Saturday, 17 October 2015

Albania: Permet - Sarande


Not far from Permet is a river with thermal springs, which have been used to form a number of warm/hot pools.  In the background of the photo below, over the old bridge, is one such heated pool that we first discovered last year.  We all had a little swim (apart from Nela obviously).

Frasher Loop - Departing directly from the hot pool is a seldom used route known to 4wd adventurers as the 'Frasher Loop' - named after the largest village along the route called 'Frasher'.  But it really should be remembered that whereas from our perspective it is easy to think of this as a fun and scenic 4wd route, that certainly isn't what it is to the locals.  To them it is simply the only route that accesses the remote mountain villages in this region; this is simply their road.  And whilst fun for us, many living in these remote villages are too poor to afford a 4wd, let alone a car.  They would probably just prefer the Government hurried up and built them a proper road - sadly for them most of these remote villages are hardly priorities in an economically challenged country.  For us though the appeal and tranquillity of the places we visit often goes hand in had with their inaccessibility.  

A new development, work still in progress, a dam and powerstation

A wild camp spot, not far from a village but it didn't bother us. Once again locals turned out to be very friendly and generous. A couple of men walked past our tent later that evening carrying crates full of some produce. We couldn't see who they were or what they were carrying as it was already dark. They said 'Hello', we answered and we thought that would be it when they suddenly stopped. They brought one crate closer to us and picked a few things out of it handing them over to us. They turned out to be large tomatoes, though we'd never seen this particular variety before. These people hardly have anything and yet they don't hesitate to share whatever they have with strangers like us. 

The ultimate camping experience, Polish way: frying sausages over a camp fire on sticks (cut and sharpened by me). Beany loved it!

Isn't it just beautiful?! Autumn colours flooded with morning sunshine. I simply love autumn.

Here's the nearby village.

These locals were trying to inflate a tractor tyre with what looked like an oversized cycle tyre hand-pump.  It would have taken them hours, if achievable at all.  We used our air compressor to inflate the tractor tyre in about a minute!  It actually felt really good to be able to offer something back to the locals, as to this point we felt we'd received more goodwill than we'd been able to return.  Such encounters with locals are interesting, but usually brief, as people living up here typically speak no English at all.

The next few photos are around Frasher.

Notice in the photo below the paved street, with gutters and even street lights.  We see this in some remote Albanian villages - a paved road through and around the village, despite their being only 4WD access to/from the village.  I suppose it gives a sense of infrastructure to those living in the village.

The route we took into Frasher was somewhat rough, but our route out of Frasher proved to be in reasonably good condition and would be accessible by ordinary car.

Back on the road on the way to Sarande on the coast

Sarande - still hot and sunny!

Enjoying a little treat

Tri leche - we discovered it in Tirana and have had it at every possible occasion since then. If I can trust my taste buds, it is either a vanilla or coconut (we had some that tasted either one or the other) soaked in cream or milk. Obviously cream makes it much tastier.

A big cuddle from the big sister

And if the cuddle wasn't enough, here comes the kiss! Bffs in the making (I hope).


The rented apartment had a small yard and was perfect for doing some repairs.  Rubber CV joint boots came off one front and one rear driveshaft during the last offroad trip and all the grease came out, which we didn't discover until we heard the affected CV joints starting to make noise due to lack of lubrication.  Our fault - Aaron had recently serviced these CV boots and used aftermarket parts that turned out not to be as good as original Mitsubishi parts.  

Fortunately we had a new spare CV joint in the parts box for the front axle and were able to rebuild that driveshaft.

Aaron continued after dark on the damaged rear driveshaft so we could get back on the road the following morning.

Here's a video we put together of our final offroad route in Albania.  Better to click on the bottom right corner and view it full screen.  (The quality it plays back in depends on your internet connection speed).

6 - 12 October 2015

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