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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 » Mazar-i-Sharif July 31st 2014

I am writing this blog entry from Termiz, Uzbekistan after just returning from five amazing days in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I just finished a dinner of succulent barbequed chicken, Russian salad, and bread, all washed down with draft Baltika beer in a tropical-themed outdoor restaurant with Russian rap for background music. The contrast to the other side of the border could not be more stark. Just a few short hours ago and 100 km away, I was standing on top of walls built by Alexander the Great, looking out at villages too risky for a foreigner to visit. But I'm getting ahead of myself. After a few intersting days transiting Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan, I arrived in the border town with Hayarton, Afghanistan, Termiz, Uzbekistan. Due to concerns I had with the security and a ... read more
Shrine of Hazrat Ali
17th century bridge in Mazar
Food at the shrine of Hazrat Ali for less fortunate on the last day of Ramadan

Asia » Afghanistan » East » Ghazni December 25th 2013

Dimanche 3 novembre : Prends le taxi pour l’aéroport. Prends le vol MTL – Washington, le vol c’est bien passé. Aéroport de Washington, OK, achat de magasines et de hot-dog. Vol Washington – Dubaï, OK. Regardé 2 films de notre époque : Jobs, sur la vie de Steve Jobs, fondateur d’Apple, et The Internship, comédie sur 2 gars qui font un stage chez Google. Lundi 4 novembre : Arrivé à Dubaï. Direction hôtel, 300 $ pour une bonne douche et 6 heures de sommeil. Mon traditionnel WacDo de l’aéroport de Dubaï. Vol Dubaï – Kabul, OK. Mardi 5 novembre : Finalement de retour à Kabul. Le transport a oublié de venir me chercher. J’attends plus d’une heure sous une pluie battante. Il y aura un temps de merde pour les 3-4 prochains jours. Une fois arrivé ... read more
BBQ 1
BBQ 2
gardez 1

Asia » Afghanistan » East » Kabul October 28th 2013

Mercredi 28 aout : Réveil a 6 :30. Ma première nuit à Kabul fut OK. Déjeuner, céréales Corn Flakes avec du miel, yaourt et salade de fruits. Toue la journée briefing. Je vais être en équipe avec un logisticien du Kenya et d’un responsable de la sécurité de la Croatie. Mes boss directes sont une autre Croate et une Polonaise. J’ai rencontré une sympathique italienne que j’avais déjà croisée au Niger ainsi qu’un néo-zélandais et une zimbabwéenne qui n’ont pas quitté l’Afghanistan depuis mon départ en 2009. Lunch, salade et pork-ribs ! Et oui, surprenant en Afghanistan ! Journée termine à 16 :30. Souper, spaghetti aux boulettes de viande et soupe aux petits pois et pommes de terre. Jeudi 29 aout : Réveil a 6 :30. Déjeuner a 7 :00, céréales et yaourt. Départ à 7:30. ... read more

Asia » Afghanistan » East » Ghazni October 28th 2013

Mardi 10 septembre : Première vrai journée de travail depuis longtemps. On doit notamment prendre des numéros de séries de deux vieux camions russes qui seront donnes à la commission électorale ultérieurement. Rencontre de 10 :30 à 12 :30, avec mon principal interlocuteur local, le responsable de la commission électoral de la province de Paktya, dont Gardez est la capitale, énumération d’une série de problèmes et de grieffe que je devrais essayer de trouver réponses au cours de la prochaine année; shelter pour un générateur, réparer un générateur d’appui, employés non payes depuis quelques mois, manque d’espace de travail, insécurité, etc. Je commence déjà à écrire le rapport hebdomadaire. Souper, poisson et purée avec salade. Mercredi 11 septembre : Compte tenu de la date au calendrier, on se doit de demeurer très prudent. On assiste quand ... read more
avec un autre colonel roumain
seminaire elders 1
seminaire elders 2

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 August 5th 2012

Please note that due to recent events in Khorog, Tajikistan, many of the details in this trip report are now out of date. The Afghan consulate in Khorog was attacked in the recent fighting and the consul and his staff are reportedly now back in Kabul. The border between Ishkashim, Tajikistan and Ishkashim, Afghanistan is reportedly closed until August 21st, 2012. The border between Tajikistan and Kyrgystan on the Pamir highway is also reportedly closed for travellers entering Tajikistan. Check on the recent situation before heading this way! ************************************************************************************ July 19, 2012 The rather beautiful unveiled Afghan consulate employee in Khorog, Tajikistan, wearing rather short sleeves, smiled and handed me back my passport after a brief 20 minute wait for the visa. "Here is your tourist visa to Afghanist... read more
Afghan market in Ishkashim
Guesthouse in Ishkashim
Ishkashim, Afghanistan

Asia » Afghanistan » East » Kabul June 15th 2012

Violence, burka, flowers, kebabs... read more
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