The time had come to end my sojourn in Islamabad. I had enjoyed my stay much more than I had anticipated and this was due, in no small part, to the lads at the New Cape Grace Guest House. Munir was the night duty manager but appeared to be there 24 hours a day. Imran was the ever-alert gate guard – one of the few in Islamabad NOT to be armed with an ancient Kalashnikov, an M16 or pump-action shotgun. Ishaq and Tariq were the two house “boys” even though they were both in there mid-twenties. Rafique was the cook who slaved away in the kitchen preparing delicious meals. Together with Mr. Karim, the owner, and his son, Samir, they made what could have been a very exasperating few days chasing visas into something much more enjoyable altogether. I took my leave of everyone at NCG and headed for Murree – a mere 50km away in the hills behind Islamabad but a world away from the relatively ordered and neat streets of the purpose-built capital.
As I climbed up the winding road through the hills, the climate changed noticibly. At almost 2300m Murree is higher than Mt. Kosciuszko, so for the first time in my travels there was a noticeable chill in the air as I wound my way up to the confusing, serpentine maze of 19th century streets, lanes and alleyways carved precipitously into the side of the hill. After about five attempts to find the right alleyway, I eventually made it to the hotel that Mr. Karim had recommended – the Hotel Faran.