Karl Rock's Blog

India Travel Safety & Advice plus the Best of Incredible India

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How to Pack Light & Blend in in Pakistan. Photo by DVIDSHUB (https://flic.kr/p/9vXYVo)

How to Pack Light & Blend in in Pakistan

This is what I travel with! A 25L backpack.

This is what I travel with! A 25L backpack.

I always travel light. I love travelling minimally with as little to carry, and therefore worry about, as possible. There’s nothing worse than lugging a heavy suitcase around a country like Pakistan or India where there aren’t footpaths to pull your case along. It’s far more convenient to take a backpack.

The last thing I also wanted was to be lugging a big suitcase around Pakistan bringing attention to myself too.

Here’s what I packed in a small 25-litre backpack for a 2 week trip to Pakistan from India at the end of winter:

How to Blend in

Traditional Indian and Pakistani clothing, kurta pajama. Photo by Donal Mountain.

Kurta Pyjama. Photo by Donal Mountain.

One interesting item on my clothing list is the kurta pyjama. I wear a fancier version of this for formal events in India, but I decided to get a cheaper, plain and basic black kurta and pyjama pant for my trip through the more conservative parts of Pakistan. It’s what locals and villagers wear (except they prefer white).

I didn’t want to draw attention to myself and stand out in Pakistan especially as I was sometimes travelling alone and would be in the high-risk area of Peshawar near the Afghan border. A kurta pyjama allowed me to blend in and draw attention to myself.

You have to be mindful of colour and design of the Kurta too though. Red, maroon, or bright colours as worn in Indian cities will make you stand out. Plain white, blue, black, brown, and green colours are favoured in Pakistan.

The other thing to remember when packing for Pakistan is that they’re even more particular than India about revealing clothing. While certain areas of major cities in Pakistan are more progressive, many are not. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep your body covered.


  1. 1 Plain black kurta-pyjama
  2. 1 x Jeans
  3. 1 x Warm jacket (if winter)
  4. 2 x Socks
  5. 1 x T-shirt
  6. 3 x Underwear
  7. 1 x Polarised sunglasses (if summer)
  8. 1 x Microfibre travel towel
  9. 1 x Walking shoes
  10. 1 x Pair of sandals (for bathrooms)

All up that’s two sets of clothing. I wear one while the other is drying after hand washing.


  1. Bar of soap in a plastic case
  2. Toothbrush & toothpaste in plastic case
  3. Wet wipes (more portable and efficient than toilet paper)
  4. Hand sanitizer
  5. Floss

Electronics & miscellaneous

  1. Mobile phone with offline Google Maps saved
  2. GoPro & various mounts
  3. USB wall charger and cable
  4. Passport and 3 x copies of passport, Pakistan VISA, and passport photos
  5. USD cash to convert
  6. 2 x Pens

Medical supplies

You only need to carry these if you’re going to remote parts where there are no medical stores.

  1. Paracetamol (500 mg).
  2. Antibiotics for food poisoning (Novidat 500 mg, Flagyl 400 mg).
  3. Diarrhoea stopper medication (Lomotil).
  4. Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) sachets – helps you stay hydrated in summer or if you get food poisoning.
  5. SPF 30 Sunblock

Read the medical disclaimer.

Inside the Chandigarh Rock Garden. Photo © Karl Rock.

What Are the Chances? You Won’t Believe This Happened in India

It was my second time at the weird but wonderful Chandigarh Rock Garden. It’s like being lost in a wonderland, it must be seen to be believed. I enjoy it far more than the overrated Taj Mahal.

Nek Chand Saini began collecting materials from demolition sites around the city in 1957. He began constructing his maze of rock art and waterfalls on Government conservation land undisturbed for 18 years until the Government finally caught him. By that time the Rock Garden was already a work of art.

After getting the public on his side, the Government gave him a job and 50 labours to keep working on this unique public space. Now, it’s one of the most visited, and memorable, places in India.

Now it starts getting strange

Swings, Chandigarh Rock Garden. Photo © Karl Rock.

Swings, Chandigarh Rock Garden. Photo © Karl Rock.

So there I was, sitting next to the massive swings Saini built letting the sunlight warm me up on a cold December day. When one of the weirdest things happened to me

Two guys in their 20s came up to me and the one in the brown jacket and slicked back hair shows me his phone.

Meeting my friends from Kashmir for a second time. Photo © Karl Rock.

Photo © Karl Rock.

On his phone is a photo of me! It’s a scene I remember. But why does he have a photo of me on his phone?

The photo on his phone. Photo © Karl Rock.

The photo on his phone. Photo © Karl Rock.

My friend had totalled his bike on a piece of slippery road on our ride to Srinagar, Kashmir, so he was travelling separately on a bus to Jammu. The bus went the correct way to Jammu, and I went the wrong way. First I ended up riding 50 km to the end of a beautiful road.

Then I took another wrong turn and ended up taking the unused centuries-old route from Srinagar to Jammu! That added an extra 8 hours of riding with nobody around and no petrol stations to fill up at. At one point I was sure I was going to run out of petrol.

After hours of riding, I decided to stop in the middle of nowhere for a drink. The shopkeepers were surprised to see a foreigner riding in the area. I walked into this store and bought a Limca (Indian lemonade like 7-up) for the energy to keep riding. The shop owner, his friends, and a local cop were all sitting and relaxing outside the store.

We chatted and before I left they asked me for a photo. It was that photo the guy at the Rock Garden’s was showing me. He’d taken the picture for them on his phone. He was a relative of the shop owner and from that remote area of Kashmir. And now we’d crossed paths a second time!

My mind was blown after I realised he was the guy I met in some remote part of Kashmir. What are the chances?

Me and some locals in Kashmir. Photo © Karl Rock, all rights reserved.

My photo from my camera that the guy in the brown jacket took for me. Photo © Karl Rock.

It’s happened before too

This isn’t the first time I’ve had deja vu in India though. I once went to the Anandpur Gurudwara (Sikh Temple) on the border of Himichal Pradesh and Punjab. It’s a very small but famous place for Sikhs.

I returned back to Delhi, and a random shopkeeper in the area I was living asked me, “Were you in Anandpur last weekend?” It turned out he’d also visited the same day as me and seen me there. What are the chances?

Even in a country of a billion people, the world is not so big.

Easy Zesty Indian Dry Mutton Fry Recipe. Photo © Karl Rock.

Easy Zesty Indian Dry Mutton Fry Recipe (Video)

I’ve made this zesty Indian dry mutton fry recipe many times now! It’s a staple at my apartment and everyone who tries it loves it. It’s healthy and goes perfectly with roti – but not so much with rice because this is a dry curry.

I initially found the recipe on YouTube, but it’s in Hindi, so I’ve translated it for you below.

Easy Zesty Indian Dry Mutton Fry Recipe. Photo © Karl Rock.

A quick fry in the pan at the end with some curry leaves, lemon juice, and green chillis. Photo © Karl Rock.


  • 500 g boneless mutton
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 3 green chillis
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Place the mutton, ginger garlic paste, tomato, spices (only the coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and chilli powder), and salt in a pressure cooker.
  2. Mix the ingredients together in the pressure cooker, so the meat is coated.
  3. Add water to pressure cooker and cook on medium flame for 4 whistles.
  4. Wait for the pressure cooker to depressurise then remove the lid and boil until the liquid is nearly gone.
  5. Heat oil in a pan then add the curry leaves and green chillis.
  6. After a minute, add the mutton, then the lemon juice, and fry for 4 minutes.


It’s in Hindi, but you can watch for the cooking process. It’s quite self-explanatory.

India Surival Guide's YouTube Channel Went Viral. Photo by Surian Soosay (https://flic.kr/p/r2MLev).

India Surival Guide’s YouTube Channel Went Viral!

The last two weeks have been crazy and surreal. My videos were already doing great on YouTube, but then “bass-” posted my Foreigner Surprising Indians with Hindi video on the /r/videos subreddit and the madness began!

That Reddit post started a chain reaction, and I ended up going viral, hitting the top of /r/videos with 24.5k upvotes, a spot on the Reddit India homepage, and gaining over 300,000 views that night.

It was an exciting night for me. I sat there watching the Reddit upvotes climb from 10k to 16k before it was 2 am and I had to crash.

There's that nice spike in views on YouTube!

There’s that nice spike in viral views on YouTube!

After it went viral most of the Indian media picked it up with everybody praising the video which showed me simply surprising Indians with my Hindi.

That video aimed to show everyone how warmly Indians react to a foreigner speaking their language. I wanted to show people that language breaks down barriers and connects people and how learning just a few phrases can enhance a travellers trip to India.

YouTube comment.

Since then, that video has gone onto hit over 1 million views, and in total my channel is well over 1.5 million views and counting.

So, YouTube is going to be my primary platform now. I have tons of amazing content to coming so please subscribe to see how I live in incredible India. I’m on social networks too, please follow there also:


India Survival Guide February 2018 Media Roundup

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6 Indian Musicians Not to Miss Live When You’re in India

A great song and its melody are universal. You don’t need to understand the words to enjoy them. You just listen to the music and enjoy.

When you’re in India, there are a ton of amazing artists you need to check out live. Below are just 6 of my favourite artists that I’ve seen live.

To find out what’s on while you’re in India, check out Insider and BookMyShow and look out for advertisement posters plastered all around major cities.

Diljit Dosanjh (Punjabi bhangra)

If you want to drink, eat, and party like a North Indian then there’s nothing better than Diljit’s swag and the heavy beat of his Bhangra tracks. Listen to Radio to see what I mean.

When you’re in North India, this is what you’ll hear on repeat every night – especially during wedding season. His concerts are big parties!

Arijit Singh (Bollywood pop)

Arijit is the number one playback singer in Bollywood these days. I don’t know precisely what percentage of hit Bollywood songs he’s sung in the last few years but has to be over 50%. Everyone loves his voice, and if you listen to Kabira or Zaalima, you’ll see why.

Amit Trivedi (Bollywood pop & more)

Amit is the most versatile music producers in Bollywood. He can write hit pop tracks and then an array of regionally inspired Bollywood music too. Amit doesn’t just create hits though, the music he creates has meaning – which pop music always lacks.

Mame Khan (Rajasthani folk)

Mame is the first regional artist on this list. Going to a Mame Khan performance is like being transported to the bright colours of Rajasthani. All the musicians remain seated and belt out some mesmerising tunes.

Nooran Sisters (Punjabi Folk)

The Nooran Sisters are Sufi (the inward dimension of Islam) singers. They have very strong and powerful voices and mainly sing devotional songs. I have no idea what they’re singing, but to see them in concert is an experience.

Indian Ocean (Rock)

Indian Ocean is an older Hindi rock band that performs originals. They’re an Indian Fleetwood Mac or The Eagles. If you’re a rock fan, go check them out.

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