Bet you didn’t know this about Pakistan!

As I continue my final thoughts and week of blogging on my time in Pakistan, I wish to share the things I came across that I never expected…a few of these are shared below in the post on things I’ll bet you didn’t know about Pakistan. There re more, but I can’t bore you too much!

You can get beer!

Pakistan is a very strict Muslim country, very strict, BUT alcohol is readily available! In fact there is a brewery in Pakistan that has been producing beer and spirits for over one hundred years – Murree’s, work that one out!

In Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad, if you know the right person you can buy anything…in Karachi there are ‘wine shops’ that sell to ‘non Muslims’ or anyone really…In Lahore there is an International Club for those who know where and how to join, so as a foreigner you can have your ‘fix’ if needed.

When it rains – IT RAINS…and floods within hours!

During the monsoon season from June/July through to September the weather can become quite erratic. The summer heat is broken with not the usual Aussie thunderstorm, but a torrential downpour lasting several hours, which immediately causing flash flooding, traffic chaos along with power and phone blackouts and the occasional building collapse. There is limited to no drainage system in place and residual water rests everywhere, but the good news is it quickly dries up.

The roads become a nightmare as people still drive through and water and exhaust pipes generally are not friends, so it is common for just as many cars and motorbikes to be on the side of the road being pushed, as there is on the roads braving the elements!

There is NO organised junior cricket!

This was the biggest shock!

When we moved there I thought Josh would return a master of spin, be able to play on any wicket, and be a chance to make the Pakistan team given their form, but no. I couldn’t find junior cricket in and organised form like Australia.

Don’t get me wrong, there is cricket everywhere, on the streets, the parks, the ovals, anywhere a ball can be bowled, but not in a junior organised manner. Our experiences were limited to street cricket with a tape ball…

PIA are crap!

For followers of my blog, you may already have worked this out, but I had to add it just one more time. Nothing more to add…in fact most of the internal flights are a game of Russian Roulette…and I won!

It is so cheap and you can get anything done quickly and easily, as long as you know who to ask!

Whether it be making a piece of metal into a design you need now, printing, a full on product launch, making a number plate, fixing your car, anything, can be done for a fraction of the cost of Australia.

Even going to the Doctors, whilst a painful and unknown process cost a massive $10 which is probably on the high end!, Medicine is readily available without scripts and sold for cents, rather than the many dollars back home. All of this comes due to the low wages, but it shows why many developed countries export from places like Pakistan and sell for many multiples to us in our countries.

A goat or camel in your yard doesn’t mean there is a new family pet!

Coming home to find one of the above animals at your house is usually not a good sign for the said animal! It may not live a long happy life.

The chances, and statistically speaking these chances are probably 100%, that it won’t be around for more than a few day/ weeks is a given, but it will be made into a nice curry, or given to family, friends and the needy, so Pakistan is not a great place to be born a goat!

Enough said I think!

There are guns, lots of guns!

Getting used to driving down the street with some guy on the back of a bike with a machine gun, or people wandering around with a sworn off shotgun type thing took a bit of getting used to, but then became a part of the day to day.

In the end having two machine gun clad guards living on our roof and going to school with the kids was all a part of the way you did things.

The only concern was we did find out our guards had no bullets for the first few weeks! Also one of our guards used to fire shots from our roof – ‘to test the gun’, and would happily let you fire some off, which reluctantly and maybe regrettably I never accepted!

 

Pakistan has some of the most spectacular natural beauty and potential in the world!

In the northern areas there are snow covered mountains, glaciers, lakes etc that would and should make it the worlds hottest tourist destination. It has only been the history of killings, kidnappings with the odd bomb or two that have stopped this potential, which is so sad.

Unfortunately I never visited these areas, but they are clearly amazing and hopefully one day people will travel there to experience it and give a much needed boost to the tourism sector.

(Photos from Pakistan Travel Places Facebook)

Regardless of the northern areas, there is so much history even around the main cities with mosques, forts, monuments etc and the old city and wall of Lahore is amazing.

It’s pretty corrupt….but you may have known that!

Police take bribes, government official take bribes, workers take bribes, everyone takes bribes, and usually expect them….again from the low wages and the general way the government has ran things…even the current and past government have been implicated in corrupt practices (see Panama leaks)…so with a top down mindset what chance is there?

So examples witnessed include:

  • power being repaired, where they say it will take weeks to fix, but if you pay XXX it can be done today or tomorrow
  • government officials coming to restaurants with media threatening fines and arrest of managers, and fining say 500,000Rs, but then negotiating down to 40-50,000Rs with a meal for them all.
  • police negotiating on ‘random’ pull over fines, or wanting a free pizza in replacement.

So these are a few of the not to be expected experience I discovered, I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed reminiscing about them!

 

Tony

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