Stories about tourism

Chagharzai and other valleys: An epiphany in itself

Every now and then, we hear someone singing odes to the beauty of Pakistan’s North-West regions. Be it by one of those recent sing-along tourism promos running on nearly every news network these days, after a prolonged wave of violence in Malakand Division, or some bunch of local yahoos who’d just returned from a trip from any of the numerous valleys and lakes. The fact remains that the actual beauty and splendour of these areas is still quite underrated, despite all such praises. Even though the last few years’ armed conflicts have labelled the entire region as a no-go zone, ...

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Getting high in Pakistan

I believe words do not suffice when it comes to describing the emotions that run through you when you’re standing at the foot of a mountain. The raw beauty and power of these mighty mountains make you realise how small we really are. No matter how many times I see them, those mountains, valleys, glaciers or plains of multiple coloured flowers changing after every few feet, I am always left speechless. Maybe it’s just me, but somehow, just being there instils this faith that there truly is a higher power out there. To truly understand these mountainous areas and northern valleys, one ...

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In Malaysia, I visited a mosque – In Pakistan, I can’t

I am a Pakistani, but the first time I visited a mosque comfortably was in Malaysia. I was able to appreciate the house of worship without once feeling like an outsider, something I have never been able to do while living in Pakistan. As a non-Muslim tourist in an Islamic country I felt liberated to reveal my identity to everyone, and I consciously did so just to relive that feeling again and again before I returned home. In Malaysia, however, it is not until one utters ‘Assalamu alaikum’ can you gauge if they are Muslim. Although over 61.3% of the population ...

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Six of my favourite experiences while getting lost in the magical world of Turkey!

In my earlier blog, I wrote about the influx of Turkish dramas on Pakistani television channels. Ever since Urdu 1’s Ishq-e-Mamnoon shot to fame there has been no looking back. In fact, the Pakistani audience has been literally swept off their feet. For me, this was followed by a desire to appreciate the wonderful Turkish culture in person. While making travel plans with four of my friends we unanimously agreed on Turkey as our vacation destination. Our plan was to have an adventurous backpacking sort of trip for nine days and we set out with our ambitious itinerary. I am glad to say that our trip ...

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From Palestine to Chitral: Miracles do happen

In an age in which reading or watching the news is enough to turn any normal human being into a raging lunatic or a hardened cynic, the smallest piece of good news is often like a breath of fresh air and can do wonders for restoring a positive outlook on life. Rooftops near North Jerusalem. Photo: Abdullah Saad I am originally a Palestinian from Jerusalem, and like many Palestinians, I suffer (or perhaps benefit) from a severe case of Wanderlust. Dome of the Rock. Photo: Abdullah Saad This means that we have to remain on the move ...

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Childhood memories of India

In the early 80s my parents, who were both Indians, settled in Pakistan and got married. Yet, somehow they never left India behind and thus began our annual tradition of travelling to Rampur, India each summer. As toddlers, my siblings and I loved the feeling of crossing the Wagah Border. We used to grin and wave at the Sikhs guarding the border who stood there tall and proud, flaunting their grand horses. And how can I forget the petrichor as we passed by the vast, barren fields – it was truly beautiful. For my parents, India was a safe haven ...

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Katoora Lake: An awe-inspiring spectacle of beauty

Katoora Lake (also called Jaz Dand) is situated in the Lamoti Valley of Upper Dir, KPK at an altitude of 11,500 ft approximately. Most of the time, this lake is surrounded by high mountains covered with snow. The best season to visit it is August/September. However, June and July are also good months for a tour, if you are prepared for random monsoon showers. The level of difficulty for trekking in the area may be considered ‘moderate’ for regular trekkers/hikers. Moderate weather, fresh air and stunning views – a winning combination. Photo: Murtaza Mahmud Travel towards Jaz ...

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Alpine Skiing and the two Pakistanis who made a new record!

Imagine yourself clipped into a pair of 216cm downhill skis, pushing out of the start and flying at 145km/h down a steep, icy slope. Imagine the snow conditions ranging from bulletproof ice to slushy ruts and the terrain ranging from a near cliff to flat ground all in the same breadth. It’s not an easy task to confront a tsunami of challenges that Alpine skiing throws at you. Alpine skiing, also known as downhill skiing, is the sport of sliding down snow-covered hills on skis with fixed-heel bindings. Sounds scary? Well, it is! Photo: Pakistan Adventure Tours and Expeditions ...

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Eid shopping and memories from Swat

Swat: I grab my white parrunay (veil) and handbag, and ask my younger son to hire a rickshaw for us. It’s the last week of Ramazan and my clothes for Eid are still lacking a lace here, and a button there; my elder son wants shoes while the younger one wants to a buy a shirt like the one his friend at school has. As the rickshaw races towards Cheena market – the local market where almost everything is available that a woman might need for herself and also for her kids – I see life at its full swing. People of ...

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Disney World the Korean way: The magic of Lotte World!

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they’re in the Park. I want them to feel that they’re in another world.” This approach made Mr Walt Disney come up with the idea of Disney World, a place I always wanted to visit but couldn’t. Little did I know that South Korea had a surprise in store for me in the form of “Lotte World”, or as I like to call it, the Korean Disney World. Being someone who has not let go of her inner child, I was more than happy to discover Lotte World. I just ...

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