08 March 2013: I visited Herat as a part of our bid for airport security in Afghanistan. The City is very different to those in the South and East of Afghanistan.
Herat is some 100km from the Iranian border and has a strong Persian influence. Ok, it is still Afghanistan, and so a fundamentalist Islamic town, but hey, they have a Ferris Wheel and a sense of fun.
The Minarets shown here are unstable and have been the subject of much engineering work to ensure they do not topple. More information on the history of this district of Herat, and these minarets, is available from the Lonely Planet website here.
Our security on this trip was provided by the regional head of border police, a guy we had looked after and vice versa when he ran security at the Kabul International Airport. (We gave him $1,000 for cricket kit so that his Afghan National Policemen (ANP) could play in a local league. We never did see a game - maybe I was naive?) A little good will goes a long way and he came to pick us up from the airport in Herat.
The airport road is frequently bombed, and our soft skinned unarmoured ANP Toyota's would have provided little protection. On the other hand, the two guys in the back with the Dushka Heavy Machine Gun, who were wearing motorcycle helmets to protect against the dust and the cold, gave us a certain 'Mad Max' look and were certainly a strong deterrent to any ground attack.