25 Ways to Travel Cheap

This is a brilliant read and a possible hint at my future plans 😉

First for Everything

NOTE: Edited post from my old blog.

25 Ways to Travel CheapPeople always ask how I have the money to travel as much as I do. Well here are a few secrets, my friends! Hopefully you can learn from a few of my mistakes and benefit from some of my tips!

1.     The obvious way: travel on budget airlines. When I traveled around Southeast Asia, Air Asia, Jetstar and Tiger were insanely cheap – and I’m talking $65 flights from Bali to Phuket. I couldn’t express how much the phrase “you get what you pay for” applies to these, however, but they [usually] got us where we needed to go.

2.     TRIPADVISOR. TRIPADVISOR. TRIPADVISOR. We booked every single hotel after first reviewing them on tripadvisor.com. This website is absolutely essential to get the best value. From splurging on a 5 star hotel in Bangkok (Oriental…

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Guess who just got back to the blog world!

Hello everyone! I know I have been missing. But anyone who has ever moved in their lives can attest to how stressful and busy a time it can be. Well no I have settled in and will be back with a bang and you will all be seeing  lot more posts on here.

So what has happened since my last post? I moved to Malaysia, to the province of Sarawak. This is one of two Malaysian provinces on the island of Borneo, which itself is shared between Indonesia, Brunei and of course Malaysia itself. I now reside in the small pseudo-industrial town of Miri, fondly known as a “Shell town” because the Shell company struck oil here some decades ago and now there are many people here solely employed by them.

I said “pseudo” industrial because when you first land and step out of the airport, the sheer lush greenery makes it difficult to believe that this is an industrial town. Whats more is the strong feeling of ever encroaching nature just ready to reclaim its dominance, not the kind of man-developed greenery usually seen in other industrial towns to combat the environmental impact of industrial development, but true natural-rainforesty wildness punctuated by rivers and estuaries and small lakes here and there. What I mean to say is is, seeing the vast swamp like landscape, the ever present possibility of rain and the small-town lazy factor lend Miri a sort of hazy, laid back dreaminess described by Anne Rice in her descriptions of Louisiana perhaps? That seems to be the only comparison I can drum up right now.

What am I doing here you may wonder. Well I am studying. At Curtin University of Techonology’s off-shore campus. The university itself is based out of Australia. I am pursuing another degree now, Mass Communications, majoring in Public Relation and Film & Television. Fun times. Presetly I am a little exhausted from class so here I will proceed to insert some pictures of the crocodile farm. Enjoy!

And So The Big Day Arrived…

I am writing this post from the waiting lounge of Islamabad International Airport. Yes the day is finally here when I make that big move. From here its a few hours in Karachi and then a non-stop 6 hour stretch to KL for two nights I think.

As I sit here, there flight is a little delayed due to the summer rains that hit Pakistan from one end to the other every summer. As much of a blessing as these rains are during the sweltering heat, the reprieve is actually putting bumps in MY road to the bigger-and-better (or so I am told). To be honest, I have no idea what waits for me once I make this move. I have no idea how this move will affect my life or what it means in the grander scheme of things with regards to my life in general. I dont know if I care about that though, since I am being honest.

This move has been a long time coming. in the works since December, it has been delayed for one reason or the other to the point where my classes start on Monday (yes the approaching Monday, 16th of July) and I only just got my passport back yesterday. After cancelling flight booking after booking and losing alot of money in the process and my dad swearing to high heaven and everyone else praying, it seems like this is finally happening, despite all the hitches and glitches.

I will add more to this post as the journey progresses.

The Dark Heart Of Pakistan? Thanks a helluva lot Times!

This post was shared on my facebook this morning and I believe it needs to reach more people. I am a Pakistani and proud to be one. I still carry the dreaded Green Passport that only recently went from being filled in by hand to computer readable. And that has never stopped me from traveling or pursuing my dreams and striving for my potential. Again and again I have met people that have applauded me, shown interest and always dealt with me with respect. People are not stupid and the media can say what it wants but it seems to forget that humans do have thinking capabilites of their own and eventually will question. I always get questions about how things are REALLY in Pakistan. Here I will share this post that may give you a clearer picture.

Cover of the Times issue in question

 

An Australian’s REBUTTAL to TIME Magazine’s story on Karachi.

The Editor, Time Magazine

Dear Editor,

I recently returned from a charitable trip to Pakistan, whereby I visited both Karachi and Islamabad. I spoke with several universities, key businesses, prominent business leaders and several religious people from all generations….

On the day I returned to the office, someone had placed your magazine (January 16, 2012), on my desk. I read with interest your article on Karachi and the city in doom. For a person to have just returned from the very same place that your magazine described was somewhat bizarre, so I read with great detail your writer (Andrew Marshall’s) account.

Let me begin by saying that I often flick through your magazine and find the articles of great interest, but on this particular day and this particular article, I found certain comments to be both one sided and indeed very negative. I say that because I saw a different Pakistan to what was portrayed in your article. I do not and will not comment on the political or religious problems that the country faces, but I will go so far as to say that not everything is as bad as the image that your magazine paints.

Sure there are deaths in the cities. Please show me a city in the world that is free from political fighting and unrest.

Sure there are differences in the political party opinions. Please show me a country in the world where the political parties agree.

Sure the innocent are suffering. Please show me a country in the world where wealth and power is equal and the innocent don’t suffer.

Sure corruption is in Pakistan. Please show me a country in the world that is corruption free.

My list could go on, but my point is that Pakistan does have problems…but so does every other country in the world in some way or another. However, in the case of ALL other nations, there are often good things to report and the media goes out of its way to promote these good things across the globe, whenever possible. The ridiculous amount of shootings in the USA is balanced off by the success of Google, Microsoft and Apple. The financial dilemmas of Greece are lost in the marketing of the Greek Islands as a holiday destination of choice. The child slave industry of India, is brushed under the carpet in favour of the nation’s growth in the global software boom. What I am trying to say, is that someone needs to look further into Pakistan and see that there are millions of great stories to write about, which would portray the country in a different light, to that what is being portrayed by your article.

When I was in Pakistan, I visited a towel manufacturing company (Alkaram Towels). They produced some $60million in export in 2011 and are aiming at $85million in 2012. A substantial increase in sales…in a recession I would remind you. The company was started by the current Chairman, Mr. Mehtab Chawla, at the tender age of nine, after his father passed away. Today the very man employs 3000 staff. Now that’s a story.
I visited universities of NED, Hamdard, Karachi, Szabist and NUST. The students are unbelievably intelligent. They spend their spare time developing APPS for android and apple. They are involved in cutting edge technology and no one in the world knows this. Why not send a reporter to Pakistan to look into this. Why not research good things in this nation, rather than just the bad things. At NUST (National Institution for Science and Technology – Islamabad)) there were 38,000 applications for medicine. There are only 83 seats for the medicine course on offer. The competition is unbelievable. In short it pushes the best to be even better. But the world doesn’t know this. Why? Because no one wants to report on it, or no one knows about it…or both!!

Please do not get me wrong. I understand that news is news, but it is high time that the western world stopped promoting these terrorists and political wars in Pakistan and started to write something that would help the nation. Something positive. If we really care about global partnerships and economic growth, then I suggest we try and give Pakistan a helping hand. There are 180 million people in Pakistan, 65% are under the age of 25. The youth of Pakistan is its strength.. it is like a sleeping giant. If you think that India is a booming nation. I suggest you stop a second and look at Pakistan. Given a little help from the western world, Pakistan can become a dominant economy. She doesn’t want aid and she doesn’t need money… she just wants the chance to be seen in a different light. I believe we have a fundamental obligation to assist. The only question is, who will reach out first.

Warmest regards,

Tony Lazaro
Managing Director
Rising Stars Management Group
Tel: 02 8824 7000
Fax: 02 8824 7766

 

To see the original Facebook link click here

 

I would greatly appreciate it if you spread this on YOUR facebook and reblog this post so that more people can know that there are two sides to every story. Pakistan is a country with a complex set of issues, there is no denying that. But we still live here, live out normal lives and do normal things like anyone would anywhere else in the world. Our Medical and Engineering schools are world renowned and our doctors and technicians are some of the best in the world. We have a rich culture, vast history and a visually stunning country and I for one, am DONE with hearing all the negativity about it.

Murree Part 1… The road up

Candy Color Shock

 

Murree was once a tiny little town up in the mountains just an hour out of Islamabad. Small, remote and not-so-developed, it was once what can be called “scenic”. Islamabad is itself a pretty sight, nestled comfortably at the foot of the Margalla hills.

Murree was the summer capital of the British raj in the Punjab Province of British Subcontinent. Once a popular tourist destination, Murree is often referred to as the “Queen of Hills,” a term coined by the English who seemed to have always had a penchant or leaning towards monarchical terminology (No Offense Meant…. seriously). These days however, the place is not so pretty anymore. Over development has made main Murree into a big market place that is crowded on a weekday and impossible on a weekend. It is such a mish-mash of humanity that it is easy to over look the little charms that once made it one of my favorite places to visit, that still happen to be there, just harder to spot. For instance, a truck stop named “Charra Pani” were fresh water spouts from the mountain side half way up the road between Islamabad and Murree.

Charra Pani has always, or for as long as I can remember, been an essential stop on the journey. Cars stop there to cool off the strained engines and get their cars washed by the many local boys, using the water from the spring. One time, a few years back, my father actually pulled out a Ghost crab from the spring! And it was a good decent size, healthy white one too. The other attraction is the “dhabas” opposite the spring where we park our cars. a Dhaba is basically a truck cafe/hotel type of a place, serving local food at low prices. Not necessarily known for hygiene, they none the less have the best damn Pakoras and Doodh-Patti tea that can be found.

The photograph above is of a stand outside one such dhaba.

PAKORA MAN!

This photograph is of the Pakora guy that makes the yummy fried doughy things.

After this stop we make way higher up and as we get higher, the wind starts to get cooler, and the windows roll down and the rush of cold wind against sweaty summer skin is probably one of the best feelings in the world. One really must take the time to make small stops here and there along the road to marvel at how genuinely stunning the place is! Here are a few more examples:

 

Super tall tree… yep…

Always clicking…

pretty?

Reaching for the sky

A rare photograph of the photographer… thanks dad 🙂

 

Post to be continued in Part 2: Murree, The Tourist Trap I Love

 

 

The last post of the night…

Moonlight Industry

 

This is what is commonly known as a Plant (as in the factory sort). My father helped construct this one that you see. He was a project engineer/manager before he retired earlier this year. This is just one of many he has worked on. Growing up I would visit these sites, see these monstrous structures go from ground up and when they would light up it was like something out of a sci-fi flick or when seen from afar, like an ocean steam-liner with ist many chimneys puffing white smoke… I had a pretty wild imagination as a child luckily:

That’s me

The Saddar I Love…

Old Karachi

Saddar is one of the oldest areas of Karachi, and one that is probably the most densely  populated. Made up mostly of dilapidated old structures, Saddar is an ode to the glory days of the British rule in the sub continent, with more building from that era than any other place in Pakistan that I have personally encountered. Falling into disrepair, it honestly does break my heart that very soon all of this lovely history will be lost. There are barely any  efforts made to restore the area, when the richness of its historical value would be a certain boost to tourism in the area, sort of like London I would like to imagine…all those lovely old buildings cleaned up and maintained. People still dwell here, alot of old families and many people from all over Pakistan can trace their family back to a time when they had resided here or around the area at some point in time.

an old park in central Saddar, home to hundreds of pidgeons

The park that you see above is not only home to several hundred pigeons but also many homeless people find shelter here each night as you can see here. This picture was taken very early in the morning. There is also a mosque on the premises, a holy place, which is probably why these people are not disturbed or asked to move, since traditionally mosques are supposed to be a place of sanctuary and not only worship.

 

Aforementioned Mosque

 

Sanctuary

 

 

breaking down…

 

Stacking Humanity