With these mixed feelings, we took the Turkish Airlines flight to Karachi at 20:30. As I had a Schengen visa, I was going to receive my Pakistan visa at the gate. Thanks to friends there, I got my visa very quickly and arrived at Karachi at about 04:00.
As soon as I completed the formalities at the airport, I went to the Pearl Continental Hotel Karachi where I would stay. As it was dark, I couldn’t get much of a sense of the surroundings but I felt a bit scared when I saw the armed security guards around the hotel. After passing the strict security, I reached my room and started the day after a great sleep.
In the daylight, I had the chance to see the city better. I was looking out of the car windows and trying to get an understanding of Karachi. My first impressions were of a seemingly lawless place with extreme levels of poverty. In the traffic I felt as if I were on a roller coaster or go-carting. Traffic lights or police officers were nowhere to be seen, not that I felt they would make much difference even if they had been there.
As I mentioned, I was in Karachi on business. As life on the streets seems to follow very few rules, so this is reflected in business. Those used to more organization may find difficulty in doing business in this country. Despite everything, I was surprised and happy as well to see the Biskrem advertorials in Karachi.
I tried to see some of the city in my spare time. First of all, I wanted to try some local food at a nice restaurant. I asked my friends to take me to a nice kebab restaurant and they took me to Bar-B-Q Tonight. The kebabs were great, but if you happen to go to the same place, definitely ask to have it without pepper, because in Karachi there is no such concept as “just a little hot” – you can get either really hot or without pepper.
After the meal, we went to the seaside. We could not see the sea too well as it was evening, but we still had lots of fun there. When you go to the seaside, you will notice that there are cars similar to go-carts. I recommend you hire one for a while, as they are great fun. But be careful – they ask tourists for 2-3 times more than the going rate.
Another day, we went to Saddar, the bazaar of Karachi. The spirited salesmen of the bazaar were something to behold. When the blaring horns of the cars and motorcycles passing by are added to the sounds of the sellers, it’s difficult just to talk with the person next to you. Karachi is without doubt the noisiest city I have ever been to. 🙂
After we were finished with the bazaar, we wanted to visit the Quaid-I-Azam mausoleum. This mausoleum is dedicated to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who was the leader of the All-India Muslim League and the struggle for the independence of Pakistan, as well as the founder and the first president of Pakistan at the same time.
There is a museum which is very close to the mausoleum. You can visit both at once. I went to the mausoleum with several colleagues. It was easy for people everywhere we visited to tell that we were foreigners. The British woman with us received particular attention, with many people wanting to have their photo taken with her. They even let us enter the museums for free.
When we were finished with the mausoleum, we went past the Clifton area, where Karachi’s wealthiest citizens and celebrities live. We stopped by for 5 minutes at Masjid-e-Tooba, which is one of the most beautiful mosques there.
Then we went to Hyperstar Mall to see the modern side of the city. This mall is almost identical to the ones in Turkey. They have everything you need, so wander around there if you’re in the mood for shopping.
In Karachi, there is a very big park called Bagh Ibne Qasim. It claims to attract 10 million visitors per year. The park really is enormous; the sheer scale can take you by surprise.
For its variety, Karachi is a very interesting place. You may have some prejudices and concerns before you arrive, but it really is a must-see city. However, I do not recommend it for women; they may find it a little difficult.