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Monday, 21 October 2013

ANOTHER HISTORY.....AFGHANISTAN: DAY 23, TERMIZ – HAIRATAN – MAZAR E SHARIFF (100KM)

13th June 2013
After the long checking at the border (Uzbek side) yesterday, I made up my mind to leave some  Uzbek money, camping gears and my side panniers at the hotel where I stayed last night. I was very lucky that by doing this, then only I happened to notice that the crack at the pannier’s bracket which Andrew had warned me previously was already broken (due to yesterday’s fall, I assumed). If I didn’t remove the panniers, I might not notice the broken part.
 

I made my way out of Termiz and headed to the Uzbek – Afghan border. I had to ride on gravels for about 10km as there were some constructions going on. Again, the border checking took forever. First, I was asked to bring my bag and my tank bag inside a building where a thorough checked was conducted by a lady officer. She checked every single thing inside my bag, including my medications which I put in a small plastic bag. She searched in every single pocket of the bag. Not only that, I had to surrender my laptop, my pen drive, external hard disc and cameras to another officer for inspection. Once done, the lady ushered me to another room where I was body searched thoroughly. I was even ordered to take off my riding jacket, boots and socks. She checked the padding inside my jacket and my riding pants. Urghhh!!! I was worried if she found some Euros and Uzbek money which I hid in the inner pocket at the back of my jacket. The Uzbek law said that the customs had the right to confiscate any undeclared money (and I purposely  didnt declare them as to avoid bribing attempt should they knew that I had much money with me). Thank god she didn’t find it as the zipper was well hidden.
I thought that was all...but hell, noooo...not so fast yet. Later, it was DREAM’s turn to be checked. I was asked to open the rear box. They inspected everything. I was thinking to myself, if the checking for exiting Uzbek can be this strict, how will it be upon entering Uzbek at this same border, later? Finally, after wasting 2.15hrs, the officers let me through.

The Friendship Bridge

I rode slowly on the Friendship Bridge which connected Uzbek and Afghan under the eyes of the guarding soldiers. I was sooo thrilled upon knowing that in few minutes time, both DREAM and I will create another history – to be the first Malaysian bike rolling its wheels in Afghanistan (unless someone else claimed otherwise). The Afghan officers at the border were very nice and friendly. I had to go through a body search too, but everything was done in less than 30mins. Before I knew it, DREAM’s tyres already rolling on the road of Afghan’s!!! Coolness...I had to pinch myself few times to assure that this was no longer a dream, and that I am really riding DREAM on Afghan road.
EEEEYAHOOOO....I created another history lah.....

However, as soon as I entered Afghan, strong wind started blowing from god-knows-where. I had to grip DREAM’s handle firmly and can only rode at 40 - 50kmh on the long and straight, good paved road. Every time a bus or lorry came from the opposite way, DREAM and I almost fell due to the turbulence.
Good paved road to Mazar E Shariff
I encountered a convoy of militaries - about 30 vehicles and soldiers armed with rifles, tank cars and war stuff. I almost stopped my bike to take pic, but my instinct told me not to do such a stupid thing. The wind blew stronger and stronger that I felt I will be blown away anytime. I was stopped at a check point before Mazar E Shariff for documents registration. The wind was so strong that DREAM wobbled. After registration, the situation worsened. The wind blew the sands together with it, and despite wearing a full face helmet, the fine sands managed to enter my eyes and mouth. I could only opened my eyes for 1mm, just for the sake to see where I am going. I was all the while praying inside my heart and hope that I will reach my destination safely.
I made it to Mazar safely after 2 hours riding, and with help from a local, I checked into a budget guest house which was located exactly opposite to Saidina Ali Mosque. The mosque was the only attraction here, and this was the reason why I came all the way here – to visit this beautiful mosque, and the tomb of the last Caliph in Islamic history – Saidina Ali AS. However, I was not let in to visit the tomb, as I was not dressed like the ordinary Afghan woman (wearing long burkha which covered everything from head to toe, and not even eyes could be seen). I appealed and tried to explain that I am a Muslim. I was almost into tears. Thank god there was a guy, who was a university student and could speak a little English. He told the guard that I am a Muslim. Only then was I let in, and at that moment, I really can’t stop my tears from flowing anymore. I had come a loooong way....a looonggg loooonggg wayyy.....I had faced lots of challenges....and finally, god permitted me to be here....Alhamdulillah.....
Can u read the jawi alphabet?

Saidina Ali Bin Abu Talib Mosque...this same picture was on the cover of Central Asia Lonely Planet guide book

And here was the place where the body of the last Caliph resided......

 
p/s: A more detailed story about my journey will be told in my upcoming book. More beautiful pics of course. STAY TUNED.....
 
 

5 comments:

  1. tulisan jwi tu blh bca..tpi tu urdu rasanya.. dialek setempat.. klu arab yg kita bljr kt M'sia ni len.. :) he

    ReplyDelete
  2. no lah, bukan urdu...urdu kat Pakistan @ India...
    the one that I can udstd is the word khalifah, Islam, hazrat (masjid) and Ali Ibnu Abi Talib :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, Saidina Ali kebumi kat Afganistan ke?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ya, Hamirudin....u see the pics and read my story, right? :)

    ReplyDelete

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