Three Omanis discover the magical beauty of Pakistan
When three Omanis, Sami al Raisi, Asif Akbar al Zadjali and Shameer Sarfraz Ahmad undertook a bike tour of Pakistan, they had no clue that they were in for a sensory overload. Accompanied by their Pakistani friend, Adil Hanif the passionate bikers just wanted to travel to a less-travelled place.
Raisi, who works at a private company in Oman said, “We wanted to go to a cooler place, a place that wasn’t too crowded or overrated. We chose Pakistan after we saw pictures of a Pakistani friend who had returned after holidaying there. The three of us first flew to Karachi from Muscat and then travelled the country on bikes.”
Thereafter, the passionate trio explored the country for 26 days, carrying nearly 200kg of weight on their bikes that included rain and summer clothes, food and sleeping tents.
Some of the places the trio visited included Lahore, Islamabad, Murree, Naran Kaghan, Babusar Pass, Chilas, Skardu, Hunza, Ladyfinger Peak, Khunjerab Pass, Khaplu, Kargil and Manthoka waterfalls. “We rode to the highest border in the world and the highest ATM in Khunjerab Pass. Pakistani citizens were very helpful and advised us not to ride at night due to wild animals, the treacherous landscape and unpredictable weather conditions. Landslides are pretty common there.”
Raisi said he was stunned by the similarities in culture and the weather conditions. “We were amazed to experience the varying weather conditions in one country – from 40°C to about 10°C.”
On some days, he said they rode 24 hours non-stop. “It was tiring, but wonderful exploring nature. Besides the astounding weather conditions, the hospitality of the people and the variety of fresh food too was amazing. The use of fresh spices, fresh meat, chicken and vegetables added to the culinary experience. We had chicken karahi, sajji and mutton-based dishes.”
Raisi admits he was a bit hesitant initially to travel to Pakistan.
“The media portrays a wrong picture of Pakistan. We touched three or four borders between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Those borders are more towards interiors but we did not face any issue, even as we travelled at night.
“People stared at us probably due to our gear and the Omani flag. Some curious onlookers asked us where we were from but they were very hospitable. They treated us as their personal guests. They invited us to their homes and treated us to the local cuisine.”
Reminiscing the hospitality and kindness of locals there, Raisi said, “One day when our friend suffered a red eye, a villager walking by after his morning prayers at 5.30am stopped by to help. He burnt a herbal plant on charcoal and blew its smoke into his eye. It worked and my friend was fine.”
Raisi said many Pakistanis even in the interiors are fluent in English.
“There are more people in the interiors who speak English.”
He added that with the trip the trio wanted to promote peace and inform Pakistanis about Oman.
“I would encourage fellow Omanis to visit Pakistan and explore its beauty. The country also offers tremendous opportunity for adventurists. But it needs to boost its tourism by spreading more awareness.”