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Old 10-29-2013, 09:44 PM   #181
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Great RR, beautiful portraits of the people, beautiful landscape photos... thank you very much for sharing them all with us
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:29 PM   #182
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The report continues to be a great read.

Originally Posted by Tourist View Post
I’ve talked to many about when the soviets were here and they all look favourably on this time as their country was developed with highways, roads and power to their villages.
Incredible how this Afghan viewpoint of the Soviets is just never reported in the west. It wasn't in the 1980s, and is not reported even today. It's like we are scared of the truth or can't handle a balanced perspective regarding the Soviet Union - its become a one dimensional myth.
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:31 PM   #183
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Originally Posted by Colebatch View Post
The report continues to be a great read.

Incredible how this Afghan viewpoint of the Soviets is just never reported in the west. It wasn't in the 1980s, and is not reported even today. It's like we are scared of the truth regarding the Soviet Union - its become a myth.
The truth about the Soviet Union is a bit of an elusive target. But you're right. Not many people seek it out.

This continues to be a stunning RR.
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Old 10-30-2013, 06:56 AM   #184
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The ride report speaks for itself, exceptionally well. Let's please not litter it with other folks' political commentary.
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:06 AM   #185
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Please take the political banter to the CSM forum in the basement.
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Old 10-30-2013, 03:46 PM   #186
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Outstanding, living a dream for most, ride safe keep it coming
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:07 PM   #187
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safe travels!
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Old 10-30-2013, 08:52 PM   #188
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Incredible report with excellent narrative and exceptional photographs. Thanks for taking us along.
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Old 10-30-2013, 10:36 PM   #189
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Got home from work, cracked open a beer, and found a link to this post from a local forum. What a treat.

Tourist, you're my new hero. The photos and commentary are phenomenal. I read the entire 13 pages through in one sitting and I'm looking forward to more. Congratulations for living a life most can only dream of.

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Old 10-31-2013, 12:07 AM   #190
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Thank you for taking me to another dimension! I am all dreamy...
As soon as you concern yourself with the 'good' and 'bad' of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weaken and defeat you. – Morihei Ueshiba

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Old 10-31-2013, 04:39 AM   #191
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Stonking report Tourist! You are a brave man travelling into Kabul. Love your style and pictures!
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Old 11-01-2013, 01:30 PM   #192
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Kabul, Panjshir & finally a beer.

Looking over Kabul from the Hillside Slums.

You've got to love that sound “flick, flick, flick” of the Atm counting your money just before it dispenses into your hot little hands. It was such a relief to be cashed up once again before I head into the city to sort out my new visa in order to leave this country. (In Afghanistan you can’t just go to the airport with a expired visa & pay an overstay fine like so many other countries, you need a new visa entirely!) My first port of call was the passport office to apply for the exit visa. The office is out of the “CBD” some 3-4$ in taxi fares & 10-15mins depending on the hectic traffic. Kabul has to be one of the easiest to get a ride in, as soon as you stop on the side of the road either a taxi but most probably a private car will stop asking where you want to go. I arrive in the hot summer’s morning heat and after a pat down outside I enter and line up along with the many foreign contractors also waiting with their ISAF id’s hanging around their necks, handguns holstered and some in protective vests.

ISAF roaming the streets.

Blast walls are a way of life.


I’m told, I first need to go to the Ministry of tourism for a letter approving me to exit. I taxi back to the center and visit the ministry. The ministry of tourism then tell me I need a letter from the Minster of Culture & information before they can write a letter to the minister of internal affairs at the passport office. I walk to the ministry of culture.. and up the 4 floors wondering where the heck to go before I’m ushered into an office. I’m told I am lucky that they can prepare my letter but it wont be ready until tomorrow morning. I pass back around the many Bazaars and alleyways around the center marveling at all the life that is going on here and none of it is for tourism.

I arrive the following morning at the time nominated and am back in the same office on the 4th floor. I’m told to wait 5 minutes and in this time I watch them hand write the letter of 3 lines. I deliver the letter to the tourism ministry and they inform me that they don’t work Wednesday or Thursday's so I need to come back on Friday in which they tell me my visa will be ready. No letter? I ask and again if I have to go to passport office and they say no, they will give me a visa on Friday. I feel some relief from rushing over town these past 2 days so now with 2 days off I decide to ride up Panjshir valley for a nice day ride and quite possibly my last ride in Afghanistan (but now as I write this 6 weeks on, I'm thinking its not... )


Within the narrow alleys.

Ka-Faroshi bird market.

My Foreign Exchange man, He's got everything!

Father & Son Date Vendors.

Crossing the Shomali Plains to Panjshir.

I leave the guesthouse by 7am the next morning without breakfast, I make my way out of the city in the same manner as I entered. But a more direct route this time. The roads aren’t too busy but busy enough, I stop at one intersection with over 50 or so locals with their hand tools waiting to be picked up for laboring work that day and ask for directions. As with anyone else here once they have given me directions, they usually ask something regarding the Motorcycle, I just point and say Russian, then point to myself and say “New Zealand” with a smile and a thank-you I ride away. The turnoff isn’t for over 80kms and it takes me 1.5hrs to arrive at the turn off. Stopping on the way at one of the many highway “cafes” for something closely resembling a chebureki (Russian food for hangovers). Some tea and small conversation involving the Ural, the tourist and Panjshir.

Entering the valley.

Ural and one of the many Massoud tributes.

It was a nice morning for a ride; slow traffic in the valley, a nice sealed road with plenty of corners and a cool breeze coming off the mountain river. Panjshir has always been able to keep either the Soviets or Taliban out due to the high mountains that surround it. There is so many dirt roads here heading off the main sealed road into the mountains to be explored, too many for one day so I just stick to being a tourist in the valley today. I'm signaled to stop as i pass an army checkpoint and with none of them making any sense of my English an officer jumps on the back and we ride up stream 5km to the larger checkpoint outside the barracks. I sign in and show my passport, they are happy with me just coming for the day and let me go on after arranging a time that I need to exit by. 5mins later I am stopped by now a police checkpoint, after searching my side and shoulder bag/ passport they are happy as well and again let me proceed.

More Police here…

Another Police Checkpoint negotiated.

Massouds mausoleum along with plenty of soviet hardware still keeping tire pressure after all these years. There's many tanks up here, some still even with their engines and switchgear etc. climbing on inside, I peered out one of the periscopes to see it had been shattered by a bullet. impressive yes but to think these guys were sitting blind in this tin can in a land that wasn't theirs, far from home just made me feel sad for them no matter what their end was.

Panjshir Beauty.

A downed Soviet Mi-8 military Helicopter.

Tanks. The Ural is Older.

While riding up one side of the valley i see many little villages tucked away on the other side of the river only accessible by swing bridges, So i thought well I guess they get less tourists over there so I should pay them a visit. After Leaning the Ural up against a tree on the river banks and walking across watching locals fish for trout with their long primitive fishing rods. Then as I'm walking up through the small dusty lane ways to the village, a local passes me and asks me something indecipherable, he motions me to follow him back to the bridge, I'm a bit reluctant but we go and he makes a call, while we cross the bridge an older heavy set man approaches us and asks for my passport. this isn't the first time locals have taken the law into their own hands here so I tell him to go away and i keep walking. he grabs me by my arm and insists again, passport! I pull free of his hold and tell them again in which he pulls out a police ID, ahh ok if you say so then officer. Quite conveniently a car pulls up on the road from when we leave the bridge and we drive 10mins back to town where the police HQ is. we drive through a barrier arm before coming to a rest inside the heavily fortified station. I'm ushered into a small office where 5 officers all try to interrogate me with their basic English. I'm there for over a hour as they just wouldn't believe i was a tourist! this has now been an everyday activity of mine since leaving Eshkashem, It's getting a bit tiring! The police chief is now available for his round of questioning. I have to leave behind my camera behind as they think its a bomb and am escorted into another office block. Walking into his large upstairs office, He Offers me a seat on a leather couch and he sits opposite me on another. He just stares at me at first, then asks question by question... each one followed by what feels like a minutes silence of him just staring at me making the whole situation feel a bit awkward, So I just stare straight back at him hoping to do exactly the same to him & hopefully expedite my release from here. 30mins later he is content with my answers and orders lunch for me. I'm taken back down stairs to find a large plate of mutton pulau (sheeps knuckle & rice) and a room full of officers to watch me eat it. They apologize for taking my time and drive me back to find my the Ural happily un-disturbed under the same tree that i had left it. After this little bad experience I'm a bit peeved off how the day has gone so with it now mid afternoon I make my way back to Kabul.

The road is busy and dangerous just as it had been days before. I arrive back at the Guesthouse after dark and am relived to find some half decent Tv to watch for the remainder of the night. The following day I book some cheapish air tickets to fly Sunday; 350$ to Delhi followed by 120$ from Delhi to Bangkok in which i had a previous return ticket bought for back to Brisbane, Australia.

Friday; I am back in at the Ministry of tourism awaiting my visa, they tell me to come back after lunch because the letter, (now no visa) has to be sent back to the Minstry of culture & information to be signed.. this is madness! Once I receive it I head back out to the Passport office where I am told I have to come back at 7am the following morning to make the application, I let them know I need to be leaving on Sunday and they assure me I would have my visa in time. I arrive back at 6.30am to see already a massive line up of mostly foreign workers and their local fixers. The foreigners are just waiting idly by chatting while their fixer is standing in line with me, after 2 hours everybody's passports are collected and we are told to come back the next day to collect further paperwork, I again inform them that I have my flights for the next day (as the tourism ministry led me to believe that I would have my visa by now) it falls on deaf ears with them all shying away from just telling me the truth in that I would not have my visa in time. Familiar faces meet once again the following morning at 8am to collect our paperwork, we need to pay the bank 50$ for the month long visa, as my free exit visa has now turned into a monthly one. I share a cab back into the city and after security checks and lining up we pay the fee and taxi back. I'm told I will finally have my visa tomorrow, Monday morning... but then the clerk is reminded that Monday is a public holiday so it will have to be Tuesday! I just can't believe this, I rebook my tickets for Wednesday and am amazed its taken over a week to get this visa just so I can bloody leave this country to get my cold beer.

Last Sunset in Kabul.

Mahmoud back at the guesthouse in my final days offers me to store my bike there for if I ever want to come back for it one day, In'shallah! which gives me the idea of doing exactly that. The next day I do indeed pick my passport up and go on and make my flight Wednesday. 4 hours flying over the Khyber pass... Pakistan and landing in Delhi, I have 3 hours before my connecting flight, just the right amount of time for a cold beer or 2. I savor this time to reflect on this years summer and for what also lies ahead in my immediate future returning to Australia jobless In the now unbooming mineral resources sector. Mahmoud's offer sticks with me and today as I write this it is even stronger gathering more and more momentum the longer I am here. I Can't commit to anything just yet... but keep an eye out for Part 2 next spring.

Just wanted to thank all my readers out there for giving me the confidence in writing this RR up. Its been a great experience to look back on my photos and journal notes to put this out there.

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Old 11-01-2013, 01:52 PM   #193
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:11 PM   #194
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Holy cow! What an amazing ride report. I read the reports of Colebatch, Noah, etc. and think that someday I'd like to follow in their footsteps. This report is just terrifying. I'm happy to get the chance to read it and to see in some way what it's like over there, but I would never attempt this myself. It seems that you were constantly under threat of being locked up in some prison for doing nothing, and possibly never seeing the light of day again. Good on you, and thanks for the report. But I think you need to change your screen name to something that reflects either the huge balls you have, or the sense of self preservation you seem to be missing. Much respect......
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Old 11-01-2013, 02:23 PM   #195
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Many thanks for sharing this phantastic experience.

It's among the best travel journals I had the pleasure to read.

Looking forward to as many episodes you might gift us with.
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