The Gull Reef Club

5/8/2005

Walking the Wakhan

Filed under: — Jaime @ 8:17 pm

Badakhshan

Happy Sunday, beachcombers. Welcome to this week’s Sunday Postcard. Today we are traveling to the most northeast province of Afghanistan, Badakhshan.

Badakhshan is one of the most unpopulated areas of the world. Estimates I’ve found put the total population at around 50,000. Most of the citizens reside around the province’s capital, Feyzabad a/k/a Faizabad. Despite it’s primitive setting, Feyzabad does have an an airport and internet access.

These next galleries give us a brief perspective of life in Badakhshan in general: Luke Powell’s Badakhshan and the Panjsheer Valley Gallery and Assistance Afghanistan photos.

Portions of Badakhshan encompass the Hindu-Kush valley, known as the Wakhan Corridor. This map of the province gives you an idea of where the valley lies: Badakshan Map. The Wakhan Corridor is truly the middle of nowhere as the following galleries show: UNEP Environmental Assessment Gallery and Eurocorps ISAF VI, Above the Hindu Kush. I especially liked this image showing homage to a saint:

Horns of a Saint

All the infrastructure we often take for granted is completely absent in some portions of Badakhshan province. The lack of decent health care, transportation, and nutrition is discussed by Dr. Robert Simpson with Médecins Sans Frontières in his Mission in Afghanistan.

You probably have noticed the scarcity of women in the photographs that feature people. Apparently, photography of women in this area is prohibited, Women photographed by ISAF troops protest with stones in Afghanistan , Xinhua via Afgha.com. This does not really surprise me however. My initial curiosity regarding this province arose because of this recent Washington Post article: A Killing Commanded by Tradition (registration required). This is a very harsh area of the world and the women have it ten times as hard as the men. This image is particularly compelling, especially in the largest zoom Eurocorps ISAF VI, Traveling Family.

I know I will never get much closer to Badakhshan than I have today. I will miss out on the majestic geography, but I could not cut it there. Some humans are incredibly resilient.

6 Responses to “Walking the Wakhan”

  1. Cyan says:

    Thank you for putting all of this together. The Luke Powell photographs are stunningly beautiful, and Amina’s story is very, very sad. My first thought, of course, is that it is a horrible tragedy, and no one should have to endure that kind of torture. Then, I start to think about how incredibly isolated and desolate this country is. The rest of the world has been united by technology, but certain areas of Central Asia haven’t had as many outside influences to help them develop. I would imagine that living in this harsh terrain would naturally nurture a similarly harsh yet proud and complex culture.

    Very interesting stuff. I hope you’ll continue with this new feature of your blog. It’s really compelling. :)

  2. Jaime says:

    Thanks so much for taking the journey with me. You make an excellent point about the uniting features of technology. A number of my personal biases have been set aside by meeting people through the net who destroy my stereotypes. I don’t think I could ever fully grasp what life is like in such an isolated setting.

    So far I have enjoyed putting together these journeys. Glad you like them too. If you have any places you’d like the Gull Reef Club Traveling Machine to take us, let me know! :)

  3. Salfaraz Khan says:

    Corrections.
    by Salfaraz Khan, from Baharak, Badakhshan.

    Badakshan population is around 800,000, not 50,000 as mentioned.
    http://www.statoids.com/uaf.html

    Faisabad, (or mis-spelled Feyzabad a/k/a Faizabad).

    In Faisabad: airport is a metal steel plate runway built by Soviets, and in ill condition for the 2 – 5 flights per week there from Kabul. Internet only accessible in Badakshan by about 40 people, on wireless.

    Badakshan has one of the highest maternal mortality (death during pregnancy or birth) in the world at over 6,400 per 100,000 live births. Kabul, Afghanistan is around 400 – 600 per 100,000.

  4. Jaime says:

    Hello Salfaraz Khan! Thank you so much for stopping by The Gull Reef Club. I appreciate the corrections and additional information. It was kind of you to share it with us.

    One of the reasons I started my Sunday Postcards series was in hopes to meet people from the lands I virtually visit. You are my first such visitor and it really pleases me you commented. Please come back and visit anytime. :)

  5. Salfaraz Khan says:

    Dear Jaime.
    Thank you for this great website, Sir. We are very happy you mention about the great Wakhan and Badakshan, because few people know about our region.
    I will send more information later.
    Thanks.

  6. Salfaraz Khan says:

    Dear Jaime.
    Thank you for this great website, Sir. We are very happy you mention about the great Wakhan and Badakshan, because few people know about our region.
    I will send more information later.
    Thanks.

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