I didn’t expect that I would be returning to spend much time in Kandahar. The city is represented by only three photographs here and was primarily just a place to rest a few days between long bus trips across the southern route between Herat and Kabul. I’m writing this in Kandahar where I will be working at the NATO base for at least another nine months. The country has seen the Soviets come and go, gone through a period of civil war, and seen the lengthy presence of foreign forces since these photos were taken. I don’t expect to be venturing out to do the classic before and after pictures nor will I be doing the trip to Kabul by bus while in Afghanistan on this visit.
A classic tourist photo. This was the view from the hotel room window. I asked one of the people I work with if they could identify the hotel and they thought it was somewhere in Zabul. I thought the fort in the background would make it easy to identify the location.
Though not obvious, this photo fits the category of pictures taken from the hotel room window. No need to search out transport to the terminal when it was time for the bus trip to Kabul.
Somewhere in Kandahar
Bamiyan was the highlight of the 1975 trip. It was done as a trip out and back from Kabul. The pictures tell the story about the visit to Bamiyan and Band-e Amir.
I forgot the reason for the required stop here – – if it was engine problems or a flat tire. This was a fairly pleasant place to walk around a bit. The elevation was already sufficiently high so temperatures were very pleasant.
Pictured here is the running water available at the hotel. Not running exactly, but he was moving pretty fast to keep the water tanks filled.
After the previous trip and the places I had passed through in the rest of the country seeing this much water was impressive.
This sort of image is found in many locations a short walk out from the city. Bamiyan was a photographer’s paradise.
The hotel had a nice view of one of the Buddhas. This was what you saw when turning around after washing your face.
Looking up at the Buddha
This is one view from the cliffs into which the Buddhas were carved.
Bamiyan village viewed from the cliff.
A nice landscape within the gaze of the Buddha.
The hotel has a nice view of the Buddha and the Buddha has a nice view of the hotel. This was from one of the vistas alongside the Buddha on the climb to the top of the cliff.
A slightly different view.
Looking east from the Buddha.
Cow and Buddha. This is one of my favorites.
Band-e Amir became Afghanistan’s first national park in 2009. A trip to these six lakes makes for a pleasant day trip from Bamiyan. There’s very little that text can add to these images from the summer of 1975. If you visit the lakes today you can rent a paddle-swan to ride around at least one of them. These spring fed lakes are always uncomfortably cool as I found in a brief dip in the middle of July. They really are the color hinted at in these photographs.
Band-e Amir 01
Band-e Amir 02
Band-e Amir 03
Band-e Amir 04
Band-e Amir 05
Band-e Amir 06
Band-e Amir 07
Band-e Amir 08
Band-e Amir 09
Band-e Amir 10 – Caravan
My departure from Kabul reminded me that I had been here two years previously. Two years before, in my transit of Pakistan, I heard the news that the King had been deposed by his cousin. This time my flight to Tashkent was delayed because of activities commemorating that event. A number of fighter jets made low passes over the city. That is pretty scary stuff.
Construction underway in Kabul
I think this is Shar-e Nau Park but there is nothing that lets me have a solid reference. Shar-e Nau Park was close to where I was staying and the most likely place to have taken this photo. Things change in thirty-seven years.
Sigi’s Restaurant – Crossroads of the West. This was where you put a note up on the message board if you were looking to share a ride to India or perhaps back through Iran to Turkey. Here you could meet your fellow hippy traveler, enjoy some pseudo- Western food, and hear European languages spoken. There is no evidence of it on Chicken Street any more and I never met anyone who could tell me where it used to be located.
This Ariana plane was grounded for the commemorative events marking the second anniversary of deposing the King.
This is the plane that was to take me to Tashkent as soon as the fighter jets had finished their low passes over the city.
Intourist was my host for the trip through the Soviet Union. I was advised when booking the trip in Kabul that it was more appropriate to be a student than a broadcast engineer.
On my guided day trip around Tashkent I discovered that the city was home to the inventor of television. I was also able to watch some of the joint US/Soviet space mission on television in my hotel. It is remarkable how much better the NASA video was than that produced by the Soviets – despite the difficulties of doing the conversion from NTSC to SECAM.
This park scene leaves no doubt that the photo was taken within the USSR.
Uzbeks don’t need to subscribe to the paper to read it. Pravda and Izvestia are available in this functional open air display. Save a tree!
This photo captures the spirit of life in the city of Tashkent in 1975.
After Afghanistan, this sort of display of water was mind boggling. Here water was so abundant that it could be sprayed into the air in a public area.
Tashkent to Moscow was also on Aeroflot. I did not have a guided tour of this city but had some time to wander the streets and record two standard tourist images.
A familiar vista in Moscow. This is the apartment building that is one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, a group of seven tall buildings. There is no connection in the name to the seven sisters identified as the major players in the oil cartel in that same era. It’s only the attraction of prime numbers and alliteration.
I suppose it is appropriate that a government recognizing only the material realm should preserve the material remains of its founders and display them for its pilgrims.
Moscow to London was by rail and channel ferry. Highlight of the rail trip was being hoisted along with the carriage to be placed on a new set of wheels to accommodate the different rail gauge at the Polish border. Sound like a bad Polish joke? Poland will never be invaded from the east by railway.
I managed to visit with two people that I had met on the 1973 trip. I ran across Jim McDonough quite by accident in Istanbul. Hilary English was back in Oxford visiting her parents and I got a chance to see some of the highlights of that city with her as a local tour guide.
The one photo from the channel crossing was based on my long standing interest in RF. These are the radar antennas on the ferry.
I still have the leather bag I bought for this trip. It would be harder today to pack for an international trip of indefinite length and carry only what fits into this bag.
London at Dusk
From the UK, it was time to travel back to the US. I would not visit Afghanistan again until July of 2011.