There is quite a bit of landmines and unexploded ordnance left over in Iraq. There are minefields and suspected minefields along a lot of the borders and surrounding former military bases. Just stick to the hard packed area and listen to the locals.
Bring Enough Cash!
Before crossing the border, stock up on Turkish lira if you haven't got any dollars, euros or pounds sterling. Once inside Iraqi Kurdistan, it's very difficult to get money, so bring enough cash with you to last for the whole trip. I did see a cashpoint (ATM) in the posher suburbs of Erbil with signs for Visa, Mastercard and Cirrus on it, but it was out of action...all the other ATMs I saw were for local cards only.
Changing money is not a problem. You can use banks, although I preferred the moneychangers in the streets. Look out for old men sat behind little stalls with piles of dinars and a big black calculator. Their rates are slightly better than the banks, and I found them pretty reliable. In all four cities, I found moneychangers on the main streets in the bazaars...if you're finding it tricky to locate them, ask in your hotel. Dollars, Euros and Pounds Sterling are the best three currencies to have, although Turkish lira can be changed in some places, especially in Zaxo and Dohuk, but the rates aren't as good. It might be a bit unnerving at first, standing in the middle of a busy street collecting a big bundle of cash, but it's a testament to safety in this region that you can walk down a street counting your dinars without any problems at all...not that I'm advising you to do that, but I did see plenty locals waving wads of dinars around.
Not really a danger, just a warning to keep your passport handy when travelling between towns and cities. There are checkpoints at regular intervals on all roads, some manned by the traffic police who will not be interested in you, others manned by the Kurdish Peshmerga who may want to see your passport or ask you a few questions. It's nothing really to be concerned about...often we were waved through, but if stopped, I generally had to show my visa stamp and say what I was doing in the country. At the last checkpoint before major cities, things are usually a bit stricter...baggage may be searched, passports and ID checked, and foreigners sent to talk to a security official. Stay calm, smile, be polite, and you'll be treated accordingly. If you know some Kurdish, great...if you know some Arabic, good but not as great...otherwise, someone with a bit of English might be dragged out to meet you. Questions are not too deep...what brings you to Kurdistan, where are you from, how long are you staying, where are you going, etc... I never had to wait more than 15 minutes at any checkpoint.
Improvised Explosive Devices
Simply put, this is the single biggest killer of Soldiers over here in Iraq (though it has gotten much quieter in the last year or so). Basically, they take a half dozen mortar rounds or artillery shells, wire them up, then bury them in the road. When our convoys roll by, they detonate them. There are like seven different ways for them to detonate them, and we come up with ways to defeat their detonation, and then they apapt to us, then we adapt to them; it's a never-ending cycle of adaptation. That being said, irregardless of how good your training is, and how alert you stay, in the end, it just comes down to luck, or fate, or God, or whatever it is that you believe in. If it's your time to die, then it's your time to die.
Life Stopping Sand Storms
The sand storms that roll through here are sudden, fierce, and basically literally cause everyone to run (really run) to whatever shelter's available. To be honest, it's kind of hard to describe this lovely little phenomenon unless you've actually experienced it. Sometimes, you see the rolling sand cloud swiftly moving towards you from a distance, while other times its perfectly normal outside until, suddenly, it looks the bloody Mars Rover pictures and a open furnace wind starts sucking the moisture out of your eyeballs. It's heaps of fun!
of course,when travelling in...
of course,when travelling in iraq,you do not say anything about israel,by the way,you do not know where is israel,you have never heard of israel,you have no relatives in israel,it is the first time you hear about israel
Colder than you would Imagine
While deployed to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, I found out the hard way that it was ALOT colder than you would expect. They have winter months of November through March just like the midwest in the United States. I WAS NOT expecting it to be as cold as it was though. For the majority of time it was exactly how it would be if you were in lower Ohio or Kentucky. If anyone is going to be there on deployment or if your a contractor going over there for the first time. Expect to be purchasing more warming layers that what you would expect. It actually DOES snow sometimes in Iraq. Stay Warm.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Religious Travel
- Business Travel
Safe comfortable American loving Iraq
If you wanted to read this review then you must be ready for an adventure. Iraq is known by most people in the world as a dangerous place that you only visit if you are crazy of paid a lot of money to live there. For most of Iraq this is the truth, but in the north it is very different.
Northern Iraq is also known as Iraqi Kurdistan. The people of this region love Americans. Since 1993 there has been peace in this region and they have started to build an infrasctructure that will bring them inline with countries like Jordan, UAE, and Turkey. Even though they are making progress Kurdistan is not yet an industralizing nation. They have a lot of the economic and environmental problems that all developing nations have.
Flying into Erbil International Airport in Kurdistan you will not even recognize that you are in Iraq. The Iraqi flag is not flown anywhere and the people speak their own language. Your passport will be stamped with the symbol of the KRG (Kurdish Regional Goverment) and not the seal of Iraq. When you drive on the roads there are many Kurdish checkpoints that ensure the country is kept free of terrorists. As long as you are respectfull you will have a good trip in Kurdistan.
Until you learn the local language and customes it would be best to hire an interpreter to assist you in getting around. If you need any help in finding any of these services please do not hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for asssitance.
The infrastructure here never really worked. The German brand of Fascism brought orderliness, the Italian type brought national pride, the Iraqi one just brought greed and corruption.
There are garbage dumps where people have lived for long since before we arrived. I fly over a huge dump on the North side of Baghdad almost weekly and am still saddened by the sight of children and women digging through the piles looking for useable items.
The lack of sanitation concerns me as does the exposure of children to this bad practice. They will grow up thinking it is AOK to just throw trash on the ground.
Another common site is that of goats meandering through the piles snacking on whatever they can find.Related to:
- Work Abroad
Drivers here are the worst. I have driven in a lot of different countries. Bosnians and Indians, and Russians are bad but the Iraqis are the worst I have ever seen.
If there is one car length they will take it. Who ever has the loudest horn has the right of way!Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Road Trip
Be careful of what you photograph. Many people, particularly the authorities, are understandably uneasy with taking photos of some things. There's no need to keep your camera in your bag but aside from all the normal common-sense type rules about taking pictures, watch for anyone eyeing you suspiciously and don't hesitate to ask if it's okay to take a picture before you do.Related to:
- Budget Travel
People in Iraq are very...
People in Iraq are very friendly, normally. Nevertheless take care when you are talking to police, military or other 'officials', even hotel personnel, try to avoid political themes, if you are asked a political question better be moderate, show tolerance.
Most Iraqis are anything else but pro Saddam Hussein. Nevertheless the system scares them a very lot - and for sure there are even those who support Saddam Hussein, and believe me, you won't recognize who they are.
There is no real danger, just be careful.
Officially it's forbidden to take pics from one of Saddam Husseins palaces, bridges, military forces, ... something you may be know from other nondemocratic countries.
Bombs, Incomeing, ect
This place is full of people trying to kill you. Bless our Soldiers and there families. There are many dangers here and threats, be carefull if you visit...Related to:
- Business Travel
I have not accommodated personally in this hotel,but the entrance of it was truely a state of...more
48 Hashemi Street, Downtown, Amman 11844, Jordan (Formerly Jordan Tower Amman)
Good for: Business
Al Musbah Square, Baghdad, 0101, IQ
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