I’ve talked a little about the Governor’s Palace or the King’s Winter Palace as it was originally, but let me give you a little more detail.
The grounds were incredibly beautiful. The grass was amazing. I wanted to go over and just lay down and enjoy the smell. But…I’m a very distinguished and important Lieutenant Colonel and JAG officer to boot so couldn’t indulge my whims. Plus the grass was still wet with dew so I’d get my backside all wet. Now that wouldn’t be very distinguished, would it? Instead I went and sat on a bench in the shade and just took in the beauty.
Flowering trees, fruit trees, Evergreens, shade trees, date palms, shrubs, flowers, you name it, it was there. I haven’t seen beauty in such a long time that I just wandered around taking it all in.
There was a large reflecting pool with a fountain in the middle. If it were just a little bit deeper it would have been a great pool to swim in. But the real fun would have been in jumping off the over-looking balcony. I could imagine little princes and princesses doing that very thing. Maybe that’s why it was not built any deeper.
(That's me on the far side of the pool.)
The palace itself was large and impressive. We met the governor in a large receiving room that was littered about with sofas, love seats, arm chairs and coffee tables everywhere. When he came in I was surprised at how young he was. This is terrible, but I was also surprised that he was missing his upper front teeth. I guess I figured the Governor would be older and would be able to afford good dental work.
While we were visiting with him one of his sons came into the room. He was quite the little gentlemen. He went to each soldier, held out his hand and gave us a firm handshake with his small hand. He went over and got a kiss from his Dad. He stayed for a few minutes then left the room. He returned a few minutes later with his younger brother. His brother wasn’t quite so brave and had to be coaxed to shake everyone’s hand. They were incredibly polite, handsome young men. You could tell their Dad was very proud of them.
We got a tour of the main floor of the palace. The receiving room was incredible. I don’t think the pictures will do it justice. The hand-painted mosaics on the wall were so intricate and beautiful. The chandeliers were imposing. Again, sofas, love seats and arm chairs were scattered throughout the room. As we sat there, I wondered what kind of meetings had taken place in this room. Were assassinations planned? Were rebellions quashed? Were treaties negotiated and signed? Was peace achieved? Were wives seduced? (Sorry, that one just slipped in.) Knowing who had lived in this palace and the power that was wielded, only the imagination could limit the things that have probably taken place in that room.
Through the door was the dining room. I’d have to count the number of place sittings in the picture again, but it was more than I can fit around my dinner table. That’s me at the end of the table. Can’t tell it’s me can you. “Pass the salt please” takes on new meaning. (Again, that's me on the far side. I think I counted 12 or 13 chairs down one side.)
Before we left we were presented with the material to make our man-jammies. You can read about that in the “Gifts” entry.
In the hallway was a portrait of one of the kings that had been assassinated by one of his sons. Wais was telling me about it before we saw the portrait so of course had to have our picture taken in front of it.
We went into the cellar that I believe was once a coal cellar then used to store weapons but has been turned into a room with a small stage. Two throne-like chairs faced the stage. We were told that it was a room where small musical groups could perform for the Governor and his guests.
The bathroom, while being a typical Afghan bathroom – I’ll have to write about them sometime – actually had soap. That was something unexpected but welcome. No matter how many times you wash your hands here, there’s always that fine layer of dust and you can see the dirt being washed off your hands. It’s a pretty nasty sometimes.
Well I’ve about run out of things to tell you about the palace…oh, I almost forgot. Ken took a picture of my rear-end. And he says I’m obsessed with it. I think we all know who’s really obsessed with my rear-end, besides my wife…Ken!