How was the trip to Pakistan and Hunza (Northern Areas)?
McLean: I really enjoyed the whole trip, it was so much more than I expected. I came to Pakistan to witness the historic test between Pakistan and Australia at Rawalpindi but, unfortunately, it was a little boring! Some of the people that I met in Islamabad suggested that I visit the northern parts of Pakistan so I decided no head north and it’s been a priceless experience. It was such a beautiful place to visit and the early-Spring weather was actually really good.
Is it your first visit to Pakistan?
McLean: Yes, it is my first visit to Pakistan. I had actually planned to come in 2009 but after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, my mum told me not to. So, it’s been a long wait to finally make it to Pakistan.
What was the best part of your trip?
McLean: That’s an easy answer, it was visiting the Hussaini Suspension Bridge. It was a little scary while crossing the bridge because it was quite windy. The scenery was amazing and when I got to the other side we decided to follow the track to a village where I met a bunch of young lads playing cricket. I joined them and played cricket and they shared some delicious biryani with me that one of the kids had made. It was such an amazing time and I count it as best moment of my trip to Hunza Valley.
What about the local foods of Pakistan? Which dishes have you tried so far?
McLean: I loved trying a lot of local foods. I was told by many Pakistanis be careful because the food might not agree with my stomach but I’m pretty brave and I tried as many dishes as I could during my trip to Pakistan and Hunza Valley.My. favourite would have to be trying. biryani in different places, although Chappali-Kabab, Aalu and local foods of Hunza were amazingly delicious too.
Your advice and suggestions for foreigners about Pakistan?
McLean: I would suggest all foreigners need to come to Pakistan with a very open mind. If they come with an open mind then they will have a great adventure. I have been to the Swat, Malam Jabba and Hunza valley – they were all great. The Sost border, Karimabad, Atta-Abad Lake, and northern valley made this trip very interesting. I want to come back again to visit Fairy Meadows in the summer.
What about the negative perception of Pakistan?
McLean: people say that Pakistan has a negative image but don’t agree. I think the problem is not enough positive stories. It’s not negative, it’s just not positive. What I tried is to spread positivity. I think it is the safest country in the world, while I was traveling police took care of me very well from Sawat to Gilgit Baltistan. I felt so safe and Hunza valley is very safe and I loved the people of Hunza.
Your experience with the people of Hunza valley?
McLean: The people are humble, happy and their attitude is amazing. One thing I noticed in Hunza is that so many women are running businesses and they are so warm and welcoming. When I was in Gilgit, I went to get tea from a local shop and when I went to pay my bill, the owner said to me there is no charge. When I asked why, he replied “you are our guest”.
Most importantly, the natural beauty of Hunza is amazing. The people of Hunza are very hospitable and traveling in Hunza is so easy because the roads are first class.
Your message to all tourists across the world?
McLean: The message is simple, now I have been to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India and I think everyone knows a lot of things about India and Sri Lanka as destinations to travel to, but Pakistan and Bangladesh are less well known. I think now is the right time to come to Pakistan, it’s a very cheap place, very convenient to get around and the technology is excellent. I would love to help many more people to come to Pakistan to and come soon.
To ask anything to Andrew McLean, write in the comment section below.