Balkh is now primarily a mass of ruins, but it was once one of the premier cities of the world. Seriously, look up the history of Balkh if you are not familiar with it. It was an incredible city.
You probably won’t need to rush to see Balkh if you wish to see it before it is ruined by tourists or McDonald’s. Eighty percent of Afghans today live in the same exact landscape Alexander the Great must have beheld when he sacked Balkh in 327 B.C., and Genghis Khan when he sacked it again in 1221: walls of straw and mud, half-gnawed away by weather and age; hand-sown fields tilled by doubled-over farmers in unbleached robes with knobbly, wooden tools. Most have no electricity. No clean water. No paved roads. No doctors nearby. In other words, it’s great.
The Khwaja Parsa Mosque:
As with the rest of Afghanistan, the remaining inhabitants of Balkh are quite photogenic.
As we were driving away from Balkh, I noticed this scene of typical Afghan transportation which I thought encapsulated Afghanistan so very well.