When your mind finally clears, you feel it. It’s a feeling deep inside. It’s a feeling of excitement, nervousness, and a strong desire to delve deeper into the unknown. Here Jacob and I were, experiencing this very feeling, riding atop an old, rusty bus, crossing the remote Shandur pass In North East Pakistan. Our destination is Chitral, a series of mysterious valleys located deep in the Hindu Kush. As the warm apricot scented wind blew across our faces, and we marveled at the impossibly beautiful mountains, the feeling only intensified. “This is exactly where I want to be.” It’s not often I say this to myself but, being in such an incredible moment, it seems plausible. This is Chitral, in North Pakistan. Read More
Paradise: A word often used to describe white sand, blue water and sitting in a lounge chair with your favourite beverage with no worries at all. This may be paradise for many, but not for me. For me,paradise is a place far removed from the fast paced life we live today. A place where the landscapes are like no other on this planet. It’s a placewhere you can meet people who live long, happy lives and theirconcerns are more to do with the simple necessities of life rather than high politics or the affairs of the world. This is the Hunza Valley in Pakistan.
I am staring into a mountain vista from my hotel balcony. It’s the kind of view that makes you question everything you know. I have never seen such beauty as this before. The valley bottom is carpeted with green, spire-like trees that are flecked with red, orange and that quintessential golden colour of fall, while jagged, monstrous, white peaks above surround the valley like a fortress. The clouds, so high up on the mountains, appear static. The human eye cannot comprehend the movement of these clouds, as they are almost 8000 m up. The setting is like a painting. It’s perfect. Read More
Passu and Gulmit – Pakistan Time, it is a measurement used from old to new, to what you’re doing right this moment and into the unknown future that lie ahead. Time inevitably affects us all. Time in the west is something we either race against or ignore altogether. Time is what makes you choose life changing decisions and ultimately to grow old with experience. Embrace time and it can benefit you, but you must be cautious to not get caught in its relentless pace or you will miss the good moments in life. When one travels, time takes many forms, it can take the form of pressure when it’s counting down to that next plane connection you might miss, the form of frustration after you hear how many hours the bus will take because of road conditions.
Time can also take in the form of age, when you discover how long ago a civilization founded the city you’re in or the age lines of an older man telling you a story of a long lost culture of the past. There are special places a traveler finds themselves from time to time, places where time slows down. Cultures are more preserved here and people genuinely seem happier, but there is a place I stumbled upon where time does not exist at all, this is Passu and Gulmit in northern Pakistan. Read More
Late one evening while in Lahore Pakistan a friend invited me to a Sufi ceremony. Little did I know one of the most popular Qawwali bands would be featured at this ceremony. This particular ceremony lasted one and a half hours, and I sat front row with the band. Listening to the powerful rhythms of Qawwali put one into a trance, a soul beating spiritual trance where the Sufis spin in a circle connecting themselves with god. Be so close with the band it was hard not to fall deep into this trance as well. One of my top experiences of Pakistan was this night, the beautiful beats of Qawwali will forever be a part of me.