Azizi! A Malaysian Tourist Who Cycled At Karakoram Highway

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Recently Jovago Pakistan interviewed Mahazizi Abd Latif a Malaysian tourist (and engineer) who visited Pakistan to Cycle at Karakoram Highway. Enjoy his views and experiences in Pakistan.

Our first question is who is Mahazizi Abd Latif? Tell us a little detail about yourself?

Mahazizi bin Abd Latif, 34 years old, a father to 2 lovely daughters, currently working as Deputy Field Engineering Manager for PETRONAS, Malaysia’s national oil company. A foodie guy, love cycling, outdoor activities and travelling. ‘No cycling, no gain’.

How do you finance your trips?

Self-financing. Took 1 month un-paid leave for this cycling trip from Kashgar, Xinjiang, China to Lahore, Pakistan.

Pakistan China Border - Jovago

What was the primary reason to visit Pakistan?

Cycle KARAKORAM HIGHWAY! Being the first solo Malaysian cyclist to do so. To cycle at the highest international road border crossing in the world i.e. Khunjerab Pass between China & Pakistan. Furthermore northern Pakistan has beautiful valley that is Hunza Local food is also an attraction, as I love beryani, poori with Keema, Chai etc.

Cuisine of Pakistan - Jovago

What was your perception about Pakistan before your trip?

As I have limited knowledge about Pakistan before my trip, my perception is that Pakistan is a poor and conflicts country as what I’ve seen on mainstream media.

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Can you share your feelings the moment you landed in Pakistan?

I entered Sost by crossing Khunjerab Pass by public van (as I’m not allowed to cycle from Tashkurgan to Sost).

The moment I crossed the Khunjerab Pass, I’m so excited and immediately I spoke to the van driver as I want him to drop me off from the van and I will cycle down from Khunjerab until Sost. However, Khunjerab Security Force (KSF) didn’t allow me to do that and asked me to go to Sost first, get the passport to be stamped and come back to Khunjerab. I’m so frustrated but I can understand and accept the instruction from the KSF as it’s a matter of their job but I couldn’t look much on the surrounding when I went down to Sost.

On the next day, I went up again to Khunjerab Top and cycle down back to Sost. Only God knows my feeling on that time and I do really enjoyed the moment there.

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How will you describe your trip to Pakistan in three words?

Unforgettable, beautiful, heaven!

What made you to choose KKH for your trip? What was so special?

As I said, it’s a dream for every cyclist to cycle along the KKH, the highest international paved border crossing in the world. Furthermore, knowing that the beautiful landscape and challenges that I have to go through attracted me to be there.

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What makes Pakistan different from countries you have visited so far?

The people are unexpectedly friendly and accommodative, more than you can expect, even the police and security forces.

Lots of nature places you can visit, from Khunjerab National Park, mountains, valleys, plateau, historical city and monuments which I believed at the same par as Europe country.

Relatively cheaper in term of food and other expenses.

People of Pakistan - Jovago

If you get a chance to visit Pakistan again, which 3 destinations you would like to visit?

I do left some places in Pakistan un-visited because I got a plan to come back again! I love to go to Swat Valley, Chitral and Hunza as I love nature! (even Lahore!)

Lahore - Pakistan

What were some of the problems you faced in Pakistan as a foreigner?

Nothing’s big except some of the area in Pakistan which do not understand English language properly (communication problem). Furthermore, understand that the road condition especially part of Karakoram Highway is badly deteriorated due to poor maintenance, landslides etc. Also, as a foreigner and visitor, you can’t buy
Pakistani SIM Card for mobile and there’s no 3G line and access from Sost until Karimabad.

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What will be your answer if anyone asks you, “Why Should I visit Pakistan?”

It’s SAFE!! Furthermore, good local people, beautiful landscape, nice weather, and lots of nice places to be visited (mountains, valleys, lakes etc.). Lahore is also a nice place to visit, special for its history, buildings, food streets etc. And even I cannot run from saying Pakistan got delicious food!!

Malaysia is globally popular for tourism. What makes Pakistan different from Malaysia?

-Weather & climate is a major difference. In Malaysia, we are living in tropical climate and normally it is hot & humid all year long. In Pakistan, you can feel the 4-seasons climate. Furthermore, the snow-capped mountainous landscape and valleys especially in Hunza are magnificent and very beautiful, which you cannot find it in Malaysia. The people are also kind enough to the tourist and visitors.

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You must have researched on Pakistan before visiting. What is different in the real Pakistan?

At the beginning, it’s not that easy to find information about visit Pakistan.

Even on the internet there is less information about the beautiful places to be visited until you go down deep and spend sometimes in front of your computer and look for it. Also even on the Lonely Planet, not much information available about Pakistan. However, once I arrived in Pakistan via Sost and ended my journey in Lahore, I can say that it’s more beautiful, kind and hospitable country compare to my reading/research earlier.

You can see bombing and shooting incidents in Pakistan from the mainstream media and that’s always scared people about Pakistan but once you reached Pakistan, you will not believe of things that you see on-live. People were so kind and the food was fantastic!

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Out of the different types of cuisines you had in Pakistan, which one was your favorite?

Chicken Malai Botti with Mutton Beriyani, marvelous!!

Cuisine of Pakistan

Share one of your most memorable moment or incident in/about Pakistan?

As I’m not allowed to cycle through Kohistan region, I have to take a bus and escorted by armed force and have to log in my destination at every security check post along the road. There’s one army check post near Patan where I have to go down, surrender my passport and register my name.

There’s 4 army-men standing in front of me and one of them is asking what’s happened to my dried and cracked lips, and I said it’s due to dry and cold weather in northern side and I got no lip balm to cover that. Then, he went to his check post and come back after 1 minute. He brought with him a lip balm lotion and immediately put it on my lips by himself. I’m so shocked as one army officer, in my opinion was tough and strong character but he was very kind to do that to me.

I don’t know what to say, I just shake hand with him and thank him and suddenly he hugs me and say Alhamdulillah. That was the best and unexpected moment that I’ve ever feel and that shows to me the kindness and character of Pakistani, very hospitable and generous.

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Any 3 money saving tips while traveling you would like to share?

Stay at budget hotel/hostel.

Go for the basic as you can for more saving i.e. food, drink, accommodation etc.

As I’m the cyclist, most of the transportation is free of charge. Unless I want to use public transport, hitch-hiking to any vehicles passing through the road or use cheaper public transport i.e. tuk-tuk etc.

Stay with the local people, instead for money saving, you may know deeper on their living, culture, local foods etc.

Optimize baggage especially when travelling via flight to avoid excessive fee of baggage extra weight.

Any ending note for readers?

Just forget about mainstream media news reported about Pakistan as it’s totally misleading! Just pack your stuff, buy a flight ticket and travel to Pakistan. I can promise you that you will never regret of doing that!

With this our formal interview came to end

 

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3 Comments

  1. Fairul

    June 15, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    Very inspiring story!
    The mainstream media tells lies about so many countries that makes people afraid to visit. i wish to cycle in the beautiful karakoram highway

  2. Hammond Wong

    July 7, 2016 at 10:24 am

    The Karakorum Highway! Yes, I’ve been there in the 90s on a solo backpacking 1 month trip. Such a beautiful country. Quite safe during those years before the fighting started between the Pakistani Taliban and the government in the 2000s. Even tho the Taliban was controlling Afghanistan in those years. I’ve even gone to the Khyber Pass with a police guard for protection as there was much drug smuggling activities around there. My vote goes to the Swat Valley as the most beautiful place that I’ve been!

  3. Pingback: Pakistanis Literally Go Out of Their Way to Help You – Liz Norman’s Experience - PKKH.tv

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