Saturday, August 29, 2009



Did I tell you that other than war and revenge, Pashtuns are known for their hospitality as well?

Reached the land of hospitality, Peshawar yesterday afternoon. After hearing so many negative reports from the news and people keep advising me 'not to go, not to go', it was a hard decision to make if I shall risk my life to come to Peshawar.

But hey, I think it shall be okie to wear burqa and cover my face there; it shall be okie if I stay near the Cantonment area which is of higher security; it shall be okie if I don't take out my camera to expose my foreigner identity; it shall be okie if...

And I arrived at Peshawar yesterday afternoon, thought it is a conservative land which people may look at you like alien (I have not covered my face yet), and the one standing next to the pillar might be some Taliban guy, and may be there is already an eye on me trying to harm me anytime..

but HEY! none of these happened, someone speak English approached me and offer help(not like in other places where people surrounding you in a circle speaking the language you don't understand and starring and starring and starring), he pointed me the public bus to the cantonment area. On the bus the conductor said I need not pay for the ride because I am a guest (1st time I experience this), and on the street people shouting back in their vehicles 'do you need help?'. It is just amazing.

But my good feeling to this city vanished when I came to the Tourist Inn Motel that recommended by Lonely Planet and supported by some forums. The owner is a super weird guy, he was praying in a room when I went to the motel, he saw me and asked me to go inside the room. That is the moment that I know he is not right, you don't ask a female to go in a room (it is not an office, it is a room with 2 beds) when you are alone in the room. The old guy is so not right, the way he laugh and talk made me too uncomfortable, so after settling down I went out to check for other hotels, but all are too expensive or they don't accept solo female foreigner due to prostitution reason (:|). So I think either I check in to a more expensive hotel, or I leave the next day.

The old city in Peshawar is something not to be missed, on my way to the old city, someone (his name is Prince)approached me and asked my nationality (again), I am in okie mood so I said Malaysia. Another guy suddenly said 'are you tham? Tham from Malaysia? I am the one writing with you in Couchsurfing'. So this is the Peshawarguy, he is a normal one, Alhamdullilah.

I ended up spending half the day wandering around the old city with these 2 guys. They showed me around the old city but I don't know the exact direction even after the trip, the reason I hate tour. I was doubting if they are trying to sell me some tour package, obviously the Prince is trying to sell me the trip to the Smuggler Bazaar, where people sell guns and drugs, where the Pakistan law doesn't apply here, but I never show that I am interested (I hate tour), anyway they are just kind people who want to offer help.

With Prince's help I finally get a cheap and OK room somewhere else and moved in this morning, what I did is showing the receptionist Prince's name card after he said no room for foreigner. So may be the Prince is really somebody, who knows.

Finally I have a chance to take a good shower and brush my teeth.. the shared bathrooms in Tourist Inn Motel are either cannot be locked, or they have huge gaps in between the door(I suspect some peeping is ongoing).

Spending 2 more nights here before moving forward to Chitral, another seems to be interesting place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009



Okie, after a Shawal Kameez free day in Karachi, where I stayed with a middle class CS friend for one day, I am back to the real Pakistani world again. (The day with the CS was a free day with normal t-shirt and pants. She brought me to places where the higher level class is living, so no one stare at you or she will scold for me)

Moving north from Karachi to the Larkana for Moenjodaro, the place I always want to go since Form 1, when we studied different human civilizations on this planet from the history text book.

It was damn damn damn hot in Larkana, not as dirty as in Karachi, but as dusty or more dusty. Oh did I tell you that I like Thatta so much? I like Larkana too.

Thatta is somewhere 100km from Karachi, a small town with a super fine Mughal period mosque- the Shah Jahan Mosque; and nearby there is this place called the Makli Hill, which is a huge graveyard across several centuries. There are some truly beautiful shrines with perhaps some well known kings or queens or philosophers or saints or whoever famous buried there. Very impressing.

So I arrived at Makli Hill. The watchman said: 200rupees charge.
200 rupees? Come on, no way I am paying 200 rupees to see dead people.
Ok, no charge, go.
Wahaha so this is the trick! I walk into the graveyard (gracefully) and start taking pictures at the shrine with 'no photograph' signboard in front of it. After 15 minutes...

Hey, 200 rupees! A man on his bike stop beside me.
200 rupees? No man then I am leaving.
No, you picture, fine 200 rupees!
No is okie no picture, I leave. I put my camera in my bag, and start walking back.

I am at the gate when another man with his motorbike reached me at the back,
Hey you! no charge, go. Now free, no charge!
Huh? what you think I am, okie I have enough I don't want to see this graveyard anymore bye bye.
No charge for you, go!
No no thank you.
Okok but I am leaving thank you and bye bye.

I headed for Thatta, a town 2 km away from the Makli. It was prayer time, so I am not allowed to go into the mosque. What so good about Pakistan is female can enter a mosque and you don't have to pay to get close to GOD. So I decided to get myself a bottle of coke while waiting.

I will pay for your coke. Some 'unknown' stand up from the chair in front of the grocery shop and said to me.
No no thanks but I can pay for myself.
No no let me buy you a coke. This old man with big beard said.
No no. And I go on to pay. Who knows what will a bottle of coke costs.

While I was crossing the street back to the mosque, a car stopped by me and one guy stepped out from the car, not kidnapping me but told me 'you know why mr. Saji is paying for you? He is the owner of Thatta.'

Haha the owner of Thatta! wow you mean someone owned Thatta?
Yes yes.
I looked back and the white beard old guy was waiving back at me like he is someone famous.
Okie well thank you so much for telling me so. So what is his name again?
Hmm we called him Mr. Saji, Saji of Thatta.

I want to laugh out loud because it looks SOOO funny and weird to me but of course I did not. And later on in the mosque I asked a local college student if he knows Mr. Saji of Thatta, he said whoever he is, he must be a liar.

That's the first time I think I somehow do like Pakistan despite all the weird starring guys and unbearable weather and unhygienic living environment, it is not too bad since I still can get someone who can help me whenever I need, I still travel in public transports and staying in cheap hotels and don't have too much trouble with my stomach. I always meet people who are so sincerely telling me 'whenever you need help, don't hesitate to tell us', especially when they noticing me alone in the bus or in the town. After all most people are offering help than trying to harm.

So back to the 'I like Larkana too'. Larkana is too hot for the species called Homosapiens, I knew it is hot because I had a bad headache out of nowhere, I kept waking up in the night even there is power supply and the fan is spinning at its full speed, I am sweating.

Leaving Larkana, planned to go to Bahawalpur and Multan, again for the fascinating shrines and mosques, but the trip ended up in Rawalpindi/ Islamabad. I was in Bahawalpur that night, at the bus station and for no reason decided to skip Bahawalpur and Multan. No reason or explanation needed for a decision made by woman. haha.

So then I am back in Rawalpindi and just came back from Taxila, a Buddhism city famous for its Ghandara arts and visited by Fasien and XuanZang centuries ago. But I am looking forward to the Gandhara arts in the Peshawar instead, the sculpture are of different materials making the 'wow' differently.

And I am starving and stuck in the Pakistan. Starving as in I really hardly find any food except samosa before buka puasa, and since I am not allowed or it is not good to eat in the public, I am forced to skip lunch unless I am in the room, which most of the time I am not. And stuck, because there is no news from Tehran yet about my Iran visa.

And tomorrow I will be in Peshawar, the land of the Pashtuns, who known for war and revenge, and if you read 'Kite Runner', you know what the other thing that they are good for. (Sorry for the racism, this is one of the joke most travelers talk of) Will have a cup of chai with another CS at the old city, hope he is a normal one.

I am (so)looking forward to the trip despite a lot of advises. Man thank you so much for the concern, but I want to see it with my own eyes(although very small) whatsoever it is. Don't worry, I will be super alert ant try my best to stay safe! :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Karachi, the former City of Light

Lesson learnt: If you dont cross the street as if you own it, you will never have the chance to get acrossed.

Visa extension
Extended my Pakistan visa this morning in the passport office of Karachi. The officer told me, 'request for whatever day you want, the fee is free.' So I happily wrote '2 months'. Unfortunately the application need to get the approval of another officer, he said 'sorry I can only give 15 days, no discussion. You want more you go Islamabad.'

Ceh, no fun.

Karachi is the best information center that I had ever been to. Mr Asif in the office is so informative. And with his information, it makes my day busy.

Busy Day
Today is a busy day. Went to the Mausoleum of Quaid e-Azam and Tooba Mosque. Both are fine architectures. Love the mosque so much, a semicircle building without a pillar, voices reflecting throughout the spaces, no secret is allowed.

Went to the Cliffton beach in the evening. It is a huge rubbish site, I never seen something like this before, the rubbish are unburied on the beach. Whatever the tide can reach, that is sand, whatever the tide cannot reach, they are rubbish. So much so much of them, you can't imagine.

Friends email me said the Iran visa will take another 15-30 days to process, probably because of Ramadan,so they are heading back to Hunza asking me to join them.. Going back to Hunza means passing through KKH(Karakoram Highway) again and I HATE KKH so much, I get so sick of it. If I opt to go back Hunza, it had taken me tonnes of courage.

Lesson learnt
Lesson learnt today is if you dont cross the street as if you own it, you will never have the chance to get acrossed. It is worse than anywhere else that I have experienced.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moving south..


Arrived at Hyderabad after 19 hours train ride from Lahore. I am in the province of Sindh now and according to my outdated Lonely Planet, you will need to report to PTDC (Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation) when you are traveling in Sindh, they are the one who have the most updated safety information about the region, and they will arrange an armed guide to escort you if needed.

I went to the cheap hotels near the train station but the hotels refused to rent me a room, so I went to the police station in Hyderabad, asking for PTDC's help. I am kind of unsure to move around by myself not knowing the current situation, and the hotels that I can stay are too expensive for me, I wonder what is there in Hyderabad, and if I shall leave for Karachi.

After some calls the officer in the police station confirmed that there are no PTDC in Hyderabad, asked me where I want to go and arranged a guy to escort me. The guy was armed with pistol (anyway I always see guy with weapon, no uniform), he drove me to the museum, made the entrance free, afterwards drove me to the bus station to catch a bus to Karachi. I thought it will be good to buy him a drink for driving me around, ended up he paid for my drink.

Hyderabad is not an old city, the most attractive thing to me is the city is piled with rubbish. So much rubbish.

And I arrived at Karachi. Karachi is chaotic, noisy, super dangerous when crossing the streets, dusty and very very very dirty. Everywhere there is rubbish, everywhere. It is so far the dirtiest city I have seen, although I think India and Egypt might have out-beat it. And again, no hotel wants to admit me, every single hotel told me they are fulled, which is so weird because all the keys hanged on the wall.

Was so frustrated after plenty of check-outs, almost decided to head back to Islamabad if I can't find a cheap hotel, the last choice is to call the family I met in Islamabad for the help. While I was trying to get the line through, hei hei the owner of the hotel suddenly asked if I have all the legal documents with me and may be he can arrange a single room for me. Damn it but phew.. so I am staying down.

I knew Quetta will be hard for a single solo lady to get a room, but I dont expect Sindh area to be that hard. It was said that there was a Korean woman who prostitutes herself in Quetta and so all the hotel in Quetta refused to let any single Asian looking solo woman stay in their room since then. Spoil market.

Wanted to spend sometime in Karachi visiting Makli Hill, Thatta, and extend my visa. Wanted to go to mausoleum of Quaid e-Azam to pay respect to this great man, the founder of Pakistan. I wonder what he feel if he sees Pakistan today; sometimes I wonder how will Tunku Abdul Rahman feel if he see what our politicians are doing today. If the hotel allows me to stay for few more days, may want to go to the seaside, for the Arabian sea.

I have to say I start to miss Lahore after seeing Karachi..

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another day..


After yesterday's rain, Lahore weather turned normal today, and last night we were blessed with the whole night electricity. That was the first night I slept throughout the night without keep waking up feeling myself lying on a bed of sweat..

Everyone in the inn went for Sufi's festival, I am not really that interested in that. There has been a lot of actvities going on since I arrived here.. the visit of Badshahi Mosque, the old city, the Qawwali music performances, the weekly Sufis night on Thursday, visit to Wagah border, the Pakistan Independance Day..

I need a break/ let me breath.

Went out to check the train ticket to Bahawalpur today after the lunch and juices session with the Japanese girl. It was a bit complicated to get the 30% foreigner concession fee for the train, so I went to the bus station to check the bus ticket instead.

It annoyed you, or at least it annoyed me after 3 weeks here in Pakistan, everyone seems to be interested to know your country and your sweet/ good/ kind/ lovely name; I am not saying that it is whoever's fault, but I am getting impatient with the repetition. It annoyed me when people gathering around me and stare at me, some are ready to help even though we have no language in common (my fault not to learn Urdu), and of course some waiting for chance to take advantage.

We were talking over the lunch about some people taking advantage of female foreigners by trying to touch you here and there. That is also the reason I am so hesitating in going to the Sufi festival today. There will be twenty over villages participating in the celebration, expecting millions of crowd. They dance and spin like nobody to connect with their God, some are real and others are fake. In hokkien we call that 'dehg siao dehg siao'. The Japanese told me it is even worse in India, a lot of female get molested, and she even met two rape victims in Delhi.

I was surprised to know that Sufi is a part of the Islamic religion. The Japanese went for the international Sufis festival last week and she told me those people go wild after they get connected to the God, they start to fight over the knife to beat on their own back, blood splashed everywhere. Anyway undoubtedly the music is nice, if you listen to it by closing your eyes, leaving the crazy world outside, you can easily go into meditation state.

I was there last week for their regular Sufi's night, and don't feel comfortable at all with all the weird staring, and walking so closely without considering you are a 'female'. 'Woman' is a different kind of animal from 'man' in Pakistan, even if the distance is okay in the rest of the world, it is not common here. So if suddenly the man go with the standard of the world but not Pakistan, you know they are trying to take advantage.

Later the evening I went to check out the Cathedral Church located just nearby the inn, had some good chat with the Pakistani christians in the church. Here we shake hand and talk and laugh like I was at home. It is strange to me that religion changes a lot of things here, too much that you can imagine.

Sixty over years ago the country separated into two due to different religions, people move from east to west to a Muslim country called Pakistan and others moved from west to east to a Hindu country called India. Rumours said the mass change of people caused half a million deaths. He can be your neighbours for half a century, and they are of same skin color, same features and similar language. Just because you have different religion, you need to be on the opposite site? It looks silly. Anyway since I am just a passerby I shouldn't make too many comments/judgements.

SO, will be heading south hopefully tomorrow by bus to Bahawalpur for Uch Sharif, then to Hyderabad, Karachi, Moenjodaro and then back to Islamabad. Still intend to visit Peshawar, so bought a burqa (the whole suit was too expensive so I only bought the scarf and the cover for face) at the old city the day before. In some places here woman is his (any HIM) property, not human being, so don't need a face.

Seems too much emotional feeling under the hot weather, uneasy to be easy going as a solo female traveler in Pakistan, may be I am just not experienced enough to take things light. And so fast, the 4th week started unknowingly.. will have to extend the visa once before exiting the country. More to go.






Friday, August 14, 2009























Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In L:ahore

In Lahore and the power is going to cut soon! This city has intermittent supply of electricity and water... I am surprised.

The weather here is HOT! 40 something I guess.. you soak in your sweat permanently. But I like the place although it is chaotic, noisy, hot and humid, just because the similarity we have with the British colonial style of buildings around the town..

Will stay here for few days, for the Thursday Sufi's night and this Friday, the Pakistan independence day.. and of course, old town plus Wagah border daily closing ceremony.. even though it is hot, it worths a few good day here.

Till then..

Friday, August 7, 2009



那个女生说这儿每晚都看得见流星,但我知道她今晚上没有看见,因为她哭了。日本男生在外头大吼时我坐在屋里看新闻,不知道外头发生什么事。Musa Sang后来把门关上,坐在我那排椅子的尾端,我不知道他也是在看新闻还是在等待外头的风雨过去。


Thursday, August 6, 2009






Wednesday, August 5, 2009




Monday, August 3, 2009










Saturday, August 1, 2009


Day 358 Week52











0500-0700 起床,瑜伽,早餐
0700-1200 徒步,1200前回来
1200-1400 洗澡,午餐,休息
1400-1700 看书,学英文
1700-1800 上网
1800-2000 散步,购物,洗澡,晚餐
2000-2300 写,回想一日所发生的事
2300 睡觉