Band-e-Amir – A Pilgrimage

The cliff near the magical lake of Band-e-Haibat, one of the crystal blue Band-e-Amir lakes. “Bacha bazi, Khuda razi,” – a Hazara restaurant boy. Band-e-Amir is always a highlight of any visits to Afghanistan. The crystal blue lakes are simply miracle among the barren hills. The locals also believe it as a miracle. Legend says that Hazrat Ali, or Caliph Ali bin Abi Thalib, came to Bamiyan, killed a dragon and created the 6 lakes of Band-e-Amir with his magical power. Considering that the Hazara people are Shiite, the Imam Ali (or Hazrat Ali) was always the reason of all miracles. I argued with a man from Chekhcheran, that it was doubted that Hazrat Ali even had come to Bamiyan. Hazrat Ali died after some years being the fouth Caliph in Iraq, and he spent most of his time in the Middle East. The Chekhcheran man said that according to a travel writing of a Chinese adventurer (possibly a Buddhist monk) visiting Bamiyan 2000 years ago, the dragon of Bamiyan was still alive. The dragon is now believed to turn to be a hill with mineral spring, the Darya Ajdahar. You need a high degree of imagination to see that [...]

September 21, 2006 // 0 Comments

Herat – The Journey to Herat

Traveling in Afghanistan is painful. I felt almost died when arrived here. “You got malaria” – a man from Maimana As everywhere in Afghanistan, long distance journey from Maimana starts as early as 4. I was completely exhausted after the long bus journey from Mazhar the day before, and it was a terrifying night in Massoud’s guest room that I couldn’t rest properly. I was not ready at all to do this 2-day-journey to Heart, but Massoud, probably disappointed of not being able to get me, rushed me out of his house as early as 3:30. I walked like a drunk. The only vehicle going to Herat was only Falancoach type, a minibus where passengers are stuffed like tinned sardine and there is no way to stretch the body for relaxing. I know the journey would be very painful. The cars to Herat depart from Darvaza-e-Herat (Herat Gate) quite out of the town. They were ready at 4 but the cars got full at 5. When I arrived I immediately chose a window seat and sleep, after paying the fare of 1000 Af (20$) – quite uncommon as in Afghansitan usually fare is paid after the ride. Later to my [...]

August 15, 2006 // 0 Comments

Maimana – Bacchabazi

Friendly Maimana men “Playboy is good” – Massoud The public vehicle going to Maimana from Mazhar e Sharif departed as early as 4 a.m. Traveling in Afghanistan is painful. Road lights don’t exist at all so that traveling should be only done during the daylight. Road to Maimana starts to deteriotae at Shibargan, when the road turned into Dasht-i-Laili desert. I took a Town Ace, 500 Af, which is 100 Af more expensive than the crowded Falancoach. But the extra money was really worth for the comfort. The Town Ace only takes 8 passengers while Falancoach 18, and the road in the desert is not a nice roller coaster trip in a jammed minibus. The distance between Maimana and Mazhar e Sharif is merely 341 km, but it took 10 hours to reach. When arriving in Maimana, the driver tried to extort money from me. I gave 1000 Afs then he said, “sahih shod, everything is allright.” Instead of giving me 500 Af bill, he gave me much filthy smaller money, and when I counted, it was only 400 Af. I got angry, asked my money back. He gave me the right change. Then it was turn of him getting [...]

August 13, 2006 // 1 Comment

Kandahar – From the Heartland of the Pashtuns

Pottery making is a traditional industry from Peshawar which still survive till today. “Everything here is expensive. But human life is cheap” Kandahar, the second biggest city of Afghanistan, had been lingering in the legends of the country since centuries ago. The description of old folklores about the heatwaves, about the tough desert, and about the hospitality of the Pashtun tribes are still up to date, but no doubt, the prolonged wars and the spread of fundamentalism has changed the face of the city. Living in Kandahar at this peak of the trend “war on terror” is overwhelmed by the concern of security problems. Suicide bombs can happen anywhere, and random shootings on street may deliver hot bullets just next to your feet. Taliban is the one who is always blamed to be the cause of everything, but nobody does really know who was the real actor behind all of the terrors. The politics in Afghanistan is complicated. Not only religious extrimists (thus those who always lay religion as the excuse of everything), manyu foreign nations also have importance and play in Afghan internal politics. Unexpected things can happen here on daily basis The Kandahar life has changed since, and [...]

July 10, 2006 // 2 Comments

Bamyan – A Day in Bamyan

A happy day in Bamiyan From a tailor in the second floor of a wooden simple building in the bazaar of Sharh-e-Nao, I heard an interesting story from a man named Ramazan. When I told him where I came from, he said, “ooo Indonesia,” then he named some Indonesian islands: Java, Bali, Roti. He suprised me in two ways. First, it was already surprising that an Afghan in this little village of Central Afghanistan, where some people still thought that Indonesia was somewhere near London. The second thing was Roti. Roti is a small island, with such far flung location even most of Indonesians don’t know whee it is exactly. So how Ramazan knew about Roti? There is an interesting story behind this. In fact he had lived in Roti for fourteen months between 2001 and 2002. Besides Roti, he has been to Jakarta and Bali also, and attempted to get into Australia by risking his life on boat with other 240 fellow refugees, trying to get a new better life in ‘modern’ countries, escaping the rule of Taliban administration. It cost them 5000 Af to get to Karachi, where then they got the boat with ticket price 700$ per [...]

June 20, 2006 // 0 Comments