The Kabul Serena used to be the center of ex-patriot social life in Kabul during the golden period of the Monarchy before the Communist take-over in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. It has had a refurbishment recently but sadly I do not have any photographs of it from that time.
- Hotel security in Kabul: Most large public buildings have a bag search and a metal detector. Afghan security guards are a mixed bunch but they 'profile' which you cannot get away with back state-side which means they give white foreigners the most cursory of inspection. Baksheesh is universally requested everywhere across Afghanistan but do not make the problem worse by giving any. Like most security goons and cops, the less chance they think they have of been overlooked by authority, the greater the chances they will take. If you are an Afghan, some hotels will not allow you through the security doors until you have identified yourself and some one inside knows who you are. The Gandamack Lodge is one of these.
- Any place young soldiers have been paid and let loose on RnR, you will find all of the local service industries trying to rip you off. Taxi drivers, bell-hops, tradesmen, shopkeepers, barmen, bar-girls.
Kabul Looking south from Mausoleum of King Mohammed Nadir Shah 1883-1933
This is a 360 degree panorama taken on the ground 6km north of Kandahar Airfield.
The road to Kabul is to the west, the road from the Airfield into Kandahar town is to the south. There is no cover as far as they eyes can see. There are mountains which run north-south on the east of the road to Kabul and there are mountains which run west-east way to the north of Kandahar. During the Allied bombing in 2001 a unit of escaping Taliban trucks were caught in these area and tried to hide in a few trees which surround a water borehole in one of the villages. This land is not desert, it is earth, and because there has been so little rain there has been nothing growing (2003). It looks like a freshly cleared construction site. At night you can sit around the fire and watch the lights of USAF drones overheard, describing a back-and-fro pattern as if ploughing a field.
The road north from Kandahar. After these hills the Taliban control the road at night. It's another eight hours to Kandahar, but during the Soviet time, it took around five days.
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Street without Joy by Bernard Fall. Required reading for running counter-insugency wars. For some reason, no one ever learns, even though T.E. Lawrence wrote the manual during the Great War.
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