Blogs from Pakistan, Asia


We arrived in Astore, a Himalayan village perched on the mountainside, to find access to our guesthouse blocked by a polo match. It was on the edge of the field, on the other side. We were stoked, polo is the best audience participation sport there is and we’ve only seen a game once before in India. There were some female spectators but generally they were behind the caged section or on nearby rooftops. None were on the edge of the field like us and of course as the only foreigners we were a spectacle in our own right. As we walked the length of the pitch behind the spectators every single head turned to look at us. Even the local media guy wanted to interview us (we declined). We loved being close to the action and ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Skardu August 6th 2018

The Deosai Plains are a National Park established to protect the Himalayan Brown Bear. The second highest plateau in the world, it is only open in the summer, linking Skardu and Astore for a few months a year via a rough 4WD track. Covering 3000 sq kmit is vast and is carefully managed by Park Rangers with the help of a park fee of US$8. Aside from the Himalayan Brown Bear there are also snow leopards, with programmes in place to protect both. The Park sits at 3500m to 4500m high. It is surrounded by the Karakoram, Ladakh, Zansker and Himalayan mountain ranges. Given its geography it was a surprise to see how lush and green the landscape is and, dotted by 340 different plant species, in places it is quite colourful with flowers. Everyone knows ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Northern Areas » Skardu August 5th 2018

Our 4WD driver had come to Gilgit late on the evening we arrived. We were heading straight out the next day on a 4 day loop; out to Skardu day 1, spend day 2 there, then take 2 days to come back via the Deosai National Park with an overnight stay in Astore, a Himalayan mountain village. The road to Skardu is bad; rough and unsealed, and there’s currently a lot of construction happening to improve it, making it even slower. It took us 9 hours with maybe a half hour lunch stop to travel 168km (that’s an average speed of 19kmh…). Our driver was generally cautious but he could have gone a bit quicker, our Prado is quite old, it has no A/C, sounds rough, makes some funny noises over bumps and before the end ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Khyber Pakhtunkhwa » Naran August 2nd 2018

Marie’s stomach has been increasingly complaining for a few days now. It finally gave in and she was up and down all night like a cat on a hot tin roof, with it getting steadily worse until it reached an explosive crescendo about an hour before we were due to depart Islamabad on a 7-8hr journey. The food has been amazing, we think it’s just a combination of food she’s not used to and heat. Regardless, it was less than ideal. She decided food was going to be a no go until the overnight stop and positively sulked when her delicious breakfast omelette arrived and she couldn’t risk eating it. Tabish was going to be guiding the Dutch guys on their trek so was travelling up with us. He met us at 8am and took us ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Islamabad August 1st 2018

Just before we left NZ the people we’d organised our border pick up and trip to Islamabad with had contacted us to say they had 2 Dutch guys taking a car with driver on a 2 day journey up to Gilgit (the main city on the Karakoram Highway in the mountains) and did we want to share the cost. We’d been talking to them about hiring a 4WD and driver for a side trip from Gilgit so they knew on our rough thinking on dates were close to aligning. It’s a long journey up, even broken into 2 and the heat was going to make it tougher, so we accepted. The original plan was to depart the day after we got to Islamabad but the Dutch guys needed to delay a day and while keen to ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Lahore July 30th 2018

Every evening since 1959 (except for a brief period when they were at war) India and Pakistan have undertaken a nightly border closing ceremony at the Wagah crossing. It has become infamous for being a strange spectacle of overt nationalism, and involving very tall men from the Border Security Force on the Indian side and the Pakistan Rangers on the other, doing some serious goose stepping. It was wickedly hot as we left the hotel and negotiated with an auto-rickshaw driver to take us on the 50 minutes journey. When we arrived at 3:30pm the queues were massive. Everything we’d read said there are thousands that attend on the India side but only hundreds on the Pakistani side. We’d gone on a Sunday, and this definitely wasn’t the case. We joined the women’s queue and made ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Punjab » Gujranwala July 30th 2018

Monday morning meant shops were open. Before moving on from Lahore we wanted to clear a couple of practicalities. Firstly we’d discovered that we need exact change for lots of things – auto-rickshaws, small shops, even the hotel didn’t have change for our big notes. There was a bank on the corner of our street so at 9am Emma took some big notes and got lots of change. The second was asking our driver to Islamabad to take us to get a SIM card. It took him a bit of asking around to find a franchise that could sell us one and when he did for some reason he had to give his details in what looked on the paper like some kind of sponsor. But we didn’t care about the hows or whys, we’d got ... read more
Shared daal lunch
Rohtas Fort
Our 'tour guide'

Asia » Pakistan » Lahore July 29th 2018

Lahore is the capital of Punjab state. Home to 11m people it’s Pakistan’s second largest city and its cultural hub. It's a vibrant place full of chaos and contrast, with squalor and splendour, wide green boulevards and chaotic small streets. The locals have a saying “If you haven’t seen Lahore you haven’t been born yet.” Legend has it that Prince Loh, son of the Hindu Lord Rama set up camp on the banks of the River Ravi and gave his name to the settlement. Historians estimate Lahore dates back at least 4,000 years. The Mughals made it an important city, but much of its beautiful architecture came at the end of the Mughal period. Since independence, Lahore has seen communal disturbances and has suffered a spate of bombings, the most recent being in February 2017, but ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Lahore July 28th 2018

Border crossing days aka clean top days (it always helps to look half presentable when asking to enter a country) are always a mix of excitement and nerves about the unknown. We love crossing borders, nothing beats walking into a new country with the locals. Despite having a lot in common, India and Pakistan’s relations have been difficult since partition. When the two divided they did so along religious lines; Hindus went to India and Muslims to Pakistan. It was one of the largest human migrations ever seen, and sparked riots and violence across the region. This was followed by the Kashmir conflict and numerous other military conflicts fought between the two. They still regularly take pot shots at each other over the border. Overall their relationship has been plagued by hostility and suspicion. Since their ... read more

Asia » Pakistan » Sindh September 9th 2017

I was waiting for a long weekend, so I could travel somewhere. Allah SWT listened my dua and we got holiday of independence, from 12 – 14 august. After discussing with my family, we decided to visit Tharparkar. Tharparkar District is one of the twenty nine districts of Sindh province in Pakistan. It is headquartered at Mithi. It has the lowest Human Development Index of all the districts in Sindh. The thar district derives its name from thar & parker. Thar comes from thal which is a general term for the religions sand ridges and the word parker literally means to cross over.On 12th august at 7am we packed our bags and left to travel. I decided to ... read more

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