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Published: August 1st 2010
The tomb of the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Karachi
An early leave is required and we were due to take the bus at 5am. At 4:56am I decide to Wake up and blind panic takes hold!! I rush to get my bits n bobs together and make it to the hotel lobby just in time (well, 5mins late to be precise). Good job I’d packed the night before!! Karachi
We get through the airport without delay and fly onto Karachi. Apon arrival we are met by our guide Amjad, who greets us enthusiastically and welcomes us to his country. Despite the concerns from family and friends and from what we’ve read or heard in the media regarding terrorism and bombs etc etc Amjad immediately puts us at ease and tells us that the people of Pakistan are welcoming and very hospitable. Lets hope so, eh?!!
Leaving the airport the difference between these neighbouring countries is immediately apparent. The heat hits us like an oven and the colours, particularly on the trucks, and on the tuk tuks, is mesmerising and you can feel the atmosphere is vastly different from that of Iran. The driving is manic as seems d’rigeur in Asian countries. Yep, it feels as though you
Changing of the guard with the
are free…..and we can get beer!!!
Amjad is smiling at our wondering faces and begins to tell us a little of the history of Pakistan. This guy is so enthusiastic about his country and its really wonderful to see (and hear). For me Karachi is an energetic, vibrant bustling city full of noise and colour. Everyone seems to be on a mission.
That evening Amjad suggests a trip to the beach, which is greeted with much delight. That is until we get there and the stench is amazing! They pump raw sewage directly into the sea, and it smells that way too. The beach is black (I daren’t ask why) and there are camel rides, horse rides, men with dancing monkeys and the usual begging kids. I had to look away from the animals as they seem in such poor condition that it upsets. Then the tanker pulls up on the beach and we are shown just how they dispose of the sewage. It is disgusting. I don’t think they’ll be up for any ‘clean beach’ awards for a while yet!
Despite all this filth we are gifted an amazing sunset. Hyderabad
We travel onwards though to
Hyderabad and after a long bus journey and stay in our hotel, The Crown Inn. Whilst not the nicest place we’ve stayed this place is comfortable and clean, very much worth the money. Through the stifling desert heat we drive on to the Makli Hill necropolis where we walk on the grounds containing the remains of thousands of people. This huge area, (approx. 5 miles across) has about 500 years worth of crumbling mausoleums where you can see the children begging on the graves of the recently deceased. Sukkur
Through to Sukkur we go and we head to the famous Indus civilization's Site of Moen Jo Daro, an ancient Buddhist city. We drive through villages on the way which offer a window to the life style in rural Sindh. We then visit the archeological sites of the SD area which was the administrative area of this very well planned city of past (5000 years ago), which was excavated in 1922. Here we see the great bath where the ritual baths were taken, state granary where taxes were collected and grain was stored in granery for use later. A huge exhibition hall of the past and also an oval shaped
Clifton Beach, Karachi
Sunset at Clifton Beach, Karachi
well. Whilst here we were greeted by a group of school children, and their teachers, who seem more interested in this group of tourists than what must be their history lesson. We are bombarded with questions and requests for autographs!! Yep, they wanted our autographs and photos of us with them so they can boast to their friends. One lad tells me he was turned down a place in a school in London and that his father is a local businessman. Their English is superb and they’re happy to see us. Eventually we get away from them, their teachers dragging them away. But it was fun and they all wave goodbye and wish us a great journey. Lahore
Enroute to Lahore we stop and stay in a place called Multan. The journey takes us from the Singh area into a predominantly punjabi area, where the transformation is quite noticeable. Mothers begging and pushing their children in front of lorries to stop or slow them down so they can beg for money. We’re offered further armed assistance as we pass through the local towns, all bustling with activity at their open air markets, flies buzzing around and eating from the
Makli Hill Necropolis
In teh grounds of the mosque at Makli Hill necropolis, Pakistan.
fresh fish/meat at the stalls. To be honest, I’m not sure what these guards are capable of. I don’t think they could protect themselves, let alone us. To me they resemble Dad’s Army only with larger, deadly weapons. The new guards we have are part of the Punjab Elite Police Dept, so it says on the front of their shirts, with ‘No Fear’ emblazoned across the back!! I want one of those…..but the big hairy f**ker isn’t particularly friendly. Shame really.
When we reach Lahore we’re driven to our hotel, which again is pleasant. Time to do a bit of laundry, catch up on emails and relax a little. Some of us head to the local shops but again, we have to be accompanied by the guards. They’re becoming a bit of a pain in the ass, but obviously its better we have them than not. Again, the locals are inquisitive and friendly and very very helpful. We shop for about an hour then head back to the hotel til its time to eat. At which point Anne, Ray & I decide that we want to go out to eat, somewhere local. The hotel Manager recommends his friends place
Makli Hill Necropolis
Woman begging in the grounds of one of the mosques. Pakistan.
and drives us to it. A wonderful local restaurant where the food is prepared in front of the paying guests….and it was great! But I can’t remember the name of the place, but will endeavour to find out for you. A wonderful evening in good company and great food.
The next day we head to the village of Wagah, the only road border crossing between India & Pakistan which lies on the grand trunk road between the cities of Lahore, Pakistan and Amritsar, India. At the Wagah border each evening there is a retreat ceremony called the lowering of the flag. We attended this ceremony to witness this event, which was spectacular. The BSF (Border Security Force) of India and the Pakistan Rangers put on a show, dressed in their uniforms and fabulously coloured turbans. It seems rather aggressive and the crowds, which on this occasion the Indian side far outnumbering the Pakistani side, are invited to join in the chanting. The announcer over the loud speaker leading the chants, seemingly trying to ‘out sing’ his opposite number. ‘Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan
’ we all shout.
Sadly I didn’t have a video camera to hand but there is a clip
of this ceremony on UTube when Michael Palin visited. Take a look here >
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