Journey to the hills of Pakistan
September 2005 I travelled to Pakistan for the first time. After spending almost a week in Lahore the next leg of my journey was to Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Murree. We took the Daewoo bus first to Rawalpindi. There was a group of Japanese students who were travelling through Pakistan. They felt perfectly safe and I think as long as people are sensible Pakistan is as safe as most countries. (Except the border areas of course).The day after arriving we went to the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad. Unfortunately, I cannot find many pictures. It had rained in the night and the day was very humid. I also had begun to feel a little unwell.
The mosque is a very spectacular building, with several levels and very shiny marble floors. As the floor was wet from the rain I found it very difficult to walk with bare feet. I expected to go sliding across the ground at any second. The main prayer room is large and with a light in the middle like an orb. I went in and sat for a while absorbing the peace and tranquility of the place. After I left and was outside, a mosque guard came up and told me I should have a shawl at all times in the mosque. In Lahore no one had said anything and I didn't think it was so important but after that I always cover my head in a mosque. (There is a sign before you arrive at the mosque saying people should have their heads covered, but I didn't have anything with me).
In the main shopping centre I bought a very nice blue water pashmina shawl. It is my favourite and I wish I had bought more. On my second trip to Pakistan in 2008 I bought a large number of very beautiful pashminas but did not find any water pashminas like that one.
Arriving back in Rawalpindi we went to Subway because we did not know the best places to eat and it is food that is safe. But in the evening we had an excellent filet steak at the Pearl Continental Hotel.
Next day we took a taxi for the two hour journey to Murree. It took us along some very hilly roads with sharp drops down. The walls that had been built a long time ago are crumbling in places and it is possible to see places where maybe drivers had gone over the edge. I was glad to get up to the top. Murree is a very clean place with fresh air and a climate similar to England. It is a popular place for tourists in summer away from the heat of the lower areas. When we left Islamabad it was very hot but in Murree we needed jackets part of the day.
Murree has lots of shops and attractions, like the man who writes names on grains of rice and puts them in a small magnifiying container on a thread to wear around the neck. I bought one for my niece and her two first names are quite long but he got them on the rice. I bought a couple of things in a gift shop, pistachios from a man who had every kind of dried fruit you could want. I also bought some material from a man who had huge sacks of it. The quality of cloth in Pakistan is excellent, especially the lawn.
Over the next few days I developed a stomach problem and besides eating Pringles, plain yogurt and bananas I was afraid to eat much. As a result, I did not get to see any of the attractions of Murree because I had to stay in my room for at least 2 days. One day rained the whole time but the next day was warm and sunny so we went for a walk. Outside the bus station there was a man selling flutes so I bought one to take back home.
My journey to Abbotobad came after I had visited Faisalabad and Khewra. This was just a one night stay but I saw the mountains and met some very friendly children who were happy to have their photographs taken. I visited a small mosque here too.
I only have happy memories of Pakistan and would like to visit again very soon. There is so much more to see. Mostly, I would like to visit Murree again, I missed all the good places there and I like to be near mountains. I am not a climber but I like to see them.
- Visit to Khewra Salt mines Pakistan
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