About Me

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
I am married to my loving husband for more than 38 years now. I am a mother to 3 beautiful children, until 11 years ago when I lost my youngest son. Since then my life is forever altered but yet unbroken....

My Travel Journal

"There isn't much I haven't shared with you along the road and through it all there'd always be tomorrow's episode" - Elton John

I started traveling around the world since early 80s when I had the opportunity to combine business trips with vacations. Then later when my rezeki is in abundance, there were numerous other trips along the way for vacations, most of the time with hubby and the kids when the timing is right. I have also started to compile the journal and photo-pages covering almost more than 25 years of world wide travel. Some destinations I visited just once, others many times. Many of those places are the obvious famous places people would like to visit but some, the casual traveler doesn't even think to try. I have placed links to my travel at the side bar of my personal page, My Life Reflections, and will be updating them from time to time.

My wish is to continue my travel and complete circumnavigate the globe, insyaAllah…

Monday, 28 September 2015

Pakistan Day 04 : Islamabad - Besham

“The key to a better life isn't always a change of scenery. Sometimes it simply requires opening your eyes...” - Richelle E. Goodrich

(The majestic Faisal Mosque)

Day 04: Saturday, 12 September 2015
Route: Islamabad – Taxila – Besham
Distance: 326 km
Hotel: PTDC Motel

We had a good spread of buffet breakfast in the Hotel Restaurant early in the morning before we packed our bags and checked out.

It was time to head for Besham but as we failed to visit the Faisal Mosque last night, we detoured to the mosque for a photo shoot. This National Mosque is the largest in Pakistan. It was shaped like a desert Bedouin's tent against a picturesque backdrop of the Margalla Hills at the westernmost foothills of the Himalayas. The Faisal Mosque was named after the late King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, who supported and financed the project. The Faisal Mosque was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993, when it was overtaken in size by the Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca, Morocco. Subsequent expansions of the Masjid al-Haram of Mecca and the Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, Saudi Arabia relegated Faisal Mosque to fourth place in terms of size.

(A group photo in the hot sun)
(The entrance to the women prayer hall)
(The main prayer hall)

After visiting Faisal Mosque we continued our journey on the Grand Trunk Road and reached the ancient Greek city of Taxila. Also known as ‘City of Cut Stone’ it is an important archaeological site situated about 32 km from Islamabad. The town lies 549 m above sea level situated at the pivotal junction of South Asia and Central Asia. Some of the earliest ruins in this area date to the time of the Achaemenid Empire in the 6th century BCE. Owing to its strategic location, Taxila has changed hands many times over the centuries, with many empires vying for its control. When the great ancient trade routes connecting these regions ceased to be important, the city sank into insignificance and was finally destroyed by the nomadic Huns in the 5th century. The ruins was rediscovered and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(The museum entrance)
(Some of the displays in the gallery)

Although most members of our group were not fond of museums, a few of us visited the Taxila Museum as the group had already paid for the entrance fee and the guide. Taxila Museum houses excellent relics from the Gandhara and the Greco-Buddhist periods that date back to the 5th century BC. There are some 4000 objects displayed, including stone, stucco, terracotta, silver, gold, iron and semiprecious stones. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain religions are well represented through these objects discovered from three ancient cities and more than two dozen Buddhist stupas and monasteries and Greek temples in the region.

(Mohra Moradu Monastery Complex)
(The short climb to the main stupa)

About 4.5 km from the Museum we drove on a gravel track and hiked a short distance to Mohra Moradu Stupa and Monastery well concealed in the hills. At the base of the stupa there still has the stucco relief representing Buddha and Bodhisattuas, which is well preserved and protected.

We later drove another short distance to Sirkap Archaeology Site opposite to the city of Taxila. The city of Sirkap was built by the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius and his son Stultus after he invaded ancient India around 180 BC. Sirkap is also said to have been rebuilt by King Menander I. The excavation of the old city was carried out before 1930. Sirkap flourished under several different regimes, beginning with the Greeks, then the Scythians, Parthians, and finally the Kushanas.

(The wall surrounding the ancient city)
(Foundations of houses and mansions)
(Double headed Eagle Stupa)

The visit to the archaeology sites was quite tiring especially under the noon sun but it was very informative. We had our lunch at a restaurant in the Royalson Hotel in Taxila new town.

The next leg of our journey was driving on the Karakoram Highway, some 1,200 km of paved and unpaved road through mountain ranges with soaring peaks and long glaciers, connecting South Asia to West and Central Asia. About 20 km from Taxila we reached Haripur Havelian the official starting point of the Karakoram Highway and this is the start of our journey to trace the ancient silk route.

(A Madrasah and a Mosque)
(Small girls reciting the Quran in the madrasah)

We stopped for prayers break at a madrasah in Havelian. Beyond the Havelian town the road crosses the Dor River, and then rapidly climbs through denuded hills before dropping down into the military town of Abbottabad. North of Abbottabad the road travels through the gentle hills of Hazara passes through emerald green rice paddies, fields of corn, fruit trees, and pines forest.

The landscape begins to change, the road twists downward into a drier canyon en route to its rendezvous with the mighty Indus then starts to climb towards Mansehra through pine forests. We stopped for a short break at a nice view point for photo opportunity of the beautiful picturesque scenery during sunset. We had another short break to buy fruits from the many fruit stalls along the highway.

(The View Point, at a sharp hair-pin corner)
(The rolling hills and the valleys)
(The bustling fruits stalls)

It was already dark when we drove through the Kohistan section of the journey along the Karakoram Highway which begins as we crossed the Thakot Bridge. Having crossed the Indus, the highway passes through the village of Dandai, before continuing the winding climb up the mountain terrain. I could feel that the road condition is poor, with uneven surface and deep potholes. There are many unpaved washed out sections of the road because of landslides. Regular landslides and rock falls still occur and happen without warning. We were lucky to have Omar, our experienced driver who was at all time in full concentration, a slight lapse could land us at the bottom of the deep gorge.

We finally reached PTDC Motel in Besham at around 19:30 and were soon served with hot dinner of roti, chicken curry and abundance of freshly cut honey melon. The weather was pleasant and cool outside but it was quite stuffy in the room even though we had the fan on full blast all night.

Tonight we did some laundry and dried them under the fan.

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