January 29, 2008

Name: SPC Beaird
Posting date: 1/29/08
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog url: allexpensespaidafghanvacation

On the streets we’ve come to know almost as well as our own hometowns you see a few types of vehicles on the road more prominently than any other kind. First you have rickshaw taxis, kind of a three-wheeled motorcycle with a carriage on the back for the passengers. These are probably a cheaper alternative to the regular taxis, though they don’t hold up in car accidents very well, as I’ve seen. Then you have the red motorcycles and white Toyota Corollas, often hatchback. I think 90% of people who have their own personal car own a Corolla; it’s almost a pure monopoly here.

The oversaturation of the red motorcycles and white Corollas is what makes us laugh sometimes when we get warnings or reports of suicide bombers in our area and the only description is “red motorcycle or white Corolla with a dent on the side.” Like the dent in the door or broken window makes a difference. Every vehicle has some kind of rough scar on it since auto body repair shops are almost non-existent around here. Or, after reports of female suicide bombers hiding their explosive vests underneath their covering burqas, “Be on the lookout for suicide bombers wearing burqas -- and oh it should be a blue burqa." Just about every single woman we see in the city wears a burqa. That type of intel is about as useful as saying, "Be on the lookout for possible attacks and ambushes from mud huts, one or two stories tall, with naked babies standing out front, in neighborhoods that smell like sewage."

Framed_beaird_jingle1_4 But, I digress. The most interesting vehicle we see in large supply is the jingle truck. Jingle trucks are the construction or transport trucks used by just about everyone who needs to haul any type of cargo or goods or supplies. The cargo, which is often overflowing, will vary, and some of the jingle trucks are even contracted to the US military to transport items for us. But what they all have in common is the elaborate and ornate decorations that cover them.

Framed_beaird_jingle2_4 These colorful decorations are what give the trucks their name, as a lot of the “jewelry”, as I call it, hangs down from the sides and bumpers of the vehicle and makes a “jingle” noise as it moves back and forth, like chimes in the wind. On the sides of the trucks there are usually murals with picturesque landscapes, and maybe a set of large eyes staring at you. The front end of the truck can look like a bomb went off in a box full of Christmas decorations; they are covered with colorful tassles, pom-pom looking things, streamers, and flowers, plus the metallic chimes that give them the jingle.

We’ve been told some of the jingle trucks are actually from Pakistan, but jingle truck culture seems to have spread into other forms of life here in Afghanistan, with people putting all sorts of ornamentation on their jingle cars, jingle vans, jingle rickshaws, jingle bikes, jingle motorcycles, and jingle ANP trucks. I've even seen jingle AK-47s, with green or pink saran-wrap like material wrapped around the handle and buttstock. We sometimes call the civilian Afghan helicopter that we use to transport cargo “jingle air.” 

Part of the reason the jingle trucks stick out so much is the utter lack of any color in the rest of the scenery here. Perhaps that is why they choose to add so much “flair” to items of daily life, as a way to make up for the lack of color or luxuries in the mud hut villages that dot the pale greyish-brown landscape.







Jingle AK-47 on the right, with green wrapping.


Thanks for the rockin' pics, SPC. If it wasn't for milblogs, I never would've understood anything about Afghan culture. Much obliged! Stay safe.

Thanks for the pictures. What the country is missing is flowers. How else can you stop and smell the roses?

Great pics, those trucks are out of this world.

SPC Beaird,

Awesome pictures from Afghanistan. I don't usually see pictures like these on the news, so it's good to have someone on the "ground floor" to tell (and show) us how it really is over there.

I hope you make it home safely and God bless!

I am infatuated with the jingle trucks. I think that this culture is very interesting. I commonly refer to the drivers as “Jingos” (not to be confused with definition found in the dictionary).

Discover the beauty of pakistan. Learn the culture, heritage, traditions and landmarks of different parts of Pakistan especially sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan and N.W.F.P and far northern areas.


Today there was a news story on television featuring the jingle trucks, which was the first I had heard of them. I went on-line to learn more and found your wonderful pictures and information. The trucks are beautiful and show the brave spirit and national pride of their drivers. Thank you for posting this article and thank you all for your Service over there.

Thank for pictures !! It sounds like you have great experience in Afghanistan..It looks like there are maximum people are villagers. And they use the Truck for going from one place to another. Any ways, The Trucks are looking different one. I liked it.

I honestly don't understand people's fascination with the jingle trucks...whats the deal? Why so much love when you have that beautiful landscape out there! Well, I think its beautiful, anyway...

These are probably a more cost effective substitute to the normal cabs, though they never carry up in car damages very well. Then you have the red cycles and white colored Toyota Corollas.

Every vehicle has some kind of rough scar on it since auto body repair shops are almost non-existent around here.

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