So, I'm moving. Middle eastern passion- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    So, I'm moving. Middle eastern passion

    My wife and I own part of a tech marketing company (details are boring), and in order to fast track a new product, we will in all likely hood be moving to Pakistan in July.

    We found out last night, and im pretty effin excited. We will be in Lahor for the most part.

    Does anyone here have any experience with biking in Pakistan? I know the Himalayas are within a days drive, and I'm hugely excited about that. I've got a fair amount of climbing and mountain experience, but I won't be tackling anything crazy.

    But what about biking. Obviously there wont be many (if any) designated bike trails, but I would imagine the foothills would offer some dope riding with some creative thinking.

    She will be working, but I will be leaving my job to travel with her, so i plan on relaxing and touring as much as possible. I dont mind driving several hours, but would like to avoid Iran, and Afghanistan (for rather obvious reasons)!

    Anyway, help is appreciated.
    Stuff sold by the gram is always more exciting than stuff sold by the pound.

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    You probably shouldn't unless you want to end up like this guy: Daniel Pearl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    But if you, take lots of pics.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by meeeeep View Post
    You probably shouldn't unless you want to end up like this guy: Daniel Pearl - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Way to keep things light meeeep.

  4. #4
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    a lot of tension in that region of the world, Sounds like a cool opportunity though.
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    never tried anything new..... Albert Einstein

  5. #5
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    Daniel pearl was a foreign war correspondent, imbedded into a remote region along the border with Afghanistan, covering insugency. And they knew what capturing someone like that would mean.

    I will be a tourist, on a work visa residing in a walled compound (yes for real) in a relatively peacful town near the Indian border. Theres a big difference.

    Obviously there's more danger than the kansas city burbs, but Im pretty sure it'll be fine. I will be buying travel and kidnapping insurance though. Just in case
    Stuff sold by the gram is always more exciting than stuff sold by the pound.

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    what does kidnapping insurance do???
    A person who never made a mistake,
    never tried anything new..... Albert Einstein

  7. #7
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    covers ransom demands.

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    Good luck to you and your family. From what I know about that region, and I know a good bit from my military experience, it's not necessarily a big vacation destination. Fundamentalist Islamic regimes are all the rage with your extremist Islamic terror groups thrown in the mix. If you've not been to that part of the world, just prepare for what life is about to be like. VERY HOT, VERY ISOLATED, VERY DESOLATE. If you are not a Muslim, fitting in will be difficult but just be smart. That being said, being smart does not always make a difference but it can help. Keep your eyes open and if you are there to enjoy it, do your best to do that. Is this permanent?

    I beg of you, do not go there with the intent to spread the word of Jesus or any other religion (other than Islam) for that matter. I mean no offense to anyone's beliefs.

  9. #9
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    Bonking ... not feelin' well Oh boy!

    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    Daniel pearl was a foreign war correspondent, imbedded into a remote region along the border with Afghanistan, covering insugency. And they knew what capturing someone like that would mean.

    I will be a tourist, on a work visa residing in a walled compound (yes for real) in a relatively peacful town near the Indian border. Theres a big difference.

    Obviously there's more danger than the kansas city burbs, but Im pretty sure it'll be fine. I will be buying travel and kidnapping insurance though. Just in case
    You'll probably be fine but do some research on the Pakistan/India border. Peaceful town says remote to me though. I'm all for living a life that represents freedom and exploration, but please be smart. Going out exploring with your mountain bike or without it by yourself is asking to end up on the news. Daniel Pearl was killed because he was Jewish...more accurately, because he was not a terrorist in a terror driven state. He could have been selling Ice Cream Cones for all it matters. And Karachi, where he was kidnapped, is a huge port city of 13-15 million people...not remote at all. And the war was in Afghanistan so...do the math. Don't fool yourself into thinking that Pakistan is some safe place to live, compound or no compound. Just be prepared for the possibilities. As someone who spent a year of his life in these types of places, I can't ever imagine moving to a place like this unless I had military support in some way.

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    That being said though, I 100% wish you the best and hope you stay safe and learn more about the world. More Americans could stand to understand more about the world in which we live. And if you do get the MTB out there somewhere, post pics!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    I will be buying travel and kidnapping insurance though. Just in case
    I guess Warren Weinstein does not have the "B. Hussein Obama Protection Clause" in his policy.

  12. #12
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    Is this thread a troll job?

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    Well....on the bright side, you probalby won't find many "No Mountain Bikes Allowed" signs on the local foot paths.

    Best of luck and keep it safe.

  14. #14
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    It's all fun and games until someone get their head lopped off on al jazeera.

  15. #15
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    For a little perspective, friends of mine visited Pakistan in the late 90s. He spend a lot of time in Lahore and Karachi. He also did some travelling to the rural areas including the Indian border at Wagah and the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. He's got a great picture of himself holding a 1kg of heroin and the obligatory posing with kalashnikovs in the gun market. Throughout these travels, he had 4 Pakistani rangers as an escort the whole time. Let me repeat, this was the late 90s. God help you if you're going to go mountain biking in rural Pakistan today with your wife without an escort.

  16. #16
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    How will moving to a "peaceful" town on the border of Pakistan and India help you fast track a new tech product?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny7 View Post
    How will moving to a "peaceful" town on the border of Pakistan and India help you fast track a new tech product?
    IED detonation devices to be shipped into Afghanistan??

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lenny7 View Post
    How will moving to a "peaceful" town on the border of Pakistan and India help you fast track a new tech product?
    I heard its the new Silicon Valley. Without the high rent.

  19. #19
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    Good luck

    I wish you all the best, but I can tell from the tone of your email you've never been anywhere like where you are planning on going.

    I've spent too much time in the Middle East at the behest of Uncle Sam, no direct Pakistan experience however. You'll find it a very different world, and you need to be very cautious about where you go and what you do. It's about 95% Muslim and a significant portion of those are fundamentalists of one faction or another. Make sure you understand those cultural issues that will affect you and especially your wife... Many Paki's support various terrorist groups as well, this is obvious. All I'm saying is if you go, go there without your rose colored glasses, and don't expect idyllic bike rides through the lovely countryside...

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  20. #20
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    Don't be naive! Stay vigilant at all times! Try not to be repetitive, change your routes, times, etc. Predictability is deadly. Try to pay attention to "normal" activities in and around villages, towns so you may notice if things "change".

    I visited Pakistan a couple of times in the 90s and did a little walking around. I also did the same in several other Middle Eastern countries including a bike ride in Turkey. I can tell you that I am always happy to be in a foreign country and respectful of others but on more than one occasion I had very uncomfortable moments.

    The region has changed tremendously since then. Just being American makes you a target of opportunity. Be careful!!!

  21. #21
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    This guy was either trolling or we scared him away... or we were too late and he took a walk in the Pakistan country side.

  22. #22
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    Taking his wife to a place like this is insane. If he's smart, he's over at the black ops web site learning how to stay alive in a place like that.

  23. #23
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    What kind of tech product is being marketed specifically from/for a Pakistani based company from a remote town? Seems odd.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2wheelsnotfour View Post
    Taking his wife to a place like this is insane. If he's smart, he's over at the black ops web site learning how to stay alive in a place like that.
    Hopefully for her sake she doesn't mind wearing a burka while exploring the Pakistani countryside. Otherwise "getting stoned" will take on a whole new meaning.

  25. #25
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    You may want to invest in one of these bikes.
    I'm bored and at work or else I would be riding

  26. #26
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    I think a lot Americans have biased ideas about the Middle East. I've never been there, but if you go there with a paranoid attitude, you'll drive yourself crazy. Sounds like a cool experience, have fun and don't do anything you wouldn't do in any foreign country.
    Vermonter - bikes, beers and skis.

  27. #27
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    If you go, consider hiring a couple private security guards. Is the company doing work in Pakistan because of the lower costs?

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by VTSession View Post
    I think a lot Americans have biased ideas about the Middle East. I've never been there, but if you go there with a paranoid attitude, you'll drive yourself crazy. Sounds like a cool experience, have fun and don't do anything you wouldn't do in any foreign country.
    <---This American has spent several years in the Middle East and know first hand that naive people such as yourself are the ones that end up on the wrong end of a blade or drill bit. Have you ever seen someone who's had holes drilled through their skull? I'm guessing not from your statement in bold. I'm not saying that all muslims or middle easterners are bad people but the taliban are bad people and they are very prominent in Pakistan regardless what their government says. As a person from a western culture/civilization(I'm guessing) you will be the perfect target of opportunity. Not only do they believe you are pure evil they also believe that as a westerner you may know something they don't. They don't abide by the Geneva Convention and will exploit you by demanding ransom from your government or torturing you for information they may believe you have. If you're lucky they'll just do the humane thing and chop your head of on television to send a message.

  29. #29
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    People like the OP and you VTSession are the reason people like myself have and will always have a job.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    My wife and I own part of a tech marketing company (details are boring), and in order to fast track a new product, we will in all likely hood be moving to Pakistan in July.

    We found out last night, and im pretty effin excited. We will be in Lahor for the most part.

    Does anyone here have any experience with biking in Pakistan? I know the Himalayas are within a days drive, and I'm hugely excited about that. I've got a fair amount of climbing and mountain experience, but I won't be tackling anything crazy.

    But what about biking. Obviously there wont be many (if any) designated bike trails, but I would imagine the foothills would offer some dope riding with some creative thinking.

    Anyway, help is appreciated.
    You will not be doing much biking simply because in this part of the world there will be no trails to speak of. One of your options will be to ride on the roads which in Lahore with the traffic is not recommended. The other option is to ride the footpaths which will not be much fun due to the poor areas you will have to ride through.

    Now to offer you a ray of hope. They do offer great MTB adventures in Kashmir (I think on the Indian side) but you will need to plan it out in advance. Remember to take a spare set of lungs!

    You might not hit proper trails but they will be a ton of other things that you can do. Hiking in the Himalayas being one of them. Enjoy your stay. Do not be one of these people that locks themselves in the house all day. Enjoy the experience. The cultures are rich and diverse and you will get to see a part of the world that is absolutely beautiful.

    Let us know how it turns out.


    Peace

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    Quote Originally Posted by ghglenn View Post
    What kind of tech product is being marketed specifically from/for a Pakistani based company from a remote town? Seems odd.
    Lahore is not a remote town. its has 2 MILLION more than NYC.

    computer engineering and software development is extremely cost efficient there. The company we are partnered with owns and operates a development firm there, and my wife is heading up a project with the team. the product itself is a B2B web marketing software program for tracking data and a certain type of SEO.

    its not like Im going with the mindset to do remote hiking, but the people who would seem to think that everyone in the middle east is a terrorist, kidnapper or militant is just wrong. turn off Fox news for 10 seconds!

    sure, its not paris, or monaco, but millions of foreign nationals visit the middle east every year, and the overwhelming majority return home perfectly fine.

    as to the locals seeing us as walking ATM's...well based on my experience in other 3rd world poverty stricken nations...its going to happen

    as for the taliban being "prevalent" in lahore, sorry, thats just incorrect. the taliban was a de-facto government set up by the pakistani ISI and US intelligence forces in order to control remote border regions of afghanistan. it was essentially a religiously motivated, region wide Mafia in the southern border provinces of afghanistan prior to 2003. it basically doesnt exist any more in any real capacity. its more of a rag tag terrorist network. nor are the areas of afghanistan or pakistan where it existed, anywhere near Lahore. are there forces in pakistan that are hostile to US interest? you bet. (and frankly they have pretty damn good reasons to be hostile). im absolutely positive that things like that exist and are going to be a real threat, but lets be honest. we are going to be living and working in the "tech" area of a city of almost 10 million. not walking through ghettos, and militant controlled rural areas. get real

    just because I dont know about bike trails there, doesnt mean I am ignorant of political and cultural issues there
    Last edited by seemlessstate; 05-17-2012 at 02:35 PM.
    Stuff sold by the gram is always more exciting than stuff sold by the pound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    computer engineering and software development is extremely cost efficient there.
    Cheap labor is cheap labor in terms of software development, no way around it. I've worked with software development resources from all over the world, if you're paying less for a service you're generally going to get less. I've learned this the very painful way. When people use fancy technical words make sure they understand what they mean. Aside from that, what you're doing sounds like bad karma to me... not good in a place like that.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiflow_21 View Post
    Cheap labor is cheap labor in terms of software development, no way around it. I've worked with software development resources from all over the world, if you're paying less for a service you're generally going to get less. I've learned this the very painful way. When people use fancy technical words make sure they understand what they mean. Aside from that, what you're doing sounds like bad karma to me... not good in a place like that.
    this is a proven development team with some pretty successful projects under its belt. and the lead developer is american. hell, several went to school in the US. we arent third party outsourcing the work with little oversight. its directly owned by a co-owner/COO of her company.

    and having worked in the same field in the US, according to my wife the work is much better there.

    i dont understand what you mean by it being bad karma? because we are using pakistani labor, something will happen to us? they arent slaves...
    Stuff sold by the gram is always more exciting than stuff sold by the pound.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    this is a proven development team with some pretty successful projects under its belt. and the lead developer is american. hell, several went to school in the US. we arent third party outsourcing the work with little oversight. its directly owned by a co-owner/COO of her company.

    and having worked in the same field in the US, according to my wife the work is much better there.

    i dont understand what you mean by it being bad karma? because we are using pakistani labor, something will happen to us? they arent slaves...
    You are doing what many US corporations tried to do years back, many of which have pulled most of their complex development back to the US.

    If the company is co-owned by someone that is a COO of your wife's current company there's no wonder it has a good repuation.

    Bad karma comes from moving/creating jobs in a place where labor seems cheaper, with the primary reason being pinching pennies. Sometimes this works, sometimes this completely and totally fails. All corporations drool at the thought of cutting costs with no impact to productivity... to the point where cutting costs blinds them of other impacts.

    I wish you luck, I've just been involved in a number of painful outsourcing ventures. Fortunately I never had to change my lifestyle by moving to the middle east. I like to be successful, but there's almost no way I'd be willing to move somewhere like pakistan to accomplish success.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiflow_21 View Post
    You are doing what many US corporations tried to do years back, many of which have pulled most of their complex development back to the US.

    If the company is co-owned by someone that is a COO of your wife's current company there's no wonder it has a good repuation.

    Bad karma comes from moving/creating jobs in a place where labor seems cheaper, with the primary reason being pinching pennies. Sometimes this works, sometimes this completely and totally fails. All corporations drool at the thought of cutting costs with no impact to productivity... to the point where cutting costs blinds them of other impacts.

    I wish you luck, I've just been involved in a number of painful outsourcing ventures. Fortunately I never had to change my lifestyle by moving to the middle east. I like to be successful, but there's almost no way I'd be willing to move somewhere like pakistan to accomplish success.
    its cool when people know more about a company my wife owns than she or I do.

    i think you are confusing Karma with making poor decisions. you might see out sourcing as a poor business decision, but will it have moral consequences? im not sure employing educated people (these aren't call center people, they are software engineers) to make a marketing software will directly cause some cosmic chain of events to unfold, even if they are in another country...

    as for moving to pakistan or some other exotic/dangerous/desolate place. my wife and I are about as adventurous as it gets. we really love other cultures. its about as "culture shock" as it gets, true. but moving to the middle east is about as big an adventure as we can think of, and have wanted to do something similar for years. I get why most people would be terrified to go, and we are pretty nervous as well, but we are pretty smart and will be planning well. its not like were getting dumped off an airplane with a suitcase. we will be living with the lead developer, and will have some good connections so that we can learn about the city before we go out.

    and besides, its only for 2-3 months. not a permanent move.
    Stuff sold by the gram is always more exciting than stuff sold by the pound.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by seemlessstate View Post
    its cool when people know more about a company my wife owns than she or I do.
    You had to realize you would get feedback, some of which you wouldn't agree with, when you posted this thread right? There's a lot of truth in what the other commenter has said. In IT companies get what they pay for. Perhaps the situation you describe will be fine from a quality stand point. Perhaps not. Its not like people on this forum have been able to inspect the financials, the business plan, and the end product. People are just commenting on the possibility that quality could be an issue.

    Personally I wouldn't even dream of going to the Mid East as a civilian. There is no denying that its more dangerous there. Do what you want and take the comments from this thread or leave them. However, its natural and fitting for people to post their thoughts in a thread like this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbnoobadam View Post
    <---This American has spent several years in the Middle East and know first hand that naive people such as yourself are the ones that end up on the wrong end of a blade or drill bit. Have you ever seen someone who's had holes drilled through their skull? I'm guessing not from your statement in bold. I'm not saying that all muslims or middle easterners are bad people but the taliban are bad people and they are very prominent in Pakistan regardless what their government says. As a person from a western culture/civilization(I'm guessing) you will be the perfect target of opportunity. Not only do they believe you are pure evil they also believe that as a westerner you may know something they don't. They don't abide by the Geneva Convention and will exploit you by demanding ransom from your government or torturing you for information they may believe you have. If you're lucky they'll just do the humane thing and chop your head of on television to send a message.
    wow, not even sure where to go w/ this stupidity.


    to the OP: if you take precautions as in any large, crowded metropolis, you'll be fine. i've been there several times to visit friends and extended family, and have not had any issues. i even saw a pic in MB Action of some guy (white american) who was riding around in the karakoram range.

    a few thoughts:

    -if you've visited india before, it will most likely be similar to that (both good and bad). this means 3rd world squalor outside of a few 1st world bubbles. this also means adjusting to food, noise, environment, load shedding, beggars, pick pockets, etc.

    -you should ask your coworkers for advice on where to live, what touristy stuff to do, and what places to avoid within lahore.

    -drink bottled water, or boil the tap water.

    -you should be able to find pretty talented devs for relatively cheap. i went to an ivy league grad school, and most of the indian and pakistani students came from very competitive programs in their respective countries (IIT and IIM in india, LUMS in pk). also, as labor rates have risen in india, i know a lot of startups that have sourced engineers in places like sri lanka, pk, bangladesh, etc.


    -i would avoid the NWFP. this is the north west frontier province, and it's not called the frontier province for nothing. even in pre-taliban days, it's always been a rough and tumble area where the govt writ does not hold past the main motorway.

    -foreigners (i.e. non brown people) do tend to stick out quite a bit.

    PM me if any questions.
    94 Specialized Rockhopper

  38. #38
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    One of my good friends is from Karachi and has told me stories about the mountain regions of the country. He doesn't bike but has hiked and camped in the region. From what he has told me you are in for one hell of a good time on your bike.

    You'll have to report back with what you have found there. I myself am moving to Guilin, China in August and have toyed around with the idea of traveling to Pakistan if I can get my friend to join me. If you find some epic trails to bike (and it sounds like you will) I may have to head over and try them out.

  39. #39
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    Please be careful buddy ??? Just fitting in and trying to be a good guy doesn't keep you from those who would harm you just because they can. I'm sorry but business opportunities would not make me put my own welfare in jeopardy nor my wife. Is the money really worth it ?

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    DISCLAIMER: I am not a world traveller, i've never been to Pakistan, and i'm not familiar with their culture.

    It seems like the best thing to do is try to blend in (however possible). I work with many people that have been to Afghanistan and Iraq, one thing they mention is how the locals look down on clean shaven men....but, soldiers dont really have a choice.

    I work with another guy who was scheduled to go to Pakistan. He was advised to grow a beard prior to the trip. You might want to consider growing a beard.

    I'm sure a beard wouldnt save anyone's life, but it never hurts to blend in.

  41. #41
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    I'd check out the Lonely Planet forum for Pakistan. I did a quick search for "lahore" and there are a lot of threads about traveling through the region.

    This guy is planning a multi-day bike tour out of Lahore bike trip maybe you could hook up with him.

    A quote from an Australian:
    "Lahore is one of the most fascinating cities in the whole sub-continent. The only other city it can reasonably be compared to (in my opinion anyway) is Delhi. But it's considerably less manic and modern. As for sights, the city has a suburb Mughal heritage - only Agra can compete - plenty of atmosphere in its bazaars and shrines, some fine British architecture, delicious food, and plenty more besides. It is a gem. If you can get yourself a Pakistani visa, it's certainly worth the trip, even if you don't make any further into Pakistan than Lahore."

    Soounds like it will be a god experience. Good luck and just be smart.

  42. #42
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    To the op - I wouldn't worry about what all the arm-chair experts have to say about what is good for you or your company. Just because they failed at something doesn't mean you will.. I've never been to pakistan but I have spent a fair amount of time in some very dangerous places and I can say that most of the time everyone's perception outside looking in is very skewed.

    Having said that -- here in Mexico there is a saying "Cuando te toca - te toca" in other words when it's your turn your gong to get it. That's true anywhere in the world. Be vigilant and learn to identify problems before they get out of control. I think its more properly called Situational awareness and risk management

    Every time I go to a new place I like to survey the landscape, evaluate the culture and people. Once you get a feel for the do and donts you'll be fine.

    I am sure you'll find lots to love and hate about Pakistan. Keep us posted with pictures and hats off to you and your wife for looking outside the box and not believing every over-dramatized generalization that is fed to everyone via the media

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    I spent a lot of time in the middle east and it is not somewhere I would take a family member. You make your decision for you but I wouldn't bring a family member there. They just tolerate americans, they don't like us. And that's our so called friends. Your first responsibility is to protect your family members. Ignorance is not bliss there. It will get you or someone else killed.

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