Off the motorway and into the streets of Islamabad, I made my way to my hotel with only the usual number of “scenic detours”. The New Cape Grace Guest House (NCG) was several universes away from the Avari but, hey, that was to be expected. There had been a mix-up in the booking and I had to spend the first two nights in rather downbeat quarters but Karim, the owner, and his son, Samir, went out of their way to move me to a better room as soon as one became available.
I proceeded to settle into a new rhythm of life at the NCG and I got to know the names of most of the other staff: Munir, Imran and Tariq and tried to use my few words of Urdu as often as possible. The NCG was to serve simply as a base while I applied for visas to Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Advice posted on various travel websites indicated that it could possibly take 2-3 weeks to get all three. I was hoping to achieve it in much less than that. Not just for financial reasons – Islamabad is a very expensive city, comparable to any big city in Australia – but because there is simply not enough to see or do to keep one occupied for that length of time.
So it was time to start crossing embassies off my “to do” list.