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  #1  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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afghanistan trip, travel partner also advice

Hey guys / girls

Im RTW trip at the moment currently in Malaysia soon to be India. I am really wanting to go to Afghanistan. Looking for a travel partner or anyone heading there for any length of time.

Also any tips and advice would be much appreciated.

P.S Im riding a motorcycle around the world but plan to leave it in Pakistan for this part of the trip and travel by conventional means..

thanks guys
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  #2  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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Afghanistan is currently more dangerous than it has been since 2001. Everyone whom I met in 2008 reported feeling very unsafe, even on the streets of Kabul.

Unless you were to fly between the major cities (which is not travelling, is it?), you'd be in great danger. Not from the Taliban necessarily, but from bandits / highway thieves that proliferate across the country, even in areas around Kunduz and the Hazarajat which have always been considered safe.

Plus, the border with Pakistan at Torkham (the Khyber Pass) is closed to all but local traffic; foreigners can't even approach it.

If you do decide to go, make sure you get reliable, up to date info from someone who is there first.

Daniel
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  #3  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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Don't go. You would certainly be in great danger - I kid you not. You may well end up on the internet having you head cut off with a big knife after having been kidnapped, killed by a roadside bomb or simply a bandit. Life is cheap in that country.

I am not exaggerating - I have been recently so I know what I am talking about.

S
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  #4  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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Point taken

Ok point taken. Im never going to be fool hardy enough to say that im fully aware of the risks in going to a country such as this, although im aware to some degree and was never jumping into this with dreams of a holiday in Persian paradise.

Although i do have a friend who was recently there.. as in one month ago and said it was amazing and obviously unsafe but reasonable if you stick to the cities, befriend a local and be seriously conspicuous.

If one were to say... go against common sensibility and advice and go regardless.. what would be the advice those who have been there recently would give? and im not wanting the opinion of military personnel. (not suggesting that you are military, doc, in anyway.)

i really appreciate the people who have taken time to reply to this. really.
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Old 21 Feb 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewmclagan View Post
Ok point taken. Im never going to be fool hardy enough to say that im fully aware of the risks in going to a country such as this, although im aware to some degree and was never jumping into this with dreams of a holiday in Persian paradise.

Although i do have a friend who was recently there.. as in one month ago and said it was amazing and obviously unsafe but reasonable if you stick to the cities, befriend a local and be seriously conspicuous.

If one were to say... go against common sensibility and advice and go regardless.. what would be the advice those who have been there recently would give? and im not wanting the opinion of military personnel. (not suggesting that you are military, doc, in anyway.)

i really appreciate the people who have taken time to reply to this. really.
Andrew,

If you choose to go, dress like a local, stick to cities and be very, very careful whom you trust. Make sure you inform your embassy of your plans and give them your itinerary. Be careful about traveling alone. Many people there will consider you an enemy because of your nationality and the fact that you are a foreigner. If they think you are a spy, you will likely be kidnapped, tortured and murdered. You cannot tell the Taleban from any other local person. Information about you, e.g. the fact that you are a foreigner staying in xxxxx, will likely be sold to someone who is interested for a small sum - a few dollars.

I would advise against falling for the allure of the danger of going there. Most people on the HU website are adventurous souls and like a degree of danger and the thrill of the unknown, but really, be careful here.

S
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  #6  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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[quote=andrewmclagan;230032] and im not wanting the opinion of military personnel.
[quote]

Why would that be? The mil actually know a bit about what is going on in Afghanistan.

I would say that your question is too broad in any case: the country is big enough to vary greatly in what is happening from East to West and North to South and all points in between. Also, what is happening is very changeable, in any case, in timing alone - 3 coordinated suicide attacks in Kabul just over a week ago was quite a busy day for the capital city, but on just about any day it is not a great idea to be in or around Helmand/Kandahar/Qalat/Uruzgan and another dozen or so Provinces. Hopefully you get the general idea.

Other than that, there is some good advice in some of the posts herein. "Safe" accommodation tends to be expensive, even by Western standards - by safe I mean that frequented by hordes of journos/NGOs and so on with multiple security at the door. The asking price depends on how busy things are at the time.
I can't agree with attempting to dress like an Afghan: those I have met take it as something of a joke to think that such ruses will fool the locals - all very whimsical really. I agree with the "city concept": Westerners are the bulldogs bollocks out in the sticks.
ps Some of the biggest crooks are the police who are pretty much corrupt, including the border police.
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  #7  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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hmm

glad this is generating interest.

I really am keen to go and have been for many years, prior to the US/Allied invasion. I wont deny that the danger is also part of the allure of this country, but im a history / photography buff and this region has been the home and centre of many many happenings throughout history.

thanks for the information guys. really appreciated again...Myself i tend to lean towards fitting in with local culture and dressing according. Someone laughing at you is better but realising that your making an effort to show some respect is better then nothing. Although there are two sides to that argument of course, but for some reason it may be gut feeling i just feel it would be better to dress to custom.

I plan to stick to the northern regions as i have heard it is allot more hospitable. Also plan to stay for a short amount of time perhaps 2 weeks, but sticking to the citys is not what i intend. i do intend to spend some time there but not allot.

As far as accommodation goes.. not sure if you guys have heard of couchsurfing.com but there happen to be people participating in Kabul... and i have contact them and in the process of arranging something. see how it works out. Might be safer to stay with a local and get to know some locals. Also may not. Again just putting this out there for discussion.
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  #8  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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I think its a very bad idea.

The risk of kidnapping alone would be enough for me to keep out. I did travel through Pakistan at the end of -07, and I think the risk over there is within acceptable limits, provided you stay out of certain areas. But in Afghanistan, its not. If your on a RTW-tour, normally thereĀ“s more than enough of interesting places to visit on the way, without having to go to places like that.

But I guess its your life, and up to you, what you want to do, just dont say you werent warned. And have you thought, what the situation back home will be, in case you disappear, being kidnapped or whatever?
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  #9  
Old 21 Feb 2009
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cyclists:

2007 Afghanistan/Central Asia archive at www.CyclingHomeFromSiberia.com

Asia Again: Afghanistan (7-12 October 2008):
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  #10  
Old 22 Feb 2009
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Grow up Andrew, I just hope that no squaddies, or indeed yourself, end up being killed or disabled due to your selfish and naive desire to say "look what I have done". Ride safe.
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Last edited by maja; 22 Feb 2009 at 05:26. Reason: grammer
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  #11  
Old 22 Feb 2009
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Andrew, I have similar urges and reasons to you for visiting Afghanistan, but would you really enjoy it? You'd be constantly looking over your shoulder, and security would always have to be your top priority. Flying between the main cities is hardly getting to know the country, and aside from Herat, I doubt you'd be able to see anything of historical intrest (e.g. Balkh, Ghazni, Bamiyan).

Also, have you got someone to keep your bike in Pakistan? You'll have to have a double entry Pakistani visa, and fly both ways from Islamabad to Kabul, which isn't cheap.

It's frankly a daft idea to go now, wait until things improve, and then you can actually see the country, meet the people, and have a meaningful experience.

Daniel
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  #12  
Old 22 Feb 2009
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This thread keeps cropping up occasionally and i don't want to revisit the responses . If you are determined to visit this active warzone then get to Bangkok and see if the visa/flight situation to Kabul is still available via travel agents around the Kao Sahn Road. If you can get there then Good Luck! I understand the need to go to places Off Limits and to prove yourself - but the situation there is escalating and you could be entering a world of hurt for yourself... I hope you have plenty of financial reserves, eh!
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  #13  
Old 23 Feb 2009
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Couchsurfing..... ? If you wanted to pick up the odd travelling foreigner, how easy would it be to put an ad on there ? And give a complete stranger plenty of notice that you are coming too ! Good luck
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  #14  
Old 24 Feb 2009
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ok after much deliberation i have taken all your advice and its no longer goning to be on the itinary.. Northern Pakistan has just settled down by te looks of things.. maybe.. will wait that one out. but anyway thanks for the advice
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Old 24 Feb 2009
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Originally Posted by andrewmclagan View Post
Although i do have a friend who was recently there.. as in one month ago and said it was amazing and obviously unsafe but reasonable if you stick to the cities, befriend a local and be seriously conspicuous.
Going RTW - you're traveling by vehicle, which means you aren't sticking to the cities. But indeed, you would be seriously conspicuous. Would that friend by packing a kalishnakov? (better to be unarmed? then underarmed?)
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