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Shazza's Escapades Light hearted look at my travel escapades

Pakistan

PAKISTAN | Saturday, 30 August 2008 | Views [984] | Comments [1]

I spent my second half of the summer travelling around Pakistan. This time not with a group but just me on my own and a guide. There are definitely lots of positives about not being with a group tour. I can chop and change the itinerary as I want it. I can stay longer or leave earlier in the places I’m visiting and I don’t have to share a room with people that want to get naked all the time or be with people I don’t really like. There were some negatives too. A hell of a lot more expensive and you can’t hide from a boring guide. He was so dull; I was desperate for company, I was desperate for a laugh.

The first two days were fine as I lived with a local family in the old city of Lahore. Very basic living conditions. I had the kid’s room, mattress on the floor, dodgy ceiling fan and a hole in the ground for toilet and a bucket under a tap to wash with. I really didn’t mind this, basic but clean and the fact I was living with a family was a huge bonus. The mum was a great cook so that was no problem. They had three lovely quiet kids who had to sleep on their parent’s floor for the 2 nights I stayed with them. I felt bad about that. I had fantastic views of the old city from the rooftop where they spent most of the evenings to keep cool. I had a view of the tiny narrow walkways between the houses. Under my window was a great big bullock and poop everywhere. It was definitely fresh in the mornings. The only downside is the power cuts they had nearly 6-7 times every 24 hours. The place itself was practically a sauna and the fan just about kept me cool but as soon as there was a power cut I was sweating my arse off. The power cuts were at the most ridiculous times. They only had 1 during the afternoons and 3 in the evenings between 6pm and midnight lasting an hour each time and then 2 more at 3am and 6 am. So I had no sleep both nights I was there.

During my stay with the family I met other families in the old city, neighbours and in laws. There were many ladies around mid 20ish that stayed at home all day. They had finished their education and they didn’t work because their fathers or older brothers paid their keep and didn’t want them to mix with men. So basically they watched TV all day, eat and go shopping occasionally with the family. This happened until they got married. I found this very strange, grown women who seemed to be educated doing sod all for years until they get married off. So you get a bunch of ladies hanging about the house gossiping and dreaming of their next shopping trip. Now that is a huge event. I innocently said I want to go shopping and would the ladies like to join me. Oh my days, what a huge hassle that was. I waited nearly 2 hours for them to get ready. Seeing as that was the highlight of their month the ladies went all out to dress up. They were bleaching theirs arms and face, having baths, putting on make up and wearing the nicest sexiest clothes (why bother when they cover themselves up as soon as they step outside). I looked a complete tramp next to them. After all that I only spent 30 minutes in the bazaar.

Another strange thing these ladies did was during the 10pm power cut. As I said when there is a power cut at night the family I stayed with would head for the roof to keep cool. This was a practice done by most families and the ladies who lived next door were no different. But what they do is very strange indeed. As they are not allowed out, they don’t get much exercise. So the ladies spend the hour during the power cut walking up and down the length of their roof because it’s dark and they can’t be seen by men. As there are many ladies around the old city, at 10pm you can go up on the roof and see all the other rooftops with loads of ladies doing their walking exercises. Going up and down, a very strange scene that lasts exactly an hour, they bring water bottles and everything. In fact they asked me to join them. I did a couple of lengths then got bored.

After Lahore I travelled to Islamabad and then north to Gilgit and Hunza Valley using the Karakoram highway. This part of the country is very picturesque and much cooler. Lots of mountains and glaciers. I also managed to do a 3 hour trek to fairy meadows for a spectacular view of the 3rd highest mountain in the world Nanga Parbat aka killer mountain. Killer mountain was definitely right as it nearly killed me doing the walk. It must have been at quite a high altitude because I was so slow and got tired very quickly either that or I’m getting too old.

I was rather disappointed with my lack of interaction with the locals outside of Lahore. The people seemed more wary of me and I felt a bit uncomfortable getting my camera out. This is not normally a problem for me as I get away with quite a lot just by smiling and chatting to the person I want to photograph. But here I definitely felt uncomfortable and didn’t have the nerve to go up to some of the locals and chat to them like I normally do. They just seemed very unfriendly which was not the case in Afghanistan.

 

Comments

1

Hi Sharon, I have just been reading your story on journey in Pakistan. Wow, you got to see the third highest mountain and went to throufh Gilgit. I managed to get pass through Gilgit but could not go to see the mountains because of heavy snow. We then drove through Muzzafarbad and to Murrey. The scenary is spectular and great. People there are sensitive about taking pictures there.I did not travel to Lahore because it was not recommended by people who I was with in Islamabad. Very interesting story from that part of world !
How countries and cities have you visited?
Nav - fellow globe trotter

  Nav Kukaida Dec 21, 2009 9:16 AM

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