Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pakistan - the Second Love of a Latvian Backpacker

Artyom, the Red Bag and Karakoram
Artyom Kozmin is a young Latvian traveler who visited Pakistan during his big Asian road trip. He kindly wrote a piece on Pakistan experiences which is produced below (headings and captions are mine):

Hello everybody! Sorry for the delay and sorry if my English is not so clear. I will try to do my best!

First of all I would like to tell about the idea going to this trip around Asia. Sometime ago I’ve read a book about one traveler who managed to hitchhike around the globe in three years having only 300 dollars then he left his home. I’ve realized that I can do something similar. I’m young and have nothing to lose – no job, no wife etc. 

Looking at the map and reading different travel stories on the web, I’ve decided to go overland around Asia because it’s probably the cheapest region in the world. I’ve started in December that’s why I took a cheap flight to Tbilisi, Georgia, thinking that it would be snowy winter in Europe and it’s better to begin somewhere close to Iran.

So! From Caucasus plan was to go to Iran, Pakistan and staying in India for a while as you usually get half year visa. After, somehow, I need to reach South-East Asia (no plan yet), and coming back to Europe via China, Mongolia and big Russia.

Spent as less money as possible. I try not do more than 5 dollars per day. Hitchhiking and sleeping wherever possible without paying. Using Couchsurfing as well a as great chance to see real life of local people which hosts you. Learn their traditions and culture, hear that they think about their country and government. Couchsurfing is one of the best ways to travel for sure!

I did not know anything about Pakistan before coming here. All I’ve heard was this “Taliban stories”. So I was thinking to cross Pakistan as quick as possible. But as you all know reality sometimes is different from one you see on television. Yes, there are problems, but there is simple life as well in a country with more than 170 million people.
Artyom Roaming Arund Karachi in a Traditional Kurta
After second day in Karachi there I was also using Couchsurfing, Muzzammil brought me to a CS gathering where I’ve met a lot of nice people, who told me what’s going on in Pakistan, which places should I visit etc. I’m happy that I met all these people. Now I knew that Pakistan is all about. After staying in Karachi for a week I went up North to see Karakoram.  On the way I’ve visited Multan, where I played cricket on old main stadium, and Islamabad there I was staying in men dormitory.
Visiting Multan
An Evening at Badshahi Mosque Lahore
Shah Faisal Mosque
Before I’ve reached Pakistan I was hitchhiking all the way, but here everybody told me that it’s quite dangerous in Pak. So I was using public transport all the time. But after staying for two days in a village Jalalabad not far from Gilgit I’ve hitchhiked to Hunza all the way on top of the bus. Never felt so cold in my life. But it was just great! I had probably the best panoramic view of Karakoram!

Karimabad was totally empty. I was the first visitor in the hotel there I stayed since 5 days. But it was something I really needed. Stay in a quiet place hiking every day in the mountains. And the nature in Hunza is out of this world!
A Pakistani Truck
Truck Art
Going to Karakoram Roof-hiking
A View from the Truck Roof
Is This Colder Than Latvia?
On the way back I stayed in Lahore for 4 days. My host had to leave so he just explained there I can find the key from his apartment. So I was totally alone. Every day I went to old city there I was meeting different people on the street who were happy to see tourist in their city. Never had so many invitations for chai in my life!

Traveling in Style
In Iran I was robbed in a very stupid way. I was hitchhiking then it was already dark. All I had was my passport, money and good trekking shoes. Very dangerous mix! And yes, I continued my travel. After couple of days carrying toothbrush and piece of soap I realized that this is a great chance for me to travel with less things as possible. I’ve found a small cotton red bag in Bandar Abbas, and traveled with it till it got damaged. So I bought a used small backpack on flea market in Islamabad. It’s already 2.5 months as I’m “traveling with toothbrush” and it’s just great!

A Funny Experience in Karachi
First of all people who made my Pakistan part better as I could expect. Thanks to everyone I’ve met – from couchsurfers to freaky personalities on the street.

But there was one funny story in Karachi. Walking around the city I went inside one garden with an old mansion in the middle. There was a music video shoot there they saw me and asked if I’d like to participate.  It was fun. Quite good for a second day in Karachi.

Long live Pakistan! 
In the end in Lahore I’ve decided that I should extend my visa and stay for one more month in Pakistan. But as it was Friday and office was closed little bit earlier. So I got late. Eh, what can you do? Bad luck.

I fell in love second time in my life. Now it is Pakistan. And this is the first country about which I can tell for sure – I will come back definitely! Long live Pakistan! 
Artyom Kozmin can be reached at:


  1. Loved your article. Thanks for visiting us!

  2. Nice Post there... ! Thanks for clearing some misconceptions about Pakistan.

  3. Very interesting, what was the most exciting thing for you in Pakistan

  4. THank You for the positive article and a great experience to keep with you!

  5. Very enjoyable read

  6. Thanks for your sharing, Mr. Red bag ;P

  7. i visited you country and could not find such help from anywhere ... may be i am not lucky enough like u invitation for CHAI at all in your country.. only stange look of locas making me scared...AFTAB-POLAND

  8. Happy to learn that your experience was good here :). I am also thinking of HitchHiking to a lecture in different city, but same province.

  9. I've already sent a message to Artjom, but still would be nice to know how to get a visa for Pakistan under current law, which requires an invitation from a Pakistani citizen?

    I share the nationality with the author, therefore any response would be greatly appreciated.


    1. Reno, you might know that Pakistan visa can now only be obtained from one's country of residence and regarding the invitation I met some travelers who got the visa with LoI. This link may also be helpful for you: