I was there for almost 6 weeks, and towards the end I got in a visit to Lahore/Gujranwala/Sialkot to visit my family. It was short but awesome!! I would have went sooner if kids didn't keep getting a little sick. In Lahore I attended a niece's birthday party in a hall. It was sort of a party/qawwali night. Some performer Hamid Ali Khan was singing ghazals and qawwali songs. I really enjoyed that. This was a blessing as I got to meet a lot of my relatives that I wouldn't have had time to visit individually. Some I hadn't seen in 6+ years so it was great to meet their spouses and kids Mashallah. Of course with lots of relatives in one place, also ran into a few I would have rather avoided, oh well.

From Lahore went to Gujranwala to visit Khala and her daughter. That was awesome. It was nice to reminisce and chat. My other cousins also came over to see me so it was great staying up all night like old times. Next day we even got to ride on a motorcycle so that was fun.

From there we headed to Sialkot finally! I got to visit my phupho and chachu and my family home. It was just awkward. My other chachu and chachi passed away few years ago, so it just doesn't feel right anymore. Very depressing to be honest. I stayed with my phupho a few nights. My kids got to play with my cousin's kids so that was nice. We got to go out shopping and got to check out V-Mall/Cantt, what a big change. They now have all these designer shops and what not. Finally I visited Allama Iqbal's home. It needs tons of restoration and they haven't done a great job in keeping artifacts. Regardless it was good to see and show to kids. Here we got to do a rickshaw ride that was amazing for the kids. Brings back old memories of when I used to visit when younger and we'd go around in a rickshaw or Tanga (horse carriage) with my chachu.

Oh and in Sialkot I was able to meetup with a good friend and her family who was also visiting during summer. We went to Frangoz Cafe for lunch and had a good time. I spent most of other time with phupho and chatting with her. Leaving Sialkot was weird. Almost painful as phupho is not in good health, and realistically who knows how long it will be until I visit again. Prayers for her health.

I have to mention I had the world's worst driver!! He is in laws family driver but jeez. He sucked at directions outside of Pindi. On way to Lahore, I myself had to get out and talk to a person at gas station to figure out where we were at!!!! If I can figure it out, why couldn't he! Then when someone explained to him, he still didn't listen!! Jeez definitely an adventure with him. In Laws keep him as he is trustworthy and have had him for years, but he cant drive anywhere...jeez.

Anyways we also managed 2 quick trips to north of Islamabad...1st to Bhurban and then to Kala Baagh near Nathia Gali. That was the best part of our whole trip in Pakistan. Keep in mind it was always 90+ degrees so mild coolness was a welcome respite!

Anyways since I was with 3 kiddos, we frequented McDonalds (and KFC) a lot due to food the brats will eat and clean bathrooms when out and about! Plus their ice cream was clean and good!!! Never got sick from it Oh that and the fun play spaces inside

I had a ton of Gol Gappay while there as well as "Soda" which is the Lemon Soda. Oddly the best one was in Jameel Sweets in Saddar. This trip I stuck to a lot of desi food, and avoided trying steaks!!!

I did however really like the burger at Hardees Johnny Rockets and Burger King in the mall sucked donkey!

Oh and I really preferred the new Gigamall in Pindi to Centaurus. Centaurus is always SOOOO congested!!!!
They have all the brands but a lot more spacious and not so overcrowded!! I just did some shopping for some kurtas and only a few outfits! It was tough to get full 3 piece outfits! Most of the shops had kurtas only. You have to find a matching shalwar/trouser etc. Most of the time the shop where you got kurta didn't have a matching dupatta or pant. Blah. Where do people get their fancy 3 piece outfits from? Get them made from tailor?? Maybe I missed those shops! In my case, every other trip to the mall, we ended up either eating or the Play Center in mall (due to bored kids). The play space in both GigaMall and Centaurus are way overpriced! Even here Chuck e Cheese (they have similar stuff) is way cheaper like 33 cents a game. Basic stuff was like 300($3) - 500($5) rupees each...wha!!!!! I know its similar to carnival prices but for back home it was a bit much!

Anyways we finally left for home on August 29th. Best part was at midnight my BIL took us out for Gol Gappay one last time Loved it! I did leave packing until last minute but somehow managed to get it done (no sleep of course).

On the way back to JFK we stopped off in Dubai for 1 night. This time we did the desert safari. As soon as we got to the hotel, we changed and went swimming in the rooftop pool. OMG who thought a rooftop pool is a good idea in Dubai!! The sun was blinding and water felt hot tub like...hehe. We changed up and after encountering some drama with the tour company, we headed out a little late but managed to really enjoy the dune bashing part! It was quite a thrill! My daughters were scared while me and my son loved it. There were times it felt like the jeep was gonna flip over or fall sideways but the driver did a great job. Later the entertainment was ok. There was a fire dancer which was fun but the belly dancer was a little too provocative with no choreography. I have seen belly dancing before which is enjoyable but this was uncomfortable. A little odd for a family friendly activity.

The food was decent. It was a buffet which included grilled items, salads and even daal chavel!! My son was happy!! It was nice to finally relax on the floor seating. The best part was they pick you up from the hotel and drop you back off. What a blessing it was not to worry about taxis etc!!!!! We got back and crashed. Somehow managed to wake up and get to airport in time for 8:30 am flight back home.

The flight home from Dubai was a really rough 12 hour flight! I prefer 2 stops than 1. You can at least walk and stretch out!! Anyways it felt great to finally see hubby I believe we all fell asleep in the car on the way home.

PS. 1st thing kids wanted to eat was Papa Johns pizza and then Butten Chicken! Then they went crazy with milk, bread and cheese!!