Andi Dela Torre - ANDLTORRE.COM
Pakistan Diaries: Snaps & Stories
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim country in South Asia known for its intricate mosques, delicious cuisine, and textile industry.
In today’s post, I’ll share some of my favorite photos from our trip last year to Lahore, also referred to as the City of Gardens (the capital of Punjab). It’s the second most populous place in Pakistan after Karachi.
Let’s start with breakfast. The first thing we tried was the Desi Nashta, a filling platter that consists of halwa puri (deep-fried bread) and four delicious dips: chanay, aloo bhujia, yogurt, and halwa. We also had it with Lassi, a refreshing yogurt milk drink.
For lunch and dinner, we had the same food for the rest of the weeks we were there. While basmati rice was available, we had pizza, burgers, shawarma, and naan bread with beef stew most of the time. I noticed that wherever we went, they had big servings.
The mother of our host also prepared homemade meals for us, all of which were amazing. Her thoughtfulness and hospitality are highly-appreciated.
People & Outfits
People of Pakistan
Pakistanis are friendly, and the majority we’ve met were generous. I’ll be honest, though, we had one unpleasant experience with a local; who we felt tried to take advantage of us being foreigners. Other than that, we had a great time. I enjoyed the instances in which I got to chat with some girls I met at the mall, the Wagah border, and the stopover (since there are not a lot of women walking outside when we go out).
The pretty girl below is Amman. I met her while queuing for the restroom at a fast food chain. Since the person inside the toilet was taking so long, we just started talking and vibed. After finishing our turns in the restroom, she introduced me to her parents, and we took a photo. I introduced her to my husband and our friend as well. Then, she handed me a paper bag and said it was a gift from their family. I was confused at first but had no negative instincts about it, so I accepted the gift and thanked them. It was a brand-new Pink sling bag. Amman expressed she was happy to see a tourist because she said they don’t have as many visitors in Pakistan. Meeting her was the best part of my day on that day. I was still sick, but receiving their gift made me feel better. Well, not exactly the item, but the thought of leaving me with something to remember.
Side story: hours after that photo was taken, I vomited inside the car on our way back to the city. I instinctively grabbed a plastic bag; so I did not make a mess, but we had to stop at the highway because I needed some air. We were still 5-6 hours away. Anyway, we arrived home safely and were able to rest.
For my outfit, I only brought conservative clothes; no off-shoulders, sleeveless tops, or dresses. While no law prohibits women from wearing such clothing in Pakistan, it is still a Muslim country. If you plan to visit in the future, the least you can do to show respect for their social norms is to dress modestly. Keeping your makeup to a minimum is also advisable.
The Gold dress I am wearing in the photo above is a Salwar Kameez. Our host's mom lent it to me. I've got to admit it was challenging to pee since I had to fold my clothing each time, but the Salwar Kameez was beautiful. It was my first time wearing a Pakistani dress.
Beautiful Places, Safety & Security
We were able to visit some places like Jilani Park, Anarkali Bazaar, some malls, and local restaurants like Yasir Broast. But our favorites were the Wagah Border and Kalam Valley in Swat, so I’ll focus on these two.
We attended the Wagah Border ceremony, which was incredible to watch. There was so much energy from both crowds on opposite sides of the gates dividing India and Pakistan, and I was happy to see their military demonstrations.
My husband and I cheered with Pakistanis and met some people there too. Many locals thought we were Chinese or Nepali (because we share the standard Asian features), but I would always proudly reply that we were from the Philippines.
I think they see us Southeastern Asians the way we see our Southwestern counterparts. Like, if you see an Arab, the first impression would be that the person is from Saudi Arabia (when one could be from Kuwait, Bahrain, or Lebanon (whose citizens have similar physical features).
For our last stop, we went to the gorgeous Kalam Valley in Swat, a 10-hour ride from the city. It is known for its breathtaking glaciers and as the hometown of youngest Nobel Peace Prize awardee Malala Yousafzai. It wasn't snowing when we visited, but it was freezing. I couldn't imagine how cold it gets there from January to Feb (when the snow starts to form and gets thick, according to the locals).
We stayed at a hotel called Hotel Birmingham Palace, and the views from our balcony were gorgeous. The river was right beside us. Had we not gotten sick, we would have checked out what was on the higher area, where you could almost touch the clouds. There are also friendly Afghans in the area (we were 150-200 kilometers away from Afghanistan).
We also had the pleasure of meeting the owner, who helped us find transportation back to the city after we had a misunderstanding with a local who made us uncomfortable as tourists (as mentioned earlier). It’s a long story, but it just doesn’t feel right when someone tries to take advantage in any way.
There's plenty of weed in empty lots or backyards in some areas.
You can find Khewra Salt Mines (the second largest in the world) in Pakistan. Yup! They mine the famous Pink Himalayan Salts we all love.
Pakistan is the only Muslim country that possesses and manufactures nuclear weapons
The highest Polo ground is also located in Pakistan, you can find it in Shandur
Overall it felt like an educational trip.
I guess that would be all for today. For more similar posts, check out the blog page and go to the Food & Travel category.
Thank you and see you around!