Onwards to Kabul
Spending around a week in the Northern regions, it was time to head south. I caught the three AM public bus from Mazar E-Sharif to Kabul via the Salang Pass. Crossing the Salang is fascinating, as you pass by small mountain villages that consist of only mud brick structures clinging impossibly to the side of the cliff edge. Eventually you reach the ten kilometre USSR built tunnel. It’s dark and dingy, and quite frankly scary as the tunnel is slowly collapsing as no funds are there to maintain it. The light at the end of the tunnel appears after fifteen minutes of darkness. When you emerge from here you find yourself in a glacial blizzard atop of the Hindu Kush Range. From here it’s all downhill again to Kabul.
Arriving in Kabul is shocking. The clashing of buses and cars clogging up the road, exhaust fumes choking any oxygen from the air; Bearded, turban wearing men yelling out and hawking their wares on the street; Women hidden beneath the bright blue Burqa standing amidst the traffic, begging. Kabul is a shock to the senses. One of the first things you will notice is how there is no rhyme or reason to the organization of buildings. It looks as if people just come and plop their home wherever they feel along the mountain sides.
The bus dropped me off near downtown where I walked to a small guest house near Chicken Street. Chicken Street is fascinating. Left over from the hippie days, this street is lined with shops selling traditional Afghan handy crafts and antiques, and now gears its sales towards NGO’s and military personnel rather than hippie tourists. Most shops I entered told me I was the first tourist they had seen in thirty years.
Walking the city is incredible. I walked from Chicken Street to the Kabul Bazaar. In the Bazaar you will find the Faroshi Bird Market. The market has not changed since medieval times, still selling the same products to keep pet birds happy. The market is too narrow for cars so you must walk. Almost every shop invites you in for tea. Walk further into the bazaar and you will see men hand making Afghan clothing, banging metal pots into shape, and selling the local fruits from nearby villages.
Exiting the market you enter the river area of Kabul. Shah E- Doh mosque sits on the banks of the river here. A bizarre sight, this building resembles more of an Italian church than a Mosque. From here take a taxi up to the old presidential palace or the Nadir Shah hill Mausoleum. These two places you can walk past blown apart graffiti covered buildings that suffered greatly during the war. The uphill climb offers a rewarding view of the city.
About Stephen: The Uncharted Backpacker Biography
Hi, I’m Stephen Gollan, the Uncharted Backpacker! I have traveled to over 80 countries in the past nine years. I tend to travel to very unique destinations that others will not dare to go. I recently backpacked across Libya, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. I’m the kind of traveler who would rather be on an adventure climbing mountains in Pakistan or bumming across North Africa than relaxing on a beach somewhere (but I do that, too!). My website www.unchartedbackpacker.com is a testimony to my travel experience. I created it to give free information about “off the beaten track” destinations, and to help you create your next big adventure. Traveling will always be my life. The experiences you learn from traveling are far more valuable than any possession you might own. So come with me around the world and join in on a different style of travel – and life – that I promise you will love.