To the mountains

Sunset, Nathia Gali


Eid marks the end of Ramadan, and it’s greeted with fanfare that the U.S. reserves for the Christmas holidays. We had a long weekend from work, and our friends Kellee and Jim organized a trip for several of us to go up into the mountains to Nathia Gali.

Nathia Gali is at an altitude of around 8000 feet. The mountains dotting the way are filled with guest houses like the one where we stayed. Cool weather! Sweaters! Rain! Books! Scrabble! Eating! Relaxing!

Scott, Laura, Kellee, John and Jim at the guest house











As peaceful as it was at the guest house, getting there and back was crazy! On the way up, we had good weather, but we crept through crowded villages where traffic came to a standstill as passengers climbed on tops of passing busses, pedestrians wove in and out, vegetable trucks stopped to unload, and cars pulled over to buy grilled chicken from a street vendor. We also passed lots of monkeys on the side of the road, begging from cars, or hanging out in the trees!














But if going up was hard, coming down was even harder in rain and fog. There is a one-way bridge that all visitors must go through into or out of the mountains. It was no problem going up, but coming down, we sat for almost an hour for our turn. It looked like half of Islamabad was heading to Nathia Gali as we were coming out – we suppose to spend the remaining couple of days in the mountains. The traffic going up the mountain went on for miles and miles and miles, and I imagine those folks are still waiting to cross the bridge!

Drivers here are pretty crazy, too. Passing on blind curves in rain and fog is just the way they roll. And people stop just anywhere to take photos, have lunch, play in muddy water, rest, sit a while, dance (yes), etc. Even on the highways, you see cows, goats, chickens, donkeys and toddlers in the road. John has been doing a great job of getting us around, but I think we are both pretty white-knuckled by the time we get home!

Here’s a photo of a “jingle truck” – pretty much any kind of vehicle is decked out in this fashion – and they jingle from all of the adornments. Jingle trucks can be busses, milk trucks, small vans that function as taxis, donkey carts, etc.

Jingle truck














Last Sunday when our friend Richard was in town, we went to the Serena Hotel for brunch with Richard, Michael, Jim and Kellee – they have a very nice buffet and the hotel is beautiful. And the hotel’s golf cart is also decked out as a jingle truck.

With Kellee in a jingled out golf cart











That evening, John and I went to a carpet party at Melinda’s house. Folks usually have their favorite carpet vendors, so often people will have a carpet party – the vendor will bring a large variety of rugs, and you can shop in the comfort of someone’s home. Quite nice and a good introduction to the different types of rugs here.


Carpet party














After the carpet party, we went to another iftar with the consular group, as a welcome party for the new Consul General and his deputy.

Thursday night, John hosted an iftar at a mountaintop restaurant just outside of town. They are a cute group and it was a lot of fun. The view over the city is breathtaking!

John's team at iftar dinner











So, it was a very fun and busy week! Here’s a misty shot taken at our guest house in Nathia Gali. Click here for more photos from Nathia Gali.

Family with goats

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