25.04 & 26.04
We spend the next few days in a relaxed manner – mostly staying at home and rarely going out. We visited the traditional artisan bazaar which is in a big decline, but we saw some interesting artifacts such as lamp made of camel skin and jewelry made of camel bone. Mainly these two days we visit people’s houses that have their own relaxed style which we named decadent luxury.
Camel bone barcelets
Let us share some information about the food: the traditional breakfast is parata – fried, very flat bread like chapata, with vegetables or meat dish (which could be fried or boiled in an earthenware pot) and fried eggs. The yoghurt doesn’t have added sugar (in China all of them had to our astonishment) and is homemade – really delicious.
At noon or in the evening people eat chapatas or rotas (another type of flat bread) with different dishes like lentils, spinach and many more, cooked in earthenware pot. The food is hot but very delicious. People here prepare amazing homemade ice-cream served on a stick or in earthenware jar. The tea is served always with milk and there are many different types of soft drinks.
People here eat less than let’s say Europeans – maybe partly because of the hot weather. Here we eat 1 or 2 times a day. The older Pakistani have big bellies – especially the richer ones.
Today we leave. We have spent so many days here that it seems to us months have passed. At noon Hasan took us to see the embroidery workshops. The work itself is slow and fiddly and the workers are paid poorly while the embroidery is expensive. Most of the people buy clothes with stones, beads that are also hand embroidered – mostly for wedding or official occasions. Only men work here.
We leave in the evening and feel saddened that we part ways with our friends. We will never forget their hospitality. We spent really amazing 6 days here.
After 7 hours travel with a bus we wake up stiffened and freezing because of the air-conditioner. The scenery around Islamabad is green, there are lots of glades and trees. The temperatures are noticeably lower than those in Multan.
We are desperate to start hitch hiking because we are sick of busses and other types of public transport. I really hope we can start traveling normally (for us) again. We are met by our couchsurfing.org host at the bus station. He takes us to have breakfast at McDonald’s – of all places! We resist but he insists. The breakfast costs 14$ (for this money 2 people can eat 7 lunches here) and our host never lets us pay no matter how hard we try.
He takes us with his car to a small luxury town near the Rawalpindi outskirts (this is satellite town of Islamabad and actually most of the people live here). The town has entry barriers everywhere and by the looks of it one can tell that only rich people live here – all the house look like small luxury villas. Our host leaves us the keys to a small apartment where nobody lives at the moment and goes to work.
After a couple of hours sleep we head to explore the capital. The sister of our host (his name is Mohsin) has a shop for clothes at the town’s square. We enter to say hi and she turns out to be very nice and charming. She gives me to try her best wedding dress and encourages me to take photos. The dress look like they are made for some Asian princesses – all covered with stones, tulle and velvet.
We spend our time chatting and laughing and at the end she makes me a gift – a really beautiful blouse with embroidery. Her father takes us to the town’s exit which is 1 km away and we get a bus to the center of Rawalpindi.
Rawalpindi (or Pindi as they also call it) is and old city and on the streets you can witness the typical madness. The city has old and modern part – the old one consists mainly of bazaars. The modern part – Sadar, is full of luxury new shops and malls, bakeries, fast food locales. Also here the women do not put veils on their hair and wear jeans and short tops (something unheard of in Pakistan due to the Islamic culture). In Multan most of the women wore veils – even on their face and at Quetta there literally were no women at the streets. So we feel the modern spirit of the city. Here we also see many parks and trees.
We cross the streets all day like some lunatics and at some time we head to see the old bazaar. Everyone we ask gives us opposite directions so we decide to take a rickshaw taxi – covered with colorful paintings and full of people.
Like this we find ourselves in the old part – Raja bazaar. This according to my opinion is one of the craziest places in Pakistan! We were there only 20 min. and we felt like our heads were going to explode. The chaos is total, it is very dirty and everyone shouts loudly. The traffic is unbearable and all kinds of garbage stuff are being sold – from nuts and bolts to low quality clothing, and everything is covered with dust.
To those who like it intense we recommend to visit Raja bazaar in high peak – getting dizzy from the madness and chaos is guaranteed and there are no modern people or buildings here. We buy a towel and we run away at a park. We name it “The park of men” because there is not a single woman here – and we didn’t understand why. Suddenly it is prayer time and everyone rushes to the mosque.
After we make a break we decide to take another taxi rickshaw because our feet hurt. We ask a guy at the street to give us directions and he decides to take the taxi with us. We travel for a short time and all of a sudden, at the middle of the road, the rickshaw taxi runs out of gasoline. The street is pretty wide and the driver calmly stops right in the middle of it, takes a plastic bottles and leaves us there – among thousands of horning cars, motor bikes and rickshaws. After a few minutes the driver comes back, pours the gasoline in the tank and we continue. When we arrive the guy who travels with us insists to pay the bill and gives us his phone number.
We can’t get used to the hospitality and the goodness of the people in Pakistan – when you need help everyone rushes to help you. Only if you visit Pakistan and/or Iran you will understand what it means people to be good with one another.
Late in the evening we go at our town and we crash into our beds exhausted. But the night is still young. It resulted that we have left a window looking at some dumps open and the house filled with mice. After two hours we manage to chase them out of our room and we lock the door.