Don't make yourself stick out!
Do what you can to make yourself stick out less by packing light and wearing appropriate clothing and maybe letting your facial hair grow a little.
But, don't make it look like you're trying to fool anyone into thinking you're an Afghan! Afghans generally shaved their Tali-beards off and are either clean shaven or keep their beards trimmed. If you go to too much trouble to blend in, they might wonder why and think you have something to hide.
Afghans are very hospitable people but they are guarded in welcoming outsiders.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Landmines and roving bands of armed criminals
Here's a big one : Don't walk where its apparent others don't walk or too close to someone walking on unknown terrain. Even the livestock over there stays on the beaten path. When in doubt, follow the sheep. Near the sides of roadways is especially dangerous.
There are a lot of people carrying a lot of guns, it's not uncommon to see a teenager with a AK-47 straped to his back while riding a moped. I would suggest getting a little something yourself.
!!!*** Mines ***!!!
Afghanistan is one of the most mined nations in the world. Millions of them are spread all over the country and the victims are usually children, often because they pick them up and play with them.
This kid is a shepherd and he was taking the herd on the mountains when he stepped on a landmine.
In the countryside mines paralyze the activities, since agriculture and breeding are impossible in this situation.
Afghanistan is never a safe place to travel, road accidents, bomb, landmines or whatever you can think of, can be happened in Afghanistan at any time. But there are more and more travellers in Afghanistan now and there's a very big int'l community (mainly NGO) working in Kabul. Pickpocket is not very common but take care when you go to the bazaar, which can be very crowded and you may even think it was some kind of a festival. The night curfew in Kabul was cancelled in 3 Nov 2002, but you can still almost find nothing on the street at night. The Mama Najaf Hotel in Bamiyan is notorious for their small thieves (stealing shoes, small bags and so on), always lock your door with YOUR OWN LOCK.Related to:
- Budget Travel
not quite in control...
Kabul, 6th september 2002, 4pm
With the numerous ethnic groups, warlords, al quaida, taliban, and all the baggage from afghan history books, more attacks like this bomb blast in the middle of a crowded marketplace are bieng expected in the future.
Fortunate or unfortunate, we were not too far when it happened. We got our shots.Related to:
- Business Travel
The cities are generally safe, whereas the countryside is more dodgy. Listen to the local advice and stay out of turbulent regions. At present, the worst part is the Kandahar region.
Land mines? Lots of them, so don't venture away from the dusty gravel roads.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Listen to local advice regarding road saftety. Most of the country is still pretty much ok, however, close to Kandahar, the Taliban still holds out. Not thay are going to kill you deliberately but you might be sitting in the wrong bus when the bomb explodes.
Land mines? A problem everywhere so don't stray away from the dusty gravel roads.
Landmines and other unexploded battlefield detritus, commonly known as unexploded ordnance (UXO), contaminate at least 724 million square meters of land in Afghanistan. Only two of Afghanistan's twenty-nine provinces are believed to be free of landmines.
Travel in Afghanistan is extremely dangerous (several tourists have been murdered recently). The only way to see Afghanistan at the moment is to join an NGO - so off you go to www.reliefweb.com and sign up!
Well worth the trip, but only with an NGO...
"Best Time to Go: Don't Go."
So says the Lonely Planet Guide to Central Asia's chapter on Afghanistan. Keep in mind, though, that that was written in 2000. Definitely good advice for the time.
Now, it's not too bad. Like anywhere, ask the locals where to stay away from.
Militias and Guys with Guns
In addition to the land mines, hazards include the ever present militia all over the place. While we were driving around Kabul, we got stopped aobut 3 times by militia members who questioned our presence, and reasons for passing. Upon seeing we were U.S., they let us go by.
Most of the militias are Northern Alliance guys still hanging around. At present, they are still a major part of the landscape, and definitely affect the politics of the country. Fahim Khan, the Minister of Defense, is also one of the more powerful warlords, and still hasn't really divested himself of that title.
Still, one of the omnipresent sights in Kabul is the guy on the street corner with an AK-47.
"If you didn't drop it, don't kick it,"
Land mines are still everywhere...so the above title is a good maxim to follow. As we were passing these guys, they held us up because a mine had been found in the area. Eventually, they let us go. We never saw the mine, but there was a wide area cleared, and spectators watching from outside that space.
Staying on beaten paths, and general situational awareness will take care of you most times. If locals are avoiding a place, ask why...it may be mined.
Stay away from remote places
Afghanistan is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Some terrorist activities such as car bombs and assassinations happened here in the last couple of months. So, you¡¯d better stay away from the bazaar and not to go out alone. One more danger is from landmines or UXOs, that¡¯s why you¡¯d better resist your desire for adventure if you are not a professional de-miner.
Visa problems - you cannot...
Visa problems - you cannot generally get a tourist visa for Afghanistan, although i did meet one ( a tourist that is) but he put his visa down to sheer luck!
Women should never travel alone, unless with a trusted taxi driver or other driver within Kabul city.
Take your own water filter!
The afghani currency is worth very little so be prepared to pay bribes if you feel comfortable with that, if you don't you may be in for a rude shock when they start looking through your bags for things of value!!
French aid agency warns of...
French aid agency warns of Afghan humanitarian catastrophe
PARIS, Sept 19 (AFP) - A French aid agency with 20 years of experience inside Afghanistan on Wednesday warned of an impending humanitarian catastrophe as the country braced itself ahead of an expected US attack.
At a Paris news conference, the Solidarites agency added its voice to the UN run agencies already warning that the evacuation of international staff from food aid programmes could leave millions of Afghans facing starvation.
The president of the Paris-based charity, Patrice Franceschi, said that between three and 3.8 million Afghans out of a population of 26 million depended directly on food aid and the country was in the grip of a drought.
Following last week's terrorist attacks on US cities, international aid agencies have withdrawn their staff from the country fearing the consequences of a possible US counterattack against militants based in Afghanistan.
'Until September 11, some 500 expatriates were working in the Afghan cities and mountains, which have been devastated by years of warfare but also, more especially, by three consecutive years of drought,' Franceschi said.
'This absence of rainfall has already had tragic consequences,' he added.
Solidarites workers among the 15 staff recently pulled out of Afghanistan said a humantarian disaster appeared imminent and that the mass of the Afghan people could not be held responsible for the attitude of the ruling Taliban militia.
PHOTO : Afghan refugee children, along with some adults, shiver from the cold while waiting for medical assistance at Jalozai refugee camp near the Pakistani northwest city of Peshawar 29 January 2001.
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