It does not matter where you go, the first days are always the most exciting and stressful ones. So what do you do normally to get a feeling for where you are? You go on a stroll and check out the area.
In Lahore that requires a bit of organising. That is for several reasons:
- Lahore is the 14. biggest city in the world, so it is gigantic. (It seems to be important for Pakistanis to measure the greatness of something in their country by comparing it with the rest of the world. The Guiness Book of World Records is still very popular over there. So Lahore being only on 14th place may be a bit of a disappointment. But luckily they also have Karachi which is the second biggest city of the world by population, yay!).
- It is hot. 45° Celsius at 9 am, plus the just described sheer size of the city are not really the ideal requirements for a jolly walk…
So an other option is taking public transport to get from A to B.
You could take the bus, a rickshaw (the covered version of a small three wheeled motorised cart) or a qing qi (the open and even smaller version of a rickshaw – no doors, no seat belts, no european security standard, but that is an other story anyway 😉 ).
But I have to confess: I spent almost a year in Istanbul so I thought I would be used to crazy traffic. Wasn’t I wrong… Most of the Lahoris are moving around on small Honda motorbikes, and I kid you not I have seen a family of seven squeezed onto one single bike. From time to time you see someone on a bicycle. You have some cars, but they are in the minority. In case people want to move something big, like a wardrobe or maybe five refrigerators, they get a donkey cart to move it around. There are horse carts, there are cows pulling two wheeled carts, there are camels pacing around the city center. And amongst this chaos are scooping the buses, rickshaws and qing qis.
I would say it takes some courage to dive head first into this. Courage we did not have at first. While we were still in London we heard of the “Pakistani version of Uber”, called savaree. A private car service with a driver which seemed to us to be the best option for the first days to move around.
So our first destination should be the Badshahi Mosque and the Fort Shahi Qila: