- Why did you select Azaad Kashmir for your holiday destination?
No special reason. I went to Naraan and Kagan two three years back and we usually travel abroad, to London, Europe and New York. I wanted to explore the beauty of Pakistan because I had heard that this side of Pakistan is really beautiful and so we went even though the roads were very dangerous. Since I believe that you cannot go to such places alone, we were a group of 27 people. It was all family. Another reason was me wanting to promote the scenic beauty of Pakistan through my Instagram and Facebook.
- Kashmir is a vast province, which cities have you been traveling to over your trip?
Well, I had to go for ten days and we had to visit several places but I got sick so we came back on the seventh day. We first went to then we went to Sharada, then we went to Kayle and from kayle we had a day trip to Aran Kayla. Then there was another place that is Taubat but we couldn’t go there because of an accident.
- People usually prefer going abroad for their vacations yet you decided to explore Pakistan. What do you think is the differentiating feature of Pakistan with the rest of the world?
Pakistan is a very very beautiful country but the issue here is that going to these places is hard. We don’t have adequate roads and other facilities. So all we do is, go to Nathia Gali, Bhurbun or Murree. However, now, the roads going to Naran and Kaghan have been made which has made it easier for people to travel there. Apart from these, Kashmir is beautiful but then again, everybody prefers that we travel in comfort and end up in anice restaurant. Over here, the roads aren’t well made but the fatigue of going and thinking that you have to come back on the same daunting road is what makes it rather hard.
- Finding the right type of food in the mountains is an art in itself. What difficulties did you face while finding yourself healthy, clean food?
We took our cook with us and we took all of our supplies with us, even water. We basically took the dry stuff with us and the other things were left to be brought from over there. But wherever we went, we were staying in army lodges as they are the only ones that are actually decent. They weren’t too good but yes, they were nice and presentable. The food was okay too even though our cook was not allowed to make food in the kitchen. But yes eating the right type of food is hard over there as people have stomach problems too.
- Is there some food item that you particularly hated or loved?
You see, there was no option or variety. I for one, took all my dry food along so I kept eating that. Apart from that, our mess had limited food items on the menu because they’d give the options and we’d choose something out of it then.
- Crazy shoppers are always looking for things they MUST have. What would you suggest they should buy and from where (If you know a particular place)?
We were thinking that that since we’re going to Kashmir there would be those poncho-styled kurtas for men and women and the shawls. But I was a bit disappointed because there was nothing at all.
- What did you enjoy most about your trip?
My family was with me. All my siblings and the cousins who I am close with. We were all like minded people so we had fun. And the place that we were staying at was also nice and I love green mountains. So yes, the scenic beauty was the thing I enjoyed the most.
- Any funny incident that took place on your trip?
We were a lot of people so there were a lot of happenings. But nothing in particular can be pointed out. We had jeeps and we’d be shifting between jeeps throughout but it was fun overall.
- One word to describe your experience?
- One thing you would like our readers to be prepared for when visiting hilly areas? (excluding common factors like the heights and the weather)
It is a beautiful place but the roads are dangerous and it is not easy to go there. But to explore you have to come out of your shelter. I am a red carpet person so when I went there, I was in an awe on where I was going. But then when I’d get there I’d be glad that I am there.
- Did you bring any souvenirs with you?
The Hotel that we were staying at had a lot of apples so no, I didn’t bring anything. We just ate a lot of apples from the trees. There was so much iron in them that they’d turn brown as soon as they were cut.
- Tourism industry was abolished in Pakistan a few years back. Do you think Pakistan can benefit from it if it is reinstated?
If we can work on our roads, our hotels and the facilities can be provided to the tourists then I can ensure you that people will come from abroad to visit these cities because they are no less than Switzerland! In fact, more beautiful than Switzerland.