“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Taxila is a site that's just out of Islamabad and it's got everything from all eras.

The site of taxila is an archaeologists dream! It must have been so amazing to 'discover' it in the the 1920s. There are amazing finds such as statues of Athena and Aphrodite... Proof of Alexander the Great's far conquests. There are tablets in Aramaic. Even the every day articles are amazing... From chairs to keys, to door pieces, to horse fittings, to surgical instruments, to scales, to the requisite arrowheads and chisel and axes. Whole wheels and oh, the most amazing beads! Even carved heads and statues.

Of course, the museum doesn't look like it's been modified since the 1920s right down to the painted list in the curator's office and the leather-metal-button seats. I exaggerate of course, but it was ridiculous to see the carpet being swept!

At Julian, the only way to see the relics was to go with the guy who had the key. He was the only 'guide' I tipped, and when I gave him 100 rupees which is half the ticket price, he called me cheap! I was indignant. Hell, I shouldn't have to tip anyone when I pay an exorbitant entry fee compared to locals. 200 for foreigners and 200 again for the museum. That's western price of $4 which I suppose isn't much, but still, the fact that that is the minimum and I'm expected to pay more in tips is unfair. The locals pay 10 rupees to get in by comparison. He also wanted to know if that was the only place I tipped, and it was, which I suppose means I'm stingy, despite all the other obliging but unwanted 'guides' (ticket checkers/caretakers). I wonder what other nationalities/travellers refuse to pay.

Then, to make me feel even more sad, a souvenir seller asked me as I was walking down the path if i'd like to buy real relics. I told him they belonged in a museum. How self righteous of me!

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