Here you will find destination guides. Each post has information on getting around, sightseeing and some surprises
Media impressions of Pakistan are a jumble of lslamic fundament-alism and martial law, while for overland travelers the country is often seen as the last hurdle before reaching lndia. ln fact Pakistan offers some of Asia’s most mind-blowing landscapes, extraordinary trekking, the spectacular Karakoram Highway, a multitude of cultures, and a long tradition of hospitality. lt’s the site of some of the earliest human settlements and the crucible of two of the world’s major religions: Hinduism and Buddhism.
November to April in the south (when it’s cooler), May to October in the north (before winter sets in )
Trekking among giants in Baltistan, where the Karakoram erupts in an unequalled display of peaks and twisting glaciers Experiencing an emotion-charged cricket match at Karachi Exploring the ancient site of Moenjodaro, relic of an lndus Valley civilization Soaking up the frontier atmosphere of Quetta, a desert outpost with buzzing bazaars Rambling through the tangle of twisting alleyways in Lahore’s Old City en route to the historic Lahore Fort
Read Pakistan: The Eye of the Storm, by former BBC correspondent Owen Bennett-Jones; Salman Rushdie Shame, whose characters are a metaphor for Pakistan
Listen Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the revered Qawwali singer, who has collaborated on sountracks for dead Man Walking and The Last Temptation of Christ
Watch The second film in the Earth, Fire and Water trilogy, directed by Deepa Mehta and depicting the tragic upheaval of Partion
Eat meat and vegetable curries; hot and spicy samosas
Drink fresh fruit juices, milk tea, buttermilk flvoured with pistachios
Ap khairiyat se hai? (how are you?)
Trekking the karakoram Highway; totally obsessed cricket fans; Shoab Akhtar, the world’s fastest bowler; General Musharraf; nuclear weapons; oily, spicy curries
ln the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan federal law applies only to the roads and 10 years on either side-elsewhere tribal law applies
Sindh, dubbed the ‘Land of Uncetainties,’ is also a land of verdant patches of sheesham and pipal tress, colourful parrots, darting kingfishers, and white herons precariously perched on the backs of waddling water buffaloes. ln the hot season the landscape shimmers and its earthy browns reds and greys verge on creamy-white. ln autumn the coastline is suffused with colour, the sky and sea tinted with magical crimson hues.
Blessed with stark natural beauty, venerable history and rich and diverse culture,Afghanistan has of late been blinghted with more than its share of troubles. This landlocked country,at the crossroads of Central Asia, has seen armies and empires,merchants and mwndicants, poets and prophets come and go over millennia. Lmages of a war-blighted landscape do not do justice to a country that once hosted Silk Rode caravans and was once the ultimate destination on the hippy trail.
April to june for clement weather-or the 1380s, the artistic zenith of the timurids
Shopping for bargains in the bazaar in Heart,seat of Persian culture
Climbing the Chihil Zina (40 steps) carved into the hillside near Kandahar
Gazing at the dizzyingly high Minaret of jam-what’s it doing in the middle nowhere?
Joining the pilgrims flocking around the blue domes of the She Shrine of Hazrat Ali in
Soaking in the deep-blue, mineral-rich waters of the Band-e Amir lakes
Read Robert Byron’s the Road to Oxiana or Eric Newby’s A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, both all-time travel classics; ldris Shah’s Afghan Caravan-a compendium
Watch Osama, directed by Sidig Barmak, a poignant tale of a young girl forced to assume a male identity to survive, and one of Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban movies
Eat qabli pulao (seasoned rice with mutton, almonds, grated carrots and raisine);
Apricots dride in mountain villages
Drink green tea scented with cardamom
Salam alekum (peach be with you), a ubiquitous greeting and blessing; Borou bekheir
Men wits moustaches and turbans; women in head-to-toe veils; opium poppies; snow-topped mountain vistas; intricate weaves of tribal ruge; horseborne swashbucklers playing polo with a headless goat of a ball; oasis cities looming on horizon
Overwhelming hospitality and spontaneous generosity; historical treasures; skies as perfectly blue as azure tiles; melons and mulberries
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Although it’s more a pre-breakfast stroll than a country, Monaco packs a lot of living into a little land. Most of the people who dwell here come from somewhere else, drawn by the sun, glamorous lifestyle and-most importantly-tax-free income. This is the playground of Europe’s elite, a country where Lady Luck might clean you out at the casino one day and put you on the Grimaldi guest list the next. lt’s a glittering, preening, swanking opportunity for people-watching that shouldn’t be passed up amateur anthropologists.
April/May and September/October (spring and autumn)
Losing money in the over-the top splendour of the Monte Carlo CasinoVisiting the Musee Oceanographique, probably the best aquarium in Europe, with 90 seawater tanks and a display of living coral Wandering around Monaco’s Palais du Prince, which was built in the 13 th century Checking out the spectacular views from the Jardin Exotique, which has 7000 varieties of cacti and succulents Sailing off Monaco in a glass-bottomed boat
Read PETER Mayle’s Anything Considered, a novel about Monaco featuring monks, crim and truffles; The Bridesmaids: Grace Kelly and six intimate friends, in which Judith Balaban Quine persuades Grace’s best buddies to pill the beans
Listen to the prize-winning Monte Carlo Philharmonic
Watch Grace Kelly in the Hitchcock classic To Catch a Thief-she met Prince Rainier while filming; Golden Eye, with Pierce Brosnan as ‘Bond, James Bond’ and localtion shots including the Grand Corniche and Monte Carlo Casino
Eat finger food (if you want to compete with the wannabe starlets on Monte Carlo’s beach)
Drink martinis or mineral water
Princess Grace; the casino; the Formula One Grand Prix; endless gossip about princesses Caroline and Stephanie; a tax-free haven; Ferraris
James Bond really does live in Monaco (well, Moore does); the citizens of Monaco (known as Monegasques) only number about 5000 out of the total population’ Monaco’s territory only covers 1.95sq km
Money is safe in Monaco and so are the people who have it. The police presence in Monaco is striking (don’t even think about running a red light), and their perpetual vigilance is aided by TV cameras posted on nearly every corner. Street crime is virtually unknown, but Monaco’s see-no-evil, hear-no-evil banking system has com under criticism from French regulators for tolerating money laundering.