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I just read the intro and it’s really cool what you’re doing! Good on you! I do love the hospitality that the people showed you.
Just want to offer words of excitement on your travels.
Be well and best wishes,
Great Idea, safe travels !
dude i’m so glad you took the plunge and came to pakistan, if you do come back and you plan to visit islamabad please contact me i’ll be more than happy to show you around and show you the underground music scene here. if you want to go up north and see the mountains the best time to visit is between june and august otherwise the roads are usually blocked and air travel is highly unreliable. you can get stuck up there for days till the weather clears up and the plane can land and take off. the main thing is do let me know if you plan to come i’ll show you a good time a mixture of culture, history and popular culture. again im really glad you came and felt welcomed hope to see you down here some time soon. take care
I read your heart warming blog on 36 hours in Lahore. I am glad people are opening up to Pakistan. The truth is that every Country has its flaws, some are just very good and hiding them 🙂
I would Love to see you come to Karachi as well, not as green and clean as Lahore, but it has its perks and craziness. If you want to explore Pakistan truly you should get in touch with my brother who loves travelling and filming the real people and places. he has traveled to places in Pakistan even I was unaware of 🙂
Let me know if you are interested to meet him or want to get in touch with him. Currently he is in Malaysia and will be travelling to Singapore but he is always on the go and does end up in Pakistan after few detours 🙂
God Bless You are a good soul. Would Love to have tea and chit chat with you in person some day. My treat 🙂
I’m subscribed to Scott Dinsmore’s updates and read about your story in his last update.
I am not sure which countries you have on your list, but I am Lebanese living in Lebanon. If you ever consider coming our way, let me know, I’d love to help 🙂
Hi Paul. I don’t see a contact form or email address here, its just coding (not sure if it’s just me) but just wanted to reach out and set up a time to connect with you. Looking forward to joining you on an adventure sometime.
Manal – I will be running across Lebanon soon, would love to connect with you, please reach out to me via my website so we can connect. Thanks!
Avaice – Same thing with Pakistan, going to be running across there in the next few years, would love to connect with you as well.
Looking forward to meeting all of you in person soon!
Great blog Paul! I’d really appreciate it if you could have a look at mine and that you’ll follow it as well (fingers crossed).
What a fantastic blog to stumble across – it’s really fantastic to see that you’re visiting such spectacular sites.
I’ve wanted to go to Afghanistan for years after a friend visited and bragged about how amazing it was but have always been slightly hesitant being a girl travelling on her own. This hasn’t actually deterred me in the past so I’m now getting serious about planning a trip over next year. Perhaps if you have any pointers or particular advice that would be great.
All the best and I look forward to any updates of your travels.
Glad to hear that you’re considering exploring! The security situation in Afghanistan is of course fluid, so I would make sure you’re up to date on the latest before venturing over. The primary other recommendation is making sure you have someone on the ground who will serve as your host — be it through CouchSurfing, friends of friends on Facebook, or some other connection. They will ultimately be your greatest resource both for staying safe but also really having a chance to delve into the culture and history of the country.
Hi Paul I was really interested in your blog. I think the message you are sharing is important and valuable. I have a few questions about your travel experience. Why did you decide to bring your friend from college with you to Erbil, Iraq? Did he know someone there? Had he travelled to a similar country before? Also, I want to know if you travelled with someone to Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Burundi. If you did not have someone travel with you, can you tell me how you knew the native language and particular cultural behaviors to allow you to travel so smoothly. Also, did you really meet the people you stayed with online? How did you get the word out that you were traveling there and needed a place to stay? Would you recommend as a woman I do something different than what you did? Also, did you ever get food poisoning or an upset stomach/needed to visit a hospital? I am very curious about this. I feel like your blog has a great message, but I do think you are withholding some very important details about the preparations and motivations behind this travel expedition.
Hi Cailey- apologies for the delay in responding. Bringing a friend along to Erbil was simply a coincidence. My friend (a she!) was in Turkey at the time I was visiting Erbil and Turkey was my departure/arrival airport to Erbil. She had not traveled anywhere similar before. For almost all my other travels (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, etc.) I traveled to the country on my own, but was always hosted by someone local who could help me navigate language, culture, and safety. I met these local connections roughly 50/50 between CouchSurfing.org and using the Facebook “friends of friends” feature. All my hosts either had extensive reviews on CouchSurfing or were friends of friends or friends of friends of friends, so I felt confident in them being trustworthy. I would be lying if I said finding, vetting, and organizing local hosts in ~15 countries was not a time-consuming effort, but it was certainly possible. Moreover, I had truly wonderful experiences with all my hosts.
As for attempting to undertake a similar journey as a woman (which is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions I receive), I would say two things. First, I met a number of solo female travelers along the way that were undertaking similar journeys. Some had been even more adventurous and daring in their travels. For example, one of my hosts in Afghanistan was a Caucasian mid 20 something Canadian. She had traveled to almost half of Afghanistan’s provinces, all solo. Many of the provinces she visited were far above my own risk tolerance. None of the women I met, including her, had any negative interactions or experiences to report. Which is not to say that risk is not there, simply that it’s possible to do. Second, I would say as long as you’re thoroughly vetting your host, you’ll be fine. But I would likely err on the side of staying with either a single female or a family, just to avoid the chance of any misunderstanding.
And finally, I miraculously made it all 9 months of this trip without anything more than a slightly upset stomach — until my last week when I started boasting about this feat and came down with a bad case of food poisoning at a fancy bed and breakfast in Cuba. It did not involve any hospital or doctor’s visits, however, simply a few days of bland food, low energy, and frequent bathroom visits!
I hope all this helps! Definitely let me know if you have any other questions. My goal is to provide as balanced and transparent of a view into my experience as possible.
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