6,513 metre Mt Baba Tangi

Part 1: Afghanistan travel q&a

Here is part 1 of a 2 part q&a with Shane, The Travel Camel! I came across Shane on Instagram, he was travelling Afghanistan – which for most of us is a destination we wouldn’t even consider – and instantly I wanted to learn more about him and why he was in Afghanistan.

If, like me, this captivates you, please read on. You will not be disappointed!

Tell me about yourself…

I was born in Australia and have travelled most of my adult life. I love exploring the road less travelled, and so far I’ve travelled to 100 countries. Travel is my passion and my profession. My work includes being a Social Media specialist, a travel photographer, a keynote speaker (which is my second favourite activity after travel) and a radio personality as I have regular segments on radio station Dubai Eye. This year will see me lead my first tour to Tajikistan, followed by another one to Iran. I travel to learn more about the world and its people – it is why I will never tire of travel.

What were you doing in Afghanistan?

I was there to explore the beautiful mountains and learn more about the Wakhi culture – these are the people who live in the far north-east of the country. I stayed in the area around the Wakhan Corridor and so all my answers about Afghanistan refer to this area.

What attracted you to the country?

I had a friend in Australia who took the hippie trail in the 1970s, heading to really obscure destinations. When I met him in the late 1980s, I remember asking him “What is the most beautiful country you’ve seen?” and without hesitation he exclaimed “Afghanistan!” Seeing Afghanistan has interested me since that time.

What is there to see and do?

Afghanistan attracts two types of people – those who love the outdoors and adventure (due to the astonishing mountains) and those who love to learn more about a culture. It is not a destination for those who want a luxury holiday or to shop.

What do you like most about Afghanistan?

A tie between the people and the mountains. They both add to the experience of being in the Wakhan Corridor.

What was the most poignant moment of your trip?

My guide/translator and I hiked into the farming village of Kizkut with a population of 149 people. We were greeted by the village elder who invited us to stay for tea. We were shown to a common room with a raised floor on three sides which is covered in rugs and some cushions. The honoured guest is given the position in the middle of the centre platform that is usually directly opposite the door.

A silver coloured bowl was produced, and water from a silver coloured decanter was poured so that guests can wash their hands, with the most important diner (being me in this case) receiving the water first. A blanket was unfolded to reveal round, flat bread that is broken into pieces and distributed. This was followed by a delicious milky tea. Usually more food is offered, but in this case, there was only bread.

By the time tea was served it seems that every man in the village was in the room sitting on the floor, staring at me. When it neared time to depart, the village elder said to me, “I am sorry that I have nothing to offer you but tea and bread.” I looked at the faces around me, all waiting for my answer; they wished to provide me more, but it was not possible.

I replied with a smile, “The most important thing you could give me was a welcome and a smile, and you have done that.”

This comment was received with nods of approval from the weathered faces of all the men. It again demonstrates something I’ve observed during my travels – that people with the fewest possessions are more generous than those surrounded by wealth.

Would you consider Afghanistan a ‘dangerous’ country?

The area around the Wakhan Corridor is safe, other areas have varying degrees of safety. The biggest issue in the Wakhan Corridor is the isolation and distance from medical care in case of an accident or illness.

Did you feel safe?
I felt entirely safe the whole week I was there.

Enjoyed this? Read part 2 now!

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