Author: Adila Naser

Adila works as a high school teacher and volunteers on various community services. She is also a freelance translator where she translates certain articles for school and organizations.

Beautiful Places To Visit In South Asia

There is no shortage of amazing places to visit in South Asia. From pristine natural beauty to ancient landmarks that have stood the test of time, this magical land offers something for every traveler. Here are seven of the most beautiful places to visit in South Asia.

Taman Negara, Malaysia

This stunning rainforest is over 130 million years old, sprawling over 4,300 square kilometers in the central and northern parts of Malaysia. While at Taman Negara, you can discover a wide network of cave systems, explore the ancient Orang Asli settlements, go on a night safari, and much more. Kuala Tahan is the most popular home base when visiting this jungle paradise.

Con Dao Archipelago, Vietnam

Once a political prison, this group of gorgeous islands is both beautiful and historic at the same time. You will get a glimpse of the distinct history of these 16 islands by touring the old structures. The natural beauty includes welcoming beaches, sparkling water, and lush hills. Vietnam heroine Vo Thi Sau is also buried here with people visiting the tomb every day at midnight to pray and make offerings.

The Red Lotus Sea, Thailand

You will not believe the pictures that you get when you visit the famous Red Lotus Sea in Thailand. Located in the Udon Thani province, this lake features millions of pink lotus flowers that bloom between November and February. In addition to the stunning beauty, the lake also signifies the special meaning of the lotus flower to the Buddhist religion. This beauty will take your breath away.

Mount Kelimutu, Indonesia

The island of Flores is home to a volcano that boasts three distinct crater lakes. All of these lakes change colors as the volcanic elements transform the water. The three lakes are known as the Lake of Old People, Tiwu Ata Bpau; the Lake of Young Men and Maidens, Tiwu K’o Fi Nuwa Muri; and the Bewitched Lake, Tiwu Ata Polo. Legend has it that the colors change with the mood of the spirits that haunt the waters. 

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

Do not miss your chance to visit the world’s largest cave. This beauty is located in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. What is most surprising is that this cave was only first discovered in 1991. The cave is now open to the public for touring. Along the way, you will discover unique beaches and a subterranean river. The cave is also home to campsites, allowing you to immerse yourself overnight in this special corner of Vietnam.  

Borobudur, Indonesia

You cannot visit South Asia without taking in the splendor and majesty of the Buddhist temples. This complex is the world’s most comprehensive tribute to Buddha. The temple was restored in the 1970s, welcoming visitors to learn more about this way of life. You can visit the complex for a short time or make the traditional pilgrimage, carrying you over five kilometers through the jungle on your journey.

Mataking Island, Borneo, Malaysia

When you want to surround yourself with crystal waters, be sure to consider Mataking Island in Borneo. This island situated off southeastern Sabah is known for its great diving and snorkeling opportunities. Under the water, you will find sea turtles and a myriad of fish, and other marine life. Be sure to check out the underwater post office located in a sunken fishing boat. You can even mail a postcard from the sea. You can also kayak or hike through the green jungle when visiting this island oasis. 

A Path For Permanent Peace In South Asia: Is It Possible?

While there are different opinions about which countries make up South Asia, there is little debate over the region’s challenge for permanent peace. Recent wars and assorted conflicts have punctuated the historical prevalence of turmoil.

The reasons for conflicts that have befallen South Asia vary across the centuries. At the core of many of these disputes, have been differences in religion or cultural ideology. It would be easy to contend that peace in the region if ever truly realized, would be temporary at best.

With new peace initiatives on the horizon, let’s look at a brief history of conflict in South Asia and then address the potential for a path to permanent peace in an oft violence-torn part of the world.

What Constitutes South Asia?

South Asia is the southernmost part of the vast continent of Asia. There are a few geographical definitions for the region. Modern definitions of South Asia include eight countries. India is the largest of these eight, which include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, and Pakistan.

South Asia has the largest population of five cultures. Over 98 percent of the Hindu population and nearly one-third of the world’s Muslim faith live in South Asia. There is also a vast number of Sikhs, Jains, and Zoroastrians. Over 25 million Buddhists and another 35 million Christians call South Asia their homeland.

Centuries of Conflict

Study the wars and conflicts across South Asia reveals a region plagued by turmoil across millennia. India has dozens of conflicts spread across centuries. There are rare moments of extended peace.

Many of these result from conquests in the name of religious ideology. It may seem ironic that the part of South Asia most notably in today’s news has a limited history of actual wars. Bhutan seems to be spared the tendency for strife, experiencing only Ten Great Campaigns during the latter half of the 18th century.

Nearly all the conflict in Sri Lanka has occurred from the beginning of the 20th century, with over half, including the 26-year Sri Lanka Civil War between 1983 and 2009, having occurred in the last half-century.

Likewise, conflict and turmoil in Bangladesh started with Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Conflicts and coups throughout the country have remained constant, the most recent a border conflict with Myanmar.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two countries most notably discussed because of ongoing, seemingly endless military conflict. Afghanistan has experienced four civil wars since the first official Afghan Civil War in 1928. Three of these multi-year conflicts have occurred since 1989.

Two conflicts referred to as an insurgency are ongoing in Pakistan, one in Balochistan and another in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Both insurgencies started at around the same time in 2004. It is the continued conflict in neighboring Afghanistan that has been most troubling to the region.

The War in Afghanistan has its roots in the Afghan Civil War that started in 1978. After a coup in 1973, Pakistan began to exert a persuasive yet subtle influence to trigger violence with their neighbor. The Soviet Union was a prominent player in the country, prompting a standoff with the United States.

In the early 1990s, the Taliban began to exert influence across Afghanistan. Using their fundamentalist view of Islam, the Taliban created turmoil in the country. They received military support from Pakistan and financial support from neighboring nations.

On a dark day in world history, the view of Afghanistan’s turmoil entered the world stage. The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States triggered the most notable modern conflict in South Asia. It has produced a time in which peace has been elusive.

Is Permanent Peach Possible in South Asia?

To gain any hope of sustained peace in the region, peaceful resolutions to centuries of ideologically driven turmoil must be reached. There is hope that peace, at least compared to the violence and conflict that has plagued parts of South Asia could be attainable.

The current focus is on Afghanistan and Pakistan, but there have been limited uprisings resulting in violence in other countries as well. South Asia is a culturally diverse region. Many of the spiritual beliefs inherent to certain countries harbor extremes.

It has been these extreme viewpoints that have fostered much of the violence. As long as these factions, albeit limited in numbers, continue to exert a violent agenda, any attainment of peaceful relations will be less than stable.

South Asia has a history of being plagued by violence and war. While other parts of the world are not immune to conflict, cultural diversity has been a driving force behind many of these conflicts. This is something that is not going to change soon.

Many of the peoples in South Asia fall woefully below the global poverty line. A poverty rate that nears 85 percent of the citizens is another problem for peace. Often, the lure of any type of life better than the day-to-day sustainable living conditions attracts people to nefarious organizations.

Healing the wounds of war is only one key to the promise of peace. There should be a sustainable effort to help improve the conditions still evident, situations that are ripe for conflict. The countries that makeup South Asia have a history of violent turmoil and war.

Peace in a visible part of this region has attracted attention across the world. Can any peace attained be sustained? What the future holds for peace in South Asia will be written through progress. To make peace permanent in South Asia, progress must be realized.

Exotic Pets in Pakistan – It’s A Thing

It’s common in every country and culture to admire and even go so far as to revere certain qualities in animals, especially those in the wild. We see the elephant in terms of wisdom and grace, the eagle as a representation of insight and having a higher perspective. And the lion has long been a symbol of courage, strength, and sheer majesty.

Exotic Animals in Captivity

It is often a source of controversy, however, when we humans try to hold wild animals in captivity, particularly when contained in small, unnatural enclosures in zoos or as circus performers. A common house cat may be perfectly content living its entire life indoors, but the territory of a lion in the wild can range anywhere from 20 to 400 square kilometers. Denying them their natural habitat and way of life is pitted against the public’s desire to see and enjoy these beautiful, exotic animals up close. The situation can become especially concerning–not to mention dangerous–when people choose to keep wild animals in their domiciles. 

Exotics as a Status Symbol in Pakistan

If the lion is the king of the jungle, then the man who owns a lion (or several) is someone to behold. Certainly, it is a brave man that is willing to share his home with such a ferocious animal! As a symbol of wealth and power, it has become fashionable in recent years to collect young lion and tiger cubs and raise them as household pets. In increasing frequency, they are being seen in gardens, occupying rooftop cages, out for walks with their owners, or seated beside them in their pricey SUVs as they drive through major, bustling cities like Karachi and Islamabad. In some cases, in exchange for a fee, their owners may offer onlookers the opportunity to take a selfie with their exotics. In such cases, it’s a not a bad idea for the owner not only to carry coverage for the pet, but also an extensive liability insurance policy.

Big cats aren’t the only exotic animals snatched up by the upper crust. It is not unusual to find pythons, flamingos, deer, bears, wolves, and even giraffes occupying private petting zoos in the heart of major cities. The unlawful trade of endangered Sekker falcons is particularly profitable as they can be sold to Arab elites who use them to hunt Hubara Bustards, a large terrestrial bird in Pakistan that is supposed to be protected. 

Big Cats in Pakistani Politics

In Pakistan, the lion rules supreme. And if a lion is not available, then a tiger will also suffice. Thus, the political leader who is compared to a lion or sher is highly regarded, and it is not uncommon for the sale of lions and tigers to spike during election season. Candidates often delight in parading a chained or caged big cat at political rallies. To the Pakistani, it is the ultimate symbol of power.

Wildlife Trade: A Lucrative Business

It is legal to import lions and tigers into Pakistan, although the government does require importers to jump through more than a few hoops to obtain the necessary licenses and permits. The law requires that imported animals be provided an environment similar to their natural habitat. However, once they are brought into the country, there is little regulation with regard to habitat, nor to feeding, housing, and general care. Additionally, the trade of big cats is supposed to be off-limits to individuals, but because Pakistan is run by its separate provincial governments, they are largely silent on the subject. As a result, social media sites are rife with offers from online animal marketplaces, and it is not unheard of for a Pakistani with a well-padded wallet to pay $9,000 for a baby lion cub. 

Traveling in Pakistan: Here’s What You Should Know

4 Top Travel Tips

There is a lot to do in Pakistan. From historical monuments to modern cities, there is something for everyone in this country. If you plan a vacation, a family getaway, or even a business trip, you will not be disappointed with your decision. Here’s what you should know before leaving for your trip.

Where to Travel

Before you leave for your trip, it is important to decide where you will be going to and from. The country has a wide range of cities that can make your travel experience unique and interesting. You can choose to travel to the northern areas of the country or travel to the southern parts. There is no lack of historic sites in either place, so you can take advantage of these sites while you are there.

How Much Travel Is Too Much

When traveling to Pakistan, make sure that you set a travel limit for yourself. If you plan to visit more than one town or area within a short period of time, you should consider how long you want your stay. This will help you keep from overextending yourself. If you plan on traveling for business, you should also consider how many days you will need to travel back to your home country. Please make sure you follow all of your country’s safety guidelines for COVID, and that you check any safety warnings.

Pack For Comfort

It is good to pack comfortable clothing that will withstand the cold weather and the hot sun, and desert heat. It would help if you packed comfortable shoes, although most countries have mountains where you can walk without much difficulty. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreens and a bottle of sunscreen as well, as these will help protect you against the sun’s harmful rays. You may also want to bring some insect repellent, as well as a medicated ointment or cream for your burns or insect bites.

Get Travel Insurance

Before you travel, check with your insurance company to see what coverage they provide for foreign travel. Most coverage plans will include medical coverage, but be sure to double-check to be sure. Also, find out if you need to pay additional fees to be in the country.

Arrange Accommodations

Before leaving for your trip, arrange at least three to four weeks in advance for your hotel or other accommodation. This will give you ample time to research the country you are visiting, as well as finding an appropriate place to stay. Look for hotels that offer excellent reviews. You may even wish to spend a little extra and arrange the room in your hotel with balcony access so that you can take in the sights and sounds of the city while still watching over the grasslands. Some places have ancient ruins or art galleries you can visit on your trip, which is sure to fascinate and captivate your interest.

Pack Your Travel Cont Accessories

If you are out and about, you will need certain items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, a first aid kit, hiking boots, a rain poncho, a camera, and other miscellaneous items. Make sure to pack plenty of light food and refreshments as well. Pack an assortment of colors and styles of clothing so that you will be able to switch from day to night more easily. If it rains while you are away, have flashlights handy so that you don’t end up trapped in a ditch somewhere with no way to get home. And always remember to bring a camera!

Travel Etiquette

While these tips might not be exactly what you expect to read on a travel brochure, they are still important to follow when traveling. For example, avoid using public restrooms, restaurants, and other areas that aren’t designated for personal use. Don’t litter because you don’t want to leave any of your garbage behind. And don’t drink! It’s one of the most popular tips, but it’s one that is often overlooked and can cause trouble during your vacation.