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

Planning on going to Afghanistan? Curious about how a person navigates this war-torn country?

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.”

He gives eight sample “essentials” for getting around.

2. To move around Kabul, walk

Many internationals never get out and about, which means they have little contact with the actual country. And if they do get out, their security details require that they travel by car.

City traffic has become so horrendous that you’re better off walking. Not losing touch with Afghanistan is vital, so we regularly stroll from our guesthouses or homes to visit the bazaar or go to meetings, but we vary the time and routes. Pay attention to passersby or lingering vehicles.

Remain alert and get to know Afghans in your neighborhood, such as local shopkeepers or street kids. They’re your best protection, so strike up conversations with them. Or have a shave at the local barbershop. That’s another good way to talk. On several occasions, our street friends have warned us about suspicious strangers.

You might take a taxi at night. Several taxi services in Kabul specialize in quality transportation for foreigners. They’re reliable and can come in a matter of minutes. Some of us prefer to walk back at night by changing routes, and keeping in the shadows. We feel safer than traveling in a vehicle with armed guards.

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