Welcome to Pakistan - Proud, Passionate and Pure -Frothy Betty in Pakistan

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Photo by Syed Hamza Mobeen

And so I arrive with a smile on my face and a skip in my step, excited to be seeing for myself the true Pakistan. Exiting the airport I wave off multiple offers for taxis and I’m followed most persistently by one taxi driver… "No thank you I’m being picked up by my friend”. I’d received a message from my biker buddy saying I had to walk out of the airport grounds past the main gate as bikes were not allowed into the compound. Sure no problem I say… lone blonde, white woman venturing into a sea of men and past armed forces. I can do this no worries… No friend to be seen near main gate, ummm, hmmm… Cool no worries… I walk a bit further to a different gate… Ohhhh you mean the other main gate…Big smiles,as I see my friend walking towards me. Safe and well met in Pakistan :)

islamabad

Islamabad is a lot like Canberra, for those who have ever been to Australia’s capital city you’ll know what I mean. Islamabad is a quiet capital full of diplomats, government officials and upwardly educated people. It lacks the seething chaotic buzz that other cities such as Lahore have. Sleepy in a Canberra kind of way. That night we ventured out into the market to purchase local attire that I’m to wear for the first couple of days of our bike trip. I’m told its best if I wear local clothes for the deadly hot and dusty section of the Karakoram Highway between Abbottabad to Chilas. Stepping foot in a new country with a completely different culture from my own is very exciting but respecting the local customs is a basic common courtesy. No point in drawing unnecessary attention and making others feel uncomfortable and no there was no immediate danger from Allah’s wrath. Anyway the clothes are beautiful and elegant for women and so I was more than happy to acquiesce.

My first action in Pakistan is a meeting with the Head of Red Crescent in this region. We chat for about an hour and I am blown away by the knowledge, passion and dedication that is flowing from this man. I learn a lot about the political, cultural and social situations in Pakistan and am given many points into which I will investigate further. The history is incredibibly interesting, with regards to tribal areas, governing Princes, how Pakistan has been used and left to clean up the mess by various world powers. Pakistan faces environmental disasters of grand proportion with regards to flooding and earthquakes. There is great need in this country and so very much to do. He spoke lovingly and warmly about the Pakistani people. How they are some of the most caring people on the planet, a sentiment I agree with. They really do want peace and to change the perception that mass media has dumped upon them. I leave the meeting feeling empowered to make a change for the better. There is a place for Frothy Betty in Pakistan.

The weather is hot… too hot to be content with. We meet with a friend of The Karakoram Club, (a wonderful group of like minds connecting people for the love of mountains), who very generously offers paying for a night at a hotel in a mountain hill resort so we can escape the city heat. I’m moved by this lovely gesture, an example of the generosity of locals.

So off we head to Murree. Bye for now Islamabad.