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Published: April 28th 2013
Day 44 - Saturday 26th March
A great start to the day with the first hot shower since Teheran. My first port of call was the Post Office but alas the replacement International Student cards had not arrived - however there were four letters including some sports pages from the local Bournemouth newspaper. Outside the Post Office I was hassled into having a shoeshine by two young urchins but it only cost 2 Afghanis and so no harm to the finances ! I returned to the hotel and sat on the balcony drinking some tea, reading my letters and watching the world. Outside there was a student demonstration protesting against government interference with the University. I was concerned to see a number of riot police but I did not see any trouble. Time for some exercise and so I headed along the river and found one of the bazaars. Obviously I had my directions confused because I soon ended up back at the hotel but conveniently so as Michael and Heather were just leaving. I followed them back to the Post Office where we had a long negotiation over a postage fine, which was eventually reduced from 133 Afghanis to 64 Afghanis - wasted a lot of time though. Heather's watch was broken and we found a repairer who fixed the problem for a princely sum of 35 Afghanis - pretty cheap. Next stop was the Tourist Information centre and then Afghan Airways to check on flights to India - the next stage of the journey might be a problem because the overland border between Pakistan and India was regularly closed due to armed hostilities. During our walk, we passed the Kyber Restaurant which was self service, glass fromted, clean looking and modern - enticing salads and sweets and so we might go there for a treat on another day.
It was time for some more serious shopping. There seemed to be one main street selling afghan coats and handicrafts etc to the tourist market. Each little shop was very welcoming and the owners did not hassle you into buying. The British were low down on the "buying" list and could expect cheaper prices than the Japanese or Americans. Also prices would be much higher later in the year (it was still too early for tourists) - good salesman patter ! I tried on a few afghan coats which were fantastic prices compared to London but it was stupid to buy as we were heading out of the cold and would soon be sweltering in India. The leatherware, jewellery including Lapis Lazuli and clothing were all very enticing. I found a nice little leather shop and sat and chatted with the owner. The shoulder bags, wallets and holdalls were such excellent quality and I eventually bought a beautiful leather shoulder bag, which proved to be extremely useful over the years. In the next shop I tried on a thin coat - it was thigh length, sleeveless and made of black cloth with green and white flowery embroidery. I bought it for £2 but I doubt that I ever wore it more than a couple of times. The final shop sold more expensive coats. The owner accepted that I was not going to buy but was happy to have a chat, give me a cup of tea and let me try on a silver fox fur, which was £50 in summer and £20 now - strangely it was not at all feminine looking but still not for me. Not long afterwards there was an electricity cut and so we decided to head back to the hotel. Unfortunately Heather was being hounded by one of the shopkeepers who wanted a goodbye kiss. I walked back with Heather whilst Michael tried to lose him. Unfortunately he appeared again near the hotel but I blocked his next attempt at a kiss whilst Heather slipped safely into the hotel - a disappointing episode after such a nice friendly shopping trip.
One extra observation about Kabul was the number of chemists. They seemed everywhere and all selling American and European products such as Vick - I guess that I thought that the medicines would be too expensive.
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