Sunday, 25 March 2007

The journey begins...

6a.m start. Spectacular journey across the Shomali Plain and up into the Hindu Kush. The plain was once known as the Bread Basket of the East. Its fertile soil produced fruit, flowers and vegetables which were sold all over Afghanistan. The Taliban destroyed every house on the plain and sowed the fields with landmines. When I travelled through it in 2002 there was not a home left intact and a massive demining programme was underway.

Now it is cleared of mines and cherry trees are being planted in the fields. Electricity pylons are springing up along the roadside. The worst winter for 70 years has left a beautiful legacy on the Salang road. The snow lies thick all the way up to the 3300 metre Salang tunnel. The views of the Hindu Kush are spectacular and the hillsides are dotted with mud bricked villages. Long queues of lorries wind their way up the hairpins of the road. Avalanche tunnels keep huge mounds of snow from the road and where the avalanches have cascaded down the mountain side the scale of destruction is massive .
The tunnel is dark. You can barely see a metre ahead and the fumes fill the air in dense clouds. It is a joy to reach the exit after 6 km of darkness.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Watch out that chap on your R has got a gun R