Meeting the Afghans
Ishkashim Travel Blog› entry 364 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Sigrid (Belgium), David (Canada)
Our first stop of the day was at Khaka Fortress, which is located fifteen kilometres from Ishkashim and just two minutes down the road from where we had spent the night. The fort dates back to the 3rd century BC and although old, we had read reports that the fort was now occupied by the Tajik military. If this was the case then obviously it would be off limits, but our driver assured us that they had packed up and left long ago. The fort seemed in pretty bad shape, so this seemed a reasonable assumption to us.
The lower areas of the fort had some sections of wall still in tact, but it was nowhere near as impressive as the fort at Yamchun that we had been to the previous day.
Two young men appeared at the top of the hill, one wearing full army uniform and holding a Kalashnikov, the other looming just over his shoulder in a vest, that gave him the look of a man who had hurriedly thrown on some clothes after been arisen from slumber. Heated words were exchanged between the driver and the guards, some of which we understood and some which we didn't. The gist of the conversation was that the guards wanted to know what the hell we were doing there and the driver was asking them the same question.
It took twenty minutes to reach the town of Ishkashim, where we registered with the local police office, before heading off to the Afghan market. We were dropped at the Tajik border, where we left our passports with a guard and then entered no mans land with a bunch of Tajik traders.
When you watch films which depict Afghanistan, i always believed that they used stereotypical images of people, and that they probably didn't look like that. After a morning at this market, that idea was completely erased from my head. Their clothes and their looks were everything that i had ever associated with them, it was uncanny. Stalls were laid out selling carpets, head scarfs, traditional hats and the likes and bargaining was taking place at a phenomenal pace.
Intermingling with the people was top of my agenda, and the Tajik women looked fantastic in their bright outfits.
Julia ended up buying a checked scarf, after which we went and sat on a mat by the kebab man and sampled some very tasty meat with naan bread. The morning was turning out to be an absolute belter and sadly there was no shade to catch any respite. By 11.15 we were all exhausted from the energy sapping heat, so bought an ice cream and headed back to the jeep.
It took about 3 hours to reach Khorog from Ishkashim, along a scenic, well paved road. It was sad to be drawing a close to our trip along the Pamir Highway, but i think we were all ready for a hot shower and some home comforts. It had been a mesmorising week long journey and one that i can't recommend highly enough.