Hello my lovelies, I have arrived safely in Islamabad, Pakistan! I have so much to say and so little access to internet, so I will get my posts out as consistently as possible. When I return home I’ll be able to properly share more photos from my trip. But for now, my first post from Pakistan!
Have you ever feared for your life and that of your family? Then never drive in Pakistan. I mean for the love of all things unholy, it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever experienced.
Do you stop at red lights?
Stay in your lane?
Wear helmets on motorbikes?
Use your turn signals?
Always wear a seatbelt?
And are generally a safe driver? Then Pakistan is NOT for you.
As I deplaned and made my way to the car to go to my Taya (Uncle), I was met with the the most terrifying traffic I have ever participated in. First off, the Islamabad Highway is huge, at least four lanes across, and yet no one seemed to know that. The people were constantly drifting into nearby lanes, would cut up the middle of two lanes and simply honk to make themselves known. Think that’s not so bad? Yeah, then there’s about a hundred motorbikes going at different speeds who weave through traffic. You get too close to them? They’ll honk like it’s your fault.
So what did I see on my way from the airport to Taya’s house? I saw three grown men on one motorbike. I saw cars packed with so many people that each person had another person on their laps. I saw one cop pull over one car because it had run a red light, or at least I assume so, which resulted in a shouting match. Two men walked across the bloody highway at a casual pace in the dark with bags of food and no signs of speeding up. People turning in front of other cars from side streets whenever they damn-well pleased, whether the person coming towards them had to slam on their breaks or not. And generally terrible driving by anyone. There is probably a driver’s ed class that they have to take simply to be bad enough at driving to get a license.
I thought people from Minnesota were terrible at driving, hell, I though people in Peru were bad at driving. But I’ll take the slamming on your breaks one inch from someone else’s bumper on a giant hill in a stick shift car, over this. It’s entertaining and terrifying. I’m convinced before I leave I’ll end up witnessing some sort of terrible accident. Did you know that my own father was in a motorbike accident back when he lived in Pakistan? He broke the majority of his fingers and toes, you can still see the disfigured limbs to this day.
Honest to goodness I saw a family of five riding on one motorbike together: two kids, dad, kid, and mom. No helmets or anything. My partner thinks I’m not a safe driver? So what I go 15 miles over the speed limit, if he came here his heart would actually stop.
By American standards the traffic patterns and driving practices are insane, but they are also so logical in their own way. It’s fascinating to watch cars weave through traffic, aware of motorbikes, people, other cars, giant trucks, and people with donkeys. I have so much respect for anyone who can navigate Islamabad’s traffic. Apparently in Lahore, a large city about 5 hours away, the traffic is even crazier. We’re headed there, inshallah, sometime before I leave, and I will try to record it with my camera if I can.
Also, quick update, I am headed to a rural village for about three days so there will be a social media blackout from me. Don’t fear though! I will return by Sunday night or Monday morning your time. I haven’t taken pictures yet, but I will post them later to show what I mean and then re-share this link.