Our two flights with Qatar airways went smoothly. Their staff is so nice and their pre-ordered vegetarian meals are the best airplane food ever.
We arrived today at 7:55 AM local time. We were sort of out of place, apparently, not many foreigners come to Pakistan for tourism. There was alot of people at the airport and we felt confusied right from the start. As soon as we stepped out from immgration there were nice people asking if we needed help with anything and we soon got to borrow a phone to call our friend Wahaj, who came and picked us up soon after.
The drive to his place took about an hour, and we soon understood that “rules” are more like guidelines here. For example, lanes in the roads are more like guidelines for how cars should drive in the street, and declared “No smoke zones” are not really no smoke zones… There is an order to this chaos, we just haven’t found it yet.
I’m sure some of you are curious about religious rules. It’s pretty liberal, you practice your religion in your own way. I don’t have to wear a head scarf but some people do, very strict or casual, some people wear Burka’s and so on. It’s pretty chill actually 🙂
So Wahaj picked us up and took us to his place, this beautiful new stonehouse in a quiet neighborhood. We got our own room wiht a bathroom and everything :). We had breakfast (which is basically lunch or dinner food) and then we went to sleep for a couple of hours.
After waking up again, dazed and confused, we went to go shopping for Pakistani clothing, with Wahaj and his fiancé Fatima. She helped me pick out my Shalwar kameez, traditional dress, and Wahaj looked after August. We realised pretty quickly that we didn’t bring appropriate clothing (cover knees, sholders, nothing too revealing) but now we are set!
We went to see a mosque built by Saudi Arabia and also named after the Saudi king at the time: Fasial Mosque in Islamabad
We just stopped to take a photo, and then continued up the mountains called Maragalla hills to a view point, with a beautiful view over Islamabad. This is Fatima, me, August and Wahaj at this view point:
After this we went to a restaurant called Monal restaurant.
Here me and August ordered a vegetarian platter (BTW everyone is sad we are vegetarians, cause apparently all their best food is with chicken). They cost about 650 PKR a piece, which is about 5 euros. We could have shared one, cause it was alot of food. Also, on the menu it said that the Palak Panir (spinach dish) was not spicy; this was a lie. I had a really hard time eating, to the amusement of our hosts, haha. The view from Monal was amazing. We saw Islamabad by night and the sky cleared a little.
After dinner we drove Fatima home and then we went to Wahaj’s place. His grandma and brother Mustafa was outside to greet us, and after a while, thier parents returned from spending some time in Karachi, where Mustafa’s and Wahaj’s sister lives. Me and August presented gifts from Sweden, honey from the area I’m from, cloudberry jam, licorice and a glass candleholder from the area me and August used to live. They liked the licorice, haha, (or they said they did ;)). Then we had chai, and got some more food. We wathced a Jackie Chan movie on netflix, and Mustafa fixed a shisha for us. We smoked shisha and discussed politics, solving the problems of the world, before going to bed.
In conclusion: first day in Pakistan was unreal. But we are getting first class service and are being treated extremly well. The people are very respectful and nice, and the weather is warm and humid (we had 34 degrees yesterday mid day).
We still can’t understand this is happening, and that we are not going back home anytime soon, hell, we dont even live anywhere! Home is where the heart is.
Tomorrow we will visit Rawalpindi, which is where Wahaj and his family lives and do some more shopping for sandals, plus August wants a colourful shirt in the traditional style.
Lots of love
August and Linnea