Some photos from our day at Sanur Beach in Bali, Indonesia

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If you’re planning on coming to Pakistan, here’s a list of books that will give you some insight into the culture and politics of the region.

1) The Dancing Girls of Lahore by Louise Brown

An excellent first-hand account of life in Lahore’s red light district. British author and professor Louise Brown tells the story of Maha, the dancing girl, and her family. Since dancing girls are scorned by the rest of society, the red-light quarter has a culture all its own.

2) Blasphemy by Temina Durrani

This novel, based on a true story, uncovers religious hypocrisy without holding anything back. Only recommended for mature readers.

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In order to truly experience Pakistan, you should shop in a traditional open-air bazaar. Be prepared for a sensory overload and some tough bargaining. I lived in Pakistan for over three years, and I have spent countless hours haggling in bazaars. Here are my top 10 choices for souvenirs from all over the country.

1) Shawls

Pakistani women wear gorgeous colorful shawls during cooler weather. You can buy soft solid colored shawls to match a favorite coat, or you can buy bold patterned shawls with sequins and exquisite embroidery. Shawls come in two sizes, small and large. The large ones are called stoles, and honestly they would probably be too big to actually wear in the West. Alternatively stoles make great wall hangings, curtains, tablecloths and bed coverings. A typical shawl will set you back about 300 rupees ($3.75), is easy to pack and will be a sure hit with any ladies back home.
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This coming weekend, we’ll be flying from Vietnam to Bali, Indonesia with the kids. Our school has a week-long October break, and since this is our only break during the school year where it’s not the rainy season in Bali, I decided to finally use up my Singapore Airlines miles and get one of the adult tickets for free.

Getting There

This will be our most ambitious trip so far within Southeast Asia. Usually I choose destinations that only take one flight to get to, but for Bali, it takes two flights. Since we are traveling on Singapore Airlines, we’ll fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Changi International Airport in Singapore, a 2-hour flight, and then from Singapore to Denpasar, Bali which is a 2.5-hour flight. You could also fly via Jakarta, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.

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Traveling to India or Pakistan? Don’t let loss of sleep, dirty sheets or sunburns ruin your trip. Know what to pack for you trip to the subcontinent.

Things to Help You Sleep

If you’ll be staying in cities or spending time traveling on public transport you’ll probably want to bring things to help you sleep. If you are the type of person who can sleep through an hurricane, skip to the next section. Otherwise you’ll want to pack good quality earplugs, and eye mask and some sleeping pills. I’m a light sleeper, so when traveling in the subcontinent I usually need all three of those just to get a few hours of sleep! Street din during both day and night, the chorus of morning throat-clearing, and loud music played through crackling speakers during night bus rides should be expected.

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