Tell us about yourself.

Amber: I am currently a freelance social media consultant. I do consultancy for brands and agencies in social media content and planning. I am also a voice over artist as well as a travel content creator. I left my advertising job back in 2015 because I wanted to travel. I went to the mountains then and from then there was no looking back. The fortunate thing was having a supportive family which I am blessed with Alhamdullilah who have always helped me towards my passions.

Q: How is it being a woman traveller in Pakistan?
Amber: Well, it’s interesting to be honest. I had it in me since childhood, from my dad to be exact, it’s almost genetic. It was never a commercial idea to me. It used to be with groups in the start with obvious ‘permission issues’ from family as I am an only child. It was not easy to have those permissions initially. When I started making travel content and I started to get positive acknowledgment of that, I used to show that to my parents who would also be very proud of me. When I obviously started making small efforts towards making them understand about interest, they did understand that it’s a passion for me and that I wanted to continue it professionally. But I think it’s a niche for me, it’s still unique for people to understand because generally for our society travelling is a luxury and they would always mock someone who left a job to travel. However, with the current book of travelling lovers it’s possible for the society to understand slowly too. The major questions I receive all the time are basically three, revolving around how I get permissions, how do I finance my travel and where do I earn from.

Q: You recently travelled to the Makran Coastal Belt. How was traveling in Balochistan different from other places?
Amber: I am such a nature lover that I cannot call any experience of scenic travel bad unless something bad happens (God forbid). I treat every location differently and give it its due appreciation be it northern Pakistan or Makran. The whole idea of gliding through the roads of Makran between the canyons and Rock Mountain is just mind blowing. It’s perfect for a bike ride that one thing for sure. The beaches here in Makran after Kund Malir are very unique. The water is calmer, wind is lower and the colours are marvellous, the blue ones especially. There is peace all around and then the rock formations of Hingol National Park are th e best sites that are rare around the world itself like some in Utah and Grand Canyon.

Q: How important do you think is it for travel content creators to highlight Balochistan and benefit from its unexplored landscape?
Amber: Well as a content creator, it is essential to segregate the pluses and minuses of any place simultaneously. You have to talk about both sides. I think the unexplored landscape of Balochistan is so different, it helps to portray this positive narrative about Pakistan that we have such places too. Pakistan is truly blessed with topography of all kinds, which what makes us unique. Mountains, canyons, beaches, ruins, deserts, historical sights, we have it all. People who think Pakistan is all about mountains must visit Balochistan because this place offers you everything else that people can be inspired by apart from just mountains. People think Balochistan is dry and raw in terms of landscape but this has its own beauty. The white rocks you see in Ormara are nowhere else to see. The jagged triangular dune like mountains around Kund Malir are spectacular. It’s important to highlight through our content that not only greenery and snowy mountains are beautiful but beauty in different shapes and forms must be appreciated as it is without comparisons.

Q: What was the best experience you had traveling?
Amber: Honestly, it’s difficult to pick but I think it was when I recently went to this small valley called Shimshal behind Passu cones. It was the best experience so far. I stayed with the locals there, used to cook myself, eat with them, live with them and tried to learn their language Wakhi. It was such that I took ownership of the whole experience and that was an experience worth it.

Q: What was the worst cautionary tale from your years of traveling?
Amber: Most of the cautionary tales I ever got were from my mother to be honest. Like whenever I would leave, she would warn me about landslides and climate etc. It used to be funny at times but she always did that. Apart from that I have never really got such tales but yes, some locals always point out those scary folk stories of areas telling me “don’t go there, Jinns live there.”

Q: What would you tell women who want to travel but worry about their safety?
Amber: This is a very important question. For women who have never travelled at all must first start doing it with their families and other trustworthy group of people around you. And then when the fear of going alone goes away, then start alone. Secondly, research! Research before you go anywhere and try to be in contact with any locals from those areas. Try to take the advice of the locals as much as you can. Specifically have the local police stations contacts for any emergency beforehand.

Now a days there are many travelers communities online that can actually help you such as bloggers and other fellow travels. Take suggestions from people who have been there before and genuinely take their advice.

In how far do you think travelling has changed you and your view of Pakistan?
Amber: The one thing that really changed after my travel experiences were my perceptions about the communities, their culture and their norms. I became aware of the communities that I have traveled to absorbing diversity became acceptable and broadened my level of acceptance unlike before where you agree to anything people say about a particular community. This is the kind of knowledge that I now crave for.
Moreover, travelling has also made me ready for anything at any time such as realising that there are actually just a few things that you need to survive. It has taught me to live minimally and to not worry too much about the future and living in the present moment. I have also seen myself grow humbler and happier.

Tell us a few unconventional ways of promoting tourism in Balochistan.
Amber: 1-      Since art and music travels far and wide, I think cultural festivals such as Lahooti Melo in Hyderabad must be boosted in Balochistan. Inviting locals and non-local to such festivals can be an excellent opportunity to know more about Balochistan.

2-      Balochistan could have residencies such as cultural exchange programs where national and international volunteers arrive and are engaged in community service. Since they pay to the organisations and government, it can be a help to the communities along with a boost in tourism.

3-      Balochistan can also engage people from other regions in things like talks, summits and seminars etc. In my perspective, Balochistan doesn’t give a welcoming vibe to many others around the country hence the hesitation to travel here, however that’s not entirely true. Events like I mentioned above can help reduce that. Moreover, travel companies that offer small trips to Balochistan must be promoted and tourist spot should be maintained first to handle any incoming travellers.

4-      Making contracts with the vlogger and content creator community to be ambassadors of Balochistan.

Q: Where would you like to go next in Balochistan and why?
Amber: Well so far, I have only travelled the coastal belt up till Gwadar. I now want to see the north side of Balochistan such as Quetta and Ziarat. I want to experience the food there and the beautiful Hanna Lake that my mother talks about. My maternal grandfather’s family was from Quetta basically. I have been to Quetta once as an infant but could never go again. It’s kind of like I want to experience the ancestral vibe from the city.  

 

Picture Credits: Ambyzee The Freebird
Amber can be reached at:
Instagram: thetraveluster
Twitter: @Cheese_Pakora

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