Islamabad is sort of a sleepy town. Strange as it is also Pakistan's capital city. Usually, capitals are bustling and chaotic but not Islamabad.
While it may lack a nightlife, big bazaars or a massive foodie scene like in Lahore or Karachi, it makes up with stunning landscape and scenery. It is set against Margalla Hills, which is part of the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range.
Islamabad is a home away from home
Islamabad is my hometown. It's where I was born but after living in Bangkok for 23+ years, it is now a 2nd home or a home away from home.
Whenever I come back to Pakistan, whether it is for a wedding, visiting relatives or a visa change (currently doing that), I always fly into Islamabad first before going anywhere else. I always stay at my grandparents place, which is in a very interesting neighborhood.
The Margalla hill range is just a few Kilometers behind. The iconic Faisal Mosque is also nearby.
The biggest shopping mall, Centaurus is also walking distance. In fact most things are in this highly planned city.
This time I'm here for about a month awaiting the process of my visa for a new job at SpiceRoads in Bangkok. Here's how I spend my days.
Explore the neighborhoods
Like I said, Islamabad is a quiet city. There is not much to do. I mostly walk or bike around nearby neighborhoods. It keeps me active and cures the boredom, especially in the afternoon when my grandparents take a nap, relatives go to work and cousins are at school.
Luckily the city is clean and there are plenty of scenic spots everywhere. It's also quite easy to explore since Islamabad is well-planned. Everything is categorized sectors, streets and blocks. For example, I stay in Sector F8, Block 3 Street 10.
I came across this hidden path at the end of a street where it seemed like there was a dead end. However, curious soul that I am, I manage to uncover it.
I was actually checking out the park and the path was barely seen behind it.
Visit F9 Park
F9 Park or also known as Fatimah Jinnah Park is the largest in Pakistan. It covers a total area of the park is around 4 square kilometers. I like to bike there, through it and back at least once a week. It is so big that I think I still haven't covered it fully. It's just so big and there are small hidden paths everywhere, which lead to more paths.
Islamabad is already pretty green but the park adds even more greenery and freshness to the city. There are lush trees and variety of flowers everywhere.
People walk, job, relax on benches and even play cricket here.
Stalking travel accounts on Instagram
I've been stalking Pakistan-based travel pages on Instagram a lot. It inspires me to plan more travels of my own. In fact, as I write this, I'm planning a trip to go up North to Gilgit or Skardu.
Can you believe this is in Pakistan? Well, most don't. If you look past the media false sensations about violence and terrorism, we actually have a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty, adventure, culture and food.
Sight-see and take pictures for the blog
Yup, basically I had to force myself to go out as much as possible. I had nothing to do but to work on my blog so I would actively go out to take pictures around the city to post on Instagram or my website (including this one).
Here's me at the Faisal Mosque. Can you believe this was my first time? I've always seen it from far but never set foot until now.
You can't help but eat in Pakistan. The food is so good here, whether at home or at a restaurant.
Hit the gym
Cardio from biking and walking is all good but I need my weights too. So I hit the gym every now and then. Plus I need to so I can burn off all that food I've been eating.
I joined a friend on a trek through Margalla Hills once. There are many trails here - some easy and some difficult. It was a really awesome experience!
I've also drive up here a few times to take photos of the city and landscape from up above. There's even a really good restaurant called Monal up here.
Other things I did while in Pakistan:
Visit Hunza Valley for 6 days (blog post about this amazing trip coming soon)
Visit cousins in Sialkot
Do some shopping
Eat a lot, again!
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