Since Afghanistan’s Taliban regime fell to the coalition forces’ incursion and continued occupation, the country has become the destination for an increasing number of adventure tourists, despite western governments’ advice against visiting the region. Dan Quinton visited friends in the war-torn country in 2004. Here are some of the photographs he took:
Sunlight spills into Kabul, a city set in a valley ringed by massive mountains.
Urban sprawl creeps up the side of a mountain in downtown Kabul.
Despite the fall of the Taliban, many women in Afghanistan still choose to wear the Burqa, a tent like covering that reveals only the hands and feet.
A partially collapsed apartment building in downtown Kabul destroyed during fighting by the Mujahedeen. People still live here.
A friend shows off his AK-47. He works for the Afghan Women’s Educational Center (AWEC) where I was treated as an honored guest by my host and his family.
My friends Hazargul and Hamidallah in the central garden at the AWEC compound. Hamidallah was a famous Mujaheed during the Soviet occupation.
Hazargul and a guard pose outside the walls of AWEC. Afghanistan and guns go together like sugar and tea, and Hazargul is eager to show off his AK-47.
An Afghan cooking us a traditional meal of lamb, spiced rice and vegetables in the mountains near Bamiyan.
A traditional Afghan meal. The food is piled on plates that are placed on a tarp. Everyone helps themselves, but in traditional Afghan hospitality, the best meats are given to the guest (me, in the center wearing the tan shalwar kameez). It is considered extremely impolite to refuse. At the end of the meal, the plates are removed, the tarp folded up and taken to the trash.
The cook at AWEC graciously offered to pose for me in her Burqa and with her face exposed. It is extremely difficult to take pictures of women in Afghanistan, and must be done very discreetly and only with permission.
A marijuana plant, nearly the size of a small pine tree, grows in a valley in the mountains near Bamiyan.
A chunk of the world famous Hashish from Mazar-e-Sharif sits atop cans of Heineken Beer. Both are (technically) illegal in Afghanistan, but there is no shortage of either. Be warned: the hash is unbelievably potent, even to a seasoned smoker.
A warning painted in English, Arabic and Dari at Darulaman Palace, former residence of King Nadir Shah. A week before I arrived in Kabul, an Al-Qaeda operative was caught booby trapping the interior of the palace so we were not allowed into the ruins.
The Olympic Stadium – virtually the only functional stadium in the country. The Taliban used it as a forum for public executions and other punishments decreed by Shari’a law, including floggings with chains and amputations. I was not allowed to photograph the interior.