The Charming Afghanistan

Before I went to Afghanistan, my mom almost cried, begged me not to go: “Desi, you’ll get yourself killed there…”

Well, I could come back to Indonesia in one piece, and honestly Afghanistan was just like any other country. People can get killed anywhere, suicide bombs even happened in Bali. Yes, the country was not safest tourism destination then visitors better take careful security precautions and get Afghan sisters or brothers (plus moms/dads/uncles/aunts/cousins too, if possible). I did, therefore traveling to Afghanistan made me feel like going back to my own hometown. I was hosted by sisters Zahra/Zohreh, and Mr.Jamshidy’s family, in Herat. Later I stayed with Mahdi’s family in Kabul.

There are rickshaws too in Afghanistan, same like India, also similar with Indonesian “bajay” in Jakarta.

My Afghan Tajik family in Herat. Lovely parents and sisters. They made me feel that Afghanistan was my home country.

My Afghan Hazara family in Kabul. They gave me sincerely heart-touching hospitality, lots of smiles and hugs as my real family.

I come to Afghanistan at the wrong time, it was winter then always raining in Herat and heavily snowing in Kabul. I should have come in spring/autumn (summer would be too hot and dry for me) to enjoy flowers blossoming everywhere and I could taste some Afghan fruits which unique, famous and very tasty (pomegranate from Kandahar, just one example). Anyway, it was special experience to taste Afghan naan. It’s the world’s BEST BREAD!

Previously I planned to take flight from Herat to Mazar-e Sharif, then land trip to Kabul via Salang Pass, perhaps make a stop at Bamiyan. But when I arrived at Herat, due to heavy snow in Kabul and surrounding area (then land trip will take much time) then I canceled it, flew directly from Herat to Kabul, spare Mazar-e Sharif (and Panjshir Valley etc) for my next trip to Afghanistan.

Snow in Kabul was too much…almost deadly for tropical Indonesian like me. :(

HERAT

Must visit places are:

1. Mausoleum of Queen Goharshad (after the death of her husband in 1447, she maneuvered her favorite grandson to the throne then later for ten years she became the de facto ruler of an empire stretching from the Tigris to the borders of China) and the Herat Minarets nearby.

A marble that told story about Her Majesty Queen Goharshad.

Zahra and I, in front of the minarets. She’s studying for master degree on law studies in Tehran.

2. Jama’ Masjid. Very beautiful, I’d say that it could be more beautiful than similar mosques in Iran, but sadly not well maintained.

3. The Arg. It was a military complex but used as museum (with awesome collections of Al Qur’an aged hundreds years – handwritten, decorated by real gold), some soldiers still lived there during my visit.

Zohreh and I. She’s studying medical (4th year, two more years to go before become a general practitioner doctor) at Herat University.

KABUL

It was very hard for me to survive in this capital city during the harsh winter. I wasn’t physically prepared, my suede boots got wet (should have brought the leather ones, waterproof). Walking on the slippery road was tough, I kept falling. I gotta come back to Kabul (to visit Babur Garden, Darulaman Palace, Qargha Lake etc), but certainly not when the city will be snowing like that.

Shisha time with Hakima at Morsal Restaurant.

My host, Mahdi, and his pretty cousin, Fatimeh, with me under the heavily falling snow.

Freezing cold at Mazari Square.

At Kote Sangi, busiest intersection in Kabul.

Cute snow cat. :)

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