Blogs from Islamabad, Pakistan, Asia

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Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad September 21st 2014

Leaving Deosai high plane, I had been advised not to travel through Chilas at night - risk of banditory. Kind hard when bridge 50km from Chilas was closed for emergency repairs till 9pm, but helpfully was reunited with Dmitry also waiting in quew, the mood was good, watched locals lift 6m 9" girders by hand was inspiring. From Chilas we wanted to go directly south over the Balakot pass 4200m, but this road not open to foreigners. So followed KKH to east though Besham & Abbottobad was the only alternative, we had on/off police escort to Abbottobad, a hot spot for terrosum in area, would seam the police escorts were often used for on this tourist route, was hyper efficient at times with escort changing on move every 30km, but also occasionally a 90min wait too. ... read more
A security check point
Security escort change over.
can U see the goat?

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad June 7th 2014

I follow Paul Theroux's advice in the Tao of Travel: always bring a book along that is completely unrelated to where you are going. For me, reading such a book becomes a vacation from the vacation. Accordingly, I am accompanied on this trip by Ian Mortimer's The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England. But this choice turns out not to be so unrelated. The parallels between traveling through 16th Century England and traveling through 21st Century Pakistan are striking. Both places are frustrating—important institutions like the courts and government don't work, people are trapped by class and religion, donkeys pull carts down busy highways, and living in the Marriott is just like living in a medieval castle. Yes, inside finely costumed women are being photographed in front of the h... read more
Big Brother
cool sign
The Tiger of Punjab

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad May 29th 2013

On the flight to D.C. my fellow passengers were Memorial Day vacationers wearing T-shirts and baseball caps. I felt like an international man of mystery, passing through their lives, a dark ship en route to an impossibly distant port. The situation was reversed on the flight to Dubai. Now my fellow travelers were beefy guys with heavy watches and camo hats. They had American flag patches on their arms and were headed to Kandahar to take up positions as "security consultants." I made the mistake of watching Zero Dark Thirty for my in-flight movie. It depicts the 2008 bombing of the Islamabad Marriott, my home for the next week or so. The power went out while I was standing in the dismal arrival hall at Islamabad airport, waiting to get my passport stamped. The ... read more
Faisal Mosque
Banquet
Big Important Conference I

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad August 25th 2012

After nearly a week in Islamabad, it's only fair to write an update of how things are going... I had an absolutely gorgeous bedroom in Saher's place- in fact, it was her room! Only in Pakistan are the people so hospitable that the bride will give up her boudoir so that you can sleep easy. I felt really bad one night when I noticed her father (the man responsible for organising most of the wedding) sleeping on the marble floor in the corridor. I had repeatedly asked 'Are you sure it's okay for me to have this room all to myself? I can share it! I honestly don't mind at all!' Ahem, be careful what you wish for. On one of the nights I was unexpectedly bombarded by three loud young ladies from downtown Islamabad. They ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad August 22nd 2012

After a flight that was worse still than the one from Milan to Dubai (this time the vegetarian option was 'bread and butter only love' and there was a terrorist scare as soon as we boarded) I was surprised, overwhelmed and delighted in equal measure that I had a kind welcome as soon as I stepped off the plane. It made the kid who'd been lobbing bits of chewed up bread roll and snotty tissue at me throughout the flight seem but a distant memory... Saher (Raza's wife to be)'s father is a high-ranking officer in the Pakistani Army and so he was allowed direct access to the plane. He was a warm, smiling chap who greeted me with a bear hug as I left the aircraft (I didn't think that was the done thing). A ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad January 18th 2010

Okay, Pakistan in good for one's ego. That's 100% clear. We're now exactly one week in Pakistan and all is going well and our egos had a significant boost, but more about that later on. The main reason of being in Paki is visiting a good, old friend on mine (who probably doesn't want to be called 'old', or do you, Renate?). We had a perfect flight from Kathmandu to ISB, with only one weird thing: the whole plane is basically full, but only 3 female passengers: 1 western lady in Business class and 2 in Economy, one of which being Agi and the other one is a local lady. Despite my initial expectation, we were shown a lovely local movie, which was actually in english: "Wolverine, origines", a typical US Hollywood blockbuster movie. Hmmmm, no ... read more
Faisal Mosque
Quick view from a small village
Paki pop stars

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad November 5th 2009

Hello TB, I've joined, finally. Going through the planning phase for my 2009 vacation - 'Middle east journey'. This trip would be road travel from Islamabad via Taftan into Iran vising Shiraz, Yazd, Esfahan, Tehran - taking the Trans-Asia Express to Istanbul and back to Tehran via Ankara, then Gorgan, Mashad and back into Pakistan via Taftan. I'm uber-excited about this. Lets hope it all plans well and I can provide my travel-ramble as I go. Wish me luck. Zaki... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad April 13th 2009

Adventures on the Road to Murree from Islamabad! So, the steep, narrow, curvy, and perilous mountain road leading up from Islamabad to the cool mountain-top town of Murree is, well, steep, narrow, and perilous. The road to Murree is also filled with large commercial trucks that are rolling folk art, wonderfully painted, and dazzlingly decorated. They are also often old and tired. Metal chains dangle and clang as the trucks struggle and strain to go up hills. If you are behind one of them, the people in your rear-view window become increasingly agitated if you don't pass them. There were some other factors to consider as well: (1) a steering wheel on the right hand side, (2) a stick shift in your left hand, and most importantly, (3) oncoming traffic, which means on the right hand ... read more
Pakistani Painted Truck
Pakistani Army Truck
Scene of the Wreck

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad November 18th 2008

In relaying our experiences of Pakistan, certain aspects of daily life got overlooked, simply because they became so commonplace. Power cuts became increasingly frequent, and by the time we reached Lahore 'load shedding' was every other hour, on the hour, across the country. Whilst this was an inconvenience for us, for residents and businesses it must have been a nightmare. Thankfully, at the time of writing, normal service has been resumed. There were also the incidents that we heard about and read about in the paper of the barbaric justice meted out to those having sexual relationships outside of marriage. 'Honour killings' are frequent - one truly horrific incident that made international news was where a young woman was forcibly aborted, and fed alive to dogs; and another case in Balochistan of a man being tried ... read more
bright trucks
nan bakers
Polo ground Lahore

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad November 7th 2008

Letter from Islamabad 02/11/2008 End of the first week and are now half way through our training. Have attended Urdu lessons for two hours every morning and know more about my own language construction than I was teached in school in England. Our teacher has given us both the basic structure and the history of his language. We have learned some basic sayings parrot fashion but has encouraged us to develop our own phrases based on the structure S O V (subject object verb). Have learned a lot about Islam and cultural matters through a range of workshops and discussion sessions. Islamabad is a strange city built on a grid system with a market area in the centre, housing is arranged around the edge. We are currently staying in street 32 F11/2 house 334. There are ... read more
Taxila
National Monument
Street food




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