Pakistan is unlike any country I have ever been to. It really surprised me! I thought working there would be both a lot harder and a lot easier than it was - I know that doesn't make any sense, but I guess I mean that all of my preconceived notions of what I thought it would be like we're turned on their head.
For example, I expected to be stared at and to have to wear a head scarf. All the girls at work get stared at a lot when they travel and personally, it's never really bothered me, I'm curious about people as well. But something about the way eyes followed me everywhere around my hotel in Lahore felt a little different, a little more uncomfortable - though I encountered nothing but friendliness. I can't say why I felt uncomfortable, I certainly didn't feel threatened but it did feel... different. Also I was the only westerner in my hotel, so maybe that thought got in my head a little.
Also, I didn't quite realise how much films, tv and the news had formed a lot of my opinions. But when I arrived in Lahore at 4am and the highway to my hotel was exactly like a highway in Toronto would be like with well kept roads, signs, flower displays on roundabouts, etc... I was a little baffled. I expected something a bit shabbier. Shame on me, I know, but don't judge me too much. Ok, maybe judge me a little. I know Lahore isn't representative of all of Pakistan, but it was a beautiful, modern looking city.
Having said that there are donkey carts all over the place, gypsy camps on the side of the river (which sometimes has water and sometimes doesn't, depending on whether India feels like turning on the tap - apparently), and a fair bit of poverty. There's also a law about how late you can celebrate your wedding, I think it's up to 10 or 11 at night and after that you have to either take it into your house or end the party - it was explained to me that this is for energy conservation and maybe a little to do with noise as well. There also seemed to be a real contrast between life on one side of the river compared to the other - my hotel was on one side and the clinic was on the other side.
All of my photos to share are from the road, that short time I spent between the clinic and my hotel. I did visit a shopping mall but I thought I probably shouldn't lug my camera around, and also one shopping mall very much looks like another wherever you go. So all of my photos are shot on the move as I crossed the river twice a day. I had to wear a head scarf when I sat in the front seat of the car and my amazing colleague Ahmad was really patient with me when I asked all my dumb questions about sheep (but, I mean, just look at this thing). He took me out for chocolate cake and coffee at the end of the day and is just over all one of the coolest people I know. He's a pro at slowing down the car so I could get better photos and really calm about telling me to put my camera away when we came to a toll crossing, security check or police barrier.
I'll share part two of my photos, and my thoughts on my visit to Pakistan next week. I also have more from India to share over time, so I do hope you like travel posts!