I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, but had never been to what is called the northern areas. After moving to the states in 1995, I thought I would never get a chance. Then in 2005, after my college graduation, I made a plan to visit my aunt and uncle in Karachi, Pakistan. And they surprised my brother and I with a trip to what we call a call "a bit of heaven on earth".
Getting there was an adventure in itself. We decided to take the slow but, more culturally engaging method of transportation-Pakistan's railway. It is a two to three day trip to Lahore. We reached Lahore and met up with our cousins and family. They showed us all the sights-from Wagha Border ceremony to Badshai Masjid. We saw the Shalimar gardens, and Minar-e-Pakistan. The beautiful mausoleums of people in the by-gone era were sort of well preserved, yet still beautiful. I could imagine Mughal princesses in their ornate attire staying there.
After Lahore, we took a bus ride to Islamabad, the nation's capital. We spent a few days there taking in all the sights from Faisal Mosque to all the Parliament Buildings. We even visited an old zoo and park where I use to play when I lived their briefly. Beautiful city!
After Islamabad, the real adventure began. We chartered a bus and drove up to all the beautiful, and historic places of Punjab. Muree, Bhurban, and Taxila. Taxila is one place where we spent a few hours. Mostly an archeological sight, there is little left of the city, but, to stand among the broken-down buildings that were thousands of years old was definetely a bucket-list moment.
From Taxila, we entered the northern areas. Unfortunutely, I don't remember many names of the little towns we passed by, but what stood out were the little cafe's along the rivers and roads. I drank the best chai ever there!
Once in the northern regions, we took many trips to beautiful glaciars, mountain-tops, and lakes. The rides in those jeeps were so memorable and dangerous. I am about taking risks, but that was too much of a risky business for me. Another factor that effected me was the worst food poisoning I had experienced. I still don't know how I managed to climb all those hills and walk all those miles while being sick. One thing I took from the whole experience was how hospitable the natives were. They had close to nothing, but they helped us navigate like they were the most content and satisfied people.
Overall, this was a great learning experience. I learned and visited an area of my country that I had heard about in passionate conversations. I highly recommend people to go there, although I must warn, it is better to take a native with you to guide you along the way. I never felt threathened or singled-out, in fact when the people realized I was from out of the country, they were more curious and hospitable.