nuts, which are the specialties of Hunza.

In Hunza, where apricots and other fruits thrive, the seeds are removed immediately after they are harvested. The fruits are then preserved by being dried in the sun, then sold in the market. The dried apricots are browner in color and have a firmer texture than common ones you might see in other places, but this is just proof that there are no additives in them. The more you chew the dried fruit, the more the gorgeous apricot flavor fills your mouth, and the taste becomes addictive.

The fresh nuts that are the most famous are walnuts, almonds, and apricot seeds. Apricot seeds look a lot like almonds at first glance. But you can enjoy that unique scent of the apricot that is familiar with almond tofu (the name is also confusing but it is because the two nuts are so similar). Although it has a slightly bitter taste, it is said to have the effect of boosting the immune system.

In addition, I also recommend you try the cherries, mulberries, and dried pears, as they are hard to find anywhere else.

Dried fruits sold at a souvenir shop

At the bazaar, souvenirs of wooden products are also conspicuous. Apricot trees and walnut trees are also suitable for woodwork, so there are ornaments, accessory cases, and tableware made from these woods.

A spoon made of apricot and walnut wood. Each piece is handmade by an artist every day.

Intricately carved tissue box

Handicrafts with traditional Hunza embroidery are also popular souvenirs. Bright embroidery is applied to wool bags, slippers and hats.

Pouches
Slipper

In addition, northern Pakistan around Hunza is the origin of many natural gemstones. Specialty stores sell colorful natural stones such as crystal, aquamarine, topaz, garnet and black tourmaline; and small rough stones can be obtained at relatively low prices.

Searching for your favorite stone or a birthstone will also make a special souvenir.

Aquamarine stone

When you are wanting to take a quick break while exploring the bazaar, I recommend stopping by Cafe De Hunza.

Here, you can enjoy the famous walnut cake made with plenty of locally produced walnuts.

The cake goes very well with coffee. You can also take the cake home.

A famous cake filled to the max with caramel-wrapped walnuts

Cafe De Hunza also sold apricot oil for souvenirs.

It has a nourishing effect for sore throat, and it is a versatile oil that can also be used for skin care, as it has a very smooth application.

Apricot seed oil

Dried fruits, woodwork, nuts, oil and apricots are used in everything by the locals. For the people of Hunza, apricots are essential and a very important part of their lives.

There are many things that I haven’t introduced yet, but when you visit Hunza, why don’t you take a walk around the bazaar and look for the Peach Blossom Spring Valley souvenirs that are unique to this beautiful place?

 

Photo &Text : Madoka Nishioka

Visit : March 2023, Karimabad, Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan

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Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Hunza Valley
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Indus Highway, trip to Interior Sindh

First of all, I would like to express my heartfelt sympathy to those who have been affected by the flood disaster caused by the torrential rain from June to August 2022. Restoration work is progressing in some areas, and travel arrangements to Sindh and Balochistan regions were made, though we could see different sights than before, such as flooded fields.

The National Highway 55 (N-55), commonly known as Indus Highway, which goes north from Hyderabad, is a lifeline of West Sindh running through the west bank of the Indus River. During the fall harvest season, many trucks travel the road loaded with grain and chaff.

This year, due to the summer disaster, both sides of the road were still flooded, and there were many places waiting for the water to recede, unable to harvest the fields.

In some places, the fields were so water-logged they looked like lakes. I was sad to see so many people who had lost their homes and living in camps.

While some fields were water-logged, there were others that were being harvested. November is the season for harvesting rice.

I was really grateful to see this beautiful sight, which in any other time, would have been totally normal.

They were working on transferring the roadside piled up rice husks onto the trucks. Using wooden sticks to support it, they used sticks to create giant balloon-like cargo structures on the tops of the trucks.

A camel carrying firewood came our way. It is brought from the villages to the collection areas along the Indus Highway.

This firewood is an important fuel in the villages.

A handmade bell was decorated with cowry shells. A very traditional decoration, this is a camel very cherished by the owner. 

I was having lunch at a restaurant along the Indus Highway when I was invited to a wedding in the hall next door. “Wedding Gifts” decorated with bank notes were hung around the groom’s neck one after another.

Travelling on the Indus Highway with a different scenery than usual, we will soon enter the east road and reach Mohenjodaro. There were many submerged fields on the way to Mohenjodaro. I pray that the water will recede soon.

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2022, Indus Highway, Sindh
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Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
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Visiting the Rambur Valley Home of the Kalash

Visiting the Rambur Valley, where the Kalash live. It has been a long time since my last visit. I was thrilled to meet these beautiful young ladies.

The village scene at dusk. The valley’s steep slopes are used as a base for these lively dwellings.

Here is a Pashtun street merchant who was selling plates on the corner. The young lady is negotiating with the man, but instead of money, she placed some walnuts in the bowl she wanted to buy and handed it to him. They are bartering! The white bag behind him, to the left of the photo, is full of walnuts.

Going further into the village. The ditch full of trash caught my attention.

This lady was sewing on the terrace. She was using a sewing machine powered by her foot pedal. This is one of the beautiful sights of the Kalash Valley.

These young girls were playing a rock-kicking game. It is like an old Japanese children’s game! It really surprised me how similar it is.

The girls didn’t mind at all when the camera was pointed at them, and just continue to play their game. Some of the youngsters said proudly, “Foreigners take photos of us and publish them in books.” I really enjoyed spending time with these fairy-like girls, but the time came, and I needed to leave the valley.

This is the view of Tirich Mir (7,708m/25,288 feet), the highest peak in the Hindu Kush region. The view on the way through Ayun and Kalash Valleys, of this high peak, is one of the bonus scenes of this trip.

 

Photo & text : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Nov 2021, Rambur, Kalash Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Kalash Valley: November in the Bumburet Village

In early November, I visited the Bumburet Valley. If I had a chance to go a little earlier, I could have seen the Corn Harvest season, but instead I was there during the time of everyone preparing for the coming of winter.
In this time of the year, there are very few tourists and the village is pretty quiet.

We traveled through the town of Ayun to get to the Kalash Valley. This is the amazing view along the way. The towering Tirich Mir (7,708m/25,288 feet), the highest peak in the Hindu Kush, appears over the hills of Ayun. The massive form shines in the morning sunlight.

After crossing this suspension bridge, we come to the junction of the Bumburet and Rambur Valleys. We head west here and continue on to Bumburet.

The Kalash homes started to come into view. The wooden houses are built into the slopes, making efficient use of the terrace and roofs.

These young girls who were playing with a baby goat caught my attention. She has such a charming, fairy-like beauty.

I went up these stairs, made from a hollowed-out tree, to the shaman lady’s house.

This is the terrace of the shaman’s house. According to her, she has the power to foresee the future and find things people had lost, so the people asked her to become a shaman.

Inside the shaman’s house. With the light only coming in from the doorway, the traditional lifestyle of the Kalash people is simple.

These wooden statues stood in the village funeral parlour.

The handmade wine made by the Kalash people, I found it so good.

This woman is threshing crops on her roof. This is a scene that is unique to the harvest season.

It filled me with so much happiness to revisit a school teacher home in Anish village, I found daughter has now become a mother! I used to visit them often, so this is the best memory.

The last time I could visit Bumburet Village was 2 years ago. The Muslim population is increasing and the number of Kalash girls wearing hijabs was higher than before. The color of the handmade embroidery on the traditional folk clothing was quite popular and flashy.

Over the past 30 years, as a tour guide for Saiyu Travel, I have seen the decline of the traditional ethnic lifestyles and clothing in various parts of the world. For the people, the more things become more modernized, their life also becomes easier, so it means these traditional ways are lost voluntarily. But still, it makes me sad to see the sudden shift away from ancient traditions and beliefs. I send strong prayers that these precious ethnic minorities like the Kalash can hold on their culture and rich traditions as part of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

 

Photos & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2021, Bumburet, Kalash Valley, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

Category : ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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Hunza Homestay! Enjoying the local cuisine at the local’s home

This is the introduction of the local food we enjoyed while I visited Hunza at a private homestay.

When you visit Hunza, one of the menu items you will definitely be served is a soup called ‘Dowdo.’ It contains thick handmade noodles, similar to udon, and is a little curry-like. It doesn’t have a strong flavor and is popular among foreigners. More recently, in the Nagar district, there is a meaty pie called ‘Chap Shoro’ which is becoming very popular with the domestic Pakistani tourists.

The food in the Hunza region is healthy; and it is not flavored too spicy so foreigners find it easy to eat.

Making Baruway Gilang (buckwheat Chapati)
Making Baruway Gilang (buckwheat Chapati)

Our homestay host in Hunza, was Amin Ghazi Karim, who prepared the local dishes at their house. They have a modern kitchen, but during the meal, the stove comes in handy while you eat. In the cold Hunza, it is pretty essential to have the stove close by.

Rakaposhi (7,788m/ 25,551ft) can be seen from Amin’s kitchen window.

They made us a Butter Chapati (in the local Burushaki language called ‘Martasxe tse Giyaling.’) The flour chapati is topped with butter. Walnut oil and apricot oils are also used, instead of butter.

The ‘Martasxe tse Giyaling’ is ready. It has a light flavor but is heavy in the stomach.

This is the Cheese Chapati (in Burushaki language called ‘Burus Sapik.’ It is my favorite, locally produced cheese, mint, tomatoes, leeks, onions, and fruit oil wrapped in a wheat chapati. This is really healthy, and recommended for the vegetarians who come to Pakistan and have a hard time with the food.

After the meal, we finish dinner with freshly harvested Hunza apples and tea.

 

Photos & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Oct 2021, Baltit, Karimabad, Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan
Special Thanks to all host family members of Amin Ghazi Karim

Category : ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Hunza Valley
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Autumn in the Upper Hunza, a typical evening in the Morkhon and Ghalapan Villages

After a long days of summer spent grazing, in mid-October, the cattle are returned to the village. After that, one a daily schedule the goats and sheep from the village are gathered to go to the pastures for grazing. We arrived in the Upper Hunza’s Ghalapan Village to await the arrival of the goats and sheep in the evening.

 

The Upper Hunza during this season is the most beautiful season, with the poplar trees changing colors. The time to catch their bright yellow leaves in the sunlight is limited because the poplar trees grow in the valleys, surrounded by high peaks all around them.

 

After grazing on the mountain slopes, the goats and sheep have started their decent to the village. Here they come!

 

↓↓ This is a video of the livestock heading back to the villages of Mokrhon and Ghalapan, after a day of grazing. The poplar trees were amazing as well, so that drone footage is included as well!

 

Morkhon & Ghalapan in Autumn|秋の上部フンザの村にて

 

The villagers were waiting for the goats and sheep to come back to the village.

 

They quickly separate out their own livestock from the group. Some of the villagers carry dried apricots as a treat to get the sheep to follow them back to their homes.

 

They have to know which one is their own livestock!

 

This sheep wandered off from the heard and had to be carried back.

 

Each owner brings back their own livestock to their respective shed for the evening. It all happened within a 15 minute window. But this little moment is just the daily life part of a wonderful village life in northern Pakistan.

 

Image : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Oct 2021, Ghalapan village, Upper Hunza, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : = Video Clip Gilgit-Baltistan > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Gojar > - Morkhun > ◇Domestic animal of Pakistan
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Kalash Valley’s Bumburet and Rambur

This is a video that highlights the scenery of the Kalash Valley when we visited in October. In the past when we visited Bumburet village, it was during the tourist season and quite crowded with domestic tourists.

However, by the middle of October, there were very few visitors at this time of year and the village was quiet.

 

KALASH VALLEY Bumburet & Rambur|カラーシャの谷(ボンボレット&ランブール)

 

Image : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : Oct 2021, Bomboret & Rambur, Kalash valley, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Category : = Video Clip KPK > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆Khyber Pakhtunkhwa > - Kalash Valley
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(Video) Red Fox Hunting (Khunjerab National Park)

In the spring, as the snows melt away from the mountainous slopes of the Khunjerab National Park, sitting at 4,000 meters above sea level, the wildlife also seems to spring back to life.

In this video, the red fox catches a mouse. The classic fox hunting technique of locating, jumping and diving into the snow, nose first. Then the prey seems to confuse the fox by “playing dead” …an interesting sighting of the wildlife in the thawing Karakoram.

 

A Red fox hunting / 狩りをするアカギツネ

 

Videography : Mariko SAWADA

Observation : April 2021, Khunjerab National Park, Gilgit-Baltistan

Category : = Video Clip Gilgit-Baltistan > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - Fox > ◇ Wildlife of Pakistan > - Khunjerab National Park
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(Video)The Apricot Blossoms of Khyber Village

In late April, the apricot flowers are in full bloom, much later than usual in the upper Hunza’s Khyber Village. The wave of modernization and development is making its way up the Hunza Valley. But I hope that the scenic beauty of this stunning village will continue forever.

 

Apricot Blossom in Khyber

 

Videography : Mariko SAWADA

Visit : April 2021, Khyber, Gilgit-Baltistan

Special Thanks : Hunza Hill-Gah – Khyber

Category : = Video Clip Gilgit-Baltistan > ◆ Video Breathtaking Views of Pakistan > ◆ Gilgit-Baltistan > - the Karakoram Highway > - Gojar > - Khyber
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The Truckers of the Indus Highway: It’s Harvest Season!

November, Sindh Province when wheat and millet harvest season begins. We regularly saw these trucks, filled beyond capacity with wheat, along the National Highway (N5) and the Indus Highway (N55).
As you head south on the Indus Highway, there were many trucks carrying their harvest from the Dadu Region.

 

According to the truck driver, the packed material was not the actual wheat but the straw leftover after the wheat was harvested. Each truck can carry about 8,000 kilograms (8 tons) from Dadu down to Karachi’s livestock feed factory. Selling one truckload can pay about 2.5 million rupees (~$15,000 USD ).

 

The long line of trucks that wait at the check post.

 

While waiting in line, some of the truck drivers graciously allowed our Japanese tourists to take a commemorative photo from inside the truck. These eye-catching trucks are not only nice on the outside, but the colorful interior is also elaborately decorated as well.

 

Photo & text: Mariko SAWADA
Visit: Nov 2019, Indus Highway, Dadu, Sindh

 

Category : - National & Indus Highway > ◆ Sindh
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