Today’s travel blogger Tim Blight focuses on 4 major cities as part of his travel writing. Amongst these his passion for exploring Pakistan really comes to the fore. Read on to find out more.
What is your name?
My name is Tim Blight
Which country do you come from/call home?
I’m from Australia, but I currently call Pakistan home.
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
I live and work abroad, but when I travel I am normally a backpacker – with a couple of exciting exceptions!
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
I teach English in Australia and Pakistan, save, and then jet off on my next adventure!
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
I vaguely remember going on a trip to Perth, Western Australia with my parents when I was two, but that was more because I burned my feet while walking barefoot through a car park on a hot summer’s day while my parents weren’t looking! The first holiday that I really remember was a family trip to Foster, a beachside town north of Sydney. I was four, and I loved that trip – the beach and fish and chips!
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
Hyderabad, India. Living in India for a long time, I had heard all these horror stories about a sweltering inland city which wasn’t really worth the trip, and which lay in a state suffering from chronic underdevelopment. I got there, and discovered a relatively clean city which worked well, and which had an elegant and beautiful, if fading history. I was very pleasantly surprised, and I want to go back.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Oh God where do I begin? Getting seriously ripped off in Cairo on my first overseas trip, dysentery in Multan, Pakistan on my first visit there, getting caught up in massive floods in Pakistan in 2010. After making travel arrangements, it became impossible to visit Tibet in 2012 due to government red tape, and had to rearrange everything. In 2006 I walked off a bus in Oman and left my passport, along with all my luggage on board – thankfully a rash-driving taxi driver managed to catch up with the bus and flag it down. Most of them have had a silver lining – for me at least. In Oman, the delay in arriving to my accommodation meant that I bumped into an old friend who just happened to be passing by – all in the middle of the Arabian desert.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
Some of the characters I’ve met make for the funniest stories. There was the amorous man in the Turkish bath in Damascus in 2004, the host on a Maldivian boat who was so busy taking care of us he forgot to signal the captain to leave the port. In Kyrgyzstan I took a shared taxi with a bunch of suspicious-looking people who I became increasingly concerned about, until it turned out that they were acting strangely because they were scared of me! In an overcrowded minivan in Tajikistan, stuck for 12 hours with a goat between my legs, a toddler kept pointing at me, saying “shahlik” (kebab) and giggling. A young girl sat next to me kept rolling her eyes as if to say “Tell me about it!!”
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Hong Kong. I can’t explain why, but I find it so uninteresting and depressing – to me it’s all shopping (boring), pork (which I can’t eat) and a strange post-colonial complex.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Hmmmm so many to choose from! Passu in Northern Pakistan would probably be at the top of the list, but I could add Paris to that as well!
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
Yes! The northern lights, scuba diving, parasailing, sleeping in an igloo, visiting a ryokan in Japan… the list goes on…
Why do you love Asia and the Middle East so much?
To me, Asia and the Middle East represent the future. It feels as if we are reaching a turning point in world history, where the centres of power once again shift to the east, and Asia and the Middle East will be centres of civilisation. That’s really exciting, and I want to be there as it unfolds.
Can you imagine life without travel?
Strangely I can, but the only life I could imagine without travel would be the one where I was settled abroad, every day learning about the culture in which I found myself. So I guess that’s a no!
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
Probably art of some form – either written word, or photography. I love combining these with travel though!
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
UrbanDuniya. Duniya is an Arabic word which means ‘world’, and urban refers to the cities which I live in and love.
Check it out – urbanduniya.com
When did you begin your website?
I launched it in March 2013
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I write for several reasons – I really enjoy writing, it serves as a diary, and I love to share my experiences with anyone who is interested in reading them! But I’m also a journalist who can’t be a journalist – I loathe the restrictions and burden of that industry, and love the freedom that blogging affords me.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
UrbanDuniya is not just a travel site, but it’s also my love letter to the cities that I have lived in. I try to capture the things that I love about the places I call home – whenever I’m not travelling of course!!
Why are cities such a central feature of your site?
Cities, for all their drawbacks, are an important aspect of society and humanity. They bring us closer together, we better understand each other, and we become more aware for living in them. The cities which I’ve featured on my site – Melbourne, Lahore, Sydney and Chennai – are all great examples of what can happen when people work together and the arts, culture and intellect are allowed to flourish. Cities are also exciting places – I love stepping off a plane in a foreign city after a long flight, and being alone yet surrounded, and swamped with possibilities!
Do you have any products or services to offer?
A personal project of mine is the Pakistan Traveller section of my site, where I attempt to provide basic but useful information to travellers headed there. I love Pakistan, and there isn’t enough up-to-date literature about it, so I’m hoping to do my bit and get people to travel here.
What is it that you love so much about Pakistan?
Pakistan is such a maligned country – it has so much to offer, and Pakistanis are so welcoming, yet it sees so few tourists each year. I can’t think of another country that has as much potential but has been so neglected by its own tourism industry for so long. It’s a personal interest of mine to show the world how great this place is!
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
I wrote about the fate of a cinema in the historic centre of Lahore, allegedly owned by a classic movie star, Malika-e-Tarranum Noor Jehan. It seemed to abound with stories, and I felt compelled to write about it. I received positive feedback from various readers regarding that piece, including the daughter of Noor Jehan, an artist herself – such an honour!
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
Definitely train – I love romance, the comfort, and the fact that I can sleep easily on a train! And the fact that in the countries which I love most (India, Pakistan, Iran) you can get by train to pretty much anywhere you need to go!
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Just go. I delayed because I was waiting for something – enough money, a friend to go with, things to settle down in the Middle East. In the end, I just bit the bullet, booked a ticket, and never looked back!
What has travel taught you?
That the world is so much bigger than I ever imagined it could be. It made me realise how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and that a lot of what we worry about doesn’t really matter.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Emirates
Favourite country? Pakistan
Favourite city? Paris
Favourite beach? Fesdu Island, Maldives
Favourite food? Chicken Karahi with fresh nan
Favourite language? Arabic
Please provide the following:-
Website url? urbanduniya.com
Twitter handle? @urbanduniya
Facebook page? facebook.com/urbanduniya
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/104340855345037632171