Malaysians took the world’s highest road into record book
Four employees of Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) did the country proud by becoming the first Malaysians to cycle across the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world that connects Pakistan and China across the Karakoram mountain range.
Their feat was recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records, which presented them with a certificate at a ceremony in the Kajang Stadium.
The recipients were Mohd Shahrizaifuddy Shamsuddin, Ashraf Nasir, Shamsol Omar and Ismail Mat Rasidin.
They traversed a total of 1,300km across the highway, located on altitudes over 4,000m and in some parts higher than Mount Kinabalu in Sabah.
The XPDC Karakoram Highway, which ran from Aug 30 to Sept 12, was supported by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The idea for the ride came from MPKj president Datuk Hassan Nawawi Abd Rahman, who is an avid cyclist.
“We are very proud of our council employees for managing this feat, despite the tough challenges they faced.
“I am confident that with this achievement, more Malaysians will be inspired to make their own record-breaking feats in cycling,” said Hassan.
The teams were split into two, one starting their journey from Islamabad in Pakistan, while the other set off from Kashgar, China.
They met in the capital city of Gilgit, within the Gilgit-Baltistan territory of Pakistan.
Some parts of the ride were accompanied by the local authorities, including the Pakistani police, as the riders had to cross dangerous areas controlled by rebels or the Taliban.
The riders had many stories to share on their experiences.
For Ashraf, who was part of the team riding from Islamabad, the most memorable experience was interacting with the locals.
The 26-year-old technician from MPKj Project Management Department said that despite being poor, the local tribes were very respectful of tourists and did what they could to welcome them.
“Although some barely had enough to feed themselves, they often insisted on treating us to a simple drink and a meal,” said Ashraf, adding that he was touched by their hospitality.
“It made me realise that we have much to be thankful for in Malaysia,” he said.
Ashraf felt that the most challenging part of the ride was the road conditions, which were often bumpy and uneven in places.
There were also frequent rockslides although nothing major occured during their journey.
Ismail, who rode from Kashgar, said that the expedition was “difficult but fun.”
“It was very cold in Kashgar, but as we made our way to Pakistan, the temperatures went up to 36 degrees Celcius,” said Ismail, who suffered nosebleeds due to the sudden climate change.
“We often had to ride in the rain or under the hot sun,” he added.
“I was not used to the food and missed Malaysian food. The meals there were usually simple naan cheese or chapati,” said Ismail, 40, who has been attached to the Project Management Department for 10 years.
He said the team trained for a month before the expedition, cycling through hills in Kajang.
The four riders are part of the council’s cycling team and regularly go for expeditions all over South-East Asia.
“We have been on expeditions to Medan, Jakarta, Bali, Phuket and Koh Samui, so in a way we have been constantly in training,” said Ismail, adding that the Karakoram highway was the most challenging ride yet.
Ismail said he loved the beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains as they made their way to Gilgit.
“When I finished the challenge there was a sense of disbelief. Then came a fulfilling sense of accomplishment, and I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could do anything,” he said.