CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S PAKISTAN ?? (Didn’t expect this)

A huge thank you to for covering the flights of this trip and getting me to Pakistan so by now I guess most of you know how this works I show you some news clips about the country in question breaking news out of Pakistan there’s a crisis in US Pakistani relations mixed messaging coming from Pakistan magazine settle your problems world leaders are urging Pakistan and India to take some deep breaths and then I go there and see what it’s like behind the headlines but.

Things to say there’s one place once described as the world’s most dangerous country that’s offering up a pleasant surprise Pakistan so should we see if we can find that pleasant surprise this man’s talking about I’m confident we’re gonna find something that I was expecting to see everyone should come in Pakistan there’s nothing wrong with it wonderfully peaceful now welcome back to Pakistan here we are at.

We are sitting above the capital city of Islamabad today we’re going to explore I hope to show you kind of the older than you because I am so impressed by the city so far the infrastructure isn’t saying like some places you could be in Europe and I never expected to see this in Pakistan honestly speaking I thought it would be a lot less developed but my mind’s been blown so today I hope to show you a combination of the older than you here again with Shabazz and we meet again hi guys we’re heading to like.

Newer parts are as well right so we’re probably going to a food feed-in Rawalpindi so al Williams lama a kind of like you know Twin Cities okay so Dom maybe will be going to the older town part and I have a cool transport system here it’s basically like a bridge that goes over the top of all the traffic and you call it a metro bus right yeah it is like the perfect weather to be here like it’s bright sunny and still not unbearable that’s yes beautiful weather.

So we’ve come down to this area where there’s like food and souls and arts and crafts and things and lots of families having fun and there are fairground rides in the background you know lots of families and women and children around really nice quiet atmosphere one of the reasons that Islamabad is so much more chilled out than Karachi in terms of just you know mass intense crowds as the population is significantly smaller it’s one-twentieth of the size of Karachi. people living in Islamabad were as twenty million plus up and down in Karachi so it makes a huge difference and that’s the Karachi did use to be the capital city but now that it’s up here and interesting there are camels there are monkeys cats it’s all happening. the point we’ve come to another city it’s still one city because there goes through and kind of join but this is the older part and it’s called rapidly welcome John in America so yes definitely you can tell it’s a lot less developed and a bit more similar to Karachi then Islamabad and it’s got you know double the population then Islam about Salaam alaikum earth here is like an old market area and then there’s a bunch of streets lots.

We’ll have a look around and see what we can find estimating live New Zealand yeah a cha-cha this Pesa New Zealand rupees a dollar gift oh and rupees oh I have no New Zealand dollar I think he’s asking for New Zealand Dollars rupees reveal let’s go gather repair she’s saying here’s currency from all over the Oh every country, okay he just collect init from Hirai right I have no New. Zealand so what is the water bottle motel Malaya yeah sure so there man they just offered to go and buy us tea as you saw so he’s going to grab some tea so I’ve been offered tea by so many local spirits I guess it’s the tradition to offer a foreign here’s a really interesting looking mosque up here so I’m gonna have a look so yeah I didn’t realize little tents there when I went to that mosque but just saw them when I was filming it and you can see lots of kids here. guess they’re asking for money oh thank you, sir, thanks Sofia okay so my new friend Hyatt Tula has just brought me a tea lovely man and we might ask him a few questions how long have you been selling bags for autopsy is just a lot back yeah man you begged or Be chat over here talking about that stuff they come back you know decide so he’s been here for ten nine-ten years old right and it’s good business I touch a lot of a robot is that it’s working well. feel safe and secure living here property man who could never love chamois sugar and hungry he’s very pretty happy and satisfied once I got to that key right like having a peaceful was it always like that or was ten years ago a bit harder but Gaston Capela told us a Corrupter have your sugar and humble abode about the surface the situation the security situation every situation a little bit harder before but now it’s very peaceful and calm and the business as well.

Visit he’s like Pakistan the Pakistani army we place like we should come and visit okay what about the kids living in the corner there they like these kids where they live in the corner by the mosque and like plastic and tents and things where do they come from ghetto Pakistan today I see Pakistani retail I can imagine henna up now we’ll go order henna till either a lager window gotta mention the residents of Pakistan they’ve been. and the kind of feel home here so they’re like I decided to stay here APNIC is behavior so they are in a banana or one Cabeza in giving us mo dude here in Capacete a lake in here okay so cording to him they have the weight will their own houses somewhere but they like living in tents and this is a ring of money support no me others well I so did I work or how did I get the money you come on to be here now that’s life and comes with animal notice so basically on the bag for money and here is how.

To him they have the money and so begging is pays reasonably well because we’ve seen quite a few big as well well at least while I’ve been in Pakistan Bill Clinton over those big magnets I check on my user in Liguria I’m the Durbin hi out there yeah I carry a video with a logo for they make like put the money they even have there done they have even had their own house they own them and they gave it on rent but they like living here in this so. buy houses and then rinse after houses so they’re good business people than right this way henna up name both of us business chad way Capobian attention Liam tell me the habit and you know they logo bucatini is like their business is flourishing and it’s been some time getting tense on how we’re going aren’t profit earned money but they don’t have any intention because it’s furnishing always like the very stable in that sense, of course, it does alright so Korea and Sucre are for the chai.

Okay so we just took a walk down the road we’ve made a woman selling some items here and we’re gonna ask her a few questions can you just ask her to like introduce herself come on that’s McKinley come on, even so, how is it being a businesswoman here in Pakistan is it easy or their limits model immediately you gotta be bear aware sure gonna be BPA, Mr. Liotta, till I become an Acharya a. like she’s like it’s hard for me particularly because I’m suffering from a few diseases as well but he says yeah I have to let run into her in my house and pay my rent for my right those are limits due to health but how about limits to do society is it easy to be a woman and start your own business here well do did you come if she does it will be pain different for women to run a business like a man are doing so they all like working hard to earn money as these people have given for this space. in Pakistan Guardian coming to come on a balloon Kashkari she’s like the women who don’t have anyone to earn for them they are like kind of surprised they don’t know how to lead their life that’s kind of a self-limitation what about just the society does she feel comfortable being a woman and doing whatever she wants the carnival Immediate the carnival a detainers heavy mu J to resume a passive guardian of the Tama bigger Bhima is Bota she is like all the dear men around me but they.

That men here are supportive towards the men were joining fire and their business right okay okay shoe clear okay[Music]so Shabazz has just picked up and demolished a bit of Street food here what do we have that’s roll paratha that’s like fried bread with chicken different sauces in it that’s like kind of really common here it’s like really comes in handy when you’re walking and just having food you can have it like. you don’t need to a specific lease it somewhere to have it you can just walk in and do your work in this job so it’s chicken mayonnaise and fried bread right and some different you know pieces in it as well probably right on that yogurt mixture with spice I have it just made a young man called a quorum for the entry interesting to interview a younger gentleman can you just ask him what he’s cooking today I’ll be here we go another chicken tikka okay Ryanthat’s that’s another quite famous dish.

Right will he study or will he just work here study now he is focusing on the world what does he like to do for fun[Music]students when is like done working he likes to race does he work quite long hours get the naked Japan hour is it Tina okay what did you order getting some strawberry vanilla shake. it cost me 200 rupees300 just come to the metro station and now we’re going to show you the fill up this guy okay he’s a nice guy okay[Music]of him happy home okay cool so we’re going to jump on the metro and the metro is a bit different here it’s not on a rail it’s a bus but everything else is identical so I’ll. idea because to alleviate the crazy traffic just drive over the top of it Timms but there so it’s 30 rupees per token and that will get you pretty much anywhere as far as you want to go across the shitty so it’s a lot cheaper than uber, uber still cheap you can get like pretty much across the city for less than 300 rupees anyway security here okay ok ayas you can see that’s a really good way to get across the city if you’re in.

Biggest shopping mall in Islamabad it’s in Taurus wall okay and might get some food and just see what it’s like show you guys I haven’t tried heaps and heaps of Pakistani food but so far this is winning the competition it’s mainly chickpeas would like some onion and a bit of salad and then some like kind of hard cracker things I highly recommend go like a bit of. chickpeas okay so we were just sitting down having some food and we were approached by this gentleman here what was your name my name is me Mir I’m Nick and so you have a YouTube channel and you’re making a video that while foreigners okay okay and so you’re making videos differences in cultures between Pakistan and foreign countries well I’ll put the YouTube on the screen what’s the name of the channel. watching this will come to have a look at your channel subscribe my channel yeah that’s what I’m saying right now yeah yeah alright good luck alright later that same evening you’re probably not watching this channel to see shopping malls but let’s call the show you know both sides you know the infrastructure here and Islamabad is you know shocked me in a good way road are well-sealed and painted and marked and the metro system is a really good idea just basically go over the top.

Pakistan’s an up-and-coming tourist destination reinforcing the fact that everybody I have talked to here and what I’ve experienced it’s safe to travel as a foreigner if you’re American or if you’re British or if you’re European doesn’t matter if you’re a New Zealander like me you will be accepted here anyway so in the next video we’re going further north we’re going into some more remote mountain regions so I hope that you will come along with me and join me for that adventure we’ll. there are so many characters to meet here it’s just an abundance of characters say anyway in case I don’t see you good afternoon good evening and good night

PAKISTAN – The world’s best kept secret

I have been an extensive traveler, a true backpacker, having visited numerous countries on all continents. Pakistan had never figured in my calculus until I developed friendships with two Pakistanis; one gentleman from Lahore and the other from Karachi. These two shared a dormitory with me during my studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS). I found these individuals to be poles apart from the general depiction of Pakistanis that the media regularly portrays. What I had always gleaned from the media was that Pakistan was a country mired in terrorism and religious extremism, and was a highly unsafe place, especially for foreigners. Stories about how women were treated in the country were just as dismal. In stark contrast to these images, my Pakistani friends exuded warmth and wit; they were generous, well-meaning and easy to relate to. My curiosity about their country often led me to lengthy discussions with them. Their advice to me was that the only way to truly understand Pakistan was by paying it a visit. As my Lahore-based friend returned to Pakistan upon his graduation from NUS, I thought of grabbing a chance to visit the country. His response was very encouraging. My biggest problem, however, was my mother, who when learning of my plan, screamed and proclaimed me to be crazy. I cannot blame her, as her only knowledge about the country was through the media, which is solely interested in displays of violence and misogyny, thus missing 99.9 per cent of the Pakistan story.

However, as I had made up my mind to visit Pakistan, nothing was going to stop me. Since I desired to visit the Northern Areas as well, my friend from Lahore not only lined up a visit for me, he also took a break from his office to give me company. My journey from Singapore to Lahore (via Bangkok) felt strange, or rather unique, as I was the only foreigner on the flight. The gentleman sitting next to me was a doctor from Lahore. His amazement as to why I had chosen Pakistan as my holiday destination unhinged me for a moment. Later I understood that this was genuine curiosity rather than a voicing of concern regarding my security.

I was received at the airport by my friend. While driving to his home, I saw alleys of trees and greenery, clean streets and orderly traffic — quite unlike how I imagined Lahore to be. The next day, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and went around the city: to the historic fort and the Badshahi Mosque. I was wearing the traditional shalwar kurtathat my friend’s father had kindly gifted to me. Contrary to my expectations, nobody on the street gave me strange ‘look-there’s-a-foreigner’ looks. The evening was spent sitting on the rooftop of a restaurant on food street, listening to live instrumental music against the backdrop of the splendidly-lit Badshahi mosque, presenting an awe-inspiring spectacle. The desi cuisine was delicious and the spices were toned down at my request. The decor and architecture of the street were indescribably beautiful. I visited shopping areas, busy malls, high-end restaurants and roadside dhabas. There was not a moment, which gave me the feeling that I was at a dangerous or a conservative place. People were open, cheerful and absolutely normal while they went about their daily lives.

The bus ride from Lahore to Islamabad on the motorway was an experience in itself. Passengers were offered complimentary high-speed WiFi internet, sandwiches, juices and headphones, should they want to listen to music or watch a film. While in Islamabad, a visit to a local coffee shop was an eye-opener. I could see petite girls, walking in re-assuredly, hanging out with their friends late into the night, giggling and chatting. My stereotypes as to how women in Pakistan lived were now gradually fading away; more so when I saw so many of them all alone and independent, trekking the woods of the Astor Valley.

The drive to the Northern Areas through Kaghan and Naran was a breath-taking experience. There were nearly 20 of us in the coaster, and we quickly got to know each other. The next couple of days at Chilas, Astor and Shigar were exciting, as we camped in the wilderness, drank from the gushing springs and dipped in the pristine lakes. This was something I could not have imagined before. I felt so fortunate to have a view of the mighty Indus and imposing snow-capped peaks at the same time. The drive through the Deosai plains was incredibly stunning with a tapestry of colourful flowers spread in the wilderness. The silence was a balm for the ears. We passed through several villages and went hiking. The locals always greeted us with smiles, while those who were far away in their stone-and-mud houses, just waved. Contrary to my experience in many countries, I did not see anyone begging for money or harassing tourists. My visit to the Nanga Parbat base camp created an unforgettable memory. It was August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day. One could see Pakistani flags fluttering all around. I thought I had reached the real Pakistan, closer to nature and close to national passion.

While our visit ended on a happy note, one thing continued to bother me throughout the visit — the all too obvious ‘VIP culture’. In Astor, despite our booking at the PTDC rest house, we were asked to camp outside on the lawn for the night because some higher-up had landed with his guests, resulting in the cancellation of our booking. The dinner time was at eight but we were kept waiting until 11 as the ‘VIPs’ were still sitting around in the dining hall long after dinner, enjoying their cup of tea. Later, I found myself on the other, privileged side of ‘VIP culture’. On our way back, we were stopped at the Chilas check post and were asked to go via the KKH-Bisham route, which would have taken us six hours longer. The officials on duty were not allowing any vehicle to take the Naran-Kaghan route, which was far shorter. Now was the time for my friend to pull some strings. He called up his father, a retired senior government official. After a short wait, there was a wireless message at the post, which allowed our vehicle to travel via Kaghan saving us six long hours of travel time.

During my sleepover in Islamabad, there was also the unfortunate incident of the bomb blast in which the Punjab home minister tragically lost his life, signifying the challenges that the country still faces. I immediately got a panicky call from my mother. I had to calm her down and drew her attention instead to the bombings in Bangkok that had happened around the same time, and where I had previously studied for my A-levels.

While I took off from Lahore on my journey to Vienna and on wards to home, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of how incredible Pakistan was! What is needed is a better understanding of the country by the world. I would reiterate the advice given to me by my Pakistani friends. Don’t take my word for it, go visit Pakistan and see it for yourself.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th,  2015.