The adorable couple from the US and Netherlands who quit their desk jobs to travel the world, spent five days in Lahore last year during Ramadan. The duo was impressed by the super friendly and hospitable Lahoris and the fact that they eat a lot!
Being a patriotic travel enthusiast myself, I just could not let go of the opportunity of asking Alex and Sebastiaan’s about their time in Lahore. A positive foreign perspective is always welcome considering how tourism has been affected due to terrorism in the country.
Acting as a driver for my sister and experiencing rush hour on a daily basis, the first question that popped into my mind was to ask you about your experience of the traffic here. So, how peaceful did you find Lahore’s traffic to be?
We’re not sure we’d describe it as peaceful… but it was definitely exciting! It’s chaotic with all the rickshaws, cars, motorcycles, and horse carriages scurrying around and trying to fit into narrow streets. However, because we were in Lahore during Ramzan, the traffic probably wasn’t as bad as usual. We hope.
I read in your blog “Tales of Pakistani hospitality: the Lahore diaries” that you traveled in a rickshaw. How was the experience of that? Was the ride bumpy and noisy enough?
Traveling by rickshaw is actually quite fun, once you finish bargaining. As foreigners, we were often quoted ridiculous prices (500 bucks for a 15 minute drive? Please.) Luckily, most rickshaw drivers in Lahore were very friendly. One even got us food as a welcome to the city.
Sure, rickshaws are bumpy and not always the most comfortable, but they are usually quicker than cars, and a lot of fun for us.
During the month of Ramadan, a lot of people and places schedule their timings according to the Sehr and Iftaar timing (the starting till breaking of the fast); was it difficult to explore the city because of that?
It was. Partly because life slows down during the day, partly because it was super hot. We basically scheduled our lives around Iftaar, as we were lazy to wake up for Sehr! We did see some of the city during the day, as ever-friendly Lahoris always went out of their way to show us around, even if they were fasting.
We do want to visit again in more… bearable circumstances, so we can enjoy the sights without dying of heat stroke or dehydration. Plus, we’d like to eat street food during the day!
How many Iftars did you attend during your stay in Lahore?
We were in Lahore for about 5 days, and definitely attended five Iftaars. The first two days we stayed in a hostel on Mall Road, and there was a big Iftaar dinner across the street every night. People kept inviting us when we walked by, and wouldn’t rest until we sat and broke the fast with them. It wasn’t a problem that we, as non-Muslims, weren’t fasting.
We also stayed at a friend’s house for a few days, so we broke fast with him every day, too. We were even invited to a big Iftaar party-cum-barbecue in someone’s garden—now that was chill.
Lahore is famous for its food; do you think you did justice to your taste buds? Which eatery spots did you visit?
Our waistlines are still recovering from all the food everyone fed us! One day we were out with a Butt, and she almost killed us with the sheer amount of food she ordered on one of Lahore’s food streets. We forget the name, but needless to say, it was awesome.
We visited several other food streets, and were driven around to several special eateries. Like I said, we’re terrible with names, so we don’t remember what they were called. All that mattered to us was how delicious the food was.
Which places in Lahore specifically influenced you and why?
We were especially happy to visit Jahangir’s Tomb. It was our goal to climb a minaret somewhere in our travels, but we were never allowed to. But our lucky day finally came at Jahangir’s Tomb, when the gatekeeper let us climb one of the minarets. Travel goals accomplished!
We are also invited to an Iftaar dinner at the Wazir Khan Mosque. Thongs of people were sitting there, waiting to break the fast. They were all super friendly, and ensured that we had plenty of food. It was a really special moment to be part of.
What did you shop from Lahore and from where? Any special souvenir you took from here?
We didn’t do that much shopping. When you’re living out of a backpack, everything you buy weighs you down in some way. The only things we ever buy are the occasional set of clothes.
Did you attend any festival or event during your stay here?
We tried to attend the border closing ceremony at the Pakistan-India border. Unfortunately, the ever-friendly security personnel (sarcasm) wouldn’t allow us anywhere near the border without permission from the military, so we couldn’t see the ceremony.
What is your opinion about Lahoris (people of Lahore) in comparison to people of other cities of Pakistan?
They love to eat! We’ve never eaten as much as we did in Lahore. That’s saying something, considering it was Ramadan.
Generally, though, people throughout Pakistan treated us like long lost friends and family, and Lahoris where no different. What’s remarkable is that Lahoris are so friendly, despite living in a massive city. It’s rare to find cities in this world with such personable people.
Did your expectations about Lahore match the reality?
We weren’t quite sure what to expect. Loads of people told us Lahore was the best place in Pakistan, but then again, we received dozens of messages each day from people telling us their home is the best place in Pakistan!
We heard the city was beautiful, with loads of Mughal era architecture, but it’s also a big, congested, polluted city. But Lahore was a great city to explore, with super friendly people. We made some great friends, and hope we can visit again.
Lastly, are you planning to visit again anytime soon?
Getting a visa to Pakistan while traveling is very hard. Officially, you can only get a visa on the country you live. We wanted to visit this February, and were planning on sending our passports home to get visas, but it wasn’t possible in the end—we’re traveling in India, and in India it’s illegal to send passports in or out of the country. Plus, well, you know how things are with India and Pakistan.
We’re hoping to arrange something so can visit in September, inshallah. Whether or not that pans out, we promise to visit Lahore again one day!
Alex and Sebastiaan go by the name of Lost With Purpose
Do not forget to check out their blog “Tales of Pakistani hospitality: the Lahore diaries”
02 May 2017