Peshawar, Pakistan Report of what it's like to live there - 02/16/09

Personal Experiences from Peshawar, Pakistan

Peshawar, Pakistan 02/16/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Nairobi, Madrid, Tegucigalpa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

6 months in 2008.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

TDY with U.S. Consulate.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

22+ hours connections through Kuwait, Dubai, London, and Frankfurt.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing tends to be large and located close to each other.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Food is relatively cheap just make sure you clean everything very well.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Comissary is small in size and limited in products. I would bring pre-packaged soups, pasta mixes, sauces, baking needs, games, movies.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC, Burger Chief, and some others.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitos.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO. Very fast, seems to come every three days or so.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very cheap.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

The club gym was recently updated and has gone from poor to fair. The new weights and equipment have really made a difference.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Use the cashier at the Consulate.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Unsure.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Newspaper and satellite TV available. As the power goes out about every 2 hours you will spend a lot of time waiting for the satellite signal to reset.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

There are no services in any buildings in town for anyone with physical disabilities. Working at the consulate would also be very hard.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Not allowed.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

No vehicles. Consulate personnel must ride in an armored shuttle.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is available and not too horribly slow. Again, every time the power goes out, internet goes out but seems to come right back up.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Issued at post.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

There is a vet that visits from Islamabad.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Unsure.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy. Garbage is burned in the winter which only adds to all of the unknown stuff in the air.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Security in Pakistan is continually declining. In the past year there have been several incidents of foreigners being kinapped or killed. Like all other cities in Pakistan there are bombings in public places throughout the year.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is one TCN nurse at post with a doctor in Islamabad.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Very hot and humid in the summer and 40's in the winter.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Small and getting smaller every day.

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends on who you speak to but with everyone being very restricted in their movements it's a little frustrating.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

House parties, nights at the club, Mongolian BBQ, pool parites in the summer.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I don't really think this is a good city for anyone but singles and couples would do best. I did see some NGO families but I can't imagine bringing your child to this city.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No problems that I saw.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None at the consulate that I saw.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Plan R&R's, swim at club pool, Mongolian BBQ night at the club.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Carpets, Chitrali hats, brass work.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. Too small, no life, and security only getting worse.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bad attitude - it's hard enough. Party suits/dresses.

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3. But don't forget your:

PATIENCE, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, vitamins, books, and anyting you can think of to entertain yourself at home.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Three Cups of Tea.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Three Cups of Tea.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Make sure to take all your R&R's and leave - you'll need it.

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