ANOTHER Hidden GEM … This Time SINDH!

April 27, 2021

So off we went, the five of us, on Friday to Ranikot & Mohenjo-Daro.  3½ hours from Karachi, life completely changed once we got onto the N55 H’way.

For me, it was a photo & astro-photography trip; for my friends, already pros, had photography work with the Sindh Culture department.  Naturally, we couldn’t have chosen a “better” time to go … 40⁰+C in the day (but it dropped to 18⁰ at night and early morning).

We arrived Ranikot Fort around 5.30pm and promptly started our photography sessions of Merikot Fort. Within Ranikot Fort, are additional defensive walls and another Fort- Merikot Fort. This was apparently the palace of the royal family.

History of Ranikot is available at https://antiquities.sindhculture.gov.pk/index.php/antiquities-sites/fort/rani-kot-fort-jamshoro & https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranikot_Fort and I’m not going into the history at this point; suffice to say, it was a very different experience from what I envisaged.  The Fort itself is built like the Great Wall of China- connected over mountain tops, spanning around 30 km, with guard towers, fortified walls (see below) and even another fort on the mountain top.  This is the OUTER and main defense. 

After a delicious meal prepared by the restaurant owner, Abdul Qader Gabol, we started light photography.  We couldn’t do any astrophotography as it was very dusty and the the Milky Way wasn’t visible the whole night. 

Light photography was a new experience for me!

I slept at 1.30am late night and got woken at 5.45am to see the sunrise.  What a temperature difference- it was so cool and pleasant on waking up.

Next day, after a simple yet delicious breakfast, we set off to see one of the four entry gates of Ranikot.  Absolutely amazing.

I climbed up 300 steps (apprx. 300 feet) and yet there were about another 200 steps to go, at which time I decided to call it quits and walk down again.  Looking at the Wall from where I stood, reminded me of Mulan (movie)- it felt so real.

Not only will I return, with my family, but we’ll walk to the top of the entry wall!  Let it not be said the Fort conquered our will & stamina 😊!

From there we made our way another 3½ hours to Mohenjo-Daro on the N55.

Walking around, albeit in the heat, was still an experience – this site reminded me of our visit to Pompei in the ‘1970s!

After another delicious dinner, we packed off to bed at 9pm! … so as to awake at 3am for the astrophotography.

This was an absolutely new experience for me.  Using the controls of the camera to capture the stars and the Milky Way and no flash or astronomy equipment.

The purpose of writing this is to show just one of many tourist sites Pakistan has to offer, in this case in the province of Sind.  Over these 3 days, I came to identify multi-tourist activities for a variety of interests/enthusiasts –

  • Overlanding
  • Off roading
  • Adventure
  • Historical/cultural interests
  • Hiking/mountain climbing
  • Photography & Astrophotography
  • Wildlife photography (there are wolves here!)
  • Flora & fauna
  • …or just plain bumming (chillin’) away!

What’s the problem you ask?  The problem is these “gems”, like so so many others, is not promoted to – forget foreigners – our domestic tourists.  It’s taken 53 years for me to get here- how many others are missing this experience!?

One amateur/novice photographer (me) in a lot of four other professionals … a great learning experience!

Next Stop – MITHI !

I Bitched, Ranted & Raved … and then JOINED them! 😊

April 1, 2021

https://dinshawavari.wordpress.com/2019/02/25/for-the-love-of-motorcycles/

                              &

https://dinshawavari.com/2019/07/03/can-we-please-ban-motorcycles-on-karachis-roads/

I have had a perennial hatred for motorcycle riders in Pakistan … the impunity with which they get away with breaking the law; their crass method of driving; and their complete lack of knowledge on rules of the road (but the same may also be said of 4-wheelers ☹)

Then one day, Shireen, a young lady in our Community, contacted me about some issue and, in talking, mentioned she drives a motorcycle to work & back – I have seen sporadic women motorcycle drivers – but someone this hit home.  (It’s like the time my son in the 2000 decade skillfully used chopsticks in Fujiyama, when I used a fork! – man, that really hit home 😊)

Come end December 2020, I learnt the basics of motorcycle driving through Pink Riders (as you guessed, basically a class for women learners).  Besides the instructor, I was the only male in the group … and that too 50+.

So, in 3-4 lessons, I learnt the basics … and soon thereafter, much to my wife’s (and subsequently family’s) chagrin, bought a used, 70cc motorcycle.  What she found even more vexing was the price I bought it at – she wasn’t sure if she should be concerned for my safety on a bike OR be concerned for my safety on THIS bike at THAT price 😊😊😊.

(image courtesy of Maxine.com, Hallmark LIcencing & Crabby Road)

Honestly, what I have come to learn is motorcycles are actually fun (I’m still learning by the way in my compound, much to my guards and drivers’ enjoyment) and what I have been against in the past was actually the motorcycle RIDERS.  There is no discipline, no system to the way they drive, nor any safety standards they adhere to. 

Not only am I self-learning with ALL the help of YouTube but I am taking great care in learning as per the rules of the road.  For instance, I ensure I wear the helmet, PROTECTING MY HEAD (where, I think, it’s meant to be 🤔) and NOT on the gas tank, PROTECTING THE BIKE!  It’s not easy when you learn by YouTube because there’s no one to tell you when you do wrong – but I think I’m getting there.

So, while I may continue to bitch about others … I have basically JOINED THEM.

OVERLAND PAKISTAN … here I [subsequently] come!

(@Beach_Luxury @AvariTowers1986 @AvariLahore @AvariXpress  #AvariHotels #Karachi #bikers #motorcyclists #motorcycle #roadsafety #helmet #cars #driving #MotorcyclesinKarachi #MotorcyclesinPakistan #Roadrules #motorcyclesafety #Helmets #Safety #roadsinKarachi #drivingrules #transport #recklessdriving #buses #roadsafety #AtlasHonda #SuzukiPakistan #YamahaPakistan #HotelsinPakistan #hotelsinkarachi #hotelsinislamabad, #hotelsinmultan #hotelsinfaisalabad #hotelsinlahore #BeachLuxuryHotel #AvariTowers #AvariLahore #AvariXpress #AvariHotels)

Farm … to Market

November  6, 2019

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elXGOeS8EUQ)

One of the best investments this Country ever made in the ‘90’s was development of the new Motorways in the Punjab.  Let’s analyze what it has produced-

  • Poverty- Whether it’s the “CPEC” development of roads network, rail links or other transport modes or it’s internally developed, tying city to city and province to province will uplift rural areas and give them access to commerce, trade, emergencies, etc.;
  • Commerce – you’ve shrunk the time, eased the availability and given smooth access to farmers and trade from their villages to large towns and cities;
  • Mobility- Punjab has become MOBILE.  With a maximum travel time of six hours, people can work in one city while their home is in another- very much like cities in USA;
  • Transport- network and infrastructure has increased and become better;
  • Employment- you’ve created new means of income & employment- whether new buses ply the motorways, staffing these buses or opportunities for shops, outlets, offices, etc. (more on this below*)
  • Tourism- you give immediate access to develop internal tourism opportunities (more on this below*).  This summer, my brother, sis-in-law and our families drove from Karachi to Nathiagali, in one of the best overland adventures they have had!

*Tourism & self-employment- Local towns, villages and populace on the road network should be helped & encouraged to put up small, clean, 2-3 star lodgings & cottages– the economy of that area is being developed indigenously.  Pakistani hospitality is one of the best the world has ever seen (but few can experience it in the face of negative publicity ☹).  You don’t need the “Avaris” and the “PCs” & “Serenas” – let it be the “Khan Motel” instead.  One, 10 room lodging will give DIRECT income & employment to a family of 5-7 people minimum; they in turn will employ others to help run the show; producers will sell food stuff, cleaning, linen and other items to these lodgings; the benefits go on down-stream and are never ending; and on & on.  The ancillary developments that take place are another story all together – shops , retails, malls, organized tours, etc.

(http://dunyanews.tv/en/Pakistan/416339-Motorway-opened-for-all-kinds-of-traffic)

There may be no international empirical evidence suggesting an increase in road networks necessarily helps an economy but I see actual, on-the-ground benefits we have gained in Pakistan.  If travel time between Karachi and Lahore can be reduced from almost 24 hours to 12 hours, what’s not to like?  If a series of motorways links the length and breadth of Pakistan, what’s wrong with that?

(As I post this, the new M7 – Multan to Sukkar- just opened!)