Rawalpindi is situated just by Islamabad. It is the twin city of Islamabad. It is a large sprawling city full of bazaars and shops. So all your main shopping can be done there. The centre, focused on Raja Bazaar is walkable. But it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets. Saddar Bazar is the most versatile, modern and easily approachable market place of Rawalpindi. It’s connected to Mall Road on one side, the city on another, and the railway station on the 3rd side.
I didn’t see any kids asking for money, just transsexuals in Rawalpindi. Some streets are overcrowded with them. They used to suffer a lot of discrimination. They used to be an official third race in Pakistan and had no rights to study, for education and heritage. In 2017 a law was signed that gives them equal rights but so far my friends say that in practice it doesn’t work 100% yet. But they have already started to be accepted for official jobs. By the way, one of the most popular Pakistani TV shows is made by a gay/bisexual/transsexual (as he calls himself) named Ali Saleem, who dresses as a woman and flirts with everybody online. Pakistanis know how to make fun and are not afraid to laugh at themselves.
The Landa bazaar is my favorite place there. There you can find a gold and leather market. It’s the oldest part of the town that still breaths with its heritage. This includes the most beautiful old houses, which cover the tiny network of streets. While walking the narrow labyrinths streets I was wondering how it looks from inside their beautiful houses. Farhad asked a woman who was passing by if we could see her house, and without any hesitation she told us to follow her. After 5 minutes walk we entered her house. All I expected was to have a glance inside and to have a short conversation, but she brought us tea, coca cola, chips, cakes, candies…… Then came other girls and they didn’t let us go for at least an hour. They showed me around their house. At the end I received a gift, a shawl and for sure lots of selfies together. Next time being back there, again was invited by other locals to stay in their house and meet their family. They told me a story about, according to the locals. It is closed to the public but I managed to visit it, and even climbed up its tower to enjoy the nice views. Sadly its destiny is probably to be abandoned forever.
Truck painters – a famous place of great artists is situated in Rawalpidi, close to Islamabad. They believe that the most decorated trucks will have the most luck. Truck art in Pakistan has origins dating back to the 1920s, when the trucks were imported from England. Over time the trucks became badges of status. The more flamboyant the design, the better business became. Some truck drivers are willing to spend big money to ensure their truck is better than the rest. While the bright colors and ornate decorations are certainly beautiful, the drivers also view it as good return on their investment. They say that when people look to hire a truck, they feel that if it looks fancy and newly painted, then it’s probably in better condition and they can trust it.
Trash bins. ‘Throw the trash into the bins”. Sounds nice and positive, right? But where are the trash bins? With my friend I was walking around Rawalpindi and found nothing. There are just a few huge, often overflowing trash containers, with lots stinky waste around them. It’s not in the culture there to keep clean, only in specific places such as mosques. The most beautiful old streets in Rawalpindi are the stinkiest ones too, full of waste canals passing along the facades. When eating in the street, locals often throw plastic on the floor. They also often throw stuff out of their car windows. The cleanest part of each city is where the richest people live. Hunza was the cleanest region I’ve seen (though not the richest one).
On the pictures (above) – RWP getting ready for the Inrdependance day, cobra whisperer, the poor during the ramadan waiting for their first day meal, Gulistan park, my doggy who used to live with me, recovering after a surgery. Be careful, in old houses there are holes, ventilation devices where birds live and they can fell down from their nests. Don’t keep dishes, full of water, down from their nests.
Renting a house in RWP is bit cheaper to rent a house, but most of houses are real crap. They often look like there’s just been a war. Dirty walls, windows, broken kitchens, toilets…… . I’ve no idea how someone can rent a crap house with no working toilet, no running water, no electricity, broken walls and doors for 30000 rupees per month. Locals don’t care of a rented house. After people leave the houses look desperate. That’s why locals are afraid to rent to other locals and don’t invest in repairs, as soon everything will be broken again. House owners hope to find respectful, serious families to live in their rental houses. However for what they propose, nobody will even view them. These who actually do look can’t rent them, as the prices are so high. Logically thinking, they should be happy to rent it to a foreigner, as we care about our living spaces. But no, locals here are afraid of dealing with foreigners. In their vision we are even worse than locals. So in the end I didn’t get anything. I did manage to rent a house in Chaklala scheme 3. It is a military area so there is lots of security and many check points. My failure was I rented from an ex military, lawyer, criminal who created many problems, while all the time pretending to be so nice and sweet. If interested, I’ve written about this in my other story in https://www.vanetatrips.com/2020/03/31/pakistan-2019-males-police-and-safety-cheaters-and-other-beauties/#more-1406
Bahria town is a modern district of Rawalpindi. It is very far from everything but after since after war you can rent good houses for a much cheaper price. Food and services though cost more there than in other districts.
Taxila (the ancient Taksasila) near Islamabad has beautiful archeological sites for a day visit. There you can find the different stages in the development of the city on the Indus. This was alternately influenced by Persia, Greece and Central Asia, and from the 5th century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D was an important Buddhist centre of learning.
Extending a visa in Lahore at the passport center is easy. You just need to take confirmation of accommodation. It only takes few days to extend it. Sometimes they say that you’ll have it in 3 weeks, but if you mention that your friends got it in 3-5 days they’ll make it faster. If you have already stayed for a month they can extend a visa for 5 more. In Islamabad it’s much harder to extend, unless you have right contacts. In my case The Ministry of Interior gave me a permit to stay 3 more months, so it was easy to get new visa extension in just a few days. I managed to stay here 9 months in total and that was highly enough for me. In other cases you need to have a study, business visa or work permit. To get business or work visa is really hard. You need to provide lots of papers and it can take many long months to get that visa.