Hello people! Soo today I'm gonna talk about another memorable trip from that summer. It was actually my last weekend in Pakistan and all the interns who still didn't leave were by that time half-pakistanis. At least that was our main point when we were trying to persuade our ambassador to let us go on a weekend trip on our own :D
PreparationsI understand all the precautions regarding our safety, but it was really starting to be annoying. I know that if something would happen to us, IAESTE Pakistan could forget about getting any interns in the future. Media would as always make bubble out of it, talking trash about the country etc etc...We had like 5 meetings with various University officials but finally got our leave for 3 days :) On our own, without any university staff. Wooohooo!! The only condition is to be still online and give our supervisor contact on our hotel :)
I know!! Don't tell me....
ItineraryWell, plan was to get there on Friday afternoon and just and see as many places over the weekend as possible.
We had some kind of general bucket list which was:
- Wagah Border - famous ceremonial border between India and Pakistan
- Badshahi Mosque - 400 years old main mosque of the city
- Food! - Lahore is known as a city of food, so traditional food markets we must-visit
- Try to do something illegal :) After 13 weeks of being constantly supervised, we finally broke free. To get a hint about the illegality - in Pakistan, all alcohol is prohibited by the government and it's very hard to buy it. But Lahore is two steps right next to the Indian border ;)
Unsupervised interns just left Islamabad!!I'm getting excited even now haha :D We could't believe they really let us go. Initially we've missed a bus because of the traffic, but eventually we got into another one.
TrafficTraffic was crazy as only in Pakistan it can be :) Bollywood film on, bumpy roads and lot of honking. Here are som pictures so you can understand what I'm talking about.
Cars, rickshaws, buses, donkeys, motorbikes, bikes and padestrians. All living together in this crazy "eco-system". I loved it!
Eventually, after 7 hours in the bus, we've arrived to the Food city. Took one last quick rickshaw and here we are, checking in Lahore Backpackers with Chaha Sajjad. I'm proud to be the first Slovakian to sleep in that hotel! :) He was very serious about bookkeeping and historical data of his guests.
Late night dinner & hitchhiking in PakistanWe were tired, but excited at the same time. We've heard so much good stuff about Lahori cuisine that we needed to check it out immediately. We went into the streets but most of the restaurants were closed already. And then, black mirrored car pulled over and asked what we're looking for. It was pretty normal that people were looking our direction whole 3 months...we just looked different :D And people there are not used to tourists. But this car felt liiiittle bit dangerous. When the guy told he'll take us somewhere where we still can get some food, I had to remind myself twice to get rid of prejudices.
Pakistan is a country as any other. People are no more dangerous than those in Slovakia or wherever else! Just don't get fooled by the media...
And really, nothing bad happened. He took us several blocks and dropped us in the local food market/restaurant. And it was...well, it was something completely different than I've expected. Killing, cooking, eating, massages, wild cats jumping between tables to finish off unfinished food and caged animals just living their lives. All this in like 50 square meters. It was such an awesome situation :) And food was soooo delicious! We had some karhai, rotis, lassi and some salads :)
After eating, we were soo tired we took a rickshaw back to hotel immediately. We were a bit concerned about getting food poisoned because of all those living caged animals being in such a close proximity to the food. I remember Hussam's last sentente before falling asleep:
Guys, tomorrow we will shit in hell!
Lahori breakfastChaha woke us at 8am by knocking on the door. He said breakfast is ready. That was news to us because there was no food included in the price we payed. Breakfast consisted of typical Pakistani milk tea and beedee. Beedees are rolled tobacco lists,which are cheap substitute for cigarretes in the whole indian subcontinent. They are actually much tastier than regular cigarrettes.
The cityAfter the breakfast, we went for a walk near the Badshahi mosque. I'm not really good in architecture by any means so all I can say is that there were many various buildings. Borja (intern from Spain) is an architect so he explained me quite a lot but honestly - it's been 4 years and I don't remember anything :)
While slowly making our way towards Badshahi mosque, we even got into non-touristic parts of the town. Autobazaars and food markets were on every corner.
It was once again, very humbling for me. Dusty air, 40 degrees Celsius and those guys worked hard as if it was a piece of cake while I was grasping for air and sweating like Niagaras...
Ma'm Aesha on the lineDuring all this, our worried IAESTE ambassador and lovely friend Aesha was calling us every 2 hours. It was first time she let interns to go somewhere on their own. We were aware of her situation so we started updating our position with whatsapp messages every 3 hours. Example message:
Eventually, we found the right direction and arrived to our first point on the bucket list - magnificent Badshahi Mosque. It was HUUUGE!
Badshahi MosqueThis mosque was built in 1673. For hundreds of years it served it's original purpose but eventually, with arrival of Brittish empire, it was turned into a garrison for soldiers. I find such misuse of a holy building of particular religion completely disgusting... Eventually, after Brits left, mosque was restorated in 1960 and is now one of the nicest mosques in the country.
As a tourists, we had to pay 10x higher entrance fee that the locals. This is a gold standard everywhere in Pakistan and as I've learned 2 years later, in India as well. I partially understand the reasons but at the same time, from obvious reasons I'm not a big fan of this policy :D
We also had to put on long trousers to enter. People always wear long trousers in Pakistan. It's a part of the culture. Just not showing more skin than is necessary. It was one of the biggest problems of my stay. I felt like boiling all the time.
One last check before being allowed to get inside:
"Me? Oh yeah, of course"
Now don't get angry at me. We talked with locals about it before and it's a normal practice. I would never violate a religion' s rules if it was strictly forbidden!
And then, we entered insides. Finally shadows which protected us from that crazy heat. In combination with that cool tiled floor it was a heaven.
Right inside "tunnel" which went alongside the mosque square was all just water taps. Muslims have to wash themselves before every praying. Hands, feet, face, hair and neck. That's 5 times a day. Not randomly, order and number of repetitions per body part are all defined in Quran. When did you, as a civilized high-hygiene loving Westerner wash your feet 5 times in a day?
And on the left side were absolutely beautiful garders. They looked so fresh. But it was a trap - I knew lying on that grass with the direct sunshine would be an instant dead. Temperatures were already hitting 43 Celsius degrees.
And then we saw it...Glowing white roof cowered with several tiny towers... It looked completely different than any other building.
Me: "Hey Borja, what is it?"
Borja: "I don't know...it's beatiful though!"
Me: "How come, you don't know? Who's an architect here?"
Borja: (takes out a mobile phone from a pocket) "How many pixels does this screen have?"
Me: "Fuck you, don't start again!"
Borja: "Me? You've started! Death to programmers and glory to architects!"
Hussam: "Hey you stupid mofos, stop this again, Im dying let's get some water and go there!"
I love those two 😍I've always had these fights with Borja - informatics vs. architecture and which one is more cool and important. Since Pakistan, we've all three met already 3times - in London, Barcelona and Muscat. Next meeting hopefully soon :))
Meeting in Barca (2015)
To be continued...I hoped to cover the Lahore trip in one post as I've managed last time with Northern areas. But as I've realized during writing of the post, it's not possible since Lahore trip was much more eventful which is expected when you're comparing trips to nature and city. In the next post, I'll tell you what that white castle is and show you insides of it, I'll take you to the Wagha Border and then we'll finally get to the illegal bullet point on the bucket list :)
My experienceThose tree months were probably the most important 3 months of my life so far. I've realized many of true life's values, met AMAZING beautiful people, saw some real hard life stories and but also a georgous country and its culture. I've also understood what real islamic religion is about and how massively misinterpeted it is in the western world.
What I've learnt summarized in 10 picturesThis part was in previous posts filled with 10 pictures which tell the biggest lecture I've learnt during my stay in Pakistan. Because I don't want to re-post those time and time again, I've exported that part to an image which you can see
I hope that in these posts I'll be able to properly explain what I've experienced that summer so you all could get some value out of it.
- [My 3 months in Pakistan #0] Introduction
- [My 3 months in Pakistan #1] RAMADAN surprise
- [My 3 months in Pakistan #2] Lost in Islamabad and "terrorist" in the shower
- [My 3 months in Pakistan #3] Northern areas
- This one
Thanks for reading! Martin
You can find my latest posts here:
- Has Elon finally made it to the Mars? (Muscat, Oman)
- 2 funny stories from my childhood
- My first live MMA event
- [Book quotes reactions #4] - "...outburst of decency from someone you don't like..."