Opinion

Afghanistan Field Guide: Don't wear sunglasses and eight other essential tips

Planning on going to Afghanistan as a soldier, consultant, diplomat, journalist, or aid worker? Or maybe you’re just curious about how a person navigates this war-torn country that’s so often in the news?

Journalist Edward Girardet, who has been reporting on Afghanistan for more than 30 years – including for the Monitor – edits “The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan.” Written by on-the-ground experts, it includes essays and travel and security tips that could save a visitor’s life. 

For instance, don’t wear sunglasses. Showing your eyes makes you more human to Afghans. And above all:  Remember you are a guest in the country. So act like one.

Here, he gives eight sample "essentials" for getting around Afghanistan.

1. Be met at the airport

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    An Afghan man rides his bicycle past the International Assistance Mission (IAM) in Kabul.
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The changes at Kabul airport over the past decade have been dramatic. Things actually run quite smoothly now, with luggage arriving on the conveyor belt and a relatively efficient immigration service, all computerized, dealing with your entry.

But you don’t want to be standing outside the airport alone. Make sure your guest house or office has sent a car to pick you up. Or catch a ride from one of the Western aid workers or journalists on the plane with you. 

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