Polish couple’s dreams come true in Pakistan
LAHORE – Many of us dream to travel and explore the beauty of the world but hardly anyone makes an effort to make it happen. Kate & Lukasz left everything behind in Poland to explore the world.
By profession, Lukasz is a fashion photographer while Kate is a painter and a graphic designer. They chose hitchhiking as their mode of transport because they wanted to interact with the locals too, which itself is the most important as well as interesting ingredient.
They started their love of travelling from their homeland; Poland, crossing Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, and currently they are in Lahore. In an exclusive interview with The Nation they talked about their journey. Following are excerpts of the interview:
What inspired you to travel towards Pakistan?
KATE: No-go areas were always a little bit desirable for us. We are not much interested in colourful islands and sunbathing. Media image of Pakistan in Europe is very poor. We were very curious about your culture and if it’s really that dangerous. One guy from Poland was here and he said it was no fun. So at first I didn’t want to listen about coming here. What for? To get shot by Taliban? I told Lukasz to tap his forehead and change destination to something less extreme. Slowly, slowly Lukasz started to contact Pakistani people. And it turned out that devil’s not as black as he is painted. One lovely person from couch surfing were so excited about our arriving here that he tried his best to make our travel as much fun as possible. He succeeded and found kind of sponsor for us.
LUKASZ: When I started discovering the beauty of Pakistan. It was so amazing to see the pictures of the mountains and nature. My friends didn’t even know about this country. We came in to promote the message that it is a peaceful country and safe for the tourists. It is a heaven which is unexplored.
Which places you have travelled in Pakistan and how has been your experience?
Kate: We explored northern areas – Hunza, Skardu, Gilgit, Kalash Valley, Chitral, Islamabad, Peshawar, now we are in Lahore. My experience is that I want to stay here longer and longer and probably I will never get bored. Your country is unbelievably varied and when you move few kilometres more you can see different landscapes, different people, language, different everything. Sometimes we are asking ourselves if there is something more beautiful in the world. For now Pakistan is our number one.
What were some of the problems you faced in Pakistan as a foreigner?
LUKASZ: As a foreigner the problem we faced were only police check points. We were refusing all the time that we did not need security but they insisted and gave us escort through Chitral. Another big problem for foreigners is food poisoning. You need to be extremely careful because our stomachs are used to different food.
KATE: Once, when we were trying to hitchhike to Kalash Valley strange guys stopped us and called themselves secret police. They warned that we cannot go there alone because we were standing just by Afghan refugee camp. Suddenly, half of those villagers came and watched us curiously, like we were aliens or something. Then those police guys called other police and to be honest I don’t remember details because I was so stressed about all that rush. Sometimes I am too sensitive and not used to seeing army guys, guns and too many people looking at me. They gave us escort straight through Chitral.
How do you plan and manage your finances for traveling?
KATE: If it comes to me I finished artistic high school and got job as a freelance graphic designer/illustrator. I love that job and when I will go back I will continue it. Sometimes I also get some money from my paintings, but rather not big, serious amounts.
LUKASZ: We always wanted to explore the world but didn’t have enough cash to take a flight to see some countries. We always wanted to discover a lot and dream was to see south Asia. I was working in photolab, but also as wedding and fashion photographer. Slowly, slowly we saved something. But honestly we are spending extremely little money. We are only hitchhiking, rather avoiding eating in exclusive restaurants, sleeping in hotels. In further parts of our travel maybe we will use volunteer or try to work somewhere.
Did you have fears about traveling before you started?
KATE: Of course, many of them. But it ended up just after we started. There is nothing to be afraid of. I believe when you don’t have bad intentions and you take care of yourself, there is low chance to face something bad. I mean – just don’t go when you should not go. Sometimes I am afraid that we will not have enough money, or we will get some health problems. But during travel we are learning a lot, becoming stronger and stronger.
What do you like the most about traveling?
Lukasz: I like the freedom about the travelling.
KATE: I like the most that we forgot what is routine. Every day is different. In that way I feel that I really live. We are free, no one is hurrying us, we can go everywhere we want and don’t care about time.
How was your experience crossing the border into Pakistan?
KATE: We were crossing from China. It was very long and annoying. Chinese are crazy about safety checking so it took almost whole day to manage and organize crossing the border. But finally when we stepped on Pakistan’s ground and saw the sign ‘Welcome to Pakistan’ it warmed us up.
What’s next in your plans?
LUKASZ: At first our plan was come go home through Iran, Turkey and Balkans. But we got into the swing of travelling that changed plans and now we are heading to India, then Sri Lanka.