Kach Solo Travels in 2019: AFGHANISTAN, my 127th country!
I know I make my family and some readers worried as I’ve been receiving messages asking me to re-think my plan of going to Afghanistan... but as you guys know, I’m aiming to visit every country in the world so it was a must-go for me (and I don’t count stopping in airports)! You guys know how I travel - interact with locals to maximize the experience and I don't just go to check off the list quickly. But this time I had to compromise and did a lot of research on how I can enter the country safely and easily get a visa on my Philippines passport. 🙏🏽
I was initially planning on a 3-day trip in Afghanistan where I’d be traveling by land via Tajikistan where I had been traveling for 9 days (8 full and 1 day traveling to cross the border to Kyrgyzstan)... but Afghanistan is so EXPENSIVE!!😌
I contacted a tour operator but they were charging me 1,300$, so I said I would just DIY it but I didn't want to take unreasonable risks because even though Sultan Ishkashim is safe.. there’s still a group with guns in the mountains which is just 30 kms away (I don’t want to use other words on my page). So I thought that I could just go to the Bazaar and the border to the Wakhan Corridor but the local taxi driver was charging me $600 (negotiating down to $400)! So, I finally decided to just do a day trip to the town of Ishkashim which is a 5 km drive from the border and I paid $30 for the ride! 😆 This is the most expensive day trip I’ve ever done so far ($160 for the visa, $70 re-entry visa to Tajikistan, $60 for taxi) but hopefully when I’m done with my goal, I can come and visit again. But to be honest, only people who love extreme hiking would enjoy the Wakhan Corridor and I’m not one of them.🧐
Anyway, I spent a few hours at the bazaar, where I met again the two Chinese mountaineers who were shopping for their food for 2 weeks in the mountains. I talked to local people and while only very few of them spoke English, most of them wanted to have a photo with me! They would even pose, call me or go to me to take their photos! Haha! The locals are incredibly nice and they were asking if I could stay longer because there are local guesthouses there, but the rate is $50 per night.
I wasn’t able to take photos of women because they were wearing burqas (totally covered) and not keen on cameras so I had to be respectful of them. I was able to ride a donkey, talk to the kids (who speaks basic English) and even visited the local house of my taxi driver who also happened to be the border police. haha! I asked the military police if I should cover my head but he said that my cap was enough.
That’s it for now. At least I can officially say I made it there, although it was one of the most difficult travel arrangements I’ve dealt with. I was safe and went back to my Pamir Highway roadtrip with Paramount Journey 😍