Slowly, Slowly (What's Urdu for that?)...Lahore, Pakistan

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July 30th 2019
Published: September 30th 2019
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Back pack feels pretty stuffed full. No tent this year.
Days 1, 2

Perth to Lahore via Bangkok.

Cost- AUD $652

Uneventful flights, 18 hours door to door. Note to Thai Airways- when did you get rid of your air vents? We could possibly have deflected the trillion airborne virus the guy sitting next to us for 4 hours coughing and spraying was creating.

Arrival proceedings in Lahore were surprisingly efficient. Separate queue for females- bonus! Very, very short queue. Straightforward, a couple of questions and stamp, stamp of my 30 day visa (arrrgggghh- still annoyed about that!! -see trip description for details). Luggage carousel was orderly too- after last year's arrival into Dushanbe I was expecting much of the same mess but this was really efficient. Finally, at 02:00 we're in the steamy air of Lahore, 02:40 arrive at a barbed wire compound- the security guys let us through the gates to the hotel.

I had pre-booked 3 nights at Faletti's Hotel. No recent reviews of the hotel but it looked small and interesting v massive Americanised homogenised alternatives. The website is clunky, the links to addresses never got a response but it was interesting to have a look at. We booked directly via
Faletti's HotelFaletti's HotelFaletti's Hotel

Old style elegance. Ava Gardiner once stayed there. Lots of pics on the walls of celebrities. Very large attached function rooms with lots of wedding parties. We felt incredibly underdressed every time we went near the lobby.
Facebook messenger with the reservation manager- Rizwan Butt. He matched rates and also threw in a free airport pickup and breakfasts. It also gave us a good point of contact.

Cost- 11 000 Rupee (PKR)/night plus 16%!t(MISSING)ax- total was 40 020 PKR (AUD $122/n), we paid with credit card and they were happy to split the payment for us.

Faletti's lived up to expectations- charming, historic, spacious (as in massive- 2 sitting areas, beds and huge bathroom) room. A real genteel, slightly faded 1880 place, great intro. Bonus was an onsite bakery! Despite not getting to bed until 04:00, we did present at a decent hour for breakfast. Very good breakfast with lots of western and Pakistani options, bonus points for good coffee. Staff all very pleasant but you had to find them first. The first few attempts at ordering tea and coffee were pretty amusing but we got there in the end.

My first important Lahore mission was to apply for my visa extension- Rizz Butt showed me to the "business centre" (small room with desktop and photocopier) where I logged in yet again to the Pakistan online visa portal, USD $25
Faletti's HotelFaletti's HotelFaletti's Hotel

Standard Twin
later and a very laborious re-submission of most of the previously submitted docs I pressed send, fingers firmly crossed. That done, steeled with breakfast on board and a keenness to get out and about we embarked on the second important Lahore mission- procure cash. The resulting trip to the bank was eventful with a card eating machine (Mary's card), card rescue, a dropped debit card (mine) and being rescued by a law intern who dropped everything to give us a hand. Glad to say we did end up with some cash- me from the foreign currency counter at the bank (**Exchange rate AUD $1 = PKR 108), and Mary from another machine, ready to hit up the bakery for late lunch (the best curry puffs I've ever had, if you were wondering)! We took an auto rickshaw and a number of Uber’s around- the primary mode of transport here! The city is incredibly chaotic, broken, dusty... Nepalesque. It was also really, really hot. We pretty much flagged it after the money acquisition mission.

Back at the hotel (wifi zone) I got my first response from the visa office- more info required! Sent more info. Fingers crossed...

Arranged a
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony

Waiting for the ceremony, corn seller on the roadside. We waited in a queue of cars for about an hour before the gates opened up- this guy was busy
car through the hotel (5000 PKR- AUD $46) for the afternoon (about 6hrs or so) to take us to the Wagah border about 29 km from central Lahore (this particular India/Pakistan border established in 1947) for the daily closing ceremony- superb thing to do, it is free of charge and held every afternoon- so picturesque with the ladies in their colourful salwar kameez, the men predominantly locally dressed and the patriotic songs and high stepping officers from both the Indian and Pakistani guards. We were 2 of a small handful of Westerners on the Pakistani side. It was pretty energising seeing and hearing and being immersed in the patriotism of the ceremony. Lots of flag waving. Me included. We were also introduced to the song "Zindabad Pakistan" (very catchy!! and now on my Spotify playlist, the youtube clip is full on but you get the song).

As the sun got lower in the sky and started to sink below the stadium seats behind us the temperature cooled and the light changed, it was fantastic. The journey was good too, close to the city are extensive farm lands, rice fields, irrigation channels and lots of livestock-water buffalo, Brahman
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony

Cooking the corn in hot sand
cows, goats and big bottomed sheep (very big bottomed!). It was nice to be out of the city and on the road. Felt very energised!

Of note- A thing here is the selfie/ it's actually a selfie plus tourist. We are possibly in a few thousand strangers phones right now. At the border we couldn’t walk 2 metres without being accosted. The people are friendly- VERY friendly, and more much more photogenic than us. It was all in good fun and the requests for a selfie would follow us for the entire duration of the trip.

Back at the hotel I got my second response from the visa office- more info required! Sent more info. Not bothering with the fingers crossed business. Commiserated with a very excellent chicken curry and salad courtesy of Faletti's room service menu.

BTW- Faletti's shower is amazing.

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

On the walk up to the entrance this massive flag greets you
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

Looking into the Indian side before it filled up, quite an opulent stadium compared to the more stark Pakistani side
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

We were in the family section- this little kid spent most of the ceremony staring at us and pulling faces- so funny
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

Pakistani Rangers assembling before the start- very tall, ferocious looking
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

Pakistani stadium, more basic in comparison to the Indian side but no less enthusiastic, mens section
Wagah Border CeremonyWagah Border Ceremony
Wagah Border Ceremony

The guy in the foreground was in charge of revving the crowd up
Post Closure SelfiePost Closure Selfie
Post Closure Selfie

The guards were very happy and available after the ceremony to be in photos

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