Afghanistan, A Tour With YPT

Nov 1st, 2018, 06:00 AM
  #21  
 
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Still following!
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Nov 1st, 2018, 08:42 PM
  #22  
 
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Wow! Afghanistan! Not sure it would be on my list right now but you are certainly piquing my curiosity.
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Nov 2nd, 2018, 05:22 AM
  #23  
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TO HERAT




Mountains Near Kabul


As we get airborne from Kabul our flight performs what seems like another defensive maneuver as we circle the airport a few times in a high pitch attitude before heading to Herat. My guess is this is done to get out of range of any ground based weapons that could cause aircraft damage.

Cruising several thousand feet above a desert landscape, beautiful towering mountains can be seen below us. Soon the scenery is decorated with small towns and fertile green valleys supported by rivers that no doubt begin their lives somewhere in the surrounding mountains. The terrain eventually flattens out as we begin our arrival into Afghanistan's second largest city.




Herat MD80 Arrival

I am almost disappointed that it is the type of normal flight arrival that I am use to. With no official formalities for our terminal arrival we meet up with our new drivers and once loaded up we are on our way to our hotel about a twenty minute ride away. Immediately noticeable to me is a less hectic and more relaxed atmosphere than in Kabul.






Bustan Hotel

Our hotel located in a somewhat residential area of the city is another compound set up with high walls and armed security guards. We go through the same process as in Kabul before we are greeted by a very gracious host who offers us refreshing drinks.




$2 Haircuts

With a little less security concern a few of us along with our Afghan guide venture across the street to a local barber shop. For less than $2 I no longer have to worry about my hair blowing around in the hot desert air.

On a clear night as a full moon rises over the city we head out for dinner. It's a communal feast with lots of rice, flat breads, kebab meats, soup, vegetarian dishes and a special Afghan yogurt type of a drink. While dining the restaurant goes completely dark but none of the other diners panic and neither do we. It is just a typical temporary power outrage.




A Communal Feast

With our meal over a few head back to the hotel early while others stay behind and enjoy a flavored Afghan vice. Tomorrow we tour around Herat.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2018, 12:42 AM
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Wow, fantastic report DMB.Is that russian MIG at the entrance of the Kabul airport.
inquest is online now  
Nov 3rd, 2018, 03:22 PM
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Very cool report, still following and that plane has to be either a MiG or another Russian plane called Sukhoi (spelling)
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Nov 3rd, 2018, 08:54 PM
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Not sure of aircraft at Kabul airport but I will make an attempt to find out and post it.
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Nov 3rd, 2018, 09:46 PM
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Herat Mosque

The first stop on our day tour of Herat is at The Great Mosque. Here we get a kind of a backstage pass to see the ongoing maintenance work in progress.




Mosque Tile Makers

We witness how tiles are initially made by hand then skillfully colored and shaped to be a part of a restoration project. Next we are taken to the open prayer area which is guarded by security personnel. As we watch one man cleaning the individual tiles on the floor we set out on a project to count the tiles. Nick does the width counting while Ben does the length.




Prayer Area Herat Mosque

Needless to say there is a lot of tile cleaning to be done.

From a street vendor freshly squeezed juices are purchased before we venture on. Outside our next stop we experience a local traffic jam caused by a fender bender. It is interesting to watch and listen to the exchange between the upset drivers. I think most of us were expecting a fight to breakout.





Herat Citadel

The Citadel Of Herat has been a part of the city since about 300 BC when Alexander The Great and his army came to Afghanistan. It is also known as the Citadel of Alexander.




Restoration Work

In recent years most of the Citadel has been restored but there is still work in progress. While we are there the grounds are mostly empty and we pretty much have the place to ourselves. Making a steep climb to the upper walls gives a nice view of the city.

As we roam around we do get the chance to meet a local family also visiting the Citadel. They are more than happy to talk with us but we are cautious about our exchanges. Part of the guidelines we were given as a tour agreement was to limit what information we shared with unknown locals about ourselves or any tour information. Of course, this is done as security precaution. We were also advised to limit and/or avoid any social media posting until we left an area or better yet until after we left Afghanistan.




Afghan Family And A Fellow Traveler

Nevertheless, we do learn a little more about Afghan culture from our exchange. In this family is a father with two sons with about 10-15 year span between them. Our curiosity is satisfied when the older son tells us that his father has two wives. Even more interesting is that we are told his younger brother pretty much has the Koran memorized.
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Nov 5th, 2018, 06:12 AM
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A Burka Shop

In the downtown area of Herat we make a stop at a “Burka Shop” where for about US$15 a few nice burkas in a beautiful blue are purchased as unique souvenirs. A female in our group wants to wear hers but is discouraged from doing so as it can pose a security issue. Even though you could be totally disguised wearing one there is a mannerism that goes with wearing a burka. A trained eye could easily spot a “fake” burka wearer and this is an issue as terrorist have been known to wear them during suicide attacks.

Our lunch break takes on an interesting challenge. First finding a restaurant that is not too busy and more importantly finding a restaurant where we can all eat together since there is a female in our group. A "Family" restaurant meets our need where it's tons of rice, kebabs, salads and breads all at very reasonable prices.




Typical Afghan Meal

Our afternoon is spent in another interesting place in Herat, The Jihad Museum. Here we learn a little about Afghanistan war history including the Soviet invasion in the 1970's. Not surprising it seems as if they have opened the museum just for us. We initially get a guided tour around the museum grounds to see some of the equipment used and captured in the war. At first we are prohibited from taking pictures then our local guide allows us to do so discreetly.





The Jihad Museum

Inside the barely lit first floor of the museum there are exhibits of various landmines, guns and other weapons used during the war with the Soviets. It is said that the American made and supplied Stinger missiles were the turning point in the war against the Soviets. On the second floor of the museum is an impressive display of the Soviet invasion and some of the local Afghanistan war heroes.




Weapons Of War

We think word has spread that the museum is open or that it has “tourist”visitors because a few other patrons soon show up. No doubt there is some curiosity all around especially when we are told that some of the new visitors maybe members of the Taliban. While the Taliban are definitely in opposition to the current government and pose an ongoing threat around the country we are told they are less of a threat in major cities as they are actively monitored by officials. This is somewhat comforting but we are all still aware of the threats of being here.
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Nov 5th, 2018, 06:13 AM
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Did you get any idea of their feelings about the US?
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Nov 5th, 2018, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for posting, DMB. What a fascinating country.
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Nov 6th, 2018, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by jacketwatch View Post
Did you get any idea of their feelings about the US?
Not much talk about politics from the people we met but certainly I did not sense any resentment towards the US or the current administration. Despite the sentiments that seem common at home.. No, "They are not all laughing at us".

For sure at the airports they seem welcoming of foreigners most of whom come as contract workers not tourists like us. Of course US militarily personnel are not allowed out in the general population so there was no blaring US presence around. Interestingly, there is an under current support growing for the Taliban as locals are beginning to feel the current government is slow in bringing about promised changes. Some feel their lives where better of and it was safer under Taliban rule although they had less freedoms. An interesting trade off some seem willing to make.

Is it better to live without freedoms than to live with the daily fear of dying?
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Nov 6th, 2018, 06:26 AM
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Treesa,

Thanks... more postings to come.
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Nov 6th, 2018, 01:57 PM
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inquest,

Yes it is a MIG from Soviet invasion in 80's.. Not sure what model or why it is still there
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Nov 6th, 2018, 02:52 PM
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Herat Minarets

Our second day in Herat begins with an early morning tour of the Herat Minarets. A visit here requires prior notice and it takes a few horn beeps for us to be greeted at the locked gates. The once beautiful structures are barely hanging on to retain their historic glory. At an adjacent compound squatters have to be chased away on a regular basis in an ongoing battle to preserve a part of the city's history. I can only begin to imagine how magnificent this area once was.




Old Signage

A short drive away a few of us get to have some fun as we test our “magical powers” at The Shrine Of Martyre Leader Safiullah Afzali. By laying on our backs at a fix spot in the center of a gravel covered area with our eyes closed we attempt to roll in a straight line to one of the exterior walls.




Getting Ready To Roll

The feat is not as easy as it sounds and does require some magical powers or at least a very good sense of balance to not roll around in circles.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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Some awesome reporting DMB. Following you.Thanks
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Nov 7th, 2018, 05:41 AM
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Thanks for the reply. It’s alarming to think the Taliban could take power back

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Nov 7th, 2018, 07:14 AM
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Mikoyan- Gureovich MiG-21. Did some search. Said to be the most successful fighter & the most produced by the the Soviets.
You are amazing and gutsy DMB. Travelling in lands still considered unsafe. Beautiful TR. My visit in those bygone times will be the only opportunity .No photos too. Will make do with your story.
JW Sukhois are more recent. They have a delta design and a double tail fin.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 10:19 AM
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The burkha is an instrument of oppression. I really cannot imagine buying one as a souvenire. Ugh.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by inquest View Post
Mikoyan- Gureovich MiG-21. Did some search. Said to be the most successful fighter & the most produced by the the Soviets.
You are amazing and gutsy DMB. Travelling in lands still considered unsafe. Beautiful TR. My visit in those bygone times will be the only opportunity .No photos too. Will make do with your story.
JW Sukhois are more recent. They have a delta design and a double tail fin.
I thought it may have been this one. Sukhois go back a ways. The first ones came into existence in 1939 from what I can find.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_Su-9

Last edited by jacketwatch; Nov 7th, 2018 at 10:48 AM.
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Nov 7th, 2018, 11:04 AM
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JW. You are right.👍
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