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18 GET TING STARTED •• Costs & Money

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HOW MUCH?

Internet access (per hour): 50Afg

100km minibus ride: 90Afg

One minute phone call to USA/UK: 20Afg City taxi ride: 80Afg 2kg melon: 40Afg

COSTS & MONEY

Afghanistan is by turn both an incredibly cheap and very expensive coun- try to travel in. While the daily costs of eating, drinking and travelling by local transport are relatively low, the cost of accommodation can be high, and travelling by private vehicle very expensive. The large influx of foreign workers with large expense accounts and an economy reliant on imported goods has produced a two-tier system, where dual pricing for locals and foreigners is not uncommon. Payment in US dollars is almost as universally accepted as payment in afghanis. Roughly speaking, if you opt for the simplest hotels, eat only in local

restaurants and at street food stands (and avoid imported groceries, which are available in most towns), and travel only using local transport; you can get by on around 1000Afg to 1200Afg per day. If you’ve been roughing it and need a night in a comfier bed, or a break from an endless diet of kebabs and rice, a single room at a midrange hotel ranges from 1500Afg to 3000Afg per night. Many places charge a flat rate for the room, so sharing a double can cut costs considerably. Kabul is the most expensive place in the country, and a midrange room can cost up to 4000Afg. Top end hotels – almost all of these are in the capital – cost upwards of this, to around 6000Afg. The recent boom in hotel build- ing in Kabul means that many top end places frequently offer generous discounts, which can bring their rates down to the midrange, so don’t be shy about asking. Discounted rates are frequently available for long-term occupancy. For more details on money issues, see p206 .

TRAVEL LITERATURE

Afghanistan is blessed with incredibly rich travel literature. Any of the following will help prime you for your trip (for other recommendations, see History, p25, and The Culture, p41).

The Sewing Circles of Herat by Christina Lamb wonderfully stitches

together accounts of the author’s time with the mujaheddin (including a young Hamid Karzai) with a return to post-Taliban Afghanistan to produce a beautifully balanced mix of reportage and travel writing. The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah is a highly evocative memoir

of an Afghan journalist raised in Britain examining her roots through the lens of the war against the Russians and the Taliban chaos. Our favourite book on Afghanistan in the past few years. The Places In Between by Rory Stewart is the account of an incredible journey walking across central Afghanistan in mid-winter, months after the fall of the Taliban. Pensive and well-observed, it’s a great companion for anyone heading for that part of Afghanistan. Peregrine Hodson’s Under A Sickle Moon is one of the few ‘travels with the mujaheddin’ books to stand the test of time, a keen account of one corner of the war that’s helped enormously by the author’s fluent Dari and eye for character. Ostensibly a quest for the roots of Islamic architecture, The Road to

Oxiana by Robert Byron is still the best travel book on Afghanistan (and Persia), more than 70 years after it was written. Few characters in the travel literature genre are as memorable as the show-stealing Afghan ambassador to Tehran. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby is one of the modern classics of travel writing, describing the misadventures of two Englishmen who trekked to the remote Nuristan region in the 1950s. It has one of the best (and funniest) endings of any travel book.

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GET TING STARTED •• Internet Resources 19

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In An Unexpected Light, Jason Elliot dazzles the reader with a journey around Afghanistan on the eve of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. Elliot displays a sympathetic ear and a keen understanding of the richness of Afghan culture and history.

The Light Garden of the Angel King is a scholarly but still colourful ac-

count of author Peter Levi’s travels in Afghanistan with Bruce Chatwin in the 1970s. Finely written, with suitably distinguished footnotes. A Bed of Red Flowers by Nelofer Pazira is a lyrical memoir of life grow- ing up in 1970s Kabul, the Soviet occupation and her family’s flight to Pakistan and Canada as refugees. The denouement, in Kabul and Moscow, is highly moving. Kandahar Cockney by James Fergusson takes a different approach to

the travel genre, describing the complicated life of an Afghan friend who fled to London as a refugee. A revealing portrait of an under-reported side to recent Afghan history.

Tamim Ansary’s West of Kabul, East of New York is a revealing memoir

of growing up in ’50s and ’60s Lashkar Gah and Kabul, and a life lived in the USA, straddling the cultures of his Afghan father and American mother. Magic Bus is Rory Maclean’s witty and engaging retracing of the old Hippy Trail from Istanbul to Kabul and Goa. Looking at the changes in the countries en route and the metamorphosis from spaced-out intrepids to modern backpackers, it’s highly recommended.

INTERNET RESOURCES

These websites may assist with trip planning, and keep you informed of Afghan news, safety issues, culture and more.

Afghan News Network (www.afghannews.net) Useful news portal covering Afghan current affairs. Afghan Web (www.afghan-web.com) Generic country portal, with sections on just about all aspects of Afghanistan. Afghan Wire (www.afghanwire.com) English translations of stories in the Afghan media, with an encyclopaedic ‘backgrounder’ section on Afghan history, culture and politics.

Institute for War & Peace Reporting (www.iwpr.net) Runs the useful weekly Afghan Recov-

ery Report, written by Afghan journalists. International Crisis Group (www.crisisgroup.org) Heavyweight conflict resolution think-tank, regularly producing excellent reports and analyses of the current Afghan situation. Juldu.com (www.juldu.com) Comprehensive travel site for trekking in the Wakhan Corridor and the Afghan Pamir. Kabul Caravan (www.kabulcaravan.com) Countrywide travel information for Afghanistan, run by the main author of this guidebook. Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) The dedicated Central Asia branch of the Thorn Tree forum is one of the best places to get up-to-date travellers’ reports on Afghanistan. Luke Powell (www.lukepowell.com) Beautiful photographs of Afghanistan from before and after the war. Moby Capital (www.mobycapital.com) Hard to beat daily email service collating news on Afghanistan from the world’s media. Relief Web (www.reliefweb.int) Provides excellent coverage from a humanitarian slant, with news and press releases from the UN and many non government organisations. Survival Guide to Kabul (www.kabulguide.net) An indispensable resource to the city, aimed primarily at expat workers, and with an excellent bulletin board for up-to-the-minute goings on. Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116  |  Page 117  |  Page 118  |  Page 119  |  Page 120  |  Page 121  |  Page 122  |  Page 123
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