The magnificent mountains north of Kabul are something you can't miss.
We had the opportunity to see them (very closely!) going north to Mazar-e-Sharif.
The road built by the Russians in the 50's climbs up to the scary Salang pass at 3800m of altitude.
You can suffer of lack of oxygen there... so be careful !
******** THINGS TO SEE IN KABUL ********
"An Historical Guide to Afghanistan" lists some good place to see in Kabul, I highly recommend you to buy one. Here I just list some of my comments on the place.
OLD PALACE (near Bagh-e Bala):
Very much destroyed, but still quite stunning to see. You can still feel the glory of the Afghanistan 23 years ago, it's somehow quite sad to see a place destroyed like this. Try to find some postcards of the Afghanistan 30 years ago and you may want to ask for a stop on war.
Can't go, it's an army station.
Can't go, it's an army station, but you can look from outside. Opposite of Bala Hissa is a village and quite interesting.
ID GAH MOSQUE, PUL-I-KHISHTI MOSQUE, SHAH-DO-SHAMSHIRA MOSQUE:
Interesting. You can buy some corns outside the SDS Mosque and feed the pigeons. SDS Mosque was rebuilt by the Turkish Government in 2002. Free entrance, but the Mosque is usually locked. You can go in the Pul-i-Khishiti Mosque, and you need to take off your shoes, but for "security reasons" you can take your shoes inside the praying hall, there's some shelves for shoes inside.
Animals lovers would be very sad to see the condition, the only interesting animals are pigs (I've been traveling in Pakistan for 4 months before I go to Afghanistan, which means I haven't seen a pig for 4 months!). The lion is from China and the emergency food from London. Entrance Af5.
**** THINGS TO SEE IN BAMIYAN *******
Officially you need a permit to go up to the head of the Large Buddha (the one on the left hand side), it means you need to pay some baksheesh to the police and ask them to take you up. BEWARE: it's higher than 50 metres and the wall are full of cracks... There is a school and a hospital near the Buddha.
There's a very beautiful lake near Bamiyan called Band-e Amir, you need to hire a car to go there and in winter time the road can be dangerous.
If you're heading for the Punjshir valley then you'll pass through this region. The Shimali plains marked the former line of control between the Taliban and Northern aliance. Everywhere is debis. Tanks lay scattered and houses flattened. It's a pretty desolate place but still inhabited. There's plenty of de-mining going on in this region. I took a taxi straight through but there's supposed to be a village worth visting. Check the online Bradt guide or www.kabulcaravan.com more more details on this.
Ahmed Shah Massoud was the former Northern Alliance leader, foreign minister following the Soviet withdrawal, and the Mujahiddin's most famous leader. He was assasinated 2 days before 9/11and to many Afghans is the Martyr of all Martyrs. Around Kabul his face is everywhere.
The trip from Kabul to the Punjshir valley is a journey in itself. Numerous convoys of Soviets and Taliban that tried to enter the valley along this road were continuously ambushed due to narrow gorge the road cuts through. The Punjshir valley is a beautiful, fertile valley with barron mountains rising either side. The tomb has a beautiful location on a hill in the middle of the valley.
Herat is an amazingly friendly town. The third-biggest in the country, but still nothing but a big colourful village.
Cars are less common than in Iran and instead donkeys and carts carry the load. Women are completely veiled in their "burqa", and most of the men still look like reincarnations of Osama bin Laden.
Anyone close to Afghanistan should try going to Herat, however, single women are adviced to pick up a "fake husband" before they enter. Sexual discrimination is extremely obvious in Afghanistan.
They used to be the tallest standing Buddhas in the world, carved off a rock face and thousands of years old -- until the Taliban decided that they were images of pagan worship and blew them up to bits. A monumental disgrace, and complete disregard to one's heritage. We went to film the site after the destruction, boulders and rocks from the statues still strewn all over the ground.
Well, it is not an activity; it is a place which is definitely worthy of your visit. Why should we visit Afghanistan? There is no supermarket, no department store, no night clubs and you almost can find nothing with the symbol of so-called ¡°modernity¡±. Therefore, the reason for your visit here must be something special. For me, this must-seen place is located in the western part of the city, where used to be Kabul¡¯s Wang Fu Jing street (one of the most renowned business center in Beijing) but later fell to become the frontier between the followers of Masud and Hikmatiyar in the 1990s¡¯. Naturally, nothing was left but the ruins and rubbles. I was totally shocked when I saw what the war has brought upon the city and the people. If you want to have a look at of the real Kabul, you must go there. ----Milewang Street.
If Afghanistan ever stabilizes and comes out of its Taleban-imposed Dark Age, you must include the lakes of Band-i-Amir on your itinerary. It's a truly magical place.
Photo: Two of the five lakes at Band-i-Amir
This wall goes right up the mountainside and really accentuates all of the homes built on the way up.
Human beings are human beings, therefore destruction will always exist.
Sad but true.
Anyway don't miss to visit the location of the ancient Budhas, at least the shape is amazing.
The most beautiful place in the world, right in the middle of Afghanistan.
Why the hell the whole world wants to destry this country???
These Musk located at the center of Kabul was built by the same architect that built the Taj Mahal and he used exactly the same materials.
Now is under reconstruction
Right in front of the King's Palace you can find the first and the last locomotive in Afghanistan that joined Pakistan with the central lands.
The locomotive is from 1923
These lake is 30 Km away from Kabul. Is a beautifull place where the Russian built a dam to provide the city of Kabul with water.
This is one of the bridges that we are building in Bamyan, the central region of Afghanistan. Probably is one of the most beautifull regions in the country.
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