Kevin Swains
Travel Website
This is Kev's Travel Blog


For more on the Kyrgyz click here

With no garaunteed local trasport around here Fabrice set off early for the 20km walk to
Bab Ghundi. We'd heard stories of Kyrgyz traders coming from Afghanistan with caravans of yaks trading with the locals. It sounded like a must see. After one hour of cycling I passed Fabrice and give him a dig about having to walk up to Baba Ghundi and carried on by. But I knew that after my dig if he managed to hitch a lift then I was in for a torrent of abuse as he overtook me in his new found chariot. Of course within one hour I heard an engine and guessed rightly that he'd got himself a lift and prepared myself for the abuse. A jeep approached with a purpose built soft black plastic rear cover with clear but dirty plastic windows. But as it passed I did'nt see him but then I noticed his fat French head smirking from ear to ear pressed tightly against the rear window and I could see him doing French "f#*ck you" signs well into the distance....I had to laugh....the French bastard!:)

An afternoon kickabout in the park. Chapursan Valley.

The landscape on the road to Baba Ghundi changed. Things were sparse but still incredible. The hills were showing a little more snow as I climbed. I passed only a few people and found it hard going.
Then I rounded the corner to see Baba Ghundi laid out in the front of me.
Baba Ghundi is siant in these parts and has a temple dedicated to him here. Like all god saints the story of him becoming a saint is a little unbelieveble but I decide to keep my views to myself.
I drop down a slight incline and across another dodgy log bridge onto the winswept and barren Baba Ghundi platau and head to the police registration post.
Fabrice is sitting inside chatting away and drinking chai. The policeman sticks the kettle on the kerosene and mashes me a brew and he apologises over and over again for not having and veggies or chapatis for us! The guys on these checkposts are often soo friendly simply because they are glad of the company.

Skill might be lacking but passion is not.

After chai we goto the guesthouse. Only a few cyclists have made it through here. I ride my fully laden bike through the village and heads turn as Kev rides his modern day yak into town!
The guesthouse is just a single room with thin matrasses on the floor and no bedding. It's basic but clean and we're glad it's here. Very basic food is provided next door by Alam Jams relative although it's not actually a restaurant. His father does trade with the Kyrgyz but feeds the tourists and also more often then not the Kyrgyz.

Tractors....Chapursan style.

It's good to eat next door as the fire warms the room but it's also strange to be constantly stared at by the Kyrgyz who are also eating there.
The Kyrgyz don't actually pay for their food or chai. In this part of the world things work on a recprical arrangement and food is given freely to the Pakistanis who venture into Afghanistans Whakan Corridor over the hill.

Playing on a rather dodgy suspension bridge with Japapese Yogimoto.
The crossing of it though wasn't quite so playful....

Electricity only reaches upto Zhud Khun and has only been there a few years. Few people have tv sets newspaper are nowhere to be seen. The only source of information comes from short wave radios and the jungle grapevine.
Being here it seems like there are no worries for the locals in the valley. They require very little from the outside world thats lies 50km away. The rain falls, the crops grow, thats all that's required. All is incredibly peaceful is this rare paradise....

The road just before Baba Ghundi. this paradise there are no tourist coming through. They are keeping away because of all the horror that awaits them in Pakistan. They are keeping away because the nearby by hills of Afghanistan are allegedly crawling with Taliban, US soldiers and maybe even Osama.
It seems unfare that Alam Jam should suffer the consequences of a globalised world (media) when few in the valley have any knowledge of what,s going on even in Pakistan.
Of course things aren't that simple but it still don't seem fair....

Breakfast at Baba Ghundi.

Over the next few days I venture into the stunning nearby mountains with a purpose of reaching the Afghani border, but things don't run that smoothly. This is all covered on the next page, Afghanistan.

The word is on the street....Kevs in town!

For more on the Kyrgyz click here