Afghanistan, A Tour With YPT

Nov 7th, 2018, 12:02 PM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
That being said its probably a MiG.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 7th, 2018, 04:13 PM
  #42  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
thursdaysd,

IMHO, seeing the burka as an "Instruments of oppression" depends on your perspective. I am almost certain that not all women who wear them share your point of view. There are somethings I will never understand about different cultures but I try to respect others way of life and I hardly see a burka as an instrument of oppression. What people buy for souvenirs or gifts is a personal choice and a matter I try not to pass judgement on.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 7th, 2018, 07:01 PM
  #43  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080


Herat Traffic


As we drive across Herat some special co-ordinations are being made for us to make a return visit to the Jihad Museum. In the meantime we get to experience the hectic life on the streets of Herat with some cool “Roundabouts” that seem to keep traffic flowing smoothly.




Afghan For Beer


At a lunch stop although alcohol is prohibited we do get an opportunity to purchase “Fake Beer” at a local convenience shop. Since I have heard of beer tasting like a certain animal byproduct, I pass on the chance to purchase one called “3 Horses”.




Shahzada Abdullah Mausoleum


A visit to Shahzada Abdullah and Shahzada Abull Qasim Mausoleums gives us a respite from the afternoon heat along with an opportunity to meet a few locals. Even with our language and culture differences our exchanges are warm and friendly.




Distant View Of Herat


Our Jihad Museum return visit is still being coordinated so we take a drive to a park for a scenic view of the city. At our viewing point we come across a car full of smoke with a group of local youth inside. They are at first startled by our arrival but then relax to continue enjoying their vice, hashish.




Jihad Museum Mujaheddin Heros Exhibit

Finally our guides get the call they have been waiting for and we begin our return journey to the Jihad Museum. Here we get to meet one of the few defectors from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A former KGB agent, solider, a Taliban supporter and now convert to Islam. Through a translator he tells us his war story which included being shot in the leg, back and head. He claims that during the war he killed at least ten Mujaheddin fighters a day and enjoyed it.

With a bullet lodged in the front of his head he was taken to a local hospital and abandoned by the Soviets. Today he still occasionally trembles uncontrollably from his head injury and often seems to have a slur in his speech. As I watch and listen to him speak I am amazed that we are about the same age with completely different lives. I have certainly been fortunate to have never experienced the horrors of war.




12th Century Bridge

We finish our touring of Herat with a trip to Pule Malan a 22 arch bridge believed to have been built in the 12th century. At this time of the year, the bridge and the isolated pools of water beneath it are popular with the locals. However, only males get to swim and have refreshing fun here. From our cultural perspective female freedoms and expressions are still pretty much curtailed. Definitely, no girls swimming here or bikini's that we are told were worn here in the 70's.

Unfortunately, some of the Afghanistan cuisine has started to get the best of some of us. I guess Mexico is not the only country that sometimes takes revenge on its visitors. Instead of joining the rest our group for dinner I spend my last night in Herat nursing myself back to health with crackers, Imodium AD and rest. It is an early get up and go for our flight back to Kabul.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2018, 02:33 AM
  #44  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
Originally Posted by DMBTraveler View Post
thursdaysd,

IMHO, seeing the burka as an "Instruments of oppression" depends on your perspective. I am almost certain that not all women who wear them share your point of view. There are somethings I will never understand about different cultures but I try to respect others way of life and I hardly see a burka as an instrument of oppression. What people buy for souvenirs or gifts is a personal choice and a matter I try not to pass judgement on.
Well said.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 8th, 2018, 04:12 PM
  #45  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
I hope the belly issue resolved. The pic of the food you had, kebabs, bread, vegetables and rice looked awesome.

Thats an interesting story about the Russian KGB agent who defected. I wonder if being abandoned by his own soldiers had something to do with it.

As for your life so apart from his there is an old saying, "but for the grace of God there go I"

Following!

Last edited by jacketwatch; Nov 8th, 2018 at 04:14 PM.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 8th, 2018, 06:02 PM
  #46  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
Our departure from Herat has an unusual airport security measure but it does make me feel safer about our flight back to Kabul. Although the Herat airport does not have the same barrier protections like at Kabul International, prior to entering the airport terminal perimeter passengers are made to put their bags in a line on the entrance pavement. Once a set amount of luggage is placed on the ground a dog is brought out and begins sniffing. One bag is pulled aside for secondary screening but otherwise we begin a multi-step security process before being allowed into the terminal waiting area.





Herat Airport Terminal Building


Interestingly as we wait to check in I am surprised to see a very “sexy” music video playing on a large TV at a nearby Airport Cafe. I am certain this would not have been allowed during the Taliban era.




Kam Air Inflight Meal


Our Kam Air flight to Kabul is uneventful and I am definitely a little more at ease than during my first flight in and out of Kabul International. A few more days in the country and I get to do it one more time like a seasoned Afghan flier.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2018, 06:14 PM
  #47  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
Things did settle down a bit with "The Afghan Revenge" and it was manageable. Our guides were very accommodating in that department when we needed them to be. However, Non-Western facilities always present a challenge for me even in normal circumstances.

Yes, I think being left behind was one of the reasons for defecting.. another if I followed the story right was that he fell in love with a nurse at the hospital who I believe later became his wife.

For sure, "but for the grace of God" I could be living a completely different life. I know that in many ways I am certainly fortunate and I try not to forget that...
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 8th, 2018, 11:08 PM
  #48  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 794
Your pic are fantastic. The Mausoleum looks lovely. A far cry from what we been fed by the media of a bombed out Afghanistan.
The Seekh Kebab, the rice and bread looks appetising .
inquest is offline  
Nov 9th, 2018, 02:53 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
I'm glad you got over your bout of gi distress and that it wasn't severe.

That breakfast looked petty basic. . Then again its included in the fare, more that many other airlines these days.

Yes be aware of your blessings.

Great TR. I'll follow your other one on the Symphony.
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 11th, 2018, 03:37 PM
  #50  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
HERAT TOUR VIDEO


DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 11th, 2018, 03:40 PM
  #51  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
JW,

Thanks for following along... Trying to get caught up with postings while being on the road. Sometimes just not enough time but I do like the new Fodor posting format.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 12th, 2018, 05:01 PM
  #52  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,416
Let's hope things stay peaceful where you are. That's certainly not the case elsewhere in Afghanistan:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/12/w...-district.html
thursdaysd is offline  
Nov 16th, 2018, 01:56 PM
  #53  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
thursdaysd,

Thanks for concern.. However, I visited in June and I am just now trying to complete a TR. On a side note while I was there it was realtively calm. However, it was the same time there was a mass killing at the newspaper in Baltimore. The world's a crazy place that we can only hope will get better. Nice to see that a day or so ago Eritrea and Ethiopia inked a peace deal
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 16th, 2018, 02:18 PM
  #54  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
It's an early morning arrival back in Kabul which gives us practically another day to roam around the city. Today we get to experience the good, the bad and to a certain extent the ugly that not only plagues places like Afghanistan but other countries as well. Part of the good is a return to “The Bird Market” for another quick look at the hustle and bustle of this place that is a normal part of everyday life here.




Afghan Circus


Another good thing is “The Afghan Circus” which brings in young boys and girls from outside the city to give them an education while teaching them some circus acts.




Future Afghan Ringmaster

We get a sampling of their skills and I get a sense that there are some real potential performers in the making.




Farkhunda Malikzada Memorial

Along one street we past a now infamous mosque then make a brief stop at a memorial dedicated to Farkhunda Malikzada. Farkhunda was murdered by a mob near the mosque after they falsely claimed that she had burned a Quran. Although an unnecessary and brutal loss of life, Farkhunda's murder drew attention to the lack of woman's rights in Afghanistan.

Connected to the same street where this event occurred is a bridge that exposes a part of the ugly in Kabul. Sometimes referred to as “Heroin Bridge” addicts come here for their fix of opium and heroin with many of them never leaving. Their lives simply waste away here.

From the “Heroin Bridge” area we head for an escape from the city. Our route takes us by the “Ring Of Steel” (where cellphones are jammed) and by The Serena Hotel (believed to be the most targeted hotel in the world).




A Local Favorite

Enroute to our respite we encounter some minor commotions along the way at a military school. It seems that a large crowd has turned out for a recruitment drive and it is causing some chaos. We slowly drive by then make a roadside stop for a local favorite, watermelon. However, we learn that melons are favorites for the good as well as the bad guys. Apparently as a fear tactic for the locals, “terrorists” have been known to place bombs inside of watermelons. Thankfully our guide does great in picking us one that we plan to enjoy later on.

At Qargha Reservoir we have lunch on the waterfront then a few of us take a swans for a ride. Being here does bring a sense of calm and normalcy to life in and around Kabul. There is laughter in the air and kids are smiling as we all enjoy the scenery in one way or another.




A Pink Swan

It's nice to breathe the fresh air and put some of the bad and ugly from earlier in the day behind.





A Tasty Bost Meal

Back in Kabul more good as we get a treat for dinner. At “Bost Family Restaurant”which is said to be the country's first restaurant dedicated to women and their families we have a delightful meal.



Brave Women Of Afghanistan

Bost is run by victims of domestic violence and uses it's resources to help other victims. No doubt this is a success story that I hope will someday be repeated all around Afghanistan.


DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 17th, 2018, 11:05 PM
  #55  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
My last full day in Afghanistan involves a road trip that is considered relatively safe. We get an early start as we head for the Panjshir Valley. Enroute it is my first real scare being here as we come across a traffic jam that has us completed trapped not only by cars but my people as well.



Stuck In Traffic

Fortunately our cars are nondescript and hopefully our wardrobe gives some doubt that we are actually “tourists”. Although with fear on my mind it seems like an eternity before we are freed from our situation I imagine we were stuck no more than a minute or two.



Amazing Mountains

Leaving the city behind the landscape opens up to clear blue skies, majestic mountains and fresh air that nicely disguises the strife and struggles here. A brief stop and we are seeing some of the remains of the war here about 40 years ago. Across the road from our stop is a field of destroyed Soviet tanks.



Field Of Destroyed Soviet Tanks

Our route soon takes us along the rapidly flowing Panjshir River with again more stunning mountains as its backdrop. Looks like the river would definitely be a challenging whitewater adventure that a few of us would no doubt sign up for. As it is some of us have already requested an opportunity for a swim.



Panjshir River

Although the area presents many photo opportunities we are advised to be careful in our efforts as out of local respect taking pictures of women is strictly prohibited. We are told that even if a car passing in the opposite direction is suspicious of our activities they will call ahead and it can present problems for us along the way or at our next checkpoint. We heed our guides advise and have no problems.

This is still a controlled area and we need permission at a military checkpoint before we can proceed to our destination. With the formalities out of the way we relax a bit and I continue to enjoy the stunning and remarkable scenery.



Snow Covered Mountains In June

Layers of mountains with the tallest ones still covered in snow and it's late in June. At street level we continue to follow the river which at some points still has destroyed Russian tanks and other military equipment along it's banks.



Vote For Me. I Am Strong On "Da Fence"

At one vantage we get to check out a destroyed tank and I pose for my POTUS campaign photo opportunity. Somehow I think it will work out as well for me as it did for Governor Dukakis.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 19th, 2018, 02:06 PM
  #56  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
So do you have any other hot spots or places on your bucket list?

As as close as I want to get to a hot spot in the zDMZ. From the South Korean side of course
jacketwatch is online now  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 01:22 AM
  #57  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
JW,

Yes... Doing Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia. Then Saudi (not really a "Hot" spot)... but Syria definitely will be. The challenge for all of these places is getting a visa!
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 01:55 AM
  #58  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080


Massoud Mausoleum

After a few more photo opportunity stops we arrive at our destination for the day, The Massoud Mausoleum. On a stunningly beautiful day we are practically the only ones here at the memorial for one of Afghanistan's most powerful military commander, Ahmad Shah Massoud.



Guns Of War

Although captured military equipment and destroyed tanks are within walking distance their presence and history are overshadowed by the landscape and natural beauty here. Its hard for me to imagine the war and bloodshed that took place here.



Massoud Tombstone

Our journey back to Kabul has a few delightful stops. First we stop by an empty and what seems to be abandoned football stadium where along the bank of the Panjshir river we enjoy our “Bomb Free” watermelon.



Panjshir River Fried Fish

Our lunch break is also by the river at a very cool local restaurant. Our meal which included freshly caught and fried river fish is tasty and very inexpensive.

Full from lunch it's time to burn a few calories as a few of us take a brief swim in the rushing Panjshir river. We are cheered on by our fellow travelers but our local guide is a bit nervous as we take on the risky adventure.



Panjshir River

Even though we have traveled this path before the scenery is still amazing as we leave this awesome part of Afghanistan. Another ice cream stop and soon we are back for our final night in Kabul.



Kabul Bowling

A security check by an armed guarded with a AK-47 and after a short wait it's time to knock down some Afghan pins or at least give it a try.

DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 02:13 AM
  #59  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,080
GOODBYE KABUL

Hugs and cheerful goodbyes are exchanged as I am dropped of at Kabul International for my flight to Dubai. The airport security routine now seems normal and I am less taken back by the whole process.



Departing Kabul

It's another beautiful day as we get airborne from Kabul and as I look down on a land that has had a scorched history and certainly will have a difficult future I take with me great memories of my time here.
DMBTraveler is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 10:59 AM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,737
Thank you for looks into a place few ever see.

Bowling in Kabul is one of the coolest things ever!
jacketwatch is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:08 PM.