Chin State in Myanmar is mountainous, and that means long winding roads carved into the forested mountain sides. It gets quite cold here in the winter, and villages have a hard life surviving off the land, but friendliness is abundant. In one of these villages, a young girl takes note of the new visitors; I suspect we met with her approval!
Northern Afghanistan, near the ruins of the ancient city of Balkh, in the region once known as Bactria.
Balkh was once a majestic city, and one with an illustrious history. It was likely a base from which the Aryan civilisation spread through the region. Zoroaster is claimed to have been born here, and it is where Alexander the Great married Roxanne, a local Bactrian. A place once renowned for its Buddhist monasteries and stupas, a place the Arabs called the “Mother of all cities”. But after centuries of war and climate change, those days are long gone.
The remains of probably the oldest mosque in Central Asia can be found here, itself having been built on the ruins of Buddhist and Zorastrian temples. This is where I came across the site’s caretaker (chowkidar). He allowed us access to the ruins and to roam the area.
It needed a small truck to get here but, up here in the hills of Kayah State (Myanmar), there was plenty to like as we experienced a wonderfully foliaged landscape interspaced with small villages. In what seemed to be the most substantial local village, we were warmly welcomed by the Padaung, and we had the chance to explore the area by foot. Outside the village, we came across some children who were clearly enjoying each other’s company! Afterwards, we decided to forgo the truck and return to base by hiking down through the hills, which added magnificently to the experience.