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Karachi

27 Jan 2007: Karachi, Pakistan

Karachi is definitely not one of my dream destinations. In fact, I could not help but felt edgy over the trip. Imaginations drived wild into images of suicide bombers and al Qaeda terrorists.

Karachi is the financial capital of Pakistan and has a metropolitan population of 12 million, of which more than 90% are Muslims. Located on the coast, Karachi has a relatively mild climate and the “winter months” (November to February) are generally considered the best times for visit.

We landed at the Jinnah International Airport after dark. There was a big crowd at the arrival area, making it warm, humid and suffocating. I frantically searched for my name in the seas of hold-up signboards and heaved relief to find it on a Sheraton Karachi sign.

“Wait here,” said the hotel chauffeur, “I will drive the car to you.”  And he disappeared down the dark lane, leaving me standing at the carpark with a luggage. I began to have this weird feeling that the people around me are staring or peeking at me. That 10 minutes seemed to last forever. I swore that for the next few days, my travel itinerary will be restricted to “hotel-office-hotel”.

The next day, we had pre-arranged with our business partner to “wait at the hotel lobby”. Not taking any chance, I was standing at a extreme far corner of lobby. As the car drove out of the hotel, I finally saw the city in the bright sunlight. It was a different city from the dark.

Karachi 

Karachi (8)

 A couple of hours later, I began to shed off my armor defense. After lunch, it was shopping at the Forum, a popular shopping mall located at Clifton. Much to my surprise, this a pretty decent place to shop, eat or have a cup of coffee.

Karachi (14)

Another of Karachi’s premier shopping mall is Park Tower, which offers a wide variety of shops including clothing, jewellery, handicrafts, food court, a children’s entertainment area and a supermarket.  It is located in Clifton across the road from the  the historic Jehangir Kothari Parade, with a monument dating from the British era.

Park Tower

Park Tower

Jehangir Kothari Parade is a place dedicated to the public, built by Mr. Jehangir Kothari, an eminent Karachi citizen.  At the end of the parade is an elliptical roof structure called a Kiosk. It is built in Jodhpur stone and has an octagonal seat in the center.  It is a beautiful example of colonial architecture, built with stones favoured by the British in pre-partitioned India.

Jehangir Kothari Parade

Jehangir Kothari Parade

The Parade in the dusk

The Parade in the dusk

 Another relaxing thing to do is to take a stroll along the Clifton Beach. This whole beach area is considered safe and peaceful. A section of the Clifton beach is reserved for beachfront residential development, collectively called the “Seaview”.

Karachi (6)

Karachi (1)

If you feel hungry, you can order a pizza from one of these Pizza hut Mobile Unit.

Karachi (2)Karachi (4)

As our hearts opened, our diets were no longer restricted to Cozmo buffet-dining at the Sheraton Karachi. We ventured on foot to Pearl Continental Hotel, which was next to the Sheraton. I highly recommended the Sakura, a Japanese restaurants located at the rooftop next to the popular Chandni. We were enjoying the authentic grilled cod fish and California maki until we overheard the latest news of a suicide blast at Marriott Islamabad!  A car bomb blew up in the parking lot of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, resulting in the death of two persons and injuring five. That day was 27 Jan 2007.

Life is unpredictable and somehow, it seems to move in circles. After a few days of easing tension and when I was about to switch to “off-guards” mode, I am now reverted to be that clingy, skeptical traveller. I boarded the plane with this mix feeling and wondered if this is what equates to an “adventure”.

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