Where's Malcolm? travel blog

Two buzkashi players haul the beheaded goat for another round of this...

The madness of buzkashi continues. I never did get my head around...

Massoud's mausoleum under construction.

Me atop an old deserted rusian tank, near Massoud's mausloeum.

Another old russian tank and the Panjsheer valley as a backdrop.

A view of the Panjshir Valley, taken from near Massoud's mausoleum.

We decide to make a trip to the Panjshir Valley our first trip outside of Kabul, noted for being the most beautiful valley in the country and the former home of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the former leader of the Northern Alliance. Massoud's photo is everywhere in the valley and Kabul, and you would be forgiven for thinking he was Afghanistan's leader. Massoud was held in such high esteem because he led the mujahadeen superbly against the Russians, who despite repeated attacks never managed to claim the Valley. Unfortunately Massoud was murdered just before 9/11 possibly by Al-Queda, and his mausoleum is currnelty under construction in the valley.

You enter the valley via a narrow gorge which widens onto crop fields and a tree-lined valley floor. We have some luck on our journey as we come across a game of buzkashi being played out on the valley floor. I couldnt understand this game: basically there's a number of men on horseback who seem to chase after a guy who carries a beheaded goat. When they catch up with him, they seem to shout a bit and attempt to grab the goat before someone drops it, and then it all starts over again. A very strange game, but its very rare to see it being played so I guess we were at least priveliged to see it.

We arrive at the mausaleum and spend an hour or so looking around the immediate area. It is striking just how many old abondoned russian tanks there are which litter the valley floor. The valley is certainly beautiful, however we are cautious when walking around, as the valley is meant to be mined in some ares, and not all of the minefields have been marked or cleared yet. After taking some photos, its back to Kabul.

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