Jovago Pakistan recently interviewed a David, a Dutch traveler who visited Pakistan recently. Read his interesting interview and experiences about Pakistan.
Our first question is who is David? Tell us a little detail about yourself.
We are two Dutchies, mid-twenties, with a love for culture and people. We met at the University of Amsterdam where we both studied Cultural Anthropology. We also share a love for documentaries and literature, amongst others.
Currently, we are on the adventure of a lifetime, driving our car, a Land Rover Defender named Dox, from the Netherlands to Southeast-Asia.
What was the primary reason to visit Pakistan?
To be honest, we only visited Pakistan out of necessity. We wanted to go from Iran to India over land and this meant we had to go via Pakistan as well.
China has some strict rules for traveling with a foreign car making it very expensive to do so, so that was never an option for us.
What was your perception about Pakistan before your trip?
The media had succeeded in ruining our image of Pakistan, so we thought it would be best to cross this “dangerous” country as soon as possible.
All that we had heard was news about Taliban, acid attacks and honor killings, although we did meet very few people who had been there and said they loved Pakistan.
When we arrived, we instantly realized Pakistan was completely different than we had expected and without needing to discuss this, we decided to stay instead of crossing over to India as soon as possible.
How will you describe your trip to Pakistan in three words?
Hospitality, chaos, colorful
What makes Pakistan different from countries you have visited so far?
The amount of people per square meter is definitely a new experience for us. What stands out most however, is the incredible hospitality of the Pakistani people.
Although we did already experience a similar thing in Iran, it never ceases to amaze us how generous people are towards us and how happy they seem to be to help.
How many Pakistani cities you have visited so far?
Good question… We will leave out the ones in Baluchistan, as we cannot really say we visited those, being restricted to our hotel room due to security reasons, so that leaves: Sukkur, Multan, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Chilas, Gilgit, Karimabad and Lahore.
What 3 cities you love the most in the cities you visited in Pakistan?
Sukkur: It was the first city we really explored in Pakistan. It was a perfect start. Not too busy, easy, small(l compared to other cities) and we really got a good impression of Pakistani life. Also, they are not used to tourists too much and that is very nice too!
Islamabad: We stayed for about 2 weeks in Islamabad. A city that is clean, relaxed, not too busy, no honking while driving and very organized.. Kind of European.
We liked staying there for a while, since we had been on the road for quite a long time and this was the perfect place to relax and organize our stuff again. We stayed with a Pakistani guy, Imran, via Couchsurfing, and he turned out to become a very good friend. That friendship made it nice as well.
Lahore: Because it is the city with culture, history and beautiful buildings. You feel the history when you walk through the city. And it isn’t too touristic (yet). We like that! The food is amazing too.
What 3 places you will recommend to every foreigner to visit in Pakistan?
Hunza: For the walking and the nature.
Lahore: For the city and the history.
Islamabad: To see the difference between ‘old’ cities and a ‘planned’ city.
If you get a chance to visit Pakistan again, which 3 destinations you would like to explore?
Chitral: We have not visited this area because the weather was not good enough. We tried to go from Gilgit to Chitral, but Shandur pass was already closed.
Karachi: A city that busy… we just have to go there one day. We also believe it is Pakistan’s unofficial capital.
Swat: Same reason as Chitral. The weather did not allow us to finish our trip of the North.
What were some of the problems you faced in Pakistan as a foreigner?
We did not really experience problems… but we did get fed up with the police escort sometimes. We understand why it is necessary, but it takes a bit of freedom away. Another thing: Pakistani people can be very determined.
In Europe we like our personal space, but here it is a bit different. We had to get used to that. We love to meet Pakistani people, but sometimes their determination to meet us and meet us again is a bit overwhelming, especially since our time is limited.
What will be your answer if anyone asks you, “Why Should I visit Pakistan?”
You should visit Pakistan because you will be welcomed like no other country will welcome you, because Pakistan is so often misunderstood and misrepresented that the reality will amaze you and because it has so much to offer tourists: history, culture, food and nature. And because of the Pakistani trucks!
You must have researched on Pakistan before visiting. What is different in the real Pakistan?
Yes, we did do some researching, but on the other hand we did not really research country specific stuff. Most of our time went to organizing and researching practical things, like the “passport” for our car Carnet de Passage (you can read more about this on our website), visa matters, diesel availability, camping possibilities and other rules and regulations as well as getting our car adventure proof.
If you consider that we were both working full time up to a week before our departure and we planned to visit 18 countries, you might understand why we did not research every country specifically.
We did however speak to two people about Pakistan and they contradicted the image of Pakistan as portrayed by the media, but we were still not sure about the current situation, as these people had visited Pakistan a while ago. The difference in the real Pakistan is mostly that Pakistani are really happy to meet tourist, instead of hating them for not being Muslims.
Out of the different types of cuisines you had in Pakistan, which one was your favorite? And why?
We LOVE Pakistani food, especially spicy dishes, but amongst are favorites are the basic, vegetarian dishes as chana and dal and we also love a good samosa.
Share one of your most memorable moment or incident in/about Pakistan.
One of our most memorable moments was climbing Ultar mountain in Hunza, partly because it was both horrific and amazing at the same time.
We did a ghastly hike of 14 hours, partially descending the mountain in complete darkness. We were horrendously unprepared, bringing only two bananas and 1.5 liter water, not knowing we would go on such a long hike.
Although it was exhausting and a bit dangerous even, we also formed a friendship with our local guide along the way and managed to cross the steep mountain as untrained hikers. You can find the full story on this adventure on our website (http://www.homeiswherethecaris.com/the-hike-ultar-mountain-and-the-hon-pass/)
Any ending note for readers?
We would say that the world can learn a lot from Pakistan! It is amazing to see how generous they treat their visitors. We truly hope this will remain the same, even when tourism will increase and we hope it does!
On the other hand, we also see that Pakistan has a lot of potential that is currently not being used in the right way. With so many natural resources and a strategic position, the revenue should be used in a way that benefits all Pakistanis and we think education might be a good start.
Overall, we believe Pakistan’s future looks bright and we are curious to see what it will be like in the future. Nothing but good, inshallah.