Photoessay: innumerable reasons to visit Pakistan

After the blog about travelling on a third world passport I got a lot of interesting feedback from people who try exploring the world on passports from Iran, Pakistan, and African countries. One of the most discouraging stories came from my good friend whom I met in Islamabad. It is bad enough to have a…

Vomiting, goldfish in vodka bottle and fairy queens

I’m being asked quite often about stomach issues in all the weird countries around the world. Maybe the fact that I am vegetarian saves me from constant diarrhoea, and I can’t tell you a story of how I ‘ate some elephant testicles and then couldn’t stand up for 5 days’, but let me tell you…

Why our world needs an Earthquake

I was there just a year ago, exactly this month, staring at the snowy top of Nanga Parbat and feeling sick because of the altitude and bumpy ride. A local girl that was sitting next to me on the bus pointed at the mountain in the light of morning sun: “Welcome to Gilgit-Baltistan!” My extended…

Hitchhiking the Karakoram highway in 2012

When planning your route into Pakistan through China – or the other way round – all along the Karakoram Highway, don’t forget that your last Lonely Planet guidebook was published in 2008 and researched in 2007. As you may suggest, many things have happened in Pakistan since, and not only the governments came and go,…

Milking goats in the hidden valley – the Wakhi trails of Pakistan

I was ready to leave. My last three weeks in Pakistan, on the Karakorum highway, were filled with mixed feelings. Travelling here was not easy, and being a single female traveller was not the main issue at all. In fact, most of the local communities belong to the Ismaili sect of Islam, the most liberal…

Touring police stations in Iran and Pakistan – part 2

Baluchistan in Iran is like Mindanao in Philippines, like Chechnya in Russia and sort of a horrible bedtime story for naughty kids. They’re all terrorists and separatists. In fact, the biggest problem of Baluchistan is the police. Mustachioed and not very mustachioed men from across the country who get transferred to this godforsaken corner of…