Expedition to Pakistan 2006
All travel reports are translated electronically although minor improvements are sometimes made.
Pakistan 2006 – travel report
My trip: Wagah-Lahore-Islamabad-Rawalpindi-Peshawar-Khyber Pass (my sensational experience on the way to Afghanistan) -Taxila-Lahore.
Wagah – Indian-Pakistani border
My trip to Pakistan started in a very funny way because I crossed the border in Wagah where there is a border closure and a military parade which is the most theatrical and comical show that I have seen so far.There were two stands built-one on the Indian side and the other on the Pakistan side. The soldiers marched, lifting their feet to the height of their faces and knocking them like ballerinas. They were very comical and very sweaty.
There were moments when they accelerated, then slowed down, raised their legs as high as possible and ran again. The audience was in the seventh heaven, the more the master of ceremonies on both sides controlled the reactions of the people. He was a man dressed up as a Pakistani flag, leaning back, then roared and banged like an Indian and then shouted “Pakistan” and on the other hand someone shouted “Hindustan”. The audience roared at the throats, and the soldiers marched, twisted, made faces, and raised their feet. The fun was front. Flags were everywhere and it was very loud, and the foreign guests – now even from Poland – came to the close of the border and the parade. At the end of the ceremony, the flag was taken but was done at the same time so that neither the Indian nor the Pakistani flag was lower. Last but not least the last “Pakistan” and “Hindustan” and that was the end of this ridiculous ceremony, although for them it was very serious. Just before the show, one of the soldiers approached me and first ordered to change Monica, because in Pakistan women sit separately and then say that as a guest in his country I am very welcome that I am safe and that Pakistani people are very fond of foreigners. He also said that I absolutely have nothing to worry about because the Pakistani citizens will take care of me accordingly. I just hoped that in a good way.
After a few minutes we started to go to Pakistan where along the way accompanied us with goats and a strong smell of onion, because large quantities are here imported from India.
I classify this border as ridiculous. (In my reports of other countries I also wrote about difficult, relaxed and blood-chilling borders.)
Road to Lahore
We got to the bus and drove to Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, which was only 30km from the border. Of course, first on the bus Monika was asked to go behind the iron gate with bars, because it was a place for women, and then we started to go. While driving people were interested me but also very nice.They asked standard questions; What is my name and where do I come from, but also what do I think about America and are India crazy? Many people also invited me home for tea, for dinner or to have them with me at all. Monika was discussing with women on family issues. The women asked Monica how many children she had and were very surprised she did not have one. They also wanted to see my picture and also invited us home. I think we both enjoyed the conversation, as the views outside the window were horrible. Upon leaving the bus, at the very moment when we started looking for a rickshaw, a Pakistani man named Ahmed came to us, who helped us bargain and safely sent to the hotel. He was very kind, gave us his phone number and insisted that he wanted to show us the city and that he wanted to invite us home for dinner to get to know his family. He said that foreign guests like him very much and can give us references because he has entries, addresses and photos from people from all over Europe. It was strange but I did not have time to think about it. Everything was going very fast, and when the rider was leaving Ahmed once again asked us to visit him, and that he really has references from foreigners because the people from Europe already had a visit with him.
Neighborhood of “dreams”
Considering that the hotels at the train station were very popular due to police raids, drug outages and guns, we drove to the city center where it was nice and quiet. We arrived late in the evening although there was a great traffic in the shops and it was loud. We got to the Anarkali district, which is a famous shopping district. This is the best place in Lahore for buying jewelery, shoes, materials or traditional men’s clothing, or pants with a long shirt for the knee. We stayed at the hotel on New Anarkali Street where the room looked like a small prison cell with a mushroom on the walls only without bars. Fortunately there was hot water, picked up from the bucket of course. We had a good time, bathed and after a day of hard driving we went to eat chicken barbecue (environment obviously did not like Monica). The whole street greeted us and one seller gave us a delicious milk soup. He warned me not to go to the city of Peshawar just outside Afghanistan because he had recently killed a tourist there, but I’m used to being wherever I am not going to be scared.
Lahore – first day of sightseeing and first impressions
(In this chapter: Fort Shahi Qila, Mosk Badshahi, Mosk Vazir Khana, Lahore Tower and conversation with priests about my burning in hell)
The next day we got up early in the morning to eat our first Pakistani breakfast and then start exploring. I noticed that the food here is much better than in India. In Lahore, you can always enjoy the egg with chapati and tea and chicken for dinner, while in India there are many vegetables that are prepared in many ways. Going back to sightseeing, Lahore is the former center of the Mughal Empire and is why there is a wealth of monuments from that period. Many of them are within reach of the Old Town, which, as it turned out, is a very good place to simply get lost in the bazaar crowd of shoppers. Undoubtedly, the biggest attractions of Lahore are Shahi Qila which is a famous fort and facing the fort-Mosk Badshahi, one of the largest in the world.
That day I took a chance and called our friend Ahmed to tell him that we are going to watch the fort and mosk and not be embarrassed because we can handle ourselves. For him, however, it was not a problem and he said he would meet us on the spot. Having reached the old town and the area between the fort and the mosque we first talked to the guides who wanted to guide us for a fee but refused because we waited for Ahmed. In Pakistan, as in other sub-continent countries, the “white man’s price” applies, meaning that we have to pay 25 times as much as the Pakistani ones.
Ahmed first started to walk us around the great Shahi Qila fort, which was built in the 16th century. This fort was built, then stormed and so several times and is the main attraction of the Old Town. It is massive and tall, with its characteristic, huge Alamgiri gate in its west. In the middle of it were many palaces, mosques and guest rooms and other buildings dating back hundreds of years. Some of them were in good condition but unfortunately most of the time was the burden of time. Our colleague took pictures and talked about this place while we strolled through the ruins and watched the panorama of the city. In the fort I saw girls playing badminton and wanted to see what would happen if I wanted to play with them. First of all, as I could suppose, they were very frisky and sought approval in men. When I started playing with one of them, after a very short time the rocket was picked up by her man and the women were pushed away. This was a very good experience for me. In addition, being in the ford, we were hooked by a group of young people to make a photo shoot (which happens very often here) and after all one of them stood in a very open position and asked: “look at us, do we look like terrorists? After all, we are normal people and your governments treat us as terrorists. “ Everyone was very interested in how we like Pakistan and whether we feel good in their country. Ahmed said that what they say about them abroad is untrue and I will still find out how good this is. I saw that these people really wanted us to take Pakistan and its people as a friendly country. At that time I have not seen one white man for a few days, so our presence was an experience for them. I said everything was fine so far, but he insisted that I had to come to him and find out about Pakistani hospitality.Ahmed also cautioned that no one approached us very closely and that we felt free. He talked about all the places we visited and thanks to him we learned a lot and saw him. Fort Shahi Qila was indeed worth spending a couple of hours here. It is a beautiful building and beautiful are the views of the most attractive part of town.
Then we went to Badshahi mosque standing against the main gate of the fort, which is one of the largest in Asia and one of the most beautiful. I looked very much like Jama Masjid from Delhi but this was even bigger. It was completed in 1674, had four minarets and was built of red sandstone. It allegedly houses as many as 100,000 followers and, like the Shahi Qila fort, was destroyed and rebuilt by the British. This mosque had a very large square and huge domes and in contrast to the mosque of Delhi, here I was able to photograph at will. Right after the entrance many people wanted to take pictures with us and we were a big attraction of the crowd. Ahmed was also very proud to be able to show us, as in India there are social classes and having a white friend; (in my opinion and other travelers) is raising this class. Everywhere we have been, we were sensational but here it is more felt because there are very few tourists in Pakistan. This is because there is still a specter of terrorism over Pakistan and people are just afraid to come here. When crossing the border, Monika met Chinka, who said she was traveling alone in Pakistan with a guided tour and her own car. But I think that’s an exaggeration and I’m not going to do it. Coming back to mosque, it was really nice and encountered people often wanted to shake my hand, introduce themselves and greet.Many also greeted me in Pakistan and wished a nice trip. Both the building itself and the atmosphere of this place were unique. Here one could experience the great cultural difference of this country. Going further, I went inside where the Muslims prayed in great silence. Of course I had to take off my shoes for the rest of the cultural differences I asked Ahmed. Being in mosque Bashahi I also saw the tomb of the famous 30-year-old poet Allam Mohammed Iqbal, who first promoted free Pakistan.
Then we went under the Minare tower, which was visible from under the many pillars of the Bashahi mosque. Minare Tower stood in the middle of the city in Iqbal Park and served as a meeting and picnic spot and as a place for cricket. The tower itself was not only pretty but because of the fact that in 1947, before the division of the subcontinent, it was here that people assembled and manifested themselves for the creation of Pakistan. This tower is a memorial of this event. Minar-i-Pakistan is 60m high and the construction was completed in 1960.
Walking slowly, we walked towards the exit where quite often people looked at us and bowed. When we walked into the street we saw that Lahore was a very polluted and very busy town. It was not possible to go through the street normally, so we had to enforce the priority, although it always has a rickshaw. We only bought bananas and started moving towards the vehicles. There, one of the passers-by introduced us and blessed us, touching our heads in the name of Allah, so that we could arrive happily. This was another unusual event that I would always associate with this culturally different country. Ricks are also a bit different here than in India. Here the passenger seats are higher and sometimes there are back seats (instead of the trunk) so that we can observe the unpleasant and poisoned street smoke. This time our goal was another beautiful mosk, because Ahmed wanted us to introduce priests to tell us some interesting things about Islam. Moskva Wazira Khan was a little different from the previous one, but also had a specific mood. There were many praying Muslims, the speakers were reading the Koran verses and Ahmed led us to meet his priests. When we took the shoes off, Ahmed asked us to speak with us. The priests were very nice and open. First they greeted us and it was clear that it was important for them that someone wanted to visit Pakistan and learn about their country. The priests told me about the customs in Pakistan as an Islamic country, but the questions were the most interesting. I asked what was happening (in their opinion) to people after death, who were good to others but were not Muslims or did not believe in god. They said that all those who have foreign gods before Allah will burn in hell no matter whether they are good or not.So I asked whether John Paul II, Mother Teresa of Calcutta or the Dalai Lama would also burn in hell despite how they spent their lives. The priests said that it still did not matter because they were not Muslims and had false gods (other than Allah) – so no matter what kind of people they were, they would burn in hell. They also explained that women in Islam must be covered and that premarital relationships are unacceptable. These were very strong, determined words, but the priests were very nice all the time.At last one of them put on a prayer shawl and took a picture together. We shook hands but Monika did not because she was a woman and we started going out of the mosque because the time of prayers was coming again.
When we picked up our shoes, Monika felt bad because we went back to the Old Town. This is not the place we imagine from Warsaw or Krakow. The Old Town here is an old bazaar in the old streets surrounded by mosques. We were in a big crowded place looking for food and Monika felt worse. When we finally found something and did not taste it, I hugged Monica for a moment and Ahmed seriously pointed out that we were in an Islamic country and such things can not be done here. I also can not talk to other women and look them in the eyes and Monika for peace of mind should have a headband that will also cover the shape of her body. (But I think Lahore is still the most liberal city.) So we went to the material store and bought her a big shawl so she looked like a respectable Muslim woman. Since then, Monika was only in this way, and I had good mentions of Ahmed. Walking in the Old Town, I remembered something that had recently taken place in Pakistan and what stopped tourism in this country. I told Ahmed that a Danish embassy half a year ago published a playful comic which allegedly portrayed their prophet Muhammad Prophet Muhamed as insulting. As a result, the Pakistani people began to smoke objects in the street, people were killed and beaten, and cars and buses exploded. Ahmed said that this is true because he even got his head and was afraid to leave the house. The fault is simple, the uneducated people are very much here and for whom Islam is everything. But he said that it was a joke about someone else’s religion. I tried to explain to him that it was not an offense but a cultural misunderstanding. The Danes only wanted to quarrel, but the people in Pakistan have not yet gone through such a stage of development and hence a conflict has arisen. At this point I realized that although it was all right and that everyone was nice it was enough to just say something wrong and we could all fly in the air. Although it did not indicate anything, I began to feel unsettled in this country. Coming back to the Danes comic, I think that not everything is fine in this country.
It was evening and we went to eat with Ahmed and then put us in the autorox and we went to the hotel in Anarkala. We also agreed with him for the next day, which was very important to him because he wanted to bring us home. Upon reaching the hotel we were very tired and went straight to sleep. It was a very hard day for us, and it was full of new experiences. All the time I was thinking about talking to priests, praying five times a day, and exploding half a year ago. I felt that I wanted to go back to all these topics.
Sensation in the Shalimar Gardens
(In this chapter my public conversation on prohibited topics)
The next day we got very upset. I felt not the best but in the end until after 12 we got up, went to Pakistani breakfast and drove to meet our colleague Shalimar Gardens. When we arrived we were waiting. After paying the “white man” price we walked in and it was the place where we could relax. I saw a great green area with terraces, small palaces and fountains. It was a different world compared to the mess, poverty and pollution in the streets of Lahore. Upon entering, many people took pictures and asked about our country and whether we like Pakistan. I noticed that the Pakistani people are extremely friendly and always looking for contact with me. Once, even the people who prayed, broke up to talk to me and welcome me to Pakistan. All they have to do is in their relationship very open and nice because they are very. In the gardens I also met a group of young men and women. They wanted to play with me and Monica with the ball. The game itself did not go out, but the conversation I proposed at the end of all very interested. About 40 people gathered around me and everyone listened. I asked the question only to women, would they prefer to live in hiding under Islamic law, would they like to come to Europe and be free? Do they want to wear skirts and shirts and whether they want to find their own husbands? But before they took a breath, the boys said no. So I told men I was not interested in their opinions and I want only women to reply. There were more and more people coming in, and after a while the crowd became real. Ahmed then advised me that time has to go because I still do not get an answer and he does not translate to such things. The women were in the presence of men and mothers and had nothing to say. Besides, they were raised in such a way that contact with them in that place was impossible and no one would let me be alone with them. On Ahmed’s advice we left the crowd and those who had cameras made us pictures of all possible sides. Then it was difficult to get out so I decided it would be easier if we started posing for a while. Well, Ahmed was big and fat so it was easier for him to give us more space. After a walk in the park, making a little sensation and talking to people, we finally went to visit Ahmed at home.
Shalimar gardens I would recommend as a resting place from the smoke-covered and loud Lahore. In my case the most interesting was the experience with people.
A visit to the Pakistani family
(About cultural differences and the whole truth about Islam from the point of view of young Pakistani people)
Before Ahmed invited us home, he bought us fruit and invited us for a fruit salad and he did not give us any money. He was very upset when we wanted to do it and said that his culture was offensive. We are his guests and if anyone heard about it then it would be stupid for him. I said that in European culture this is normal but he said that as long as I am in Pakistan I have to respect the right of Islam and accept his hospitality. Before going to him I was afraid because I heard stories about foreigners, whose truto and robbery but like the rest of the stories of this type are often exaggerated. Either way, the visit to the Pakistani home was an experience and if I had taken my expedition seriously, I had to take the risk. This time I was not risking myself because now my maidens were dressed up with me Monika-fully covered, only her face was on top. I saw that for her, Pakistan was also a huge experience, sometimes it was too big but she was traveling with me and she was brave, obediently respecting foreign laws. I remember that so far only raised a voice. Then when they overdosed on the women’s bars on the public bus.
Upon entering Ahmed’s house, they all greeted us in turn. His brothers and sisters, but then came a lot of friends and neighbors because Ahmed wanted to show us all. First we went to the roof where it was a view of the neighborhood. We saw a lot of small mosquitoes and even more speakers because five times a day very loudly prayed. Of course everyone was very nice although there were cultural differences that needed to be broken. We were invited down to the guest room where we sat down and started talking. But Monika was asked by the women to cook and the men talked separately. It is important here that when I came to this country I not only learned their culture but they also burned with curiosity to know my. Monika and the women talked mostly about the house and the children and they were so nice that they gave Monice a ring, painted her fingernails at her hands and feet and gave a few bracelets. Apparently that is customary in the Islamic countries, that guests should be given something and take care of it in this way. In the men’s room, we talked about politics and choosing marriages in Europe. We talked about our freedom and the fact that women are free and can dress as they please. He also came in for a special invitation from a mosque priest, who once again confirmed that we would burn in hell because we are not Muslims although on the other hand he was nice to have closed position of the body.
In the presence of the priest, they were all very serious and repeated how Islam is good and important to them. But when the priest left, everyone began to relax and talk to me in much more open way. When I told them that life in Europe was so customarily free and that we could talk freely with women, they just sighed and said that it was a pity that they were not there because the religion forbids it. It was clear that my presence was a great pleasure to them, and we all had fun with each other. They asked me to tell the joke we normally tell in Europe. I said that in my country we are joking with everything, even from religion and god. Keeping in mind what happened here half a year ago after the comic published by the Danish embassy, I told them an ugly erotic piece about god. But there was a choice, of which god. I was not sure of their reaction, but when I finished, everyone was laughing so much that they rolled on the floor. It was clear that they were normal people but imprisoned by their beloved Islam. Ahmed asked me if I could send him an invitation to come to Poland or to England. He said he already had enough of these rules and restrictions. She knows a lot of people who want to leave for this reason, but no one admit it. He repeatedly said that he was very concerned about it and that if he came to Europe he would work honestly, he would live in a European style and he would be there forever. Several people sitting near him said that they want the same and they have enough but nothing can do with it. He said he would make money here, go to college or work but even with an invitation going there will be very difficult for him. He asked me to write one letter to him and the other to the Polish or British embassy, and he just confirmed and he will be able to handle and make a living. I have been in many poor countries and wherever I go, everywhere they want letters from me, because many people want to get out. Ahmed was previously in America where he has an uncle but now, after the explosions in New York, even his uncle can not help him and Europe is his only chance. Afterwards we were all invited for dinner. Sister Ahmed gave the chicken rice and it was the best food we have had for a long time. Monika sat down beside me as my wife and we all ate together, talked and had a great time. Despite cultural differences we were able to communicate without any problems.This proves that in Pakistan there is nothing wrong, they are very nice and friendly but very limited by the law of Islam. Of course, some people always want something, but in our country it is the same. After dinner they showed me a Pakistani dance where of course men and women dance separately and then they wanted us to show them how to dance with us. They were in heaven when they saw me dancing with Monica because they did not have it. They do not have any contact with women before marriage and so there are so many homosexuals in Pakistan, although no one admit it. Their holy Islam is doing them great harm and although they publicly praise him, when they start to open many want to live just like us. Then together, men and women, we sat together and talked.
Each time they repeatedly said that they were having a great time with us and they are definitely looking forward to seeing us when we complete our trip to Pakistan and return to Lahore. After dinner they took us to the peanuts and they felt very upset when we wanted to pay. Ahmed’s sister also took us to their neighbors for a moment where I had the opportunity to talk to a teacher. He introduced us to his family and then we talked about various topics and it was nice too. He was educated and educated his daughter in several directions. He had very conservative Islamic views, and said his daughter would be able to ask her mom if she could come out as a specific bachelor but that the parents would decide. I also asked how it would be with love if she would be forced to go out for someone to be named. He said that this is their culture and that they are holding on and love starts where marriage starts. Every question had a ready response from Islam but was still very nice. Before leaving he said he regrets that we can not stay anymore and therefore gave us a plate of chicken for the road. They said goodbye to us, he shook hands and embraced and then we went back to Ahmed’s house. There one boy asked me if I’m angry that he talked to Monica and the others said we had nice, bright eyes. Ahmed also showed me his references and emails from the last Dutch and other foreigners. See, it was to prove to us that we would not poison us. He also showed me pictures of couples at engagement parties and each time the women looked like they were going to a funeral, not an engagement.
When the hour was late, they insisted that we still be there and that was why Ahmed urged us to spend the night in a special guest room. I remember that Ahmed’s sister asked Monica not to forget about her and that she wanted to go away even though she denied earlier. However, when we wanted to return to the hotel, Ahmed drove us a large piece of land under our hotel on his moped and wished good luck on the journey. He warned us not to go to anybody and take no food from anyone, and of course we would talk to him. It was a magical evening, during which I learned how the average Pakistani family lived and what customs and how much people here can be hospitable.
Undoubtedly, visiting them at home and getting to know their neighbors was a huge experience for us. My only answer was to one question. I asked if they had the choice, they would fight for “sex and rock and roll” or for Islam. Everyone said they were Islamic. I think it will be better if we stay at home because Islamists are already in Europe too.
Monika is an example of the Islamic fashion
This evening (after a warm welcome with the manager of the hotel) we could not fall asleep immediately as our first days in Pakistan turned out to be very pleasant surprise. On the street where we stayed, both the outsider and the foodie and then the hotel manager – I told them that Monika was beautiful because she was wearing a bald head on her head and looked like a real Muslim woman. Her previous appearance no one commented.
The next day we were planning to go to the capital of this charming country, ie, Islamabad and continue to visit Lahore I had planned before leaving Pakistan.
Travel to Islamabad
(In this chapter on re-burning in hell because of religion other than Islam, Kashmir and Indian films)
Coming to our new destination I saw that the Pakistani roads and the main new highway are no better compared to those in India because we were driving normally. It did not throw us up like it was in India or in Nepal.
All the time we watched very naive Indian films, which the Pakistani people were looking at. I would like to remind you that this is an Islamic country or a country of bans. In Indian films, though, the plot does not make any sense, they are shown pretty, scantily (in Islam) dressed girls. All the time dancing women and couples are together and holding hands. In Pakistan, of course, it is forbidden, so Monika was wearing a headscarf all the time. I also noticed that Indian films that have dominated the Pakistani film market are very untrue. The scantily clad women, beautiful and rich interior and luxury cars are all the time showing nothing in poor India. The average Pakistani, however, believes that it is so, as it is all presented in this way.The strangest thing is that Indian Indian films are very bleached. All actors are almost as white as I am, which again is not true. On the other hand, however, Pakistani white skin and green eyes are rare. I guess these people come from the far north and have ancestors from Russia or are descendants of Alexander the Great.
During the ride I met two Pakistani people and of course I got into a conversation. All the time they were very nice but my religion question answered that according to Islam I would burn in hell and start laughing.At a stop we went together for a meal and they did not let me pay. This time Monica was able to sit with us and not in a separate compartment for women. We also discussed Kashmir’s response to Pakistan’s proposed referendum so that Kashmiris themselves decide which country they want to belong to. He said that India would never agree to this because Kashmir has a large Muslim predominance and that it would soon be joined to Pakistan. On the other hand, he did not mention why there are more Muslims in Kashmir.Well, because most of the Indians were expelled or killed. The same man also helped us find the transport to get to the local bus to Rawalpindi and apologized if I misunderstood the translation of the koran on my “burnt down in hell”. All the time, I am amazed by the good humor and hospitality and openness of the Pakistani people. My journey through this country is even more interesting.
Islamabad and Rawalpindi
(Briefly about the twin capital of Pakistan, Shah Faisal mosque, Pakistani homosexuality and a few other things)
The state capital of Islamabad, consists of two parts: Islamabad and Rawalpindi. There are two twin towns separated by only 10km. Rawalpindi was the capital of Pakistan for a short time.
When we got to the hotel, we took the cheapest room without hot water but upon request Monika provided us with a whole bucket of boiling water. As always in Pakistan, everyone was nice, food good and always included in our Indian breakfasts. We met a Pole there who said he was in the north of Pakistan and there they are all so nice that you can go without money. They all wanted to feed and feed them and invite them home for the night. Unfortunately, there were men who offered him sex and were surprised when he refused. After thinking about it, I am not surprised by the fact that the religion prohibits any contact with women until the wedding and when they see a nice white man, they propose sex. I noticed that sometimes I also have kisses in the distance but they do not offer anything because they see me as a woman. They only ask with great hope whether it is my sister. It reminds me of that moment when I was in Indonesia – in Sumatra and had this kind of offer on the phone.
In Rawalpindi there are some interesting places such as the war museum or national park but I think the showcase of this city is the big bazaar of Fowara Chowk and the highway leading to Islamabad. We spent some time watching local merchants and streets cluttered with all sorts of goods. My attention was paid to the place where landscapes on trucks were painted, which is a tradition in this country. Most of the time we spent in Saddar and Murree Road where most of the cheap hotels are located and that is why we stayed there. Here I was fortunate enough to meet the Pakistani sense of humor. When I went to dinner the first evening, the pub boss invited his friend and told me his name is Osama and he is from Afghanistan. Actually, the boss and Osama himself looked like bin Laden. Osama smiled and Monika took a picture which was quite funny. Monica just did not fit the class but I can not pay much attention to it.
The next day we went to the capital, Islamabad. At first glance the city was not spectacular, especially since there were so many monuments in Lahore. One of the few things worth seeing here is the large and very modern Shah Faisal mosque that was built in the 80s and was a gift to Pakistan from the ruler of Saudi Arabia. The building costing US $ 50m was impressive and great, but so new that it did not feel that atmosphere, which is always felt in the mosques of the 16th century, such as in Lahore or Delhi. This stone is located at the foot of the Margalla hills, which makes it a pleasure to spend time lying on the grass and looking at the mountains. Shaha Faisal mosque was a nice experience for me and it impressed us all the more because it is made of white marble and is the most colossal building in all of Islamabad. We spent the rest of the day in the park where the children played cricket and we could rest. We were also on delicious kebabs and overall it was very nice eating and watching people and so different for us surroundings. In Islamabad I could do a little more because there is also a zoo here, other parks and mountain paths with beautiful views and also a salt mine. But after a few months of traveling with Monica, I realized that taking women in some places is not good because they start to get upset and become just a burden. I plan to take the Karakoram route from Kashgar through Pakistan to Iran. So I hope it will be something that I’ll ever catch up with and Monika and I will soon be sending home.
Islamabad and Rawalpindi evaluate very well. These are interesting cities and at the same time nicely located. But from the point of view of old architecture, Lahore is definitely better.
Peshawar – first impressions
(Old Town, green tea in the bunker, tour suggestions and more)
The next morning we went to another place of interest, Peshawar. It is located in the west of Pakistan, only 58km from the border with Afghanistan. We took a private bus there and were quick to spot. I remember that everyone had warned us before about this city and said it was dangerous. As always, I do not quite believe in the horror story of this type, even though the Polish Embassy advises not to go there especially.In Peshawar we stayed in the best hotel (albeit cheap) where we had such a luxury like a carpet on the floor and hot water at will. When we entered the room, a few minutes later we knocked on the travel agent and offered a tour. These were not the trips we imagined. They were organized in areas where people ruled their rights. As soon as Peshawar ends, there is an area within 45km of the border with Afghanistan, which is in Pakistan but the law of that country is not reachable and therefore foreigners do not have access there unless with special permission and with an armed policeman. I was not sure it was a good place for Monica but I wanted to go there, especially since I saw so many people who were there before and came back happily.
On the same night our travel agent (Hussain) showed us around the Old Town. Peshawar is dirty and dark but has its own unique atmosphere. The whole city looks like it just exploded there, although it is supposedly all right. In Peshawar there are most refugees from Afghanistan who sell their carpets, corals and offer guided tours to Afghanistan. I know a lot of people go on vacation and come back but this time I did not want to risk because I was with Monika and I was not prepared for such an expedition. Hussain invited us to a very old tea house in a sprawling home on the first floor. Monika was afraid to go in there, all the more so as the light went out. As I have said before, there are many places in Pakistan that work on the imagination though it is quite safe and the green tea just in this place was exquisite. Hussain added that there was always electricity in the tea room and that the surroundings looked like a tragic homeless shelter. Hussain showed us around the Old Town and showed us many interesting places. I believe that the Old Town of Peshawar is what it is worth to come here. There is an interesting architecture like the Mahabata Khan from the 17th century or the Cunningham clock tower from the early 20th century and built in honor of Queen Victoria. But the soul and heart of Peshawar are crowded, bustling bazaars where you have to watch over the passages so as not to be hit by a rickshaw or sometimes a donkey. In every store you can sit and bargain for the price and sooner or later someone will find someone who will order green tea. In this Pakistani-Afghan environment you can find everything from vegetables and fruits through shoes and electronics to bras and artificial jaws. However, the mood of this place is witnessed by spices, donkeys carrying vegetables and tea rooms. Peshawar is well known for its excellent green tea. Walking through the city, we reached the vegetable market, where people greeted us and asked where we are from. One seller gave Monice a braided red rose bracelet and the other gave her a vegetable net and said she was welcoming her in Pakistan. Just as before, people were looking for contact with us and were curious what we think of their country. The tour of the city was very interesting although as always, many places seemed very dark.
At the very end Hussain took us to his boss, where we sat, talked and drank green tea again. The place we came to was probably the only quiet part of town where there were no calls from the vendors and rickshaws. It was a park called Khalid-bin-Walid Bagh, a piece of Mughal garden. We dressed up in funny knitwear, and so we talked for a couple of hours. There was also an American at the age of 60 who had wanted to go to Afghanistan for the second time. She said she came back quickly but not because she was scared but because she was too hot for her. On a nice evening Hussain took us to the hotel and arranged for him the next day full of impressions.
Excursion to the outlawed area
(Smugglers’ bazaar, Afghan refugee camp, truck painting factory)
Around noon, we set out for the illegitimate area of Pashtun (an ethnic minority from Afghanistan). I immediately noticed that it was different. People have more weapons than Peshawar, because there is no need for permission. Our car was supposed to be a safety enclave because we were traveling with people known in “the world”. Our program included a smuggler’s bazaar, an Afghan refugee camp, and a truck painting factory, and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience. The roads were rather empty, but at every big gathering of people, dirty bazaars and AK-47 could be noticed. This was the new face of Pakistan.It was all right and everyone was armed as they prepared for war. Some also carried rounds of ammunition.Monika was frightened but did not say anything.
When we arrived at the smuggler’s bazaar, Hussain took us first to the nearest store and then we walked with only a few people. What I saw was not to believe that such places exist on earth. The Kalashnikovs hung on the walls like sausages on hooks. As soon as we walked in we were greeted and told where to sit.Right away I got a big rifle in my hand and got acquainted with their entire arsenal. But it was not a museum. It was a regular shop which there were many and everything was for sale. They said many weapons came from Afghanistan and some are manufactured near the factory. There are also copies of Kalashnikov’s orders and children make balls for all kinds of rifles. Everyone was laughing and taking pictures with their big guns. After a while they put all kinds of drugs on my lap: wasp, opium and heroin.They also showed me false money. They had local currency and dollars, pounds and euros. At first glance, everything looked good, but after a careful look at the difference. We talked a little and went for a walk during which I could check in many stores their guns and drugs. This story looks like a sensational movie but this place exists near Afghanistan and is guarded by corrupt police. Now this type of bazaar is also available to tourists as a new source of income. All the time, all the criminals were nice to us, and we could see that they wanted to share our expertise with us. We were able to take pictures, but they did not let me make a movie, and when it was time, they told me to wait in the car and give me a hand, and Monica just nodded. It was a whole new experience for us, and we were glad we lived and that we could leave this place. Monika was speechless and did not speak for a long time. Leaving the smugglers’ bazaar, we saw people wearing rifles and selling drugs, and the police directed the traffic. The smugglers’ bazaar was the only one of its kind.
Our second attraction was a camp of Afghan refugees who made bricks. This place was not dangerous but very depressing. We saw people from Afghanistan who were walking barefoot or in flip flops and blankets.They lived in clay huts and lived on the production of bricks. When we started to walk in the brickyard, the first children jumped out to us, who were everywhere and were very excited about our presence. They pushed to all the pictures and walked everywhere with us. The children also worked to burn bricks and it was the only thing they could do. They had neither education nor perspectives. People lived there in a terrible way but they were nice enough that they invited us for tea. We did not want to drink because of the misery we had. They were barefoot in tragic conditions and the bricks were transported with asses. I saw small children playing with bricks on a pile of rubbish and those who were able to walk had to work. All dirty and left alone. When we were driving behind the car. They laughed because they apparently did not understand how much their life was tragic. The Afghan fire brigade was a shocking experience and after Tibet it was probably the most tragic place yet. I have done many beautiful photographs and films depicting the grim truth about Afghan children and their parents.
The third and last thing was the truck painting factory. In Pakistan there is a tradition of painting trucks and buses for very drab colors. Various platforms are built on them, and then landscapes and fine patterns are painted around them. A crude truck is shipped from Japan and must spend a lot of time painting and decorating before traveling to Pakistani roads.
Patterns are different and depict mountains, eagles and mosaics of all types. The sad thing is that there are a lot of children working in the factory, which deal with the smallest details. Everywhere in the factory lay the sheet metal and there was a lot of paint. I also saw that the driver’s cab is also adorned and in Pakistan this profession is treated very seriously as part of their culture. The visit to this factory was the only non-tragic thing though, and the children were working here as well. All day gave us a lot to think about, especially all weapons and drugs. I understand that children paint trucks and work in factories around the subcontinent, but in Pakistan children produce balls for Kalashnikovs.
Anyone who has the courage or the common sense to come to Peshawar, I heartily recommend a trip out of the city, all three places. I am sure that there are not many attractions here, and a few thousand rupees can be shot with kashmiral bullets towards the desert. To anyone here I wish you happiness.
That evening we were tired and went to bed just after dinner. I would say that food in Pakistan is also much better than in India. Here is a lot of meat of all kinds while in India mainly vegetables are prepared in many ways.
On the way to Afghanistan (Khyber Pass)
The next morning I still had very little impressions so we went on our next trip. This time we went through the Khyber Pass. This is the border area with Afghanistan where we had to take an armed policeman and needed permission. This area is also outside of Pakistani law and is famous as a road leading from the Middle East to the subcontinent. This was the way that always went through the army, and this led the way of war. Here Alexander also led his troops. This time we went with the boss Hussain, who called himself “Prince”. So far everything has been done very well but I think everyone lied. Our trip was very successful and the closer we were to Afghanistan there were more mountains. On the way we did a lot of shots in the “gun assault” position and as my guide pointed at me while I had my arms raised. It’s a tradition in these parts and at the same time a Afghan joke. Monika also has some good photos in the company of “suspected terrorists”. We were also asked for green tea and overall it was very nice. On the way to the mountains again we saw people with Kalashnikov but it did not affect us. We were just observers, and when we wanted to leave, we always did with an armed policeman. The whole trip was not just about going to the border, taking pictures with guns and drinking green tea. On the way we saw some interesting objects such as Fort Jamrud, mosque Ali Masjid or even the same entrance to Kbyber Pass or Bab-e-Khyber. But neither the fort nor the mosk liked me as much as myself, the winding route to Afghanistan leading through the beautiful mountains and the occasional stop for green tea, accompanied by armed guards. In addition to that, the point of “raising the temperature” of the whole trip was to prepare for it, first, to get permission from the political agent Khyber, then the company of the armed guard and the knowledge that we were going to Afghanistan. The Khyber route was something special for me also because of the weight of history.
I was aware that this route to the subcontinent was led by troops Alexander the Great, although on this route there are also graves of British soldiers killed here in the second war with Afghanistan. After about an hour’s drive, passing through the Torkham border town, we reached the Michni Guard. It was the last point in front of the border to reach travelers not in Afghanistan. The view was beautiful and up the mountain we were on, we saw the Pakistani-Afghan border and the food truck heading for Kabul and the mountains of Afghanistan. I also saw that at the border but on the Afghan side was a broken camp of refugees trying to get to Pakistan. I think we both felt very well knowing that we were just one step away from Afghanistan. It was an adventure with a thrill of emotion that gave us the satisfaction that we had come so far. On the way back we continued to watch the mountains and after about an hour we returned to Peshawar. As a souvenir I took our permit, as proof that we could go to this special place that day.
Peshawar – the last day
(Peshawar Museum, conversations with the citizens of the country, hatred of America and even more green tea)
We had almost a whole day in Peshawar and that is why we decided to travel around the city and go to the local muzzle. As usual in Pakistan, always in such places foreigners pay more but I managed to buy two tickets for the price of one. In this Victorian red brick building is a collection of Ghandaharu art, including statuettes and paintings depicting Buddha’s life. It must be remembered that Peshawar has been at the crossroads of cultures and religions for centuries, whose traces have remained here until now. He was ruled by the Mughal empire, the kingdom of ghandaharu, by the Sikhs and the British, and was earlier conquered by the famous Macedonian-Alexander the Great.
When I left the museum again, I found out about Pakistani kindness. Going through the bustling street and past the stand with Afghan citizens’ passes, I got a few biscuits in the store and then went with Hussain for dinner. I have noticed that all Pakistani people love to talk about politics. The norm is that everyone hates America and thinks George Bush is the greatest terrorist in the world. Everyone is also convinced that Americans are also going to attack Iran and it is only a matter of time. They say that America will never attack anyone who has a nuclear bomb, and that countries such as North Korea and China and Pakistan and America will not attack. There are also some (mostly Afghans) who think that Saddam Hussain was a very good man. Many believe that Osama Bin Laden is working for America and that is why he is not threatened, and the whole of New York is just an American provocation. In Peshawar, they all love these topics, especially Afghans. I met many of them here and they all wanted to sell me something. Once, even the Afghans paid for my tea and then invited me to his carpet shop. I also met those who wanted to take me to Afghanistan, but I could not go there with a guy on the street. In the streets of Peshawar, there were many places where permanent residence cards were made for Afghans, and once my ranger was from Afghanistan. Everyone was very nice and hospitable and they all abused America. In memory of this very interesting place I bought a goat wool rug and a hat and gloves from the same material. For a few rupees you can come across some good occasions and dress up with class (as for the conditions of course).
Peshawar and everything I saw around was worth a visit here. Route to Afghanistan, smugglers’ bazaar, Afghan refugee brickyard or even green tea. All of these experiences on the background of dazzling painted trucks are unforgettable. So far Peshawar and “attractions” around the city are in the first place.Especially in terms of the realism of this country.
The next morning (on Christmas Eve) we drove to the historic town of Taxila. What would be worth recommending is the ruins left behind by Buddhists and ancient Greeks, even from the third century BC.This was precisely in 326 BC, Alexander the Great, who was heading for the subcontinent. There are archaeological excavations from that and later period and I think that anyone who is interested in early Buddhist and Greek art should stay here. (Taxila is also the beginning / end of Karakoram route, which leads to Kashgar in northern part of China)
The bus blew us out at night in the middle of a busy street and from there we took a rickshaw to the hotel.The hotel looked deserted and we found someone only when we were there the second time because the whole area was out of sight and there was absolutely nothing to see. The same evening I invited Monica to a nice restaurant and it was our Christmas Eve. It was very nice but it was hard to talk about the Christmas mood. We were just glad we could have stayed in this nice place together and we talked mostly about the family and about our trip. There was no Christmas carp so we ate chicken. The food was very good and the waiter poured our green tea and every now and then he made the chapati bread. I think we were happy together in these harsh conditions. After dinner we returned to our hotel and went to sleep fast as the lights still were not there. It was just our Christmas Eve this year.
Next day we hired a ranger and we started to explore the ruins but I was not impressed. Especially after I saw Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I think no ruins are able to impress me. After Taxili I expected something more because unfortunately the most interesting objects did not survive the attempts of time. The buildings were in close proximity to each other and were remnants of Greek temples, whole towns, shops and cottages. I think the whole thing is better shown in the museum, which is also a starting point to explore the ruins. After all, we had a good time, we saw something new, and our private rider came up everywhere. We also stayed in the orange field and one of the primitive but lovely outdoor bars to enjoy green tea and enjoy the warm naan bread. One of the few things that I remembered were the ruins of the temple on the hill and to get there we had to climb up quite high winding stairs. At the top was the best kept house of that period, with several rooms and chapels. Nice view and the building was very interesting but unfortunately we also met a poor man who begged for money. Only that he “collected” the euro coins and pounds, which then probably exchanged for rupees.
I was very interested in the people I met, very well describing the tragedy of this country. They sold souvenirs and flowers for a few rupees and made it seem as though their life depended on it. Taxila will be mentioned as an interesting place because of experiences with people where the ruins are a beautiful setting of the city. Here I also spent the eve which was very unusual for me.
The tour took us a few hours and then driving through a dirty, chaotic Taxila town we hopped on a bus going to Lahore. The ride was good enough that we were on a good freeway but it took a lot longer than we thought.
Back to Lahore
(Pakistani hospitality, museum, zoo, night at Ahmed, halal)
In Lahore we stopped at the same hotel as before where we came across the well known syf. On the same day we went to dinner again where we experienced Pakistani hospitality. Many people wanted to welcome us in Pakistan, especially one grandfather, who was very much in touch with us and invited us for tea. He was very poor, had no teeth and tired of rheumatism but he still invited us. I said I could pay but he did not want to. I saw him pull out the money and asked the tea maker not to have to pay the full rate. He wanted our pictures and wanted to see us again but we did not have time anymore. This was another tragic experience that caught my eye. We returned to our stinking room and went to bed. On the second day of the holidays I wanted to do something that would make me happy. First I called our colleague Ahmed but he was not there so we went to the Lahore Museum and then to the zoo. Lahore Museum is located in a red, colonial building and is very rich in monuments. Not only the Pakistani but also the entire subcontinent and Tibet. There were many sculptures and handmade carpets from many cultures and religious doctrines.As always, we had to pay 10 times as much as the Pakistani ones. In the museum, people were very willing to talk to me, but I devoted most of my time to a group of students who talked to me about politics and what I thought about Pakistan. Finally one of them said that if everyone in Europe and America was like me then surely my country would be beautiful and people would live in peace. Wherever I have not gone, I have always encountered someone who talked to me this way and always listened to me and hungered for information from outside. After the museum we went to the zoo but our entrance there was more difficult than I thought. The problem was that the tourists had to pay as much as 300 rupees per person while the Pakistani only had 10 rupees. I was very upset and made a great affair before the entrance until many people gathered. I said that in my country there are about 50,000 immigrants from the subcontinent and we treat them the same as ourselves. There are no prices for foreigners and for Poles. The guard was relentless but I too. After some time people in front of the zoo wanted to pay for me but I refused. I demanded to buy a ticket at normal price and finally the guards could no longer stand with me and took me to the zoo director. I told them what the problem was and they both left us free. I wanted to pay but no one wanted to talk to me anymore. Everyone was happy that I had finished the affair because people were gathering more and more. Monika was the best as usual, because during my fretting the watchman gave her a chair so she could sit and wait.
When we entered, they said only: “madame, you may enter without a ticket”. That saved me a lot of money again. The zoo in Lahore is the oldest in the subcontinent and has many species of animals (including beautiful white tigers) although unfortunately I could not see my beloved reptile that day because it was refurbished. In the zoo it turned out that the animals were not as interesting to people as ourselves. All of us got hooked and asked questions. They set us up for photos and handed us their children and then took pictures. There were also those who took pictures of us from hiding and then asked for more. No doubt we were the most important animal species in the zoo that day. It was very nice (as always in the zoo) and we spent many hours there to rest and use our free and hard work. Especially here posing for photos and getting to know each other was not the end of which we felt very tired of people.
Upon arriving at the hotel, we received a message from Ahmed to contact him. As a result, he came after us and spent the night there. Again it was very nice but the first time was better. This time I bought a cake for them and in return I bought him some gasoline because he again took us on his moped. We wanted to go back to the hotel that night but Ahmed said it was dangerous after dark, because there are a lot of gunshots in Pakistan that are easy. I noticed that all these people were very naive. Everyone wanted to go to Europe and none of them had any idea of life. Ahmed’s sister had no idea about the world because she only cooked and cleaned her whole life at home, and that was a great syp. Still, she went to England because she heard it was a “beautiful country” and nothing else. When she was alone with Monica, she cried and said to her, “You do not forget me, send a letter,” but when he entered Ahmed’s room, she stopped crying. I think it would be better for them to stay in Pakistan. At Ahmed’s house, there were also two goats as the Islamic holiday was approaching. On New Year’s Day many animals are sacrificed to Allah.It seems that many goats, cows, sheep and camels are slit throats. Then the skin is sold to the tailor and the meat is distributed to the family, neighbors and the poor. This is a “halal” or meat from holy slaughter.On this day, women have extra responsibilities. Sometimes people buy animals that they can not afford, borrowing. The same is true with weddings that people sometimes sell their kidneys to pay for.
Lahore was the beginning and end of my Pakistani journey. There is a lot to see and I would recommend to every traveler, the more that every trip abounds in other adventures. Even if someone is not going to Pakistan and is in Amritsar (Indian state of Punjab), I would recommend going to Lahore for a few days. This will definitely be a groundbreaking experience.
On the way to India
On the way to the border with India I saw many flocks of animals dedicated to “sacrifice.” The men fed them, combed them, cut their hair, and even brushed their teeth. All in order to be sold as best. From Lahore to the border was only 30km but the distance we beat in about two hours due to traffic jams. It was an interesting ride, but definitely too long and too heavy. We drove with terrible dirt on the ground, watching Pakistani poverty and sheep, rams and camels, whose days were numbered. While still on the Pakistani side, we ate lunch in a roadside barrack and then went to India. This time Pakistani customs searched our luggage very carefully because it is known that Pakistan is smuggling the most weapons and drugs. They did not find anything because we did not have anything. I put on my big backpack and with my beloved woman went to India. On the way we saw the onion transport already described. It was another sad sight as even the old people carried big bags on their heads. After a few formalities and many questions of immigration services we returned to great India.
My trip to Pakistan ended. After a country where there are plenty of nice and hospitable people and where I almost always feel safe. I strongly disagree with Islam and with eternal bans, though their culture is, and by the ordinary Danish comic, the Pakistani people have shown what they can do. The Western governments are a bit overstated in this country’s judgment, although on the other hand I can not call it stable. By the work of children in weapons factories and outlawed areas. However, I think that all internal problems do not have a great influence on us, and for tourists it is a very attractive, hospitable and worthwhile country, as evidenced during my journey.
However, before leaving, I would advise you to familiarize yourself with the current situation in Pakistan as security may change from day to day. I was lucky because I came across a quiet period and that is why in my case everything went well. At times, I had the impression that Pakistan was a clock bomb, and I have millions of militants all around me. Whether I am right, will show the time, however.
Smoking harms your health
Finally, a story from Pakistan, which basically connects all countries. Regardless of whether I was in Mongolia or in China or in another country, every time I turned my attention to them not to smoke and every time they politely went out and apologized. But when I was in Pakistan and was on a bus with refugees from Afghanistan, I asked several bearded Afghans not to smoke, and one of them was a little upset and said to me: “Hey look, me and my buddies were terrorists in Afghanistan and this guy who is sitting at the driver’s my brother and blew up most buses in the air. Then he shouted: Hey Osama, long time ago we did not blow up! But I decided that I would keep my blood cold. I went to the “terrorists” and once again asked them to turn off the cigarettes, though they seemed to work on the imagination. After a while they started laughing and when we got to the place they were picking up yet another good price for the rickshaw that took me and frightened Monica to our overgrown dirt hotel. Afghans sense of humor – great!
- Afghans in Pakistan
- Brick factory Afghan refugee camp
- green tea in Pakistan
- Khyber Pass smugglers' bazaar
- Khyber Pass to Afghanistan
- Lahore Pakistan's cultural capital
- Lahore zoo
- Pakistan good food
- Pakistan's comical Wagah border
- Pakistani adventure
- radical Islam in Pakistan
- terrorism in Pakistan
- truck painting in Pakistan
- weapons factory in Pakistan