Recommendations/advice/reassurance for a trip to Pakistan?
December 29, 2013 7:08 AM Subscribe
My colleague (who is from Pakistan originally, is well-traveled, and is well-known/liked within the science community within Pakistan) has invited me to join him at a scientific conference (all-expenses-paid) in Bahawalpur (Punjab province) in February. After consulting with my wife, I accepted, and I'm excited, but I'm also a bit nervous. I could use recommendations, advice from those who know Pakistan (and especially this area), and especially reassurances, as many people look at me as though I'm crazy when I mention that I'm going to Pakistan.
posted by JMOZ to Travel & Transportation around Bahawalpur, Pakistan (9 answers total)
The colleague in question is likely taking care of all the arrangements, and I trust him entirely to ensure everyplace we go is safe. I also trust that he'll do everything possible to make sure I have a good time, and I think it's important to him that I do.
At the same time, mid-February seems REALLY close to me, and I don't really know any of the plans yet. For example, I haven't yet applied for a visa (he said a month is more-than-adequate). I've looked into flights a bit and let him know my preferences (I think we'll likely fly through Dubai and into Multan), and he was talking about arranging a desert safari. (Bahawalpur is, apparently, the gate to the Cholistan desert.) I'm entirely set on the conference, and I'm sure all the details will work out, but I'm trying to find more information about logistics and not finding much; Bahawalpur is not, apparently, a popular destination. I've looked at Lonely Planet, WikiTravel, etc, but there's not a whole ton there. (I suppose this might be a reflection of Bahawalpur, which seems like it might be the Cedar Rapids (or perhaps El Paso?) of Pakistan?) Are there things I should see? Particular crafts to bring back for friends/family? Best places to buy them? What should I expect in terms of accommodations, etc?
I'm not as anxious a traveler as this question probably makes me sound*, but I like to have semi-reasonable expectations going into things, and I am finding myself entirely without a clue. Recommended reading (fiction or non) for this part of Pakistan would be welcome as well. Finally, given the more-or-less perpetual State Department warning about travel in Pakistan, I could use reassurances that this isn't some horrible idea. (If it IS a less-than-stellar idea, please think twice before telling me; I have family who's all-too-happy to try and make me second-guess this decision.)
Anything else I should know? Thanks in advance!
* I have traveled quite a bit, and often without plans, but Pakistan is a bit exotic compared to other places I've been. I've also not traveled to any Muslim countries; until my current passport, that would have been made difficult by Israeli stamps (in my US passport), but my current passport doesn't have any. I assume my somewhat Jewish name won't be an issue in Pakistan? (I am not particularly religious in case that matters)