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Kabul Korrespondence

Fresh, factual, and funky view of Afghanistan and the surrounding Central Asian region

Panjshir Expedition

Monday, April 21, 2008

Last week the Kabul Knights accomplished one of their long term goals: to ride to the Panjshir Valley (and back). The Panjshir is famous for being the only area of Afghanistan not taken by the Taliban in their 6 year domination of the country. It was defended by the Northern Alliance and particularly their leader Massoud. His remains were buried after he was assassinated by a bomb hidden in a video camera.

KKMC - Born to ride.

We stopped at one of the many decadently decorated petrol stations to refuel.

Our newest member Mike was showing off the howling wolf paint job on his fuel tank.

It is believed that the locals (The Panjshiri') still have quite a substantial stock of arms hidden in the mountains. For this reason the security check at the entrance to the valley is pretty tight.

The Kabul Knights get through and we follow the winding roads between valleys of stunning red and brown rock cliffs, topped with a crisp icing of gleaming white snow.

Spring is here and the KKMC stop for a picnic under some shady trees.

We always welcome female riders to join us. When we pull into a small town it can be quite a cultural challenge for the locals to see a Western women get off a bike. But the girls do dress in appropriate clothing.

On the way back, 2 of our bikes broke down. Mine had water in the fuel, so I had to blow all the fuel out of the tank. hhhmmm tasty! The Panshiri laughed when I asked: "Anyone got a light?"

I also had dirty spark plugs. Michael Jackson just happening to be passing by, he stopped and cleaned them for us.

While we were busy fixing my bikes 101 problems, Jeremy's bike fell over and broke the throttle. This translating into an un-rideable bike.... We discussed with our new Panjshiri friend (weekend mechanic) what we should do? He almost convinced us to tie two Afghan scarves together and tow the bike home, by holding on to the scarves with our hand!

After some umming and arhhing we decided to leave the bike there to be picked up at a later date. The Panjshiri were very adamant about us being able to verify that we owned the bike on pick up. So our same mechanic friend took a 20 Af note (0.40 US cents) and tore it half (0.20 US cents). He gave half to us and said "When you come to pick the bike present us with your half of the 20 Afs, if the serial numbers match then we will give you the bike!"

Sure enough, later that week Jeremy sent up an Afghan friend to pick up the bike. When he presented the half a 20 Af note, the Panjshiri gave him the bike. He repaired the throttle and rode it back to Kabul.

We also made it back to Kabul as the sun was setting on the dust enveloped city.

posted by Travis, 4:29 pm


Dang! And I thought a "Michael Jackson" was a chrome-plated Kalashnikov thereabouts... BBB)))
commented by Blogger Big BAD Benny, 2:29 pm  
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