Touring Karachi

When I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan in the 1960’s we (surprisingly) had quite a few visitors come through and stay with us. In fact, it often felt like our place was a guest house (something we loved, by the way). If the visitors were from out of the country, we would all pile into our green and white Volkswagen Microbus and my dad would take us on a grand tour of the city.

Our old VW may not be plying the streets of Karachi anymore, but apparently there is a new tour company that organizes bus tours of the city. Here’s the story, as told by Robin Show on a YouTube video:

The Pakistan city of Karachi, infamous for targeted killings and carjackings, ranks in the top 10 of the most violent cities in the world. But one man has decided to show that there is more to Karachi than crime and terror and has started the first ever guided bus tour of the city. It involves armed guards, an itinerary that changes all the time and highly negotiated access to sites where people are worried about coming under attack if they attract too much attention.

If you’ve spent anytime in Karachi, I think you’ll really enjoy this video! And if you haven’t, it’s interesting as well!

(If you receive this post by email, please go here to see the video.)

Related Posts:

Karachi Memories

Nixon in China, 43 Years Ago

Evacuation

Evacuation, Part 2

 

 

The Chinese are Coming!

During my first year in China (1984) I was an English teacher at a small teachers college in Zhengzhou, Henan Province. My students were middle school English teachers in smaller cities around the province. Many had previously been Russian teachers, but were now being re-trained as English teachers. For most of them, I was the first foreigner they had ever seen.

As is common practice in an EFL classroom, I tried to come up with activities to get the students to practice; to actually use the language (not something they were used to). Of course, asking questions that require some thought is a good technique.

I remember asking my first class of students “if you could go anywhere in the world, where would choose, and why?” and being greeted with absolutely blank stares. To me it was a rather simple question, but for them the possibility of traveling to another country was so far out of the realm of possibility, and thus the realm of what they could imagine, that they couldn’t even answer the question. I might as well have been asking them what planet they would like to visit and why.

7fe7e642b8e54e178df053ecefe2a11f

Not so anymore. According to an article on the travel website Skift, there were over 100 million Chinese tourists traveling abroad last year, and by 2019, that number is expected to nearly double:

Here are the numbers: 174 million Chinese tourists are tipped to spend $264 billion by 2019 compared with the 109 million who spent $164 billion in 2014, according to a new analysis by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. To put that in perspective, there were just 10 million Chinese outbound tourists in 2000.

How much is $264 billion” It’s about the size of Finland’s economy and bigger than Greece’s.

I have seen this first hand since moving back to the States from China 2 years ago. I have had the opportunity to travel quite a bit around the United States and Canada. Every single place that I have been I have heard Chinese being spoken. And I’m not just talking about the famous and oft-visited places such as Las Vegas, Pike’s Peak, Disney World, or Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. I have run into Chinese tourists in some pretty out-of-the-way places, from sand dunes in Utah to ferries in Southeast Alaska.

And now, a half-dozen of my friends in Beijing have 10-year tourist visas to the US.

One of my favorite Chinese phrases is relie haunying (热烈欢迎), which literally translated is “warmly welcome.”

Here’s to hoping that’s what Chinese visitors to the US will experience!

Photo: CRI English

Iran in the 1960’s

When I was a kid growing up in Pakistan during the 1960’s and early 70’s, going to Tehran, Iran was like going to Paris. It was much more developed and wealthy than Karachi, and had tons more western food (a big deal for us kids!).

131209_iran_tourism_photos_12

131209_iran_tourism_photos_05

I recently ran across some great photos of Iran in the 60’s and 70’s. Thanks to the Asia Society for posting these. 

New York City resident Norma Lee Mahdavi lived in Iran from 1960 to 1967 and served as marketing director for the Iranian National Tourist Organization’s New York office in the 1970s.

 

Mahdavi recently let us sort through several boxes of official tourism slides taken in Iran during the 1960s and 70s — and we’ve reproduced two dozen of our favorites in the gallery above.

 

Some of the photos were taken by Mahdavi, and others were taken by professional photographers hired as part of the Iranian government’s tourism and cultural outreach initiatives.

Click here to see all of the photos.

Related Posts: 

Evacuation

Evacuation (Part 2)