Our first stop was TV Tower Hill, the highest point in Kabul. Getting up to the top of the hill was no easy task, even in our Toyota 4Runner. Roads are made of gravel, rocks, and dirt and it felt like we were off-roading as we slowly made our way up the hill. Well I suppose we were…
The humbling aspect of the journey uphill was the dozens people we passed, pushing water and food up the steep incline to their homes. I wrote in my Christmas post last year that it is not fashionable to live on a hill if you are in Kabul. With very limited electricity and running water, living on a hill is a drag and I saw firsthand why. Imagine lugging gallons of water up a sharp, grimy two-mile trek each day. Your morning is gone by the time you get the day’s water…
The TV towers are heavily fortified, but my guide knew one of the guards and we were able to stop at the peak and get a look out at the dusty city of Kabul. Clean air? Not here.
We did not stay long—there were several others places to see and our next stop was perhaps the most fascinating.
10 miles outside the city center sits the Darul Aman Palace, built in the 1920s by King Amanullah Khan as part of his efforts to modernize Afghanistan. Fire destroyed the inside in 1969 and the Soviets damaged the outside during their 1978 invasion. During the 1990s Civil war, rival Mujahideen factions fought for control of the palace and ended up destroying it. In 2005, plans were made to rebuild the palace and make it home to Afghanistan’s parliament, but like many public works projects the money never came and the palace sits in ruins.
A joint team of U.S. and Afghan soldiers were conducting training exercises while I was there and I would have tried to slip inside the palace, but figured it would not be a good idea to wander between soldiers shooting automatic weapons…
Off in the distance is the Tajbeg Palace built for King Amanullah Khan’s wife, Queen Soraya. The Tajbeg Palace housed the Soviet Army during the occupation but also stands in ruins today.
Read more of my Saudi Arabia + Afghanistan Trip Report–
Introduction: A Journey to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan
How to Obtain a Saudi Arabian Transit Visa
New York JFK to Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class
Review: Park Hyatt Jeddah
Pictures from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Jeddah to Dubai in Saudia Economy Class
Dubai to Kabul on Ariana Afghan Airlines
Arrival in Afghanistan
The Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan
My Hotel, er Compound, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Kabul – TV Tower Hill and Darul Aman Palace
Kabul – National Museum of Afghanistan
Kabul – Gardens of Babur and Kart-e Sakhi Mosque
Kabul – The Green Zone and British Cemetery
Kabul International Airport and Departing Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Dilemma
Kabul to Dubai on flydubai
Dubai to New York via Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class
Not on the short list of places to visit for us, but the insights you provide are most interesting!
Speechless. Thank you for sharing Matthew.
So wild! Hard to believe that pictures are from 2013…just so surreal.