I have been in the UK for almost two weeks now. I came here straight from Pakistan where we spent a week in the north of the country in a place called Nathia Gali (if you click on this link on the right you will see a picture of a church, yes, a church, still very much visited by people which I saw with my own eyes as we went past it on numerous occassions) which was also the last place we visited before going to Oman last year. Now, when people hear that I’ve just been on holiday in Pakistan they are somewhat dumbfounded which I find quite amusing because they just simply don’t have a clue what a beautiful country Pakistan is.
Having spent four months is scorching desert heat all I really wanted was to escape to the green. Well, that’s not all I wanted. I also needed to go back to Pakistan for which I had longed ever since I landed in Oman the year before so considering that I only had just over a week between the start of my annual leave and going to the UK (which I’m regretting very much), going to Pakistan was a rather easy decision to make. At first we wanted to go even further north, i.e. Gilgit but I didn’t really want to fly and it’s a bit too far for a road trip if you have a limited amount of time, plus it had been raining and landslides had been reported so we decided to settle for what we already knew from the year before just as long as it was peaceful and green. We spent the first day in my beloved Islamabad where B. made me go to numerous shops to buy some new clothes (I hate shopping for clothes but both B. and his sister decided that I needed new clothes and whilst I protested, we met halfway and I got two new kurtas instead of five that he had wanted me to buy. Apparently in Pakistan girls often won’t wear the same clothes for too long – they will buy them, wear for some time, give away and then buy new ones. On the other hand, I will wear my clothes until they’ve basically faded). On the first day we also went to the Fatima Jinnah Park, the best place in Islamabad as far as I’m concerned, where we spent hours walking when we used to live there. This park is massive, lush green and planted right in the middle of the city. I miss it so much I want to cry every time I think about it. What I also love about it is that there are loads of people who visit it daily. They walk, chat, do sports, you can hardly find a parking place! Have a look for yourselves!
On that day and the following too we went to a really cool bakery/coffee house called Loafology Bakery & Cafe which is known as a European Bakery in Islamabad. It’s a really nice and trendy place to be in Islamabad with delicious food, though a tad expensive for Pakistan. Having said that, the place seems to be popular with young(-ish) people plus there is apparently a Polish chef who works there. Sadly, at the time he was away on holiday in Poland but it would have been nice to say hello, I guess.
On Day 2 we picked up a car which we had rented for the duration of the holiday and we hit the road. Our friends, a couple, also went with us but in their own car. Nathia Gali is just only about 80 km north of Islamabad, but soon after leaving the city, you get to the mountains which obviously means that you can’t drive as fast. I’d forgotten what driving in Pakistan was like or perhaps having spent almost a year driving in Oman, I started paying more attention to the act of driving even though in Pakistan I was, and will forever be I think, a passenger. Well, the traffic isn’t great and most people drive dangerously and with no consideration for others, also or particularly in the mountains where you have to be extra special careful. Thank God there aren’t more accidents than there actually are though I don’t understand why! After 3-4 hours on the road, which was very busy, because in the summer a lot of people spend their weekends (and it was Saturday) in the mountains where the temperature is 15-20 degrees lower than in the city (also, there had been a landslide at one point and the traffic was even slower) we arrived at the hotel which we had booked before. It was a nice hotel but in a somewhat busy part of Nathia Gali which at first I wasn’t too happy about because I’d wanted peace and quiet but it turned out it was just the front of the hotel which was hectic and the back, including our room, overlooked a valley.
We spent three days there, mostly hiking in the mountains. On one of those days we went up to the top of Miranjani, one the highest peaks in the area, which made me very tired but was absolutely breathtaking. These are some of the videos from the first part of the journey. They speak more than words!
This is me having a little crisis and B. basically saying “You got what you wanted”.
After the three days we decided to go back to the hotel where we stayed the year before. It’s smaller but much more peaceful and tucked away in a tiny corner of Nathia Gali. It was only a ten-minute drive and we even managed to get last year’s room which has the most amazing view onto the valley.
The view from our terrace:
We also spent three days there and went on shorter or longer hikes in the forest and also went on a chairlift for the first time in my life which was both scary and exhilarating.
I love the planks with messages written on them and nailed to the trees in order to raise environmental awareness.
All of this couldn’t have been more different to the life we had/have back in Oman. Even the temperature was about 30 degrees lower and it was so very very chilly at night that we spent every evening under a proper duvet watching TV.
The week went by too quickly. The day before I flew to the UK we went back to Islamabad to finish off the shopping and do the laundry and off I went. The things is that… I didn’t have to come here this year, I shouldn’t have and I’m regretting every minute of it. B. didn’t get the visa again (tourist visa!!!) and in the unlikely event of any of the visa people ever reading this post, I’d like them to know that I hate them with all my heart for being utterly rasist. This is one of the reasons why it’s the last summer for me in the UK, another one being Brexit and the last one the fact that I’m actually really tired of working all the time – I should still be enjoying my time off with B. in the place that makes me the happiest. Inshallah, the next 5 weeks will fly by …