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.
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

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

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 Assistants

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.

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.


11 Responses to “Karimabad (and the mythical Hunza Water)”

  1. 1 Aziz December 18, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Wonderful experience

  2. 2 Skye Miller December 18, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Wow! once again, beautiful photos and an interesting read. Some parts remind me of Sth.America. Quite barren, although stunning. The people’s expression in your photos are intriguing. If only I could listen to their stories.
    Good luck, happy Christmas & have a safe new year.

  3. 3 Dikshya December 18, 2009 at 2:37 pm

    I am keeping track!
    I am glad you are getting a kick out of everything! This surly lets us know that you are well and enjoying!
    If only you would have started this when you were 18! This would have been such a good research! 50 countries and around the world!
    Things are great back here, I am “still” enjoying my work 🙂

  4. 4 Jeena December 20, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Enjoyed these pics…especially the distillation process 😀
    Glad you enjoyed the local alcohol. I just learnt that every culture has their own version of it – toddy in Kerala and feni in Goa (both India, of course). Ofcourse, there must be more in other parts of the country

  5. 5 nazim ullah baig March 11, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    HELLO Mathew how u doing man.i am glad to see my photos in ur blog.when u r coming to Hunza.thanks

  6. 6 zafar March 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Hi! it was nice to read ur post here about my home town karimabad! i hope u had a beautiful trip and good memories about karimabad and especially the observation and experience with the king of hunza wine..lols.
    Wish u good luck.It would be nice to see u again hope fully.
    warm regards

  7. 7 Leila April 5, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Thank you for such a wonderful blog !

    The portrait of Mr. Hunza Water is amazing. He looks almost ethereal.


  8. 8 Omer Farooq July 22, 2011 at 4:14 am

    i have been to Nothern Areas of Pakistan. Its beautiful but because of time shortage unfortunately i couldnt visit Gilgit and Hunza , we actually tried to search for Hunza Water while we were in Skardu. 🙂 but we couldnt succeed. your article and pictures, great job 🙂 Finally the curiosity of Hunza water wont stays anymore. 🙂

  9. 9 Nazim ullah baig March 22, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    HELLO Mathew how are you? .when u r coming to Hunza.thanks

  10. 10 pakistan tourism September 24, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Wow! beautiful photos and an interesting

  11. 11 jamalo March 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    wowowowoowow nick name AMIR KUWAIT n o side effecct of Hunza water 😛

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