What would be your reasons to go to Pakistan?
Would you even consider Pakistan as a travel-holiday destination?
Does Pakistan ever come to your mind when you think, ‘where should I travel next?’
Before I met my husband, I wanted to go to Pakistan. My friend had been. I quizzed her about it. I was curious. Have you ever been curious about a place? Have you been ‘obsessing’ about a place you wanted to go to, watched all the videos on YouTube, listened to every story of everyone who’s been there? I was like that.
What the press was saying about places such as Pakistan seemed to be conflicting on what I was thinking and hearing. People don’t talk of Pakistan as a place to visit because of the media and how it’s been portrayed in the press and in the West. Having seen a few scenes of “Homeland,” I wasn’t impressed. It certainly didn’t make me want to visit Pakistan.
I can now say for sure that the portrayal of Pakistan, particularly in “Homeland,” is a skewed version of what really Pakistan is; it’s portrayed by Americans or, what I call it, an American fairytale that is non-existent.
It’s true, Pakistan had its fair share of political issues; however, it’s long in the past. The new Prime Minister Imran Khan has already changed the country because he attracts educated people to invest back into the country, i.e., my husband and I. We are not the only ones.
We bought a house in Islamabad. What on earth were we thinking, right? However, many people we know just packed their bags and moved to Pakistan as soon as Imran Khan became a Prime Minister. Please don’t take my word for it because I am biased. You should see this place called Pakistan and tell me if I am right.
Conde Nast Traveller magazine rated Pakistan as one of the top travel destinations of 2020 and the following decades:
“Visitors can follow in Michael Palin’s steps while traversing the 12,250ft Shandur Pass, home to the world’s highest polo field, or meet with the Kalash people of the Hindu Kush, famed for their cowrie-shell headdresses and brighter-than-bright embroidery. In Lahore, the sight of 100,000 worshippers crammed into the sandstone 17th-century Badshahi Mosque will leave you breathless, while Mughal-era architectural masterpieces stand resplendent on bustling street corners.”
I am yet to see a lot of it myself. I’ve seen a very small part of Pakistan because we’ve been busy with the house. Pakistan gives, and gives, and gives. It never stops to impress, surprise and simply make you smile.
One day in Pakistan is like three months anywhere else in the world.
It’s a place where you never stop saying “wow.” It’s a place where I always say, “Really, is this possible?” and people look at me and say: “It’s Pakistan, of course, it’s possible!”.
The things you get there are all handmade. This is all reflected in the culture. People make things instead of buying them. For instance, imagine you have your clothes sewn just for you. Imagine you’ve got your dining chairs handmade for you. The carpets you buy are handmade by a tribe living in the mountains. Almost everything you get it’s handmade by some craftsmen. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s raw.
People have such a high quality of life. You live like a billionaire in Pakistan without a huge amount of cash. Where else in the world can you live like that? Where else can you have all of this for a fraction of the price? My husband and I often joke our driver in Pakistan has a better quality of life than a guy in London.
Tourism in Pakistan
Tourism, it’s fair to say, has been at a stop since coronavirus hit the world. My husband and I got “the looks.” People would stare at us but not in a bad way, just give us a look as if they haven’t seen a tourist. Guess what; they haven’t seen a tourist!
Pakistan is not ruined by tourism just yet. People are nice. I went to a shop to fix my broken phone screen. It was cheap to change it, and we didn’t even bargain. There’s a certain honesty about some people. However, don’t be fooled. We had been ripped off in an electrical shop when we tried to buy a blender.
In general, I am saying that people are not ‘ruined’ by tourism yet. I hope it stays like that. There’s a real innocence in people. However, there’s always one who will try to rip you off. You’ve got to have your wits about you.
I’ve never felt “harassed” by anyone in Pakistan, unlike in Morocco. In Marrakesh, people chase you down the street because they want to sell you something. If you ask someone for directions, they’ll gladly take you to a place and then ask you to pay for it. People in Marrakesh will ask you where you are from almost at every corner and in Pakistan is the opposite.
We had none of that. Marrakesh has ‘figured out how to “deal with tourists” in Islamabad it is not the case yet. People in Pakistan don’t really care about you. They go about their business. They’ve got prayers to do, family to care of, and things to do rather than chase a tourist on the street.
Having said that, I am sure in more crowded places maybe it’s different. I am yet to see that.
I got a real shock when I got back home to Spain from Pakistan.
Do you have a shock when you get back home from holiday? It’s either I miss being on holiday already. Or, I cannot wait for another. It all depends on what kind of life you’ve got back home, right? If you are happy with what you have, you are glad to be back home. If not, well, you go back to the misery that you created for yourself.
You are either happy with what you have or you’ll always be chasing something else or someone else.
Pakistan gave me the shock of my life when I returned home. I couldn’t believe how clean, tidy and perfect everything was. I never noticed that before. I also realised how ‘naked’ people are. They don’t seem to know how to dress. Women walked with a jacket and a bra on the street; it didn’t feel OK anymore.
Alcohol was everywhere. Everyone was drunk at lunch. The food was so bland, even if you asked for a bit of spice. The green tea tasted of chemicals. I went back to having migraines. Suddenly it was OK to walk around showing all your body bits. It was OK to be half-naked doing yoga in front of a passing crowd.
Where had I returned to? I love Spain. I love Barcelona, but it made me notice all the vices the Western world sees as the norm. The Western world has got everyone working for “the man.” In Pakistan, everyone is some kind of entrepreneur. Our neighbour in Islamabad has got a few businesses running all at the same time.
He’s created his own chicken nugget business. He’s created his own design. You name it his doing it. He created his own brand. He’s got commercial property, and he’s building for a business. He’s working on a new build for his house and some other business running on the side. Just listening to this guy, I thought, ‘wow’ I need to do more.
There’s no fear of doing something. What there is instead is “I’ll just jump right into x” and see what happens. I’ve never seen a place more entrepreneurial than Pakistan. Everyone has got an idea of something. Everyone is creating something. Working for “the man” isn’t a thing, or I haven’t met enough people yet to say the opposite.
Why should you visit Pakistan?
Why shouldn’t you? It’s a magical place. However, Pakistan will be what you want it to be. If you want to be horrible, it will be horrible. If you want to be amazing, it will be amazing.
What you have in your heart is what you see.
To be able to see the beauty, you’ve got to have a beautiful heart. To be open and let it all be revealed to you without judgment. Life in Pakistan is different, but different is good.
Where the pure, real, and honest beauty of nature, food, and people will make you feel things you’ve never thought a place can evoke in you. Where things are made by hand, I understand what it feels like to wear clothes sewn just for me. Why do we all want to look the same by buying the same clothes from the same brands? Those clothes don’t even fit us right.
Where the trade is done in “the old way,” i.e., the honest way (always be careful here, there’s plenty of caveats to that); where capitalism hasn’t yet ruined the art that people create with their hearts and hands.
It’s that kind of shock.
There’s one more detail I haven’t yet talked about. Pakistan offers adventure at an incredible level. The mountains and nature you haven’t even dreamed of yet. It’s heaven for many adventurers because of the magical nature. Skiing, mountain biking, glacier walking, K2 well, you know, Pakistan has the highest mountains.
If you do go to Pakistan, let me know! If you’d like to join our private tour hidden gem of Pakistan get in touch as I’ll be organising private tours this year. If you do go you’ll be blown away whatever you do or go in Pakistan. ;) As I said before: “One day in Pakistan, it’s like three months anywhere else in the world!”
Love and Light.
P.S. This tune is so beautiful. I hope you get a chance to listen to it…
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