We made it to the end of the road.
And who says you can't get into China easily? I made it firmly across the line. The van was not allowed to continue, though. We did not suffer from altitude symptoms, despite having ascended about 1,700 meters in a few hours.
After a longish walk from the Pakistani checkpoint, Rahul and Sarah made it across too.
Back at the van where we had lunch, we watched a historic moment. The Chinese have been surveying the road all along the KKH for the last while to widen and improve it. Here, the requisite red dots are painted right at the border to indicate where the centerline of the new road will be. The KKH can do with an extensive overhaul. The Pakistani government made the wise decision to have the Chinese build the road. The Chinese side of the KKH is in vastly better shape than the Pakistani one.
One of six cyclists we saw coming from Kashgar in China. Even though the road is barely serviceable, people still find a thrill in cycling the KKH from China to Islamabad.
The views from the border area were some of the best ones we'd seen on the trip so far. Everywhere you looked there were mountains.
Sadly, the end of the road also marked the end of us traveling together. After 19 days of touring around and seeing the country, we parted ways. Rahul and Sarah were going to take it easy and make their way to Amritsar to meet up with friends and I headed deeper into the country to do some trekking. A last look back shows the van at the border, where they camped for the night.
On the way down back to Sost, the light changed and the mountains became even more spectacular. At this altitude, the blue skies are very vivid.
My next stop is the Chapurson valley, where I hope to track down a guide recommended to me by a German couple, Monika and Heimer, who I met in Yazd, Iran. They are professional travelers, making a living during the winters giving slideshows. Their current project is to ride on horseback from Mongolia to Germany.