After all the police escorts we got “released” in Multan. We drove to Islamabad on a brand-new Motorway (with nobody on it, super weird). We needed to arrange our visas for India. We understood that this visa could be difficult but to be honest it was very easy. We asked for one year with triple entry and we got it, so nice! We don’t know how long we will stay in India but having the flexibility is great. They only small detail we still have to fix is getting the government of India to agree that our camper is also allowed for a year 🙂 Which is unfortunately almost impossible, 6 months per year is the max normally. At the moment we are planning to stay in India and Nepal for 6 months in total, if we get the extension, we will go further south in India and will do more volunteering work.
We stayed for one week in Islamabad and this city has in our opinion not really a heart or a soul. Luckily, we could stay in a very relax place and we met with our biker friend Matthias again. We also wanted to see a bit more of the northern part of Pakistan. “They” say the northern part is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are five mountains above 8.000 meters and the area is huge. Unfortunately, for us we were in the wrong season in Pakistan, too much snow and temperature go’s down from -10 to -25 degrees. We went towards Swat Valley to explore a bit of the mountain area. We stayed on the farm of Niaz and Shujaat, two brothers. Another five families do also live at the farm. They worked on the farm and there were many many kids. We had a warm welcome and Morgan made quickly new friends so we decided to stay for a couple of days. The families where amazing to us and showed us around in the valley.
Morgan wanted to see some snow so after Swat valley we went up north to look for it… well, we found it… Our goal was to visit Kalam but 10 km before the village we decided to stop driving. The snow chains were in use but the roads were full of snow and the valley expected even more the next day. We made a massive snow man and kicked some asses with a snow fight! The next day we drove 120 km towards Besham, it was our longest 120 km ever and it took us 10 hours … On the top of one of the mountains police was very worried about us so they gave us an escort again because of difficult road conditions, or so they said. We really didn’t want it but looking at the faces we decided just to wait. After two hours we finally could drive again, with our snow chains sliding down a steep mountain. An adventure on its own. The next day, the police wanted to escort us again but they didn’t expect that we drove off at 06:30 in the morning. Due to their laziness (nobody around at that time) we could drive ourselves without any escort.
Lahore is a city which has huge diversity, we cannot believe it sometimes. We stayed one week in the city and there is so much to explore. The city has 12.5 million inhabitants. It’s a crazy but also mysterious. For example – in Lahore the are a lot of Sufis. Sufism is a liberal stream inside the Islam believe based on spirituality and philosophy. It is also a mystic tradition inside of the Islam. On Thursday evening people join at holy shrines, were important Sufi’s are buried. With a lot of singing and dancing they welcome their weekend. Stephen went to see a gathering and was quite impressed of the ceremony and scenery. In the city itself there is much to see, big mosques and craziness everywhere. There is also a darker side. Many poor people and people with handicaps on the street, begging for some change. We give what we can but it’s never enough for everybody. Morgan has a lot of questions in regards of this and sometimes it’s hard to explain what is wrong and how some people get treated by other human beings.
Stephen always had “some” issue with authority 🙂 but we found out in Pakistan that he really does not like it….. We got stopped so many times by police that it slowly gets irritating. The stops are meanly for curious policemen who want to see our camper. The area where we drove was safe. They don’t know what to do with our passport (they can’t read it) and also are unaware about our visa. They just want to show some authority in their district. After a couple of “clashes” with strange cops we decided that Lillian will do the word. Sometimes you just have to except.
In the country side there are almost no women on the street. When we see them, they are wearing a burka. We have read that a lot of women in Pakistan have a hard time. In the cities it’s changing with little help of the government but still there is a lot of suffering due to mental or physical violence. We start to see the difference between “classes” and behaviours between people. People are very happy to see us. We feel safe and welcome but with that said the part of the human rights does make it difficult for us to completely enjoy our stay in some areas. Some men intent to have a conversation only to Stephen. They don’t say a word to Lillian and just ignore her. The world is different here and there are things we don’t understand, difference in culture and habits are enormous. Off course we also meet many nice people with super very friendly faces. The hospitality is great, like Iran everybody wants to help (but first a selfie ;-))
We got used to the starring, really…but again we have to get used to this level of starring. The question “to stare or not to stare” has past and people go in all the way… Everywhere we walk people look at us. In Iran they looked and then people would say hello. In Pakistan, people just stare with extreme intensity. On the touristic places (for Pakistani) people ask a lot for a selfie. Sometimes after numerous photos we get so tired and we say no – people here don’t understand, the world is only turning with mobiles nowadays so way don’t make a selfie with tourists … Good practice for India, we heard it’s going to be more extreme.
We fell in love with the Pakistani art on the trucks, tractors and Tuk-tuk’s. After driving around a couple of weeks, we felt that Ella (our home) also needed to get some colours on her “skin”. We found an artist who could make something for us. We asked him to first make a suggestion and after approval he could start making it real life. We didn’t hear anything but after 2 days he told it was ready… Luckily after seeing the result we loved it all the way!! We asked for a Peacock and he created three. In many countries the peacock’s symbol means, beauty, dignity & wakefulness. We describe them as three flying traveling birds with the names: Morgan, Lillian & Stephen.
Tomorrow we will cross the border to India. The border crossing is a special thing between Pakistan & India. The closing of the gate is great to watch from both sides. For the first time in our lives we went to a border (even without our car) and did not cross it. We saw it from the Pakistani side. Tomorrow we will see it from the Indian side. It’s a big show with a lot of testosterone. In the past both countries fought a lot and still there is a lot of anger from both sides. (example is the Kashmir region)
Would we go back to Pakistan, yes for sure! This country has so much to offer and we really want to see the nature in the north one day!
Love from us.