Multan is very agricultural, and extremely hot and humid! As for all of Pakistan, the power goes off regularly (at least two or three times each day for a few hours) and it was a killer for Vince and I. Locals described Multan as having no middle class….your are either the very wealthy or very poor…..we saw both during our stay. I have to say that people who have nothing….will give you all that they have here…..it was a very humbling experience for us as Australians. I think by comparison of how shamefully we treat visitors to our country and both Vince and I can see the opportunity to change when we return home….we can learn so much from Pakistani people about kindness and hospitality….they are the Masters! The food in Pakistan has been the absolute BEST we have had on our whole trip so far……truly wonderful! When we first arrived at Iqbal’s, we were greeted with drinks and flower lais….followed by a showcase of his collection of vintage Vespa’s, a new Suzuki 150 kitted out for adventure travel (it’s for his son who is 15 but needs to be 17 before he can ride it), his 660 Tenere, Honda 150 as well as several other small bikes…..very impressive.
Iqbal, his family, and friends (whom we met over our stay), all welcomed us into their homes, businesses and lives, they all insisted on treating us to meals, drinks and showing us around….as well as sharing their insights, beliefs and daily life. It has been an absolutely fascinating experience and we have learned a lot. Vince and I felt very overwhelmed at the friendliness, generosity and hospitality of the Pakistani people….even total strangers stopped and insisted on giving us drinks when we ran out of fuel on the main street, in one of Iqbal’s small bikes. We both developed colds, and although I love the Pakistani food it was giving me heartburn…so Iqbal kindly organised for us to go by Tuk Tuk to visit his family Doctor, who not only treated us but refused any payment, as we were “guests of Pakistan”, and then sent out for drinks for us! Just as an adjunct about borrowing the small bike…..it was a big adventure in itself….riding without body armour for the first time…..and even three up on a bike at one point….Iqbal, Vince and me on the back in the organised chaotic traffic of Multan, Pakistan!
Vince and I felt extremely honoured and privileged to meet a wide variety of Iqbal’s friends, including some local business owners, Ilyas Khan Durrani (United Mall) and Manyal Chandio (Security Manager United Mall), Saeed Khan (Alnoor Electrics Concern), Shoaeb Sabir (Honda -Sabir & Saghir Auto Service) and others such as the Vespa Paint Shop and Flour Mill (unfortunately I can’t recall the names….my apologies). Vince was really impressed with the many “boy toys” owned by Hassan Reza (Farmer and descendant of the Prophet Mohamad)…he took us down to his “village” where we were treated to fresh mangoes (No 12 local style) and a welcome cool off in his well/irrigation reserve….by the light of the full moon….magical. Hassan had kindly showed us earlier through the old walled city and his family tomb/shrine and we met his cousin, the son (Ali?) of the current head and his wife, of the 46 generation Shia Muslim family. During our stay I saw very few women, and the only one I managed to actually have a conversation with was Hassan’s cousin’s wife……she is a teacher and we had a very interesting conversation in her home….she was extremely relaxed, candid and open with me…….it was a real pleasure and provided direct insight into the real life of a muslim woman. I felt privileged that she shared her life with me….It appears women are the same the world over, regardless of culture and religion! Although all the men we have met here have been extremely polite and accommodating of me as a Western Woman in their inner sanctum, it is also been very clear that women in Pakistan hold a very different place in their husband’s lives…..and to be honest it really is a “boys club”. I think that if the men had their way, I would have been invisible and they would just have spent time with Vince……but as I say….they were respectful of the fact that in our Western culture women have a different role and my husband and I wanted to be together. This was much appreciated and I really enjoyed meeting them and talking with them. I was very impressed with some of the good work Ilyas Khan Durrani is doing to combat illegal dog fighting in Pakistan ….he is passionate and rescues many animals with his own funding. Being the dog lover that I am I found this exceptional.
The Western media would have us believe that Pakistan is dangerous and not a place where Westerners are liked or should go…..however, the practical experience of visiting this amazing place has been the direct opposite (with the exception of the armed escorts previously as a precaution). Whilst Iran was very friendly and welcoming….the level of direct care, kindness and hospitality offered and given in Pakistan has been out of this world. Westerners are very welcome and cared for……and it’s not about tourist money…..no one would let us pay for anything…..we have been treated like Royalty here. So much so that we have altered our original plans, basically to transit through to India, and we are now headed North to see the KKH…..a dream of Vince’s for many years……our new friends have shared photos of what we can expect and it is pristine and beautiful…..we are very excited.
(The Karakoram Highway (KKH – or N-35 in Pakistan) is one of the highest paved international roads in the world Connecting Sinkiang Uighur of China and Gilgit–Baltistan of Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, through the Khunjerab Pass, located at 36°51′00″N 75°25′40″E, at an elevation of 4,693 metres (15,397 ft). It is known as the 8th Wonder of the World)
Vince and I would encourage any Westerner’s with an open mind and heart to come and experience Pakistan for themselves…….the people here are the BEST reason to come and visit…..we have been through about 20 countries or so now…..and no where have we been made more welcome or looked after better. Come see for yourself ….you won’t be disappointed.