Blogs from North, Afghanistan, Asia


Asia » Afghanistan » North » Sargaz August 12th 2014

A Varanasi silk-seller once said to me, “Visit India for a week, and you’ll write a good article. Visit India for a month and you’ll write a better one. But visit India for a year, and you won’t even be able to pick up a pen.” I’ve got the same problem with the Afghan Pamirs. I could probably have strung a few paragraphs together after our first day on the track up from Wuzed. My scribbles would have been better the next day after we’d stayed in our first Wakhi village. But now, back in Dushanbe after three weeks’ away, with a spectacular but long four or five days’ drive at each end, and the intensity of the eleven days’ trekking in the middle, I’m struggling to get my thoughts into any kind of order. I ... read more
the Wuzed pass with the Hindu Kush behind
under the lip of the glacier
car pride, Eshkashem-style

Asia » Afghanistan » North » Qala Ouest June 3rd 2013

It is a harsh life in the Wakhan. This is best evidenced by infant mortality rates that exceed 40% in places, contributed by a combination of climate and isolation. This harshness is reflected in the Wakhi faces that are as captivating as the mountains they live under. The faces are hard, and every line on their visage tells a tale of trial and tribulation. Even the children wore those same tough visages. It was rare to see a young looking child, for their faces usually resemble the adults, albeit in a much smaller form. But beneath this hard exterior lies a warm and welcoming heart as our half-day hike through the villages past Sargaz revealed. It was again a glorious sunny day, and the low sun cast large shadows that shaded the main path. We passed ... read more
Young mother and child - Qala Ouest, Afghanistan
Goat herder - near Sargaz, Afghanistan
The bridge in Sargaz - Afghanistan

Asia » Afghanistan » North » Sargaz May 30th 2013

Two unpredictable elements of travelling in Central Asia – officialdom and transport – conspired against me in my journey to one of the most remote regions on earth. The ribbon of land called the Wakhan Corridor – with the Hindu Kush and Pakistan on one side, with the Panj River and Tajikistan on the other. This is a rarely travelled route, so rare that I was the first tourist to journey along the Wakhan Corridor this year, and it was already the end of May. Public transport is non-existent so one must either bring their own transport, or organise a vehicle and driver. It so transpired that there were problems with the vehicle that my guide, Hameed, had originally organised. Thus, 90 minutes after our intended departure he arrived with another vehicle driven by a young ... read more
Friendly and happy boy - Qala-e Panja, Afghanistan
Very cute baby camel - Qala-e Panja, Afghanistan
I made it! In front of Mt Baba Tangi - Sargaz, Afghanistan

Asia » Afghanistan » North » Ishkashim May 28th 2013

The bright sun beat down onto the metal bridge that reverberated every time I planted my foot. Each laboured step weighted by my two backpacks took me closer to Tajik border post, where a fluttering flag stood atop a simple rectangular metal shed. Surrounding me were bare white rocks scattered across an equally pale ground that glared brightly into my eyes. I glanced to my left and my attention was arrested by the stupendous peaks of the Hindu Kush, where mountains in excess of 7000 metres cut through the cloudless blue sky. Apart from the breeze, everything was eerily quiet – it truly felt I was crossing a border at the outmost edge of civilisation. I arrived at the Tajik building via a short flight of metal stairs, where commenced a detailed search through my baggage ... read more
Plenty to buy here - Ishkashim, Afghanistan
Hazizullah, the friendly clothes seller - Ishkahsim, Afghanistan
Police in Ishkahsim - Afghanistan

Asia » Afghanistan » North September 7th 2010

The path crawled up and up, out of Sarhad-e-Broghil and past the last vestiges of civilisation, the few lonely mud and stone huts and irrigated fields that clung loosely to the outskirts of the village at the end of the 200km road that led east from Ishkashim. Sarhad was apparently at 3300m above sea level, and the pass we had to cross today about 1000m higher, but any thoughts or feelings of tiredness and altitude sickness were banished by the excitement of finally beginning my journey into the roadless Afghan Pamir. Eventually we reached the pass, a small, relatively flat, grassy expanse of land that took ten minutes to cross. Orange, furry marmot heads popped out of their burrows to our left and right as we passed to trill at one another in their bizarre, high ... read more
The old Badakhshi man from Karchynd
Milking, Sang Nawishta

Asia » Afghanistan » North August 24th 2010

I realised something was wrong in Ishkashim as soon as I arrived. It took an extraordinary event to help me put my finger on exactly what was strange about the place and when it happened I was gobsmacked that I had not noticed before. The event occurred after I had been wandering up and down the town's two central streets, lined with shops selling clothing, carpets and household utensils, for thirty minutes: it was the appearance of four blue ghosts who floated silently down the dusty, pebble strewn main street. This, my first sighting of Aghan women, was in fact no sighting at all, because not one of them was showing an inch of skin or hair; there were not even slits for their eyes in their veils. Before this the street had been bustling, but ... read more
Said Faqir's relatives
A village between Sargaz and Ptukh
Said Faqir's relatives

Asia » Afghanistan » North » Kunduz May 18th 2010

Chris Carter, Daniel Saville and David Taylor. Three men who, as I write, may have lost their lives in the crash of the Pamir Air flight from Kunduz to Kabul on Monday 17th May. The three Britishers were members of the security team for the company that I'm currently advising here. Chris Carter was the senior security manager, a former paratrooper, Dan Saville and David Taylor worked for the security contractor Global Security. David had only been in Afghanistan a couple of weeks because he wanted a change from Iraq. Dan Saville was thinking about leaving the industry and setting up his own business in Manchester, looking after celebrity footballers. Dan and I became good friends; he is a friendly, open-hearted man and all of us 'newbies' liked him. He provided our close protection at the ... read more

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