11/26/2014 12:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Trip Through the Silk Road City Time Forgot

One of the coolest things about travel is wandering into a place that time seems to have truly forgotten. These days, locations like that are few and far between -- but they still exist. One of the most special to me is Bamiyan, Afghanistan. I went there earlier this year for the Afghan Ski Challenge.
The area is no longer war-torn. In fact, northern Afghanistan is considered peaceful -- the Taliban was very harsh to the local Hazara people and blew up the famed, ancient Buddha structures in 2001. But when the United States troops invaded in 2002, the Taliban was swiftly routed and kicked out. They have yet to resurface there.

And yet, the city, once a critical hub on the Silk Road, is still medieval. It just got (spotty) electricity last year, thanks to a solar power plant built by the New Zealand government, and sharia law still rules on the outskirts of town. But there is some modernization. Among the donkey carts are cars and people still dressed in the embroidered clothing and salwar kameezes that their ancestors wore but also carrying cellphones.


In the fields lie the ruins of Shahr-e-Gholghola, also called The City of Screams, which was razed to the ground by Genghis Khan, who killed every last man, woman, and child in the city. Hence the name. It has not been touched since it was demolished. And you can almost hear the screams if you climb to the top of the once-fortified stronghold.
Watch the video - it's amazing.
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