Thursday, November 30, 2017

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Islamabad - Walking the Margalla Hills

Just along the Margalla road in Islamabad are the Margalla Hills, the foothills of the Himalayas. Along the road from Constitution avenue till the Faisal mosque you'll find several trailheads that lead their way up the hills.  There are several trails to choose from with varying degrees of difficulty.  Trail 3 is the easiest and can easily be tackled by a hiker of any skill level, it even has stairs most of the way up.  Trail 5 is the middle ground, and has a few slightly challenging moments, but for the most part can be handled by anybody in fairly good shape.  Trail 6 is the most challenging of these trails and is fairly long, can be rather steep, but still doesn't require any equipment beyond a good pair of hiking boots.

Trail 3 and 5 both end up in Monal, which is an entertainment complex at the top of the Margalla hills with restaurants and some shops.  Trail 5 has a few alternative endings as well that end on a road that can lead you to Monal. Trail 6 ends at pine corner which is a few Kilometers from Monal (you can walk to Monal along a slightly busy road).  One option is to take one trail up and one trail down, however if you've parked at the bottom of one trail you'll have to walk along the Margalla road to get back to your car.

All of the trails offer great views of the city of Islamabad, as well as views of the mountains around. The wildlife on these trails consist of birds, some monkeys, the occasional wild boar, and very rarely leopards.  Most likely you'll also come across local cows and goats, as well as wood collectors (these are local people collecting wood).  Trail 3 can be very busy on some days, to the point of being crowded, it's not always that peaceful.  Trail 6 is the least busy of the trails, and you can go for hours without seeing another person.

Many people bring picnics up the trails, and there are a few places on each trail where you can stop and enjoy a meal. As with anything in Pakistan it’s a good idea to make sure that it is safe for you to climb these trails. It’s also a good idea to travel in groups. There is no water available on the trails till the top, so making sure you pack plenty of water is crucial.

Later

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Islamabad - Traveling to an Islamic Pakistan

In any culture you visit, respectful to be aware and follow some of the religious customs in that country. In Pakistan this can go one step further in that some of the religious customs are law, and not following them can get you ejected from certain places or even arrested. While some rules are only relevant in certain areas, some are country wide, so it's a good idea to know them before you visit. Islamabad is one of the more liberal cities of all Pakistani cities as far as cultural rules are concerned because many foreigners live there. It's still better to be prepared, and to follow the rules just in case.

The one thing you'll notice in Islamabad is that shorts and skirts are nowhere to be found.  Both men and women are expected to be covered well below the knee. Revealing tops are also unacceptable.  Women are not always expected to cover their heads in public, particularly if you're a foreigner. It is still a good idea for women to carry a scarf as some buildings, particularly mosques, require that women cover their heads upon entry. If you are wearing western clothing, expect people to stare at you.

Two things you will never find on any menu in Pakistan is wine and pork. Pork is guaranteed not to be found anywhere, even hotels do not serve it. There is often substitutions available in the form of turkey bacon and other alternatives. Wine on the other hand can be found in some places, hotels being the most common. If you have your own wine,  some restaurants will allow you to bring it into the restaurant, however discretion must be taken.

As with all Muslim countries prayer time is very important. You'll know that it is prayer time by the various calls to prayer coming from the mosques around town. Friday afternoon is the most important religious time of the week,  and you'll find some stores and restaurants may be closed. During any prayer time mosques are closed to all tourist.

Later

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Monday, November 13, 2017

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Trave Tip - Islamabad - Dangers in Pakistan and its Capital City

I'm probably not wrong in assuming that you won't be choosing Islamabad as your vacation destination any time soon.  For most of the western world, Pakistan is seen as a dangerous place, and that idea is not totally wrong.  While the people of this country are very friendly, and the entire surroundings can be stunningly beautiful, the problems are something you can't overlook.  The best way to describe the problems are simple, when it's fine, it's perfectly safe, but when things go wrong it's very bad. Make sure to check with your own government about danger levels and heed their advice.

Assuming that you're traveling here for work, there are a few things that should be obviously to you.  Pakistan is not the kind of place you want to just show up, planning ahead is crucial.  Most people arrive to Islamabad airport with planned pick up, sometimes in an armored vehicle.  Locals will find this odd, but since obvious foreigners are targets, it's not a bad idea.

As soon as you get into the city you'll discover that the hotels are very well guarded.  All of the major hotels have high razor wired walls, multiple checks to get in, including metal detectors for all who enter.  For the most part these hotels are beautiful and safe, however there has been bombings in the past and bad people in the area will target them if they get the chance.

The other things many westerners should think about when traveling to Islamabad and Pakistan, is food safety.  The food and drinking water should be taken as being dangerous all of the time. All food should be cooked or in the case of fruits and vegetables have a thick skin. The biggest mistake made by travelers is the assumption that hotels are a safe haven when it comes to food safety. While many hotels and fine restaurants claim to take precautions, the best tip I can give you is avoid ice and lettuce always.

Pakistan right now is not a safe place for some foreigners, however if you do happen to come for some reason, make sure to see what you can. The key thing is to see things safely and make sure your actions are planned.
Later

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Friday, November 3, 2017

Friday Travel Tip - Hong Kong - Typhoon Season


Typhoon's in Hong Kong are fairly common. They can range in force from really windy, all the way up to throwing trees and buildings around windy. The bad news is when there's a serious Typhoon, everything in the city is going to close down. If you happen to visiting, you might have a day where you're stuck in your hotel, or at the very least unable to visit some of the tourist sites.  The good news is, you're not likely going to get caught in a typhoon accidentally.  One thing can be said about the typhoons in Hong Kong is that they're very prepared for them.

First of all the local media and hotels are always keeping up with typhoon activity.  If you're staying at a hotel and a typhoon is approaching, it's almost guaranteed that they'll have some kind of notice. If you happen to be staying somewhere that doesn't tell you, don't worry, almost every tourist attraction has signs up indicating if a storm in on the horizon.

What you should know about these storms is that it can be sunny one minute, and then suddenly the storm will hit.  Don't think that because it's sunny outside that the storm might not actually be coming, so don't ignore warnings.  The good thing is that many buildings in Hong Kong are designed to take typhoon abuse, so if you stay indoors, and don't do anything stupid, you should be fine.

Later

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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017