Stories about travel

A walk through the historic streets of Chakwal

We start our journey on foot from the doorways of our ancestral home on Allah Da’d street, located across from Sarpak (meaning ‘pure ground’ in Urdu). I visit Chakwal occassionally and we always spend a few days in this house, owned and originally built by my great-great-grandfather. The baithak in the centre commands serenity and space, and brings all the members of the household together for communal dining and reminiscing of the past. The surrounding rooms have changed shape over the years and have adapted to modern day comforts, but the elders still remember how everything was originally, comprising of: a space to keep cows and hens, ...

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To Baku and beyond: A melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture

Known as the city of winds, Baku offers warm hospitality, rich culture, inspiring architecture and natural beauty to amuse all kinds of travellers. The city is soaked in history, and almost every turn you take will give glimpses of its glorious past and aspirations for the future. The architecture and food are inspired by the millennia of cultural influences from Romans, Mongols and Turks. Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture. Baku ticks all the boxes on the list of any discerning traveller and I couldn’t resist the first opportunity I got to visit ...

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Walking with the Incas in Machu Picchu, a land where the ancient gods still reign

“Ama Sua. Ama Lulla. Ama Quella.” “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not be lazy.” This age-old quote from the Andean highlands defined the code of life for a nation that rose from oblivion to become one of the greatest cultures of its time – the Inca. Today, after 500 years, one of its architectural marvels, Machu Picchu, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Cusco, the ancient capital of Inca, was my first stop on the way to Machu Picchu. Situated at an elevation of 3,000 metres, this acted as a stopover and helped me acclimatise to the ...

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From “New Year, new me” to “New Year, same old me”: 5 resolutions you hear at the start of every year

There’s a lot of talk and literature on the five stages of grief; you may even know them by heart. It’s great if you know; grief is tough to deal with and people should be introduced to its stages and variations. However, there are other things too which recur yearly, that people should be prepared for. Last year, my best friend Seher called me on December 31st, saying: “Maryam, this is it. 2018 is the year.” I immediately recalled our conversation on December 31, 2016, when she revealed to me that 2017 would be the year. But I love that girl to bits, so ...

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It’s only been 6 months and Islamabad International Airport is already falling apart

The newly built Islamabad International Airport is yet another example of how poor planning continues to add rust to the public exchequer. Despite the nation’s capital being in dire need of a better airport, the new building has failed to deliver in every aspect. Since its inauguration in May this year, it has seen a plethora of structural flaws that have revealed it to be less of an airport and more of a health hazard. To start with, years before its inauguration, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accepted flaws in the design of the runways due to which multiple ...

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Cinque Terre: The heavenly villages of Italy

I suppose I should begin with a disclaimer: I have never been a ‘sea person’. My husband on the other hand, being a ‘child of the coast’, mocked me for my aversion towards oceans and beaches. Sometimes, however, destiny has a different plan for us than the one we expect. So one fine morning, we decided to drive, and drive we did! The Ligurian sea Starting all the way from Brussels to breathtaking Interlaken in Switzerland, then Como in Italy and finally heading towards the five enchanting villages of the Italian Riviera, known collectively as Cinque Terre ...

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The phoenix of history: Nothing captured my heart like Berlin did

From the moment I stepped out of the Berlin Tegel airport on to the city that possesses one of the richest histories in the world, the air around me transformed. Compared to the noisy Karachi streets where each nook and corner is densely populated, streets in Berlin seem fairly less crowded. The very air reeked of its past, almost as if it is haunted by the disputes once started on this very land. When I entered my apartment in West Berlin, I was unaware of the significance of my position, its only days later when I realised that the East-West ...

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Beauty at its ‘peak’: Climbing the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa

At 5,895 metres, Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in the continent of Africa. Though dormant now, it is also the highest volcano in the world outside of South America. The mountain is one of the seven summits (a term used for highest peak in each of the seven continents). From the plains of Moshi to its summit, the mountain rises a staggering 5,100 metres, which makes it the tallest free-standing mountain on the planet. While it may not be for the faint-hearted, for many trekking/mountain climbing enthusiasts like myself, it is one of the starting points of their climbing career. [caption ...

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Some Seoul searching: Paris, New York, Chicago have their charm but Seoul has my heart

Whenever I’ve heard people plan vacations, Seoul, South Korea has never been part of the conversation. Maybe because of the language barrier or simply because it’s so underrated, but Pakistanis in general don’t consider Seoul a place to vacation in. This is why when I found out I’d be going to Seoul for a journalism conference, I was a little cautious. I did not know what to expect and since I didn’t anyone who had been there, I wasn’t sure how much I’d like it. However, after spending eight days in the city, Seoul easily tops my favourite cities. Paris, New York, Chicago have ...

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The endless fascination of a window

Windows are fascinating. Many adventures have started with a gaze, a deep alley, a train station, or an intriguing stranger. We all share the secret hope that there is something better, across the river or over the hill. A universal wish, that we were out there somewhere, and not on this side of the window. Yes, windows are fascinating. Why else do we, as schoolchildren, stare out at the sky, yearning for the bell signalling the end of class? Cradling our chins in our pulpy hands, we looked out a pane of glass and let our imagination drift as we awaited the ...

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