12.08.1966 - 16.08.1966
Camel Train, south of Kabul
Friday 12-8-1966 and Saturday 13-8-1966
We left Herat by the Afghan Mail bus about 5 pm Friday and drove through the night, except for one or two prayer stops and a free dinner break at a new tourist hotel just outside Farah. We kept going until around 4 am, when we arrived at Kandahar, where I got about 2 hours sleep in the bus. Then we continued on to Kabul. On the way we passed great camel herds grazing beside the road, as well as whole tribes on the move with their loaded down camels; also a number of nomad encampments in the desert. We stopped in Ghazni for lunch in a grubby restaurant with disgusting food. I didn’t eat much. Ghazni looked to be the filthiest town I have ever been in, and that’s saying something. There was a large truck parked there, which had four wild, barbaric looking tribesmen chained together in the back, guarded by about ten soldiers. The fierce looking nature of these prisoners was quite intimidating. We drove on and reached Kabul at about 3.30 pm. We tried to find the Maiwand Hotel, but discovered that it had been closed down since we were here last and that they are building a new one. So we ended up in the Nwazish Hotel in Maiwand Street at 50 Afs per night, after rejecting the BenAzir, which was packed full of long haired, hashish smoking bums. We had crossed the country in less than 24 hours on excellent roads all the way. Less than two years ago it had taken us 4 agonizing days on rutted and corrugated dirt tracks.
Kabul smells even worse than last time, probably because it was winter then and now it is summer. But there is still plenty to interest us in this dusty, decaying Central Asian city with its half-hearted attempts at modernization, which don’t yet seem to include closed sewerage and drainage systems. Yesterday we wandered about the streets and markets of the central area and early this morning made our way once again to the camel market on the edge of town. There we found a scene that can’t have changed much in a thousand years. Ade started bargaining with some of the camel traders and they thought they had a customer for a minute - maybe. They were pretty good humoured and it was a way for everyone to pass the time of day.
Ade camel trading
Ships of the Desert
Nothing like a good feed
The Kabul River
Ferris Wheel, Afghan style
We have decided to ditch our plan to go down to Karachi and fly from there to Bombay in order to get around the closure of the Pak/Indian land border. The cheaper, though possibly less safe option, is to fly from here to Amritzar by Ariana Afghan Airlines. But since we want to go through the Khyber Pass again we are going to take a bus down to Peshawar for a couple of days and then return to Kabul in time to get the flight, which we have booked for Monday the 22nd.
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