Saturday, 8 October 2016

Pakistan Travel Stories (Part 3)

Gifts, Souvenirs and traditional stuff from Pakistan. 


One of the things that I love about travelling is shopping! Thankfully, I don't really go for massive, wallet-draining, weight-increasing, buying-everything-you-see kind of shopping sprees. I like to buy small gifts and souvenirs - something traditional and unique that would be a memory of my visit. Fridge magnets are my absolute favourites, just so that you know!

During my recent trip to Pakistan, though it is my home, I was in a full touristy mood and I did some shopping for myself, home and friends here in Malaysia which I think is worth sharing. So, here are my picks from my gifts and souvenir shopping.

In Islamabad, I had the chance to visit Lok Virsa. It is a heritage museum and really a good place to see Pakistani folk culture and traditions in one place. You can spend an evening there. With eateries and a few shops selling very Pakistani traditional stuff, Lok Virsa, is a must visit place.

As I searched for cultural things I realized that Pakistan is culturally very blessed. We have four provinces and each of them has their own distinctive way of life - different language, style of cooking, clothing and different traditions, making Pakistan a traditionally rich country. My 'search' in fact turned into a tough selection from the endless choices I had.

A Small shop selling embroidered shirts, bags, waist coats, cushion covers and spreads at Lok Virsa 
A shop loaded with metallic, wooden and marble decoration pieces.

A shop selling water and oil paintings
The first thing on my agenda was to buy gifts for my friends and colleagues back in Malaysia. I had to choose something very traditional but small that would not cause weight issues. My problem was solved when I came across these small stalls that sell old traditional jewelry, jewelry boxes, clutches, decoration items and what have you. These stalls were in Monal, Islamabad.

I bought a mix of different stuff and let my friends choose what they wanted. They loved the colourful earrings, pendants and jewelry boxes.

I fell in love with these metallic clutches at Monal and instantly bought a few as gifts.

A metallic clutch
A stand of colourful earrings
You must have realized that Pakistani traditional stuff is very colourful. If you ever visit Pakistan, from the airport to your destination, the colourful buses and trucks on the roads, will be a proof of our love for colours. Our public buses and trucks are beautifully decorated by an art called the Truck Art. It is my most favourite form of Pakistani art. I cannot buy a whole truck but, thanks to some designers and art lovers, we have now in Pakistan, adorable truck art inspired stuff that you can easily buy even online. I can proudly call myself a truck art collector as my collection just keeps growing. I not only have frames, coasters, fridge magnets and wall hangings but also wearable stuff like rings, bangles and clutches that add colour to any outfit that I pair them with.

I did a full review of my experience with an online store here. Their quality and customer service is really good.
Some of truck art collection
I also got these replica trucks and rickshaws that look adorable in showcases, shelves and racks. It is a growing trend to decorate coffee and tea shops with truck art inspired stuff. The truck below sits happily on my workstation while, the rickshaw is in the showcase where I display my little souvenir collection from every country that I visit.

A handmade colourful truck for decoration
A replica of rickshaw - A type of public transport used readily in Pakistan
If you love crockery and pottery, Pakistan's famous blue pottery is a must buy! Hailing from the city of Multan, blue or Kashi pottery is beautiful hand crafted pieces of art - something extremely unique and exquisite. The designs are a mix of floral and calligraphic patterns inspired by Persian art. I own a tea set and some bowls and plates for serving. Whenever I serve any guest in this unique tea set and serving dishes, the conversation, no matter how interesting, diverts to these cups!

Famous blue pottery of Pakistan
The fun part is that you get addicted to collecting these, too.You will keep falling in love with a bowl or a plate or a vase. But, this I think is something worth spending your money on.

I am still looking for a reliable online retailer for blue pottery. I will update this post if I find a contact soon. Any suggestions or recommendations from you guys are welcome.

I bought from Super Market, Islamabad and Zainab Market, Karachi.

I really cant get stop admiring these!

Beautiful floral designs of blue pottery
As we discuss stuff to buy from Pakistan, it is important to mention that Pakistan's biggest industry is Textile Industry that makes her 8th largest exporter of textile in Asia. We produce one of finest quality cotton. Our bed linens, spreads, covers, curtains, towels etc are of premium quality and very affordable. We are also world's second largest  exporter of denim. So, if you love to buy clothes or denim, Pakistan is THE country to buy some really quality stuff at very reasonable prices. We have a booming fashion industry and you would be surprised to see the kind of clothes local Pakistani brands produce. Not only because of the quality of material but in terms of designs and stitching, Pakistani markets will spoil you with the variety and choices! Whether you want a colourful traditional dress or something very western and chic; something really glittery and sparkly or just a classy gown - there is something for everyone. It is really impossible to discuss Pakistani textile and fashion industry in one post. So, I will have to leave you with these few facts for now. Sorry.

Coming back to my shopping! Naturally, I did a lot of clothes shopping. But, what I think was one of my most interesting buy was this Ajrak Scarf from a boutique in Karachi called Koel. Ajrak is a traditional way of block printing originating from Sindh, a province of Pakistan and has become the symbol of culture of Sindh. It is very a unique piece of art to own. With Indigo being the key dye, all the dyes used in production of Ajrak are natural. Ajrak is material that you can use in any form; bed linens, covers, shirts, skirts, scarves or just shawls.

Check out my scarf which is 100% handmade, using natural dyes and in the colours of original Ajrak. I love the material, light weight and size of this scarf.

Ajrak from Pakistan.

Can't wait to wear it!

That is it, guys :)

Tell me what is your favourite buy from my picks?

If you want to read about my crazy shoe shopping spree, read here. And in this post, I have put all my food adventures. You can also read my emotional outburst after visiting Pakistan here.


  1. A very colourful post, loved it ❤

  2. This made me want to visit Pakistan, I love everything about what you have dropped a line in this article. From the design of the building structures to colorful crafts displayed. I like how you express your thoughts to your photos.

  3. This made me want to visit Pakistan, I love everything about what you have dropped a line in this article. From the design of the building structures to colorful crafts displayed. I like how you express your thoughts to your photos.

  4. Now this is a museum I would be interested to visit. So nice to see such colorful things. Did not realize that color plays a big role in Pakistani culture.

  5. the items here are so cool. the little cars for the little ones looks adorable with its colours. and trust me the HERITAGE entrance GATES is so divine. you sure had fun from the pictures you took here.

  6. Nice picks. Love the cultural and colourful images. I wonder if your picks are expensive? Will they be suitable for mass purchase? Some people might just want to buy souvenirs for their friends and your picks might be too expensive when purchase in bulk~

  7. Thanks for your comment, Tiffany Yong.The Blue Pottery might be a bit expensive but the jewelry and truck art trinkets are really affordable. So they really make a good souvenirs.

  8. There are really so many souvenirs here. The rickshaw and the truck looks really cool.

  9. Absolutely, shopping is the top activity we do when traveling aside from eating. Souvenirs are a must not only for friends and family back home but also for yourself. There's plenty of decorations that can be displayed! Great place.

  10. Traveling round the world is an adventure. Especially getting to a place like Malysia. However, with these colorful images it makes me develop fond for Pakistan. Thanks for sharing

  11. that scarf is absolutely beautiful. those intricate details. so much time must have been put in making this

  12. There are so many things that you can choose from to give to friends as souvenirs! I really like how colorful everything is, from the accessories to the kitchenware! Everything is just so full of life. That scarf is lovely!

  13. It reminded me of all the beautiful and creative stuff that we get in India. Kudos to artisans who create this.

  14. I've seen these painted trucks & autos in an exhibition by an Pakistani craftsperson. They are just spectacular. There are similar crafts to block printing & lac work in India, but that miniature trucks aren't in India!!! Love it!!

  15. I've seen those miniature painted autos & trucks in an exhibition and I totally love it. There is no similar craft to it in India..