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Moving away from the Mainstream Turkey

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Whenever we decide to travel, the first thing we google is “What to visit”. This directs us to the number of mainstream places that are visited by almost every tourist in a short span of time.  This kind of hunt will only lead you to spots full of tourists with no fresh air and a little time and space to explore the surroundings.

My initial intent was only to go to the high-flying famous places but I was fortunate enough to drop my eyes on these beautiful areas that are still to be fully discovered by many tourists around the world.

 

Red & Rose Valley – Cappadocia

Right after we landed in Cappadocia, we checked into our hotel and started getting ready for the ATV ride. We were lucky enough to miss that ride for some reasons and we ended up driving to this beautiful place called Red & Rose Valley. Despite the fact that the place gives lovey-dovey vibes, still, I had the best time having a company of three girls. Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia has got its name from the pinkish red-colored rock that changes its shades throughout different times of the day. The aura surrounding the caves, the swings covered with flowers and the smell of the cold coffee just make it a perfect spot to spend a sunset.

 

Selimiye Mosque – Konya

There is a small ratio of people who actually like to visit Konya for the reason of it being dry, a little more conservative and a dull city. Although historical places never gain my attention, this mosque in Konya had an impact that no other place did. This is located next to Mevlana Museum and is a fine example of the Ottoman style of the mosque from the great period of Ottoman architecture.

 Oludeniz 6 Island Boat Trip-Butterfly Valley

After having a sleepless night and zero energy, we had a boat trip early in the morning. The trip had 6 stops at different islands where swim lovers can just jump, dive in and have some great time under water. Though I had no grip at swimming, the boat trip was one of the best things I opted for. The great crowd, great music, and beautiful landscape added a great value to the boat journey. The best stop was indeed the butterfly valley which is a calm place filled with butterflies and apricots being the best destination of exceptional natural beauty.

Alacati streets – Izmir

You can easily lose track of time and get lost in the labyrinth of these colorful streets packed with beautiful buildings, antique doors, and trendy eateries and cafes. Walking down the road, conversing with the lovely strangers and having a great meal, we knew it would be our happy place for the next 2-3 hours. Away from the tourists’ eyes, this place is still a relaxing destination for well established Turkish people.

Princess Islands- Istanbul

Princess’ islands are the cluster of 9 islands altogether famous for their mild climates, lush vegetation, and ornate Ottoman Houses. This secluded island is away from the hassle of traffic pollution. Bicycles and carts are the prominent modes of conveyance. Cycling through the roads with hanging vibrant flowers and colorful houses with cats peeking out of them was a sight clearly a treat to the eyes. This island is famous for its Gelato ice-cream and some lavish cafes. Life is simple, calm and green. This is the place where you can move away from the bustle of Istanbul to have a peaceful time.  Flower head crowns are a must have when you enter this princessly place.

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Entertainment

Mehwish Hayat Louds Using Truck Art for the Rights of the Girl Child

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Tuck Owners, drivers and artists pose with their brightly colored trucks on the International Day of the Girl Child

The Ministry of Human Rights initiative “Truck Art for Awareness and Advocacy for the Rights of the Girl Child in Pakistan” mesmerizes stakeholders.

  • The biggest achievement of this intervention is that Truck owners, Truck drivers and Truck artists own this initiative” says Samar Minallah (Anthropologist/ Pioneer of the Truck Art for Awareness intervention in Pakistan
  • Ministry of Human Rights, Government of Pakistan stands tall for upholding all constitutionally enshrined rights of the girl child” Dr Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights

This year marked over 25 years of the International Day of the Girl Child. The Ministry of Human Rights, government of Pakistan, through the Huqooq-e-Pakistan Programme, in collaboration with the European Union held a launch event on 11th October 2019 at Lok Virsa in the country’s capital, Islamabad.

20 Newly painted trucks transverse across Pakistan to ensure the right message reaches the right audiences. Trucks, moving billboards, here are becoming vehicles for spreading awareness regarding educating girls, and truck art is making its way to bridge communication gaps between key stakeholders involved in ensuring rights are given to the girl child

“Let’s pledge to give girls a better brighter future” said Mehwish Hayat, the appointed Goodwill Ambassador to the Rights of the Girl Child by the Ministry of Human Rights,  in her talk engaging with the participants of the launch event.

Goodwill Ambassador for the Rights of the Girl Ms. Mehwish Hayat addressing during a function to mark International Day of Girl Child (Advocacy and Awareness through Truck Art) at Lok Virsa

 “The brightly painted trucks through Pakistan’s indigenous truck art support us in creating awareness as well as amplifying a message to begin advocacy from within the grassroots of Pakistan from the remotest of areas” says Minallah.

She further added that Hayat Khan, a truck workshop owner, extended great cooperation in this regard and played a pivotal role in convincing other truck drivers to change the paintings on their rides.

The Launch evnt was attended by over 400 participants. A gathering with all relevant players present to commemorate the Day of the Girl Child. The event marks not only the beginning of a new era of the amplification of the rights of the girl child but also is a testiment to the fact that the Pakistani society is proud of its traditional art forms and the role community members like truck owner, drivers and artists are taken up for the cause.

Truck Artist Tahir Hayat adds finishing touches as he paints “Let me study, I will brighten the future”

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari, European Union Ambassador to Pakistan Mrs. Androulla Kaminara and Goodwill Ambassador for the Rights of the Girl Ms. Mehwish Hayat jointly distributing certificates among the artists during a function to mark International Day of Girl Child (Advocacy and Awareness through Truck Art) at Lok Virsa.

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5 Peaceful Travel Destinations in Pakistan

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There are two types of people, ones who like to trek thousands of miles up to the mountains and others who like to stay in a cozy place, camp on the bank of a beautiful lake or those who would just like to be surrounded by beautiful nature in a hut or a dome. At one point, we do not want to explore but just want to enjoy the beauty around us. Even the trekkers need relaxation sometimes.

So, here we suggest 5 places where you can go and have a peaceful getaway without any trek, struggle or a travel hassle involved.

Sharan Forest

Untouched dense forest reserve in KPK, this place is located in Kaghan. All you have to do is to take a jeep from Paras and you will be in the forest within 1.5 hours. Now, the stop depends on the nature of your comfort and your requirement. If you are a person of extreme comfort, Chinar Family Resort should be your go-to place. Surrounded by a breathtaking view of mountains and forest; this place is a sheer beauty if described in one word. Beautifully maintained, having proper facilities of rooms and every food item available on order, this family resort provides you with the best in the middle of a forest.

If you are an adventurous person with an idea of cooking your own food but having a comfortable sleeping pod; you can always book these camping pods set up by the government of KPK that will provide you a serene view, a cozy room and the choice to cook your own food.

If your soul needs an adventure in open air with your camps on, go for camping outside this youth hostel that was built by the British and is now a perfect camping spot for a thrilling experience.

Naltar Valley

Again, known for its dramatic mountain scenery, another unruffled world, away from the hubbub, Naltar Valley is a pure magic. Setting up a camp near one of the lakes, far away from human existence, in the middle of mountains is an experience which is pure bliss. There is also an option available of staying at skiing resorts with comfort in your room but the exuberance of spending a night in a camp and getting up to the majestic view of the lake right in front of you cannot be compared with anything else.

Borith Lake 

A hamlet in the surroundings of Borith Lake to the northwest of Husseini, a village near Gulmit, Gojal, Borith is located in the upper Hunza. The lake can be reached through jeeps and is surrounded by calm and quiet mountains with little or no human interaction. The best and only comfortable place to live in Borith is The Borith lake hotel and resort. The option of camping is always available to wake up to the astonishing view of the lake.

ICE Dome- Nathia Gali

The world’s first LED embedded in the structure, ICE Dome in Nathia Gali is one of its kind. With a warm and homely ambiance, this place is a whole new experience to live and enjoy nature. With Nathia Gali being the oldest spot for a vacation in the north, this concept of the dome is unique with a blend of camping and a comfortable room giving you services with the proper easement. Surrounded with green view isolated and peaceful, book this dome and enjoy your vacation away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Rumbur-Kalash

Rumbur is one of the three Kalash valleys in Chitral. With a polytheist belief, you will find these people to be extremely loving, hospitable and liberal. There are not many rental places except for a few wooden rooms that are surrounded by amazing views and a touch of old school charm. You can either hire people to cook food for yourself or you can do it on your own. Having a totally different tradition, culture and religion, these people are a great company and the place offers a completely different aura in terms of experience. This valley, being isolated and uncommercialised, will let you experience the essence of life in a small valley.

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Travel

Quashing the Travel Myths with the Globetrotter; Mishaal Hashmi

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We all are in awe as to why suddenly and rapidly traveling has become one of the most discussed topics among every generation. Is it because there are more awareness and access to information available on groups regulated by frequent travelers or has it simply become a trend to follow? To debunk a few myths and to know more about traveling and its ever-growing business, we got in touch with Mishaal Hashmi; the founder and admin of the very popular group “The Travel Diary, a social media community leader and an entrepreneur. 

1) “Traveling has only become a fashion statement”

I feel more than a fashion statement, travel has become a statement period. People are now identifying what makes them happy and traveling is something that makes us all happy. People have become smarter and therefore are better equipped to indulge in this love for exploration. Traveling is essential to discovering yourself. If identifying your needs and happiness is a trend, then let’s happily acknowledge it is.

2.People are more into taking pictures to show around rather than enjoying the moment and a certain destination.”

The ease of connecting to social media does make it appear so. However, if you look at it positively, it’s real-time experience sharing with your people. It becomes a window for others to share in your experiences. The hardcore traveler will document but live in the moment. Those who document and not enjoy the experiences, lose out on the essence of travel.

3. “There are no checks and balances on travel companies. It’s more like a business and less about providing facilities to people.”

There is a need for proper government rules and regulations to keep travel and tour operators in check. It is quite necessary for the promotion of tourism in our country. Registered businesses with decades of reputation are a good option. The novice traveler in an attempt to save money falls prey to dubious tour operators. Till we don’t research and pay fair rates to legitimately registered businesses, travelers will continue to be exploited.

4. Your favorite travel Spot till now?

South East Asia will always have a special spot in my heart. I go back repeatedly and every time fall in love all over again.

5. How does The travel Diary play a part to boost tourism in Pakistan?

The Travel Diary has given people a platform to share their love for traveling. When you gather a diverse group of people who are eager to share their experiences, you realize that travel is not an unattainable dream. From budget management to airline deals, exploration of new destinations and the members rallying up for each other in various countries of the world; The Travel Diary has given many people the courage as well as the guidance they needed to take a leap.

6. How do you think The Travel Diary is a reliable source for travel-related queries. How do you moderate the suggestions? 

The group is getting larger even as we speak. We employ moderators in different countries. As well as seasoned travelers who can corroborate what is being said. It is a large forum and managing it is a monumental task. We are trying our best and more often than not are successful.

7. What is the worst thing or a common mistake Pakistanis do while traveling in a different country? 

Trying to find shortcuts for everything. There are legitimate ways and then Pakistanis trying to be penny-wise end up being pound foolish.

8. How can we encourage women-oriented travel companies in Pakistan?

There is an encouraging trend as of late. Women are looking to travel with other women on holidays and exploratory trips. It takes time but getting such groups together empowers a lot of solo female travelers. Again, we are moving to new norms and traveling for women is fastly becoming easier.

9. What is your take on women traveling solo outside Pakistan

I would say I love it. Not only do I encourage it, but I also propagate it. It’s on my bucket list. My girlfriends and I are soon heading out for our dream holiday. Just at the end of this month, The Travel Diary is taking its first international trip and I am so happy that half of our travelers are women looking for a travel adventure.

10. Running this group is just a hobby”

It was never a hobby. The page was a work of love. The group started with my search for people who were as passionate about traveling as I was. I never dreamt that it would become a platform of such epic proportions and become so vital for Pakistan’s travel culture. It is still my heart and soul. The group is not a hobby but a labor of painstaking love.

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