Sunday, October 29, 2017

Travelogue: Muzaffarabad and Pir Chanasi

Hello! Earlier this week, I went on a trip to Muzaffarabad and Pir Chanasi with my father and his team from the hospital he works at. It was a bit of an educational trip to one of the major hospitals of Muzaffarabad to teach the staff there about ESI, followed by the fun part of the trip- all of which I will be outlining below. I had a lot of fun on the trip and took lots of pictures, so look forward to the photographic spam!

yay for colors of autumn!
The day started around 5:20AM for me. I had gotten up to pray for Fajr and then proceeded to get ready which involved pulling out my jeans, looking for my sunglasses, digging around for a jacket or a sweater. Sadly, I didn't find my jacket or sweater since winter technically hasn't begun in Islamabad yet. I mean, yeah I am using a thick blanket at night, but otherwise I don't need to wear anything over my clothes during the day. The weather is nice here! Around 6:00AM, the van and car we were going on arrived in front of our house. The car was for the important people (like my dad) and the van was for the ordinary peasants (like me). We picked up one more person before driving to the hospital where the rest of the doctors *cough* ordinary peasants *cough* were waiting. Everybody got in and then we started the long drive to Muzaffarabad.

I personally took every opportunity I could to take a nap, so I slept around 15-20 minutes every hour of travel. Around 9:00AM, we stopped at a small restaurant or cafe sort of thing for breakfast. Yes, we hadn't had breakfast.One of the doctors had made loads of sandwiches and tea while others had brought big boxes of bakery items, from cookies to cake rusk and... more cookies. It was honestly more like an evening tea session rather than breakfast, but I'm not complaining cause there were chocolate chip cookies and those are my favorite kind of cookies.

This picture is not taken by me and it's obvious because I'm the one wearing the red scarf.

By 10:00AM, we arrived at the hospital [ name redacted ] where the teaching session was going to take place. The objective of the teaching was to familiarize the hospital staff with ESI. ESI stands for Emergency Severity Index and is a method for separating patients who come into the emergency department into several levels based on how serious their condition is and whether they can wait in line or have to be treated immediately

There were around 50 people. First there was a pretest, followed by a lecture session for about two or so hours. Tea break came next and then the entire audience was divided into small groups for discussing cases. Facilitators rotated from group to group with a list of cases for the group to decide the ESI level of the patient based on the presentation.

The activity ended an hour or so later, the workshop came to an end with closing speeches. The next event on the schedule was having lunch at Pir Chanasi. The van was ditched for cars and the journey. The road was narrow and kind of scary. The edge of the road was next to a cliff and there were no safety measure, so any wrong move could result in your car tumbling off the edge and onto the road several feet below. Most of the road was well carpeted.

Great view right?

The place we stopped at was a sort of hotel that we've visited before. It's quite near Pir Chanasi. The actual Pir Chanasi is basically the grave of a saint of some sort and you can see the grave from the hotel. Anyway, we had lunch at the hotel and then I wandered around armed with my phone and took a bunch of pictures of the wildflowers for my Instagram (you know I haven't been posting for days).

Here you can see the hotel in the background and the wildflowers. This is an unedited pictures. I would be sharing more but I have been too lazy to edit them and will probably just be posting them on Instagram.

There were a couple of things I wish I'd brought with me on the trip though. I really wish I had brought a journal of some sort to press flowers in (because there were sooo many pretty flowers). I also wish I had brought my headphones along. I could have listened to podcasts or to Goljan's audio along the way. I mean, even though I was sleeping most of the time, it still would have been nice to have that option around. I had considered carrying a bigger bag with some pastels or color pencils to draw but then I realized those kinds of activities are only good for trips that are for a few days, not for a few hours.

Overall, I had a lot of fun! It was really nice to experience peace at the top of the world and the utter silence was kind of awe-inspiring. I had a lot of fun roaming around on my own and taking pictures and recording sounds of the environment.

An hour or so after lunch, we headed back down towards Islamabad. Around sunset, we stopped at Gloria Jeans (about an hour away from Islamabad) for something to drink. I was torn between hot chocolate and a cold milkshake and ended up playing safe by going for the hot chocolate. However, it really proved to be too hot and I felt myself getting pretty sick. Fortunately the air outside was chilly and good and helped me feel better almost instantly.

We got home by 9:30PM. Like I said, it was a great trip, I thoroughly enjoyed it and for anyone asking if Pir Chanasi is a good place to go, I say yeah! Go for it. If you have great company, the trip will automatically be amazing. And if not, well. There's always the sense of remoteness (there's no cellular signals up there) and peaceful silence to enjoy.

Have a nice day!
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