“Welcome to Pakistan, India finished.”
The first words I hear as I cross the 100m no mans land at the border, arriving in Pakistan.
What the Australian Government had to say at my time of arrival:
“We strongly advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Pakistan at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack, sectarian violence and the unpredictable security situation.”
What I have to say:
I’ve been here one week now, all of that time in Lahore, but for an initial impression, Pakistani people couldn’t be any nicer and the streets feel perfectly safe. Yes, I stay 5 mins walk around the corner from a bomb blast site, but being here – if you didnt know, you would know type thing, and it would’ve just been bad luck if you were walking past at the time.
I guess ignorance is bliss in a way.
Tourism isn’t the biggest industry here, and beyond those staying at the same place as me I haven’t seen another foreigner in town. Locals are blown away when they see you walk by, and for the most part people just double take or stare with bewilderment. Trying to sell you crap doesn’t even cross their minds, and by the time they’ve processed what just happened your already gone.
People are calling out from the other side of the street, balconies, cars, bicycles, shouting their best HELLO, HELLO! Coming up and shaking your hand, looking you up and down, ‘What you do in Pakistan!?’ haha, its kinda cute.
Some people get culture-shocked arriving in new places, sensory overload, taking photos of everything, cant cross the street properly.
I get food-shocked, I’m seeing breakfast, lunch and dinner of things that my taste buds have never even sampled before! haha
Its fair to say the first night I went to bed feeling quite self-indulgently ill.
The hardest thing though is actually buying food, none of the street vendors will let me pay for anything! They’re so siked to have an Australian sitting on their plastic stool, trying to get them to accept money is impossible. I’m sure they’re calling out to their friends on the other side of the street “hey, this guy is from Australia, he knows Ricky Ponting!”
I cant tell if its because I’m happy to be out of India, or if Pakistan is indeed better, but so far I’m having a pretty good time.
Foods good, weather’s good, shits cheap, nets fast (when its working), people are nice, and streets quiet in comparison.
As far as being in the Indian subcontinent goes, there’s not much more you can ask for.
“Hello!”, “Please sit down” an icy cold Coke is shoved in my hand.
And that’s how I met Muzammil.
His family is Pakistan’s only registered exported of reconditioned Vespas. If your in the UK and riding a reco Vespa, chances are it come from his little shop.
We hang out every afternoon, talk shit, drink Chai, and ride Vespa’s around the city in the evening. He’s made it a great week.