I was down at the hotel restaurant by 7:30am and then met up with Ghulam and Ashfaq for another day of exploring.
Today's plan was to drive the ~2 hours to the city of Peshawar before returning to Islamabad via the town of Taxila.
Heading west on the M1 motorway to Peshawar. We had taken a 'B' road the previous day from Lahore to Islamabad and I was impressed with the modern six lane motorway linking Peshawar with the capital.
The drive went by fairly quickly and we arrived in the centre of the Old City just after 10am. Chowk Yadgar (Urdu: “Memorial Square”) with a dome-shaped monument in memorial of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar massacre in 1930 when an estimated 20 and up to 400 people were killed by British Indian Army soldiers that opened fire on demonstrators.
We then walked west along Jewelers Street. A minaret of Mahabat Khan Mosque visible ahead.
The colourful ceiling at the mosque's entrance decorated with Mughal frescoes.
The mosque was completed in 1670 and named after the Mughal governor of Peshawar, Nawab Mahabat Khan bin Ali Mardan Khan.
In the mosque courtyard with an array of cooling fans and a centre pool for ablutions.
A man reading the Quran in the shade in a corner of the courtyard.
Inside the very elegant main prayer hall.
The mosque's interior was decorated with beautiful floral motifs.
Quranic calligraphy visible on one of the interior walls.
Elaborate geometric patterns on the arch ceilings.
Copies of the Quran in one of the alcoves.
We then continued our walk through Jewellers bazaar. Peshawar is only 57 kiometres from the border of Afghanistan and 286 kilometres from the capital of Kabul, the only other city I had seen women wearing the burqa.
We then wandered down an alley to Kapoor Haveli, the former home of the famous Kapoor Bollywood family.
As the Kapoors are Punjabi Hindus, they left Peshawar to Mumbai after the partition of India in 1947.
Just beneath the old crumbling building was a chai shop.
Little green tea pots bubbling away.
The gentlemen sitting on a little stool, preparing the fresh batches of kahwah.
We then retreated to the back of the shop and sat down on the carpeted floor for our morning tea. Kahwah is a traditional green tea preparation made by boiling green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods.
After our caffeine fix we went for a wander through the nearby Qissa Khawani Bazaar.
The Bazaar has been referred to as the "Piccadilly of South Asia".
Tubers, onions and tomatoes.
Visiting a workshop in the bazaar where elaborate bridal dresses were being handmade.
Each of the dresses takes many hours to hand embroider.
A closeup of the intricate and very detailed handiwork.
A shop selling traditional medicines.
~70% of the population use traditional medicine and they have been accepted and integrated into the national health system in Pakistan.
Stopping outside a shop that was selling fresh kheer.
Two large bowls of kheer made with vermicelli, milk and sugar.
Cunningham Clock Tower covered in scaffolding in Ghanta Ghar Chowk. The tower was built in 1900 and was named after the former British governor Sir George Cunningham.
And back in the carparking garage where Ashfaq was catching a few winks.
Driving past the historic Bala Hissar (High Fort). The fort currently serves as headquarters for Pakistan's Frontier Corps, and hence I was restricted to taking a photograph from our moving car.
We then started the drive back to Islamabad.
Just after 2pm we stopped for a rest and some fried fish for lunch.
About 20 kilometres out from Islamabad we stopped in the town of Taxila, which means City of Cut Stone.
The town had numerous rock cutting workshops. A man making a pestle on a spinning lathe.
And the finishing touches of paint. They were also making gravestones and garden ornaments.
Stopping for an afternoon drink of fresh sugar cane juice.
Served along with lime, ginger and salt.
Ancient Taxila dates back to 1000 BC. Due to its strategic location at the junction of the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia it changed hands many times between various empires vying for its control.
At the main entrance to the ancient Jaulian, a ruined Buddhist monastery dating from the second century AD. It was interesting seeing the logo of Thai Airways that fly three times weekly from Bangkok to Islamabad.
Jaulian, along with other ruins of Taxila, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980.
It was very interesting seeing Bhuddist relics in Pakistan, the world's first Islamic Republic.
The pool for ritual washings.
An interior wall of the monastery.
A line visible on the wall, delineating where the original wall (below) and the restored wall (above) meet.
And thanking Mohammed for the insightful tour of the ancient monastery.
Back at the Envoy Hotel where my room had been changed to one with a double bed.
After the late night and long day I was too lazy to go far for dinner so just opted for the ~100 metre walk to the nearby Domino's Pizza Restaurant.
I figured I had better have something passably local though so opted for the 'Pakistani Hot' pizza.
And enjoyed a surprisingly tasty and delicious pizza at the end of day five.
Breakfast at the hotel again at the end of my last day in Pakistan. Today's plan was to see some of the sights of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
After meeting up with Ghulam and Ashfaq again we headed to King Faisal Mosque. Construction of the mosque began in 1976 after a $120 million donation from Saudi King Faisal. Instead of a dome, the mosque is shaped in the shape of a Bedouin tent.
On the grounds of the mosque was the tomb of General Zia-ul-Haq Shaheed, a four-star general who served as the 6th President of Pakistan from 1978 until his death in 1988 during a plane crash.
A long row of taps for albutions. The mosque is the largest in Pakistan and was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993.
The stairs to the main concourse.
Looking up at one of the four 90 metre tall minarets.
The light and airy interior of the main prayer hall. It was really interesting and quite refreshing to see a mosque built with such a unique and unconventional design.
Two ladies walking outside in the shade by the main concourse.
The mosque has a total capacity for 100,000 worshippers.
When then continued our drive through Islamabad. The city, which was founded in 1960, had significant green areas and was unlike any of the other Pakistan cities I had visited on the trip.
At our next stop, Daman-e-Koh, a viewing point and hill top garden north of the city situated in the middle of Margalla Hills.
Looking down on the very green Islamabad below.
Enjoying some morning tea at the PTDC restaurant.
And some sweet paan for a few rupees on the walk back to the car.
At our next stop, Saidpur, a historic Pakistani village located in a ravine in the Margalla Hills.
An old Sikh school that had been recently restored.
Inside were a display of photographs from Islamabads founding and construction in the 1960's.
In the basement of the mn who made various artwork out of pottery.
After the visit to Saidpur we stopped at a street café for some tasty chicken biryani for lunch.
And a 70 rupee (~$0.60) cappucino to finish.
Driving past the Islamabad Marriott. In September 2008 54 were killed by a suicide truck bombing, apparently targeting US marines that were staying at the hotel.
Parliament House. Due to security I could only discretely take photo's from the moving car.
The Prime Minister's Office.
A brilliant red rose at a brief stop in the garden of the Pakistan National Rose Society.
We the drove up Shakarparian Hills to the entrance of the Pakistan Monument.
The monument was built in 2007 and is shaped as a blooming flower petal-shaped structure built of granite and symbolises the unity of the Pakistani people. The four main petals represent the four provinces of Pakistan; Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh. The three smaller petals represent the territories of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and the Tribal Areas.
The image of Muhammad Ali Jinnah with Badshahi Mosque, Minar-e-Pakistan and Mazar-e-Quaid in the background.
Keyrings with peoples names for sale with everything from Qazi to Fidah.
Taking a walk through the nearby Shakarparian Park. A monument at the place where the master plan for the city was Islamabad was approved on the 24th of May, 1960.
In the park was a garden filled with trees planted by visiting dignitaries over the years, including then Vice President George HW Bush when he visited Islamabad in 1984.
One thing I wanted to visit in Pakistan but wasn't on my itinerary was a truck workshop. The colourful and elaborately decorated trucks were like moving works of art. I had asked Ghulam earlier in the day if it was possible to visit one of the workshops. He said he couldn't promise anything but would look into it.
In the late afternoon we drove over to the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi. We arrived at one of the main workshops and Ghulam politely asked if it was possible to walk around and take a few photographs. Thankfully all was ok and we were allowed to peruse the very interesting wokrs in progress.
A very interesting Hino truck covered in a multitude of colours and various decorations.
The people were very welcoming and thankfully had no problems with me taking their portraits.
Fabricating some of the detailed metalwork for one of the trucks.
Some of the bright and brilliant painting.
Many trucks and buses in Pakistan are highly customized and decorated by their owners, and which can cost thousands of dollars.
Bright green, yellow and orange.
A man selling steering wheel covers and other truck decorations.
A truck from Muzzaffarabad, the capital of the territory of Azad Kashmir, situated in the north of Pakistan.
Despite the decoaration on the outside of the trucks, under the hood was strictly functional.
Artificial flowers on long stalks that wave around as the truck bumps along the road.
The workshops where the trucks were maintained and repaired.
The term jingle truck comes from United States military slang and was coined by servicemen in Afghanistan because of the sound that the trucks make due to the chains hanging from the bumpers.
Repairing a differential.
Some especially intricate and detailed painting.
A truck being freshly painted.
With a mixture of geometric patterns, animals and objects.
A rainbow of colours being used.
The painting and decorations often contains elements that remind the truck drivers of home, since they may be away for many months at a time.
Adding details to some floral motifs.
As well as painting the trucks are often covered with reflective stickers.
Cutting thin strips to be later used as external decoration.
Applying petal-shaped stickers.
Fine strands hanging on the wall.
The 'wands' that wave around when attached to the front of a truck.
Most Pakistani trucks have an augmented rooftop to increase the space for decoratione.
The front of an old Bedford truck that has been elaborately decorated.
A side of a truck showing how both painting and the use of stickers are used in combination for decoration.
A technician working on the truck brake lines while a truck is decorated in the background.
It was great to just wander about the workshops and take in the interesting sights, sounds and the creative work in progress. Definitely a highlight of the day!
On the drive back to the hotel we stopped at a sweet shop to buy a few kilo's to take home.
A great and tasty treat to take home.
And back at the Envoy Hotel where I said farewell to Ghulam and Ashfaq and thanked them for a great past four days.
For dinner I went for a short walk to the nearby Centaurus mall. At the entrance they had an unusual policy where you had to pay 300 rupees ($2.60) for entrance unless you managed to fit into one of several categories including members of the judiciary, film celebrities and airline employee's. Luckily I managed to qualify under the foreigner exemption.
A model of the Minar-e-Pakistan and numerous Pakistan flags on display for the Pakistan Day Weekend.
Enjoying a substantial and very tasty thali (platter).
And back at the Envoy Continental Hotel to pack my bag and get some rest before my flight in the early hours back to Dubai.
Catching a ride to Benazir Bhutto International Airport in the early hours of the morning.
After arriving at the airport, our car again was checked for explosives with a 'magic wand' bomb detector.
While walking to the terminal I came across a couple arguing with a forklift driver, who had their car teetering ~2 metres in the air on the top of his forks!
Joining the queue for security. The queues were quite long and the airport was on its last legs as the brand new Islamabad International Airport was due to open in just over one months time.
Checking in my flight EK flight to DXB. There was a big sign above check-in asking every passenger to pay 120 rupees (~$1) due to a recent increase in airport tax. Luckily I still had some change leftover.
Airside with my boarding pass. I had recieved an email to upgrade again to Business Class but declined since it was only a short red-eye flight.
And about to board the 777-300 after an amazing and eventful six days in Pakistan!