October 13, 2014 Karimabad and Hunza Water

Karimabad (and the mythical Hunza Water)

This is a bit out of chronological order, but whilst in Northen Pakistan, I dragged myself away from Gilgit long enough to visit Karimabad in the Hunza Valley.

I cant be arsed right now rambling on about how amazing and scenic Northen Pakistan is and especially Karimabad, but it just is.
In Summer, Autumn or Spring, it would be the perfect place to while a couple of weeks away. Relaxing, hiking, reading, eating, whatever.
But when I visited, on the brink of Winter it was just plain freezing.

Hunza Water (Glacier Water)
Hunza Water (Glacier Water)

No electricity (thus no hot water), no gas heaters, shops shutting up for the season, no other tourist to talk shit with, in bed at 8.30pm wishing the night would end already so I could get up and sit in the sunshine to eat breakfast.
2 nights was more than enough.
I do look forward to going back though on a warmer occasion.

View from bedroom - Karimabad Hunza
View from bedroom

Other than its scenic ambiance and hiking, Karimabad is famous for one thing, Hunza Water.
Locally produced wine, nicknamed “Hunza Water”, is something of a mythical product. Everyone knows about it, but few ever see or taste it.
I still don’t really know how I pulled this off (and at the time I wasn’t even trying) but a friend-of-a-friend later and I’m standing out the front of THE Mr. Hunza Water’s Place.

Mr. Hunza Water
Mr. Hunza Water

Zero English, and my 10 words of Urdu all used up, communication was in body language but he was stoked to have a visitor.

As I’m given the tour of the 3×5 meter room, the first thing beside the smell of fermentation I notice was the ‘wine’ set up.

Hunza Water is not Wine, its a spirit, the whole set-up is for distillation haha.

Devoted Assistant Hunza Water
Devoted Assistant Hunza Water

The first batch of the morning is ready (brewed from mulberries), Mr. Hunza Water sticks is thumb in, then gets a lighter and lights it. The whole thing happened before I could take a photo, but I’m sitting there watching his thumb alight, while he’s smiling because it means the batch is strong.

I’m poured a take-home bottle, but not before taste tests are carried out (something I can see the assistants are eagerly awaiting).
Half a mug gets put in front of me. Keep in mind its about 10.30am.
There’s no declining hospitality in Pakistan and thus I understand I’m not leaving until that mug is finished.
Not wanting to mill over it, I top-to-bottom the whole thing and Mr. Hunza Water seems impressed, I nod with approval while my digestive tract is on fire.

Hunza Sheep
Hunza Sheep

5 hour bus ride back home (Madina Guest House, Gilgit), squashed like a sardine and nursing that bottle upright the whole way, everyone was siiked when I pulled it out at the dinner table.

Mr. Hunza Water, it was a good batch.

Aadi Ali
Aadi Ali

inside view of araq house is epic