Afghanistan - kabul

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Kabul ‫ﺎﺑﻞ‬
When the Taliban fled Kabul in the face of the post-9/11 US bombing campaign, they
left a city wrecked by years of war. Half the city consisted of rubble and no-one could
remember the last time anything new had been built. It was a city on life-support.
  Today, Kabul seems to change on an almost daily basis. Swathes of the city have
been cleared, and new buildings are quickly thrown up as if in a steroid-powered
building contest. The air is thick with the sound of mobile phones. New restaurants
and busy bazaars cater to the nouveau riche Afghans surfing an economic boom and
the sizeable international community helping with Afghanistan’s reconstruction (or just
making money out of it). While there’s a long way to go before Kabul is restored to its
position as a travellers’ haunt, there’s a whiff of its old cosmopolitan self in the air.
   But it’s not all roses and flashy new 4WD cars. Electricity and clean water remain a
distant aspiration for the majority of the population, which has doubled since the end
of 2001 with returning refugees. Plenty of Kabulis still live in bombed-out buildings or
worse, and beggars, war widows and street children further swell the traffic jams that
clog the city. Reconstruction for the poorest has been frustratingly slow.
   Kabul today is a fascinating snapshot of the birth pangs of a new nation, and a city
permanently on the cusp of change. As an introduction to Afghanistan it’s exciting,
frustrating, inspiring and shocking in equal measure.

    Enjoy the green spaces and flowers of
    Babur’s Gardens (p87), recently restored
    to their former glory
    Ponder the surviving exhibits at the Kabul                         Chicken St
    Museum (p88), a frontline in Afghanistan’s                                                      Landmine
    struggle to keep its heritage alive
    Climb above the City Walls (p90) for crisp
                                                                                      Bird Market
    air and mountain views over the city
                                                     Babur's Gardens   City Walls
    Visit the OMAR Landmine Museum (p93)
    to learn more about the silent killers still
    plaguing the country
    Haggle for carpets and lapis lazuli in
    Chicken Street (p102), home to Afghani-
    stan’s keenest souvenir sellers
                                                   Kabul Museum
    Experience the sights and smells of old
    Kabul at the traditional Bird Market (p90)
    of Ka Faroshi

   AREA CODE: 020               POPULATION: 3 MILLION (ESTIMATED)         ELEVATION: 1800M
        80 K A B U L                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             K A B U L • • H i s t o r y 81


                                                                                                                                                                                              Jalalabad (150km);
                                                                                                                                                                                          To Supreme PX (10km);

                                                                                                                                                                                               Torkham (225km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 To Begrami (3km)
         2 km

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Legendarily founded by Cain and Abel,              RISK ASSESSMENT
                1 mile

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Kabul is an ancient city, repeatedly fought

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As the capital and centre of the international

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               v er

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           over by all the region’s great empires and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              presence in Afghanistan, Kabul is a target

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kabul Ri
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           religions. Known in antiquity as Kabura,           for anti-government elements, and 2006
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           it was an Achaemenid outpost 2500 years

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              saw the first suicide bombings in the city for

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ago, later renamed Parapamisidae by the            several years. Security is generally tight, and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Bactrian Greeks who built a city here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Abdul Haq
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              at the time of research Kabul was quiet but

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Millie Bus

                                                                                                                              ud                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           In the centuries that followed, Kabul be-          unpredictable. The threat of future attacks
                                                                                                                                             tM                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            came a Buddhist city during the Kushan             against targets of ‘high value’ remains –
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           era, Hindu under the Indians and finally


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              these potentially include Afghan and inter-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Muslim with the Arab expansion from the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              t                                                                                                                               national forces, areas around ministries, the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           han                                                                                             east. Kabul’s first Afghan rulers were the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 nK                                                                                                                                                           airport and Jalalabad roads. Be aware that

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         d Ja


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mma                                                                                                                    Ghorids in the 12th century.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        M       oha                                                                                                                                                                           crime is also rising in Kabul – see p87 for

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 K han

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The whirlwind of destruction wreaked by


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              more information.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Id Gah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ir A                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Genghis Khan had largely blown itself out

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wazir Akbar Khan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      0W                                                       1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by the time he reached Kabul, and the city
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           escaped the worst of the Mongol destruc-         the medieval covered bazaar, but also al-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           tion. Kabul prospered under Timur in the         lowed Dost Mohammed to slip back in to

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Zarnegar Park Map (p93)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Kabul City Walls
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jad-e Maiw
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Wa ahm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           14th century, who even married the sister        the country and quietly regain his throne.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  See Kabul River &
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of one of Kabul’s rulers, and used the city as      Incredibly, the British failed to learn their

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Koh-e Shir


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the base for his conquest of India. In 1504      lesson, and were back again in 1878 trying

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   dd Shahr-e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     in Nau

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Kabul was captured by Babur, founder of          to impose their rule. There was another


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the Mughal empire.                               massacre of British residents and another

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 a        t                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       a



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Babur loved Kabul, and had rhapsodised        punitive army sent to Kabul (this time it


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (TV Mountain)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ko                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Koh-e Asmai


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           about its many delights. Even as his am-         was the Bala Hissar to be destroyed). At the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       e           -


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           bition drove him eastward to India he            end of the war, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           dreamed of the city, writing ‘I have a long-     was left master of his kingdom.




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ing beyond expression to return to Kabul.           At the start of the 20th century Kabul
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dahani Bagh


                                                                                                                                     ra k

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           How can its delights ever be erased from         was the focus of an ambitious modernis-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Charahi Deh

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sar Sabzi


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           my heart?’. His body was returned to Kabul       ing program under King Amanullah. The

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  See Central Kabul Map (p85)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           for burial.                                      model quarter of Darulaman was built on
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   To Cure International Hospital (1km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As Mughal interests became centred on         the southwest of the city, with tree-lined
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Darulaman Palace (3km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           India, Kabul’s fortunes waned. A period          avenues and a European-style palace. Kabul
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Federal Express (2km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Kabul Museum (3km)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Abdul Mateen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           of Safavid Persian interest was cut short        boomed for the next 40 years. The USA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           by the meteoric rise to power of Ahmad           and Soviet Union competed to provide vast
                              Panjshir Valley (105km);

                              Mazar-e Sharif (430km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Shah Durrani, who captured Kabul from            amounts of aid, which helped pay for the
                                Bamiyan via Shibar
                                 Paghman (70km);
                                 To Istalif (55km);

                                   Pass (240km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           his Kandahar base, forging the modern            paving of the city and the opening of Kabul

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Afghan kingdom in the process. His son,          University. The capital became a cosmo-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Karte Se

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Timur Shah, moved the Afghan capital to          politan place, and welcomed tourists from


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Kabul in 1772.                                   around the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kabul was never a secure throne. When            Things started to change following the

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Dost Mohammed became amir in the 1820s,          Soviet occupation in 1979. On the sur-


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           he found himself squeezed not just by Af-        face Kabul continued to prosper. Women
                                                                                                                                         Intercontinental Hotel..................... B2

                                                                                                                                                                                               Sufi...............................................10 B2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Zardozi.........................................12 B2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Minibuses to Bamiyan..................13 B4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Serai Shomali Transport Depot...... B1
                                     Afghan Tourist Organisation........... F1




                                                                                                                                                                                               Red Hot Sizzlin'............................... E3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ghazi Stadium..............................11 E3


                                                                                 Babur's Gardens.............................2
                                                                                 Kabul Zoo......................................4
                                                                                 Mausoleum of Nadir Shah..............5
                                                                                 Noon Gun......................................6




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ghan rivals, but by the British and Russian      made up nearly 40% of all governmental
                                                                                 OMAR Landmine Museum.............
                                                                                 Bala Hissar Citadel..........................

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           empires. Initially courted by both powers,       jobs, and the city’s shops were well stocked.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chowk-e Kote

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           the British eventually sent an army of oc-       The population largely sat out the war that

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           cupation to Kabul in 1839, putting their         raged across the country, although resist-
                                                                                 SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           own puppet on the throne. It was an early        ance groups increasingly infiltrated Kabul’s

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           round of the Great Game that ended in dis-       tight defences to carry out guerrilla attacks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hajigak Pass (176km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           aster for the British – their resident hacked    and bombings.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To Ghazni (144km);

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kandahar (490km)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           to pieces by a mob, and the Kabul garrison          If a smooth change of power was ex-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bamiyan via

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           massacred as it tried to retreat from the        pected following the withdrawal of the Red
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           city (see p32). The British sent an army of      Army in 1989, events quickly proved oth-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           retribution to Kabul in 1842 and dynamited       erwise. The victorious mujaheddin entered
        82 K A B U L • • C l i m a t e                                                                                                               K A B U L • • O r i e n t a t i o n 83

        the capital in April 1992 and straight away             lynching of the former communist presi-               rant wearing an extra layer and a blanket on

        fell into a murderous battle for control                dent Najibullah. The illiterate Taliban held          your bed. Temperatures drop to just below                 KABUL’S STREET NAMES
        of the city. Kabul’s residents slid into a              a strong distrust of Kabul and its educated           freezing between December and February,                   Many Kabulis don’t know the names of
        nightmare.                                              Persian-speaking population, and ruled the            when there can be heavy snow. Heavy rain                  streets, and many addresses are given only
           Ahmad Shah Massoud’s Tajiks nomin-                   city with a harsh fist.                               and snowmelt can cause problems for Ka-                   relative to a major road or landmark. Formal
        ally controlled the presidency and most of                 The Taliban’s Vice and Virtue Police               bul’s creaking infrastructure, and thick dust             street-naming plans have been mooted, but
        Kabul, but they were immediately attacked               quickly squeezed the life out of Kabul, beat-         turns quickly to mud.                                     have been mired in controversy – many Ka-
        by the forces of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar,                   ing women for wearing high heels under                   One drawback to Kabul’s mountain-                      bulis have found the renaming of Great Mas-
        whose preferred military tactic was the                 their burqas, and imprisoning men whose               fringed location is that dust and pollution               soud Rd in particular poor taste, given the
        mass shelling of the city. Also jostling for            beards were too short. Mullah Omar only               is easily trapped in the atmosphere, reduc-               destruction of Kabul by the mujaheddin.
        power were General Dostum’s Uzbeks and                  visited Kabul once, and Afghanistan’s capi-           ing the air quality considerably.                            Charahi (crossroads) are commonly used
        the Hazara militias. At different times, all            tal effectively returned to Kandahar.                                                                           as landmarks, so it’s useful to know the
        fought with or against each other, but the                 Under American bombardment, the Tali-              ORIENTATION                                               names of the major junctions when asking
        effects of these ever-changing allegiances              ban fled Kabul in November 2001 and the               Kabul sits in a plain ringed by the moun-                 directions or catching a taxi.
        held little meaning for Kabul’s suffering               Northern Alliance walked back in to power.            tains of the Hindu Kush at an elevation of
        population.                                             Another army followed, this time of aid               1800m.
           The factional fighting devastated Kabul,             workers, contractors and returning refugees.             Little remains of Kabul’s old city. The            buildings of the (blue) Kabul Business Cen-
        which was divided into a patchwork of                   Reconstruction continues, but it’s a slow and         mountains of Koh-e Shir Darwaza run south             tre and the (green) Kabul City Centre. East
        competing fiefdoms. The west and south                  often very frustrating process.                       along the city, topped by the old city walls,         of this is the prosperous Wazir Akbar Khan
        of the city were flattened under continu-                                                                     and leading in the east to the royal citadel          district, home to many embassies.
        ous bombardment, and countless atrocities               CLIMATE                                               of Bala Hissar. The mountains of Koh-e                   The bustle of the city increases the closer
        were committed against civilians. Around                Kabul’s mountain location gives it a gener-           Asmai (popularly known as TV Mountain)                you get to the river. Kabul’s commercial
        50,000 Kabulis lost their lives between                 ally pleasant climate. Babur thought so too,          and Koh-e Aliabad loom in from the north,             heart beats at Mandayi Market around Pul-e
        1992 and 1996, and a flood of refugees left             noting that ‘within a day’s ride from Kabul           pinching Kabul in two.                                Khishti Bridge, and Jad-e Maiwand, the
        the city.                                               it is possible to reach a place where snow               The Kabul River flows between this gap             most traditional areas of the city. Swathes
           The puritan Taliban might have been                  never falls, but within two hours one can             in the mountains, and further divides the             of Jad-e Maiwand were flattened during the
        welcomed as a group that could return the               go where the snow never melts.’ Summer                city. To the north is Shahr-e Nau (New City),         civil war, making it a popular subject for
        rule of law, but they quickly disposed of               temperatures reach a maximum of around                centred on its eponymous park and Pashtuni-           photojournalists. Unlike much of Kabul, it
        this notion. Their first action on capturing            33°C in August, although the high altitude            stan Sq (Charahi Pashtunistan). Near the              remains largely untouched by the recent
        Kabul in September 1996 was the public                  means that nights are cold enough to war-             edge of the park are the new glass landmark           pell-mell development.

           Since the fall of the Taliban, Kabul has seen a huge influx of aid money, foreign experts and re-            among the first subjects of attention from the new Afghan parliament. Western journalists have
           turning Afghan exiles and refugees. Promises of reconstruction were made and expectations from               hardly been able to resist either, finding easy stories amid the ‘party scene’ that has flourished as
           a battered population were high. Compared to the rest of the country, Kabul was in a bubble of               a response to tight security measures and six-day working weeks.
           international attention with a booming economy. And yet in May 2006, a traffic accident involving               Popular frustration is also vented at those in power, with the government regularly derided
           the US army precipitated mass riots across the city, with anger vented at the international com-             as self-serving and corrupt. Several large-scale land-grabs took place following the formation of
           munity and government alike. What went wrong?                                                                the interim government, with powerful ex-mujaheddin figures and others close to Hamid Karzai
              In one respect, the expectations of Kabulis were too high. Kabul’s infrastructure was not only shat-      implicated in lining their pockets by illegally evicting residents. The construction boom, with
           tered by war, but was originally designed for a much smaller city. Many refugees chose to return to          myriad ‘poppy palaces’ sprouting across the city, has further highlighted the creation of an Af-
           the capital to seek work, rather than their home province, placing a massive burden on the city.             ghan elite separate from the mass of Kabulis, who have seen few of the benefits of the economic
              At the same time, many international organisations have proved ineffective at delivering ser-             boom. As their name suggests, many of these luxurious villas are the products of another sort
           vices, either duplicating each other’s work or inadequately consulting with locals on implementing           of ill-gotten gain.
           projects. Of the scores of organisations that flooded into Kabul in 2002, many had little Afghan                Kabul’s exploding economy has been driven by the dollar, having an inflationary effect on
           experience, and spent a lot of money on start-up costs or just reinventing the wheel. Landlords              the price of basic commodities. One side-effect of the influx of NGOs has been to draw qualified
           were quick to capitalise by hiking up their rents – a house in Wazir Akbar Khan costing US$200 a             Afghans away from the public sector. A teacher earning US$40 a month could earn seven times
           month in September 2001 was US$3000 six months later. With the white Landcruisers favoured by                that as a translator for an international organisation, weakening Afghan institutions. Not enough
           many NGOs such a visible symbol of the international presence, they have made an easy target for             has been done to bolster the state, either by foreign donors refusing to disburse monies to the
           mullahs and politicians. The MP and former planning minister Bashar Dost created shockwaves when             Afghan government in favour of funding NGOs, or by allowing NGOs to direct policy or become
           he called for the majority of international NGOs to be closed down, with many others agreeing                providers of services in place of the state. Capacity building still has some way to go.
           with the Afghan proverb that derided them as ‘cows that drink their own milk’.                                  Progress is being made, and there are many NGOs doing valuable work, and fostering strong
              The expat lifestyle has also been the target of popular ire. The free availability of alcohol to          ties to the communities they work in. But as the riots of 2006 demonstrated, wider discontent
           foreigners and the many Chinese restaurants that had opened purely as fronts for brothels were               could cause the bubble to burst yet.




                                                               Internet Access
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Cultural Centres

                                                                                 ISAF (x079 9512 904)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              aimed primarily at expats.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        84 K A B U L • • I n f o r m a t i o n

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Khan) Film showings most Saturdays.

                                                                                                                             079 9322 133;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                was being launched as we went to press.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                has a large book-swap facility.

                                                                                 Ambulance (x020 112/079 9357 049)

                                                                                 Kabul Fire Brigade (x020 210 1333)
                                                                                 Kabul City Police (x020 100/079 9046 714)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 of 1970s maps and very out of date.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     era apartment blocks of Microrayon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              mainly for government and NGOs. Order in advance.

                fees around 40Afg to 70Afg per hour.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              AIMS (Map p85; x070 248827;;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hensively stocked with Afghan-related titles – if they

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ; Charahi Malik Asghar, next to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Shah M Books (Map p85; Charahi Sadarat) Compre-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Goethe-Institut Kabul (Map p85; x070 274606;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              links between Afghan and UK artists; occasional events.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                postcards (with stamps). A mobile shop (Books & Rivers)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Centre Culturel Français (Map p93; x079 9304 351;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lycée Estiqlal) Occasional film showing and music concerts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                British Council (x079 9000 101; www.britishcouncil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Afir (Map p85; House 2, Street 3, Sarakh-e Taimani, Qala-e

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Habibi Bookstore (Map p85; Chicken St) Another well-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                don’t have it, it probably wasn’t published. Wide range of

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              School, Kart-e-Parwan) Visiting Arts programme provides

                                                                                                                                                                Afghan NGO Security Office (ANSO; x070 283320/
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fatullah; h3-8pm) Has a popular and useful Kabul map

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ; Shah Mahmoud Wat, Wazir Akbar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              .org/afghanistan.htm; House No 15-17 behind Nadirya High
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Salang Wat) Sells detailed city and country maps produced
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     the former palace and the Kabul Museum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                stocked bookshop, also sells some international magazines.

                abandon. Broadband is the standard, with
                Internet places open and close with reckless
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Shops and street kids in the Chicken St area
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 sell large maps of Kabul but these are copies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     (formerly Airport) Rd, near the Socialist-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     east of the city at the end of Great Massoud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     trict of Darulaman in west Kabul, home of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also levelled in war was the model dis-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kabul International Airport lies north-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In addition to the shops below, Zardozi (p102)


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   and French.

                and surgery.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              off main street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                expat community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 the half hour):

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Medical Services
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Radio (107.3FM) US radio.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Internet Resources

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 BBC World Service (89.0FM)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    distributed widely across Kabul.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                newsletter with news and listings.

                                                                                                    to international standards:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                NEWSPAPERS & MAGAZINES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  in English, Dari and Pashto.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 AM Internet Club (Map p85; Flower St)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Arman FM (98.1FM) Afghan popular music.

                general practice clinic and emergency treatment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Survival Guide to Kabul (

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Deutsche Weille (90.5FM) In English and German.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Afghan Scene ( Free glossy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Radio France Internationale (89.5FM) In English
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kabul Armed Forces Network/National Public
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    media NGO Aina, launched as we were going to press.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Has a very useful bulletin board for news among the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Park Net Cafe (Map p93; Mohammed Jan Khan Wat)

      ; Hanzala Mosque Rd, Shahr-e
                Nau; h24hr) Private Indian-run hospital with walk in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          New Haider Internet (Map p85; Charahi Haji Yaqub)

                                                                                                    Blossom Group Hospital (Map p85; x070 298397;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What’s On in Kabul ( Weekly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    .org) A new magazine in English and French produced by

                830; near Darulaman Palace, Jad-e Darulaman; h8am-
                Cure International Hospital (Map p80; x079 9883
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    monthly magazine aimed at the international community,

                3pm Sat-Wed, 8am-12pm Thu, closed Fri) General practice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New Kabul/Les Nouvelles de Kaboul (www.ainaworld
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Bakhtary Net Cafe (Map p85; Chicken St) In courtyard

                                                                                                    can provide lists of recommended medical
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  nalism and syndicated international news.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 These radio stations broadcast on FM in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Kabul has a selection of English-language

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Times, Kabul Daily and Kabul Weekly are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  newspapers. The Afghanistan Times, Kabul

                                                                                                    but check drugs for expiry dates. Embassies
                                                                                                    There are plenty of pharmacies in Kabul,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also look out for the military ISAF News,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the pick, all featuring a mix of local jour-

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kabul (remember that news bulletins are on

                                                                                                    services, but the following hospitals are run
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           0                                                                                                                                                                               1 km
                               CENTRAL KABUL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               0                                                                                                                                                                       0.5 miles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               St 7                                                                                                                                             EATING                                                                                                                 Golden Key Seafood........73 E2
                                               INFORMATION                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anaar...............................65 E2                                                                              Herat...............................74 D3
                                               Afghanistan International                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   St 6

Central Kabul
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Baku................................. E2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    66                                                                                 Jaisalmer..........................75 D1
                                                  Bank................................... E3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Qala-e St 5                                                                                                                                            Carlitos..........................(see 52)                                                                             Khosha..........................(see 51)
                                               AIMS.....................................2 C3                                                                                                                                                                                                             71                                                                             Fatullah
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             87                                                                                                                                                                                 Chelsea Supermarket.......67 D3                                                                                        Kulba Afghan..................76 D2
                                               AM Internet Club.................. 3 D3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        St 4
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                88                                                                                                                                              Chief Burger....................68 D3                                                                                  La Cantina.......................77 D2
                                               Anaar Travel..........................4 C3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 89                                                                                                                                                                    Delhi Darbar....................69 D3                                                                                  Lai Thai............................ E2
                                               Bakhtary Net Cafe.................5 D3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   57       St
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 75
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Everest Pizza.................... E270                                                                                 Le Bistro..........................79 D3
                                               Belgian Embassy..................... E2   6                                                                                                                                                                                                   Sa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ra                                                                                                   St 2                                                                                                                                       Flower Street Café...........71 C1                                                                                     Popolano.........................80 C3
                                               Blossom Group Hospital.........7 C2                                                                                                                                                                                                                       kh                                                                                     48
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -e                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   French Bakery..................72 D3                                                                                   Samarqand......................81 D2
                                               Canadian Embassy.................8 E3                                                                                                                              Charahi Sar                                                                                -Ta
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                im                                                                                  St 1  Qala-e
                                                       Hisa-ye                                                                                                                                                      Sabzi                                                                                         an                                                                                      Musa                                                                           43                                                                                                                                                                            Shamiana........................(see 0)
                                               DHL.......................................9 D3                                                                                                                                                                                                                       i/                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Shandiz............................82 E3
                                                        Karte                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Bibi
                                               DK German Medical
                                                       Parwan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Ka
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Street Food stalls/Juice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 a         53                                            81                                                                                                Mahru
                                                  Diagnostic Centre............10 C3                                                                                                                                                   kh                                                                                               Kolola                                            W                                                                                                                                                 Hill                                                                                                                          sellers.......................... 83 D3
                                               Dunya Travels......................11 C3                                                                                                                                                  -e                                                                                             Pushta                                             at
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Sufi 2.............................. 84 D2

                                               Dutch Embassy....................12 C3                                                                                                                                                              lol
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      a                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    70                                                                          Taverna du Liban.............85 E2

                                               Emergency Hospital.............13 D3                                                                                                                                                                          Pu                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              42

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               sh                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               73                                                                                                     Vila Velebita.....................86 F2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ta        90                                                                                                                                                                                                92

                                               French Embassy.................... E3    14                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Kolola                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    85                    34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                66                                     65

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pushta                                                Kabul

                                               German Embassy.................. E3      15                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bu 46                                                                    77

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fort                                                Business      tc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     6                   26

                                               Goethe Institut.................... 16 D4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Centre      St her                                                                   93                                                                                      39

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     S t 13

                                               Habibi Bookstore.................17 D3                                                                                                                             SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES                                                                                                                                                                         51                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Charahi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  S t 14



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              84                       78                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Massoud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  S t 15


                                               Indian Embassy....................18 C3                                                                                                                            European Cemetery.............43 D2                                                                                                                                                      Wazir 49 86
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mosque 76                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    96
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       7                                                                                                   Akbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Charahi Haji                                                                  24
                                               Interior Central Passport                                                                                                                                          National Archives................ 44 D4                              59                           Yaqoub                                                          33         31           Khan   32
                                                  Department.....................19 C4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      74      68                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           41
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               12 G 10               95                25                                                                 97
                                               Iranian Embassy...................20 D3                                                                                                                            SLEEPING                                                                          hiy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        as      91                                     Ci                                      Charahi    8    82
                                               Italian Embassy..................... E4  21                                                                                                                        Assa 1................................. 45 D3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Charahi                                                            60          ud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    11                  Shahr-e       Za nem                                 Wazir Akbar                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DRINKING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Nau Park           in a                            40    Khan              94
                                               Japanese Embassy................22 E3                                                                                                                                       Dahani
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Assa 2................................. 46 D2                                                   W 37                                                                                   St 35                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cabul Coffee House.........87 C1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Bagh                                                                                      at      Charahi              3 Rd ab                                                 15
                                               Kabul Bank..........................23 D3                                                                                                                          Assa 3................................. 47 D3                                                                              Shahr-e           47         13                       22                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Deutscher Hof.................88 D1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Kabul Ansari

                                               Moneychangers Offices.......24 E3                                                                                                                                  B's Place...............................48 D1                                                                         83     Nau                 69                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Hare & Hounds..............(see 50)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        City Centre

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 63                           Charahi           15
                                               Net Café............................(see 28)                                                                                                                       Euro Guest House................. E2    49                                                                  28                                   64         Sherpur                  27                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             L'Atmosphere..................89 C1

                                               New Haider Internet............25 D2                                                                                                                               Gandamack Lodge.............. 50 D3                                                  80                                             45                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mustafa Hotel...............(see 58)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     r S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           62                   50          20
                                               Norwegian Embassy............. E2        26                                                                                                                        Golden Star Hotel................51 D2                                                                                                                                                     1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Charahi                          55                                                        Charahi
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Quwayi Markaz                                           23          Charahi

                                               Pakistani Embassy................. E3    27                                                                                                                        Heetal Heritage Hotel........... E2     52                                                                                                                             Zambaq                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       SHOPPING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In                              67                Torabaz            38
                                               Park Netcafé........................28 C3                                                                                                                          Insaf Hotel.........................(see 80)                                                   te                                             Khan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Afghan Gallery................90 C2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ri o 4               79       72   J ad
                                               Post Office.......................... 29 D4                                                                                                                        Kabul Inn.............................53 C2                                                           r                                   -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Afghan Handicrafts
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 2                                                       5 e To                             14

                                               Shah M Books..................... 30 D4                                                                                                                            Kabul Lodge........................54 C4                                                     18 Min                                            rab                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Centre.........................(see 4)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     17              az


                                               Sky Travel & Tours...............31 E2                                                                                                                             Le Monde Guest House.......55 C3                                                         54                                                           Kh                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nomad Carpet Gallery.....91 C3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             19 ry R 29
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     d             36                      an                                     21

                                               Standard Chartered Bank.....32 E2                                                                                                                                  Maple Leaf Inn....................56 C2                                                                                                                                               Charahi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Tarsian & Blinkley............ 92 D2


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           La assp

                                               Swedish Embassy.................33 E2                                                                                                                              Marco Polo Inn....................57 C1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Zarif & Royah..................93 D2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sa                  61
                                               Swiss Embassy...................... E2   34                                                                                                                        Mustafa Hotel..................... 58 D4

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       la n              Charahi
                                               Tajikistani Embassy...............35 E3                                                                                                                            Naween Guest House..........59 C2                                                                         g       44 Sadarat      30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                TRANSPORT

                                               TNT..................................... 36 D4                                                                                                                     Park Palace..........................60 C3                                                                     at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Air Arabia......................(see 11)
                                               Travel World........................37 C3                                                                                                                          Rose Garden & Carwan                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ariana Afghan Airlines.....94 E3

                                               Turkish Embassy...................38 E3                                                                                                                               Sarai Hotel.......................61 D4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Azerbaijan Airlines...........95 C3
                                               Turkmenistani Embassy........39 E2                                                                                                                                 Safi Landmark Hotel............(see 0)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          See Kabul River & Zarnegar Park Map (p93)                                                                                                           Indian Airlines..................(see 4)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       S h ah

                                               UK Aliabad
                                                    Embassy......................... E3 40                                                                                                                        Salsal Guest House.............. 62 D3                                                                                                                                                                                         Malik Asghar                                                   Jad                                                                                                                                                   Iran Asseman Airlines....... F2      96
                                               US Embassy.......................... F3  41                                                                                                                        Shahr-e Nau Guest House... 63 D3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Fro
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           shg                                                                                                                                        Kam Air...........................(see 0)
                                               Uzbekistani Embassy............ E2       42                                                                                                                        Star Inn............................... 64 D3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                ah                                                                                                                                                           Pul-eMahmoud
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PIA................................... E3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       River                               97
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        K A B U L • • C e n t r a l K a b u l 85

        86 K A B U L • • I n f o r m a t i o n                                                                                                            K A B U L • • D a n g e r s & A n n o y a n c e s 87

                                                                                                                                     sights, and can also arrange trips to Istalif,                   There have been kidnapping attempts

           KABUL’S STREET CHILDREN                                                                                                   the Panjshir Valley and the like:                             (successful and unsuccessful) against for-
           The UN estimates that around 60,000 school-age children work on the streets of Kabul. Contrary                            Afghan Logistics & Tours (x070 277408/079 9391                eigners by criminal gangs. For more on kid-
           to popular belief, most of these children aren’t orphans, they’re just desperately poor. You’ll see                       462;; full-day Kabul tour        napping, and other security concerns, see
           street children everywhere, cleaning shoes, collecting rubbish or burning spandi (a sort of aromatic                      US$80)                                                        the Safety in Afghanistan chapter, p68.
           herb) in tin cans and waving the smoke over people for good luck and a few afghanis. A good                               Great Game Travel (x079 9489 120/077 9489 120;                   One environmental hazard you’ll quickly
           wage is 50Afg to 100Afg a day.                                                                                  ; full-day Kabul tour US$80,           become aware of is the terrible quality of
              Many children have to support parents who are impoverished, disabled or widowed. Although                              US$60 per person if four people)                              Kabul’s air, thick with pollution from the
           the Afghan constitution makes primary education compulsory, economic necessity forces these                                                                                             traffic, thousands of generators and the
           children away from school. Many schools charge fees that are out of reach of the poorest Afghans,                         Travel Agencies                                               endless dust. Anyone staying in the city for
           and while school registration has increased five-fold since the fall of the Taliban, around seven                         The following agents are reliable providers of                any length of time is liable to pick up the
           million children don’t attend classes, over half the children in the country.                                             international air tickets. Plenty more agents                 ‘Kabul cough’ – seeking fresh air outside
              One highly regarded charity working with street children is Aschiana ( Mean-                         are clustered around Charahi Ansari.                          the city is the best remedy. In winter and
           ing ‘nest’ in Dari, Aschiana recognises the problem of children being forced to work out of need,                         Anaar Travel (Map p85; x079 9308 303; www.anaar               spring, the dust can quickly turn streets into
           and provides basic literacy and numeracy education to the poorest children. Many children attend                ; opposite Indian Embassy, Interior Ministry Rd)   mud slicks.
           classes in the morning and receive a meal at lunch before going to work in the afternoon. Older                           General sales agent for Indian Airlines.
           children also receive vocational training once they can read and write. Based primarily in Kabul,                         Dunya Travels (Map p85; x079 9386 921/070 238700;             SIGHTS
           Aschiana has recently started to expand to Herat and Mazar-e Sharif, as well as setting up out-                 ; Charahi Ansari)                         Babur’s Gardens
           reach camps for returning refugees. It’s an uphill struggle, but several hundred children a month                         Sky Travel & Tours (Map p85; x020 210 4410/079                Laid out by the Mughal ruler Babur in
           are integrated into the education system through their work: one for every five kids working                              9484 848;; Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan)     the early 16th century, and the site of his
           Kabul’s streets.                                                                                                          Travel World (Map p85; x020 2203453; Charahi                  tomb, these gardens (Bagh-e Babur; Map p80; admis-
                                                                                                                                     Ansari)                                                       sion 100Afg; h7am-sunset) are the loveliest spot
                                                                                                                                                                                                   in Kabul. At 11 hectares, they are also the
        DK German Medical Diagnostic Centre (Map p85;                 INTERNATIONAL COURIERS                                         DANGERS & ANNOYANCES                                          largest public green space in the city. Left to
        x079 9136 211;; Street 3, Cha-          DHL (Map p85; x070 276362/079 9750 750; Charahi                Security in Kabul is now handled primarily                    ruins during the war, they have been spec-
        rahi Ansari; treatment requires deposit of US$100/5000Afg     Sherpur; h9am-6pm Sat-Thu)                                     by the Afghan police and army – the ISAF                      tacularly restored by the Aga Khan Trust
        against cost of treatment; h9am-5pm, closed Fri) Offers       Federal Express (Map p80; x020 2500525; Sarakh-e               military patrols that were such a common                      for Culture (AKTC).
        wide range of laboratory diagnostic tests, vaccinations       Khai, Karte Se; h8am-5pm Sat-Thu)                              sight until recently have largely taken a back                   The garden was laid out in the classi-
        and X-rays. Dental and gynaecological services were being     TNT (Map p85; x020 2200266; Charahi Torabaz Khan;              seat. Although the situation can change in-                   cal charbagh (four garden) pattern, with a
        introduced as we went to press.                               h8am-5pm Sat-Thu)                                              credibly quickly, Kabul is generally a calm                   series of quartered rising terraces split by a
        Emergency Hospital (Map p85; x070 287519; Cha-                                                                               city, with the greatest risk to personal safety               central watercourse. The garden was used
        rahi Sherpur; h24 hr) Emergency surgical centre only.         Telephone                                                      being the insane traffic.                                     as a pleasure spot by repeated Mughal rul-
                                                                      Kabul’s phones are in a state of confusion                        It’s essential to keep in touch with the                   ers, but fell into disrepair after the dynasty
        Money                                                         (see p209). In addition to the new mobile                      news, and to talk to locals and other for-                    lost control of Kabul. Abdur Rahman Khan
        For exchange, ask at your hotel or guest-                     phone networks, Kabul had some digital                         eigners to gauge the popular mood, as well                    restored much of the grounds at the turn
        house; banks aren’t much help. Money-                         fixed lines installed in 2000 with seven-digit                 as getting security briefings where possi-                    of the 20th century. Public access was al-
        changers are found at Charahi Torabaz                         numbers, and a decrepit five-digit analogue                    ble. That said, the riots that shook Kabul                    lowed in the 1930s, but the gardens were
        Khan or in the market around Pul-e Khishti                    network. Both can usually only call other                      in 2006 took almost everyone by surprise.                     despoiled and many trees cut for firewood
        Mosque. Look for the small stands with                        local numbers.                                                 At such times, visibly Western buildings or                   in the anarchy that swept through Kabul
        piles of money. There are also some money-                       It’s possible to place calls at any of Kabul’s              interests can be targets.                                     during the civil war.
        changers around the taxi stands of Serai                      post offices, but it’s easier to go to any of the                 There have been several incidents of                          The garden is surrounded by high walls,
        Shomali motor park.                                           phone stands found on any street.                              street crime against foreigners, mainly bag-                  rebuilt by the local community. Visitors are
        Afghanistan International Bank (Map p85; behind                                                                              snatching. A vehicular version of this has                    greeted by a large traditional caravanserai
        Amani High School, Wazir Akbar Khan;h9am-5pm Sun-             Tourist Information                                            been the ‘broken car’ ruse – your vehicle is                  which is planned to open as a visitors centre,
        Thu, 9am-1pm Sat) ATM. Also has 24-hour ATMs at Kabul         Afghan Tourist Organisation Head office (Map p80;              flagged down by a local claiming his car has                  showing many of the finds excavated in the
        Airport, Intercontinental Hotel, Kabul City Centre, Chelsea   x020 2300 338;; Great Massoud               broken and needs assistance. When your at-                    archaeological dig that preceded the resto-
        Supermarket and Supreme PX. Issues dollars and afghanis.      Rd); Asmai Wat (Map p93; x079 9304 516) The head               tention is drawn, his accomplices rob your                    ration. Although modern, it stands on the
        Kabul Bank (Map p85; Jad-e Torabaz Khan) Also has a           office is the place to go for letters to extend visas. The     vehicle. We recommend keeping all doors                       footprint of an older building of the same
        branch of Western Union.                                      Asmai Wat branch can organise drivers and translators.         locked when driving in Kabul.                                 plan built as a refuge for the poor in the
        Standard Chartered Bank (Map p85; Street 10, Wazir            There are two largely ineffective sub-offices at the airport      We don’t recommend walking in Kabul                        1640s. From the caravanserai the eye is im-
        Akbar Khan;h9am-6pm) Issues dollars and afghanis.             and Intercontinental Hotel.                                    after dark. Aside from the crime risk, there                  mediately swept up the terraces, following
                                                                                                                                     are very few streetlights, so broken pave-                    the line of the white marble watercourse.
        Post                                                          TOURS                                                          ments present a genuine accident risk.                        On either side the grounds are deeply
        Central Post Office (Map p93; Deh Afghanan)                   Two private tour operators run good qual-                      Many international organisations maintain                     planted with herbaceous beds and sap-
        Post Office (Map p85; Interior Ministry Rd)                   ity city tours of Kabul, taking in the major                   curfews for their staff.                                      lings. Many species chosen for replanting
        88 K A B U L • • S i g h t s                                                                                                                    K A B U L • • S i g h t s 89

        are specifically mentioned in the Babur-                   The museum opened in 1919, and was al-

        nama, including walnut, cherry, quince,                 most entirely stocked with items excavated             THE BACTRIAN GOLD
        mulberry and apricot trees. In the centre               in Afghanistan. As the fall of communist               In 1978 a hoard of Kushan gold was excavated by Soviet archaeologists near Shiberghan. Dubbed
        of the garden is a pavilion built by Abdur              Kabul became apparent with the Soviet                  the ‘Bactrian Gold’, it was a trove to rival Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt, but decades of war have
        Rahman Khan, with a series of information               withdrawal, many of the most valuable                  kept it hidden from the world.
        boards on the restoration programme.                    pieces were moved into secure storage, but                The find had barely been catalogued by the time the Russian tanks rolled in, and the treasure
           Above this there’s a delicate white mar-             the majority of exhibits remained in situ.             was never publicly displayed. Over the years, stories grew up around it – it had been spirited to
        ble mosque built in 1647 by Shah Jahan,                 Unfortunately the museum quickly found                 Moscow, looted by the mujaheddin, sold by the Taliban or just plain lost. In 2004 the Afghan gov-
        who commissioned the Taj Mahal. While                   itself on the frontline of the mujaheddin’s            ernment revealed its location to the world, safely stored in the national bank vaults, using power
        on a much smaller scale, the similarities               terrible fight for Kabul. Between 1992 and             tools to open the safes as the keys had long disappeared.
        in style are evident in the clean carving of            ’94 the museum was used as a mujaheddin                   The gold revealed inside was astounding. A crown made of thousands of leaves of yellow metal,
        the stone.                                              base. During this period the museum was                curly-haired cupids riding dolphins, clasps showing Persian gods, and a sensual brooch of the Greek
           Overlooking the whole of the garden                  massively looted – not just ransacked – but            goddess Aphrodite with Bactrian wings and an Indian face. All rich evidence of the cultural melting
        from the top terrace is Babur’s tomb, in-               with care taken to select the most valuable            pot of 1st century Afghanistan.
        side a simple enclosure. Babur wished to                pieces for resale on the illicit antique mar-             The Bactrian Gold has yet to be exhibited in Kabul as security still isn’t good enough to put it
        be buried under the open sky so his grave is            ket (the museum’s library and inventory                on public display. But at the end of 2006 it formed the centrepiece of a special exhibition at the
        uncovered, surrounded by a simple marble                was also lost at this time, to hamper efforts          Musée Guimet in Paris, appropriately titled ‘Afghanistan: Rediscovered Treasures’. Several of the
        screen. The headstone says it was erected               to trace the provenance of stolen goods).              remaining Bagram Ivories also featured in the exhibition, alongside Kushan glass goblets and ma-
        for ‘the light-garden of the God-forgiven               Among the priceless treasures lost include             terial from Ai Khanoum. It’s hoped that before too long the Afghan people will be able to enjoy
        angel king whose rest is in the garden of               many of the Bagram Ivories (see p109), the             their heritage in Kabul for themselves.
        Heaven’. Given the near-miraculous resur-               Kunduz Hoard of Graeco-Bactrian coins
        rection of the grounds, it’s an easy poetic             (see boxed text p163) and unique Gand-
        sentiment to agree with.                                haran statues of Buddha. During this loot-           find. The oxymoronically-titled Minister             the flat mask-like faces seem more Central
                                                                ing, the museum was further damaged by a             for Culture led the destruction.                     African than Central Asian. The statues
        Kabul Museum                                            rocket attack that destroyed its upper floor.           That a museum still stands is little short        were chopped up by the Taliban, but have
        The Kabul Museum (Map p80; Darulaman; admission         When the Rabbani government regained                 of a marvel. Less than a third of the col-           been magnificently restored.
        20Afg, camera 100Afg; h 8am-3.30pm) was once            control of the area, soldiers posted to              lection survives, but there’s a surprising              Security is tight at the museum, with bag
        one of the greatest museums in the world.               guard the site continued ad hoc looting of           amount on display. In the entrance hall is a         checks as you exit as well as on entering.
        Its exhibits, ranging from Hellenistic gold             their own.                                           15th-century black marble basin from Kan-            While you wait, take a moment to read the
        coins to Buddhist statuary and Islamic                     On capturing Kabul in 1996 the Taliban            dahar, known colloquially as the Buddha’s            plaque outside the front door: ‘a nation
        bronzes, testified to Afghanistan’s location            vowed to protect what remained, but it was           Begging Bowl because of the carved lotus at          stays alive when its culture stays alive’.
        at the crossroads of Asia. After years of               a short-lived promise. In March 2001, as             its base. To the left is a large Greek inscrip-         The old royal palace of Darulaman sits oppo-
        abuse during the civil war, help from the               the giant Buddhas at Bamiyan were being              tion from Ai Khanoum and to the right is             site the Kabul Museum. Built by Amanullah
        international community and the peerless                levelled, soldiers entered the museum with           the Rabatak Tablet found near Pul-e Khumri           in the 1920s, in grand European style, the
        dedication of its staff means the museum                hammers and smashed what statues and                 in 1993, covered with yet-to-be deciphered           palace is now little more than an empty shell.
        is slowly rising from the ashes.                        other image-bearing exhibits they could              Bactrian script.                                     Don’t explore the palace too closely as there
                                                                                                                        Further on, a pair of glass cases display         are still unexploded ordnances (UXOs) in
                                                                                                                     Graeco-Bactrian Buddha statues from the              the area. Between the two look out for the
           BABUR, THE FIRST MUGHAL                                                                                   3rd and 4th centuries AD in limestone and            rusting steam train, more evidence of Aman-
           Born in 1483 to the ruler of the Ferghana Valley in modern Uzbekistan, Zahiruddin Babur inherited         schist, the few to escape the Taliban’s rage.        ullah’s ill-fated experiment in modernity –
           his father’s kingdom before he was even a teenager. His early career was less than brilliant. By the      Other treasures downstairs include a lovely          only a few miles of track were ever laid.
           age of 20 the young king (a descendant of Timur on his father’s side and Genghis Khan on his              carved marble door from Kabul, and a recon-
           mother’s side) had repeatedly captured and lost his beloved Samarkand, only to be driven out of           structed stucco section of a 12th-century            European Cemetery
           the Ferghana by Uzbek warlords.                                                                           mosque from Lashkar Gah. Exhibits are                This cemetery (Map p85; Kabre Ghora, Shahabuddin
               This misfortune sent him to Afghanistan, where he took Kabul in 1504. Here he prospered,              interspersed with photos of looted items             Wat; admission by donation; h8am-4pm) was built
           visiting Herat during its last days of Timurid rule, capturing Kandahar and campaigning in the            and the half-demolished museum.                      in 1879 by the British army for the dead of
           Hazarajat. Afghanistan also became the springboard for his ultimate conquest of India, where he              The highlight of the museum is the Nuri-          the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
           founded the Mughal dynasty (‘Mughal’ being a corruption of ‘Mongol’ – local parlance for anyone           stani gallery upstairs. It is filled with huge          The cemetery contains around 150 graves.
           from Central Asia).                                                                                       wooden deities and ancestor figures, carved          Most are from members of Kabul’s inter-
               But Babur wasn’t just an empire builder. He recorded his memoirs in the Baburnama, Islamic            before the 1890s when the region was still           national community from before the war.
           literature’s first autobiography, relating everything from his military campaigns to the after effects    pagan. Goddesses ride mountain goats,                Only a few of the original British Army head-
           of his drinking parties and the choosing of plants for his formal gardens. Babur’s intimate charac-       warriors sit astride horses and loving cou-          stones remain, now mounted in the south
           ter sketches of generals and poets bring his court to life in rich detail, and reveal a great love for    ples are carved on posts for the marital bed.        wall. They have been joined by newer memo-
           Afghanistan and a distaste for the climate of his new Indian empire. Babur died in 1530.                  As works of art they’re radically different to       rial stones added by the British, Canadian,
                                                                                                                     anything from elsewhere in Afghanistan;              German and Italian ISAF contingents.
        90 K A B U L • • S i g h t s                                                                                                          K A B U L • • S i g h t s 91

           The cemetery’s most famous resident is             booths selling birds by the dozen, plus the         There are two routes leading up the slopes        Visitors are greeted by a bronze statue of

        Aurel Stein, the acclaimed Silk Road ar-              occasional rabbit.                               to the mountain’s ridge. A longer path on a       Marjan the lion, the zoo’s most celebrated
        chaeologist of the early 20th century. Stein             King of all the birds on sale is the kowk     gentler gradient takes you to an obvious pass     animal. A present from West Germany in
        spent much of his career obsessed by Al-              (fighting partridge). These are prized by        between two peaks. To the left was territory      the 1960s, Marjan survived life on the front-
        exander’s campaigns in the east, but his              their owners who lavish great care on            held by Hekmatyar during the civil war, with      line and a Taliban grenade attack, only to
        British citizenship meant that the Afghan             them, and keep them in domed wicker              Massoud’s men to the right. A better alterna-     expire soon after Kabul’s 2001 liberation. He
        authorities always refused him permission             cages that are almost works of art in them-      tive is to keep to the right and head steeply     has since been replaced by a pair of lions pre-
        to dig in the country. In 1943 he got the             selves. Kowk are fought on Friday morn-          uphill straight away. A 40-minute hike            sented by China. A couple of sloth bears can
        go-ahead at the age of 82, only to catch              ings in quick bouts of strength (the birds       brings you to a high ridge from where you         be seen in a pit, pacing like asylum inmates.
        the flu and die a few days after arriving             are too valuable to allow them to be seri-       can look east to the Bala Hissar, and north       Some wolves do the same nearby, next to
        in Kabul. His grave is marked with a large            ously harmed), with spectators gambling          to central Kabul – Shahr-e Nau Park, Jad-         a cage of grumpy-looking black vultures.
        cross and frequently a wreath. More re-               on the result. Their highly territorial na-      e Maiwand and the Pul-e Khishti Mosque            Only the colony of macaques look happy
        cently, the cemetery saw the burial of the            ture also lets them act as decoys for hunt-      are good monuments to take your bearings          with their surroundings, with the young div-
        French aid worker Bettina Goislard, mur-              ers, attracting potential rivals who end up      from. Boys quite often fly kites here. At         ing pell-mell into their moat (this could be
        dered in Ghazni in 2003.                              in the pot.                                      this point you’re already higher than Koh-e       an illusion though – one effected an escape
           The cemetery has been maintained since                Similar to the kowk is the budana, a small    Asmai (TV Mountain) opposite.                     during our visit, and was rounded up by
        the 1980s by Rahimullah, supported by a               lark-like bird. These are also fought, es-          Continue west along the ridge. Almost          visitors using the time-honoured method of
        small stipend from the British Embassy.               pecially among Kandaharis. Unbelievably,         straight away you meet the old walls, several     throwing chairs at it).
        His story of meeting a disapproving Mul-              their small size means that their owner fre-     metres thick in places. Although the path is         The zoo sits on the Deh Mazang round-
        lah Omar (the Taliban had a guesthouse                quently keeps them tucked in his trousers,       clear and well-beaten, it’s possible to find      about, in front of the newly rebuilt Traffic
        next door) is worth the hearing, and always           bringing them out for contest and display.       plenty of spent ammunition here, so resist        Police headquarters (until recently one of
        popular with journalists.                             More benign are the myriad canaries and          the temptation to nose around any of the          the most spectacularly smashed buildings
                                                              finches, kept simply for their song.             foxholes near the walls. As you slowly ascend     in Kabul). The Minar-e Abdul Wakil Khan
        Ka Faroshi Bird Market                                   At the far end of the bazaar are the kaftar   the ridge curves north, revealing splendid        stands in the centre of the roundabout,
        Entering Kabul’s bird market (Map p93; Kucha-ye       (doves), a common sight in Kabul’s late          views of west Kabul and Darulaman.                erected for a Nuristani general who fought
        Ka Faroshi; hSat-Thu) is like stepping back in        afternoon skies (see boxed text below) .            After half an hour of walking you’ll near      against Bacha Saqao’s rebellion in 1929.
        time a hundred years, to a corner of the                                                               the end of the ridge and a final view – this
        city untouched by war or modernisation.               Bala Hissar & the City Walls                     time straight down to Babur’s Gardens and         National Gallery
        Also known as the Alley of Straw Sellers,             The old seat of royal power, a fortress has      Kabul Zoo. With views to all sides, this is       The National Gallery (Map p93; Asmai Wat; admission
        it’s a narrow lane tucked away behind the             stood on the site of the Bala Hissar since the   the best spot in Kabul for understanding          250Afg; h8am-4pm) contains a mix of historic
        Pul-e Khishti Mosque, lined with stalls and           5th century AD, and quite possibly before.       the city’s geography, especially the narrow       pictures and paintings by modern Afghan
                                                              It sits at the foot of the Koh-e Shir Darwaza    strategic gap where Koh-e Shir Darwaza and        artists. Like Kabul’s other cultural institu-
                                                              mountains, guarding the southwestern ap-         Koh-e Asmai almost meet – known as the            tions, it didn’t escape the Taliban’s zealous
           DOVE CHARMING                                      proaches to Kabul.                               Shir Darwaza (Lion’s Gate) – with the Kabul       attentions, as the cabinet displaying ripped
           Flying doves is almost as much a national             The citadel (Map p80) as it stands today      Valley stretching far in either direction. Also   up watercolour portraits attests. Amazingly,
           sport as buzkashi. It even has its trademark       was built at the end of the 19th century.        look out for the platform of the Noon Gun,        however, the gallery’s staff fought back as
           bird, the white-bodied and grey-winged             The previous fortress was destroyed by           and follow the path downhill towards it.          only artists could. Knowing the Taliban’s
           amiree. Owners keep their flocks in rooftop        the vengeful British army at the end of the         The Noon Gun is in fact two cannons dat-       juncture against images of living things,
           cages and fly them every night. It looks like a    Second Anglo-Afghan War. Now, as then,           ing from Abdur Rahman’s reign. They were          many of the exhibits were over-painted
           peaceful pastime but is actually fiercely com-     it is used by the army and closed to visi-       fired daily, and to mark the end of the Rama-     with watercolours, hiding a horse behind
           petitive. As a flock circles in the sky, a rival   tors. However, the old city walls snake out      zan feast, but only the barrels now remain.       a tree, or turning a person into a mountain
           flock may be released by another owner to          from its towers along the mountain ridges        From here, follow the paths through the local     view. Over 120 paintings were saved from
           fly amongst it. Battle joined, the new flock       and make a fantastic walk, raising you high      houses to emerge near Babur’s Gardens.            destruction in this way when the zealots
           attempts to charm birds away from its com-         above the dirty air of the city to give some        The walk should take three or four hours       came with their knives.
           panions, and to return with them to its new        breathtaking views of the capital.               in total. Take a sun hat and plenty of water.        Some of the most poignant paintings are
           owner, who scoops them up with a net. The             The starting point is at the foot of the      Although there aren’t any red rocks desig-        relatively recent, including a moving pic-
           owner, or kaftar baz, uses whistles, calls and     huge cemetery of Shohada-ye Salehin. Most        nating mines, we’d still advise you to stick      ture of Kabul in rubble by Dr M Yousef
           food to manoeuvre his birds to carry out the       approaches will take you past Jad-e Mai-         to the worn trail.                                Asefi, with a ruined well and bloodied slip-
           deception. If a friend’s dove is captured, it      wand and the ruined Shor Bazaar, a tradi-                                                          pers picked out against the rubble. Upstairs,
           can be requested back by an appropriate            tional centre for Kabul’s musicians, and the     Kabul Zoo                                         visitors are greeted first by a copy of the
           show of contrition. Otherwise, the new             place where ‘Bukhara’ Burnes was killed by       The zoo (Map p80; Charahi Deh Mazang; admission   famous Remnants of an Army by the Victo-
           owner adds it to his flock or sells it in the      the mob in 1841. The road brings you along       100Afg; h8am-sunset) is a popular place for       rian painter Lady Elizabeth Butler, showing
           bazaar. The best quality doves can sell for up     the southern foot of Bala Hissar, with good      Kabulis in need of recreation. Western ani-       the last survivor of the British retreat from
           to 2500Afg in the Ka Faroshi market.               views up to its ramparts. Start the walk         mal lovers might find it more than a little       Kabul limping into camp. There are some
                                                              around 1km after the citadel.                    depressing.                                       quite lovely watercolours of Kabul life in
        92 K A B U L • • S i g h t s                                                                                                                                                                            K A B U L • • S i g h t s 93

        the next room, plus views of some of the             and Ghorid pottery, nearly 1000 years old,               Smashed steps lead downhill past more                                                         a whitewashed drum, and fussy decora-

        key moments of Afghan history, including             and Nuristani wood carvings.                          graves to the tomb of Sultan Mohammed                                                            tive minarets. The park is surrounded by
        the crowning of Ahmad Shah Durrani, and                 Poor labelling lets the exhibition down,           Telai, Nadir Shah’s great-great grandfather.                                                     market traders but can be a good place to
        the slaying of Genghis Khan’s grandson at            often leaving you wondering exactly what              Its arches are decorated in Italianate stucco,                                                   escape from the nearby bustle and traffic.
        Shahr-e Zohak.                                       you’re looking at, and thirsting for more             but the tomb itself is badly damaged and                                                         The mausoleum itself is closed to visitors.
           At the end of the upstairs gallery is a           information (the ‘cookie mud’ from which              graffitied. The strategic location of the                                                        On the opposite side of the park a huge new
        room dedicated to Afghan leaders. Medi-              many finds seem to have been dug remains              hill is readily apparent from here, and was                                                      mosque was under construction when we
        eval amirs sit next to mujaheddin leaders            a mystery). It’s frustrating, but an oddly            much fought over in the 1990s.                                                                   visited, named for its private benefactor –
        like Abdul Haq. The modernisers Amanul-              appropriate metaphor for the troubled state              Teppe Maranjan is thought to be the old-                                                      confusingly called Haji Abdul Rahman (no
        lah (here looking like an unfortunate cross          of Afghanistan’s heritage.                            est continually inhabited part of Kabul,                                                         relation to the amir).
        between Hitler and Hirohito) and Nadir                                                                     with excavations revealing coins and statu-
        Shah look across from the opposite wall.             National Archive                                      ary from the Kushan period in the 4th cen-                                                       OMAR Land Mine Museum
        One particularly striking portrait hangs in          Holding over 15,000 documents, the National           tury AD. One statue from this period, of                                                         This is a museum (Map80; x079 9349; www
        the corridor just outside, a sister of King          Archive (Map p85; Salang Wat; admission free; h8am-   Bodhisattva in meditation, is on display in                                            ; bottom of Teppe Maranjan; admis-
        Zahir Shah’s wife (date and artist unknown)          5pm Sat-Thu) is housed in a palace built at the       the Kabul Museum (p88), clearly showing                                                          sion by donation, camera fee US$5, video US$50; hSun-
        in a red traditional dress, looking out at the       end of the 19th century by Abdur Rahman               the fusion of Greek and Indian artistic tra-                                                     Thu) that only a country like Afghanistan
        view with such an arresting gaze it would            Khan for his son.                                     ditions. Smashed by the Taliban, its restora-                                                    could host. Run by the Organisation for
        have driven the Taliban to apoplexy.                    Important documents are on display (al-            tion is a small triumph.                                                                         Mine clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation
           Outside the gallery is a long display room        though some are copies, with the originals               Kite-flying is a popular pursuit at Teppe                                                     (OMAR), it acts as a training and education
        showing modern pictures for sale. Many               too valuable to show) including the treaty            Maranjan, which is the location for a large                                                      centre for land mine and UXO clearance.
        of them were painted by the gallery’s staff,         with the British Empire in 1919 that finally          kite festival at Nauroz (see p95).                                                                 The exhibit holds more than 60 types of
        who also give good guided tours.                     gave Afghanistan full independence. Ac-                                                                                                                mine that still litter the countryside, from
                                                             companying this is a host of newspapers,              Mausoleum of Abdur Rahman Khan                                                                   small anti-personnel mines to those the size
        Sultani Museum                                       period photos and old banknotes, although             The tomb (Map p93) of the ‘Iron Amir’                                                            of dinner plates aimed at vehicles. There
        This private museum (Map p93; Asmai Wat; admission   most labelling is in Dari. Older documents            sits in Zarnegar Park. Originally a palace,                                                      are mines made by almost any country you
        200Afg; h8am-4pm) in the same grounds as the         are present too, including a 14th-century             the building has a bulbous red dome atop                                                         care to think of, except Afghanistan itself.
        National Gallery is something of a curios-           letter written by Timur, and several Qurans
        ity. It was set up in 2004 by Ahmad Shah             dating from the Durrani period.                         KABUL RIVER & ZARNEGAR PARK                                                                                         0                                                500 m
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         0                                                0.3 miles
        Sultani, a gold trader and sometime antiques            Although scholars will get the most out
        dealer, who spent much of the civil war in           of a visit, the archive is still worth visiting
        exile in London. Here he collected a large           for the building, with it’s attractive painted                                 Sa
                                                                                                                                              lan           Malik Asghar
                                                                                                                                                  g                                        -e                                                           INFORMATION
        collection of Afghan antiquities, aiming to          ceiling and carved woodwork. It’s a slightly                                             W
                                                                                                                                                       at                                       Fro
                                                                                                                                                                                                   shg                                                  Afghan Tourist Organisation..... A2  1
        preserve them for the country. Much of his           incongruous sight among the metal work-                                                                                          9                                                         Australia Embassy................(see 13)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Central Post Office................... B1
        collection is of looted or smuggled items, but       shops that line this section of Salang Wat.                                                                                      Zarnegar
                                                                                                                                                                                                Park                                                    Centre Culturel Francais............ B1
        those recognisably from the Kabul Museum                                                                     See Central Kabul Map (p85)                                                                                                        Da Afghanistan Bank................ C1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moneychangers.......................5 C2
        have been returned. His collection has yet           Mausoleum of Nadir Shah                                                                                 14                  6
                                                                                                                                                                                Mohhamed J
                                                                                                                                                                                          an K
        to be properly catalogued, but is thought to         King Nadir Shah was assassinated in 1933,                                                                                      2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Pashtunistan   SIGHTS & ACTIVITIES
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Haji Abdul Rahmna Mosque....6 B1
        contain over 3000 pieces. Sultani’s ultimate         the time-honoured way that most Afghan                                                                                                                                                     Ka Faroshi Bird Market.............7 C3
        plan is to donate his collection to the state.       leaders meet their fate. His monumental                                                            10              12
                                                                                                                                                                                              16               Pul-e Bagh-e                             Mausoleum of Abdur
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Omomi                                      Rahman Khan....................... B1
           The museum is heavily locked, and on              tomb (Map p80) sits overlooking east Kabul                                                     1                     15                                                         Murad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             District   Mausoleum of Timur Shah...... 9 B2
        issuing your ticket the chowkidar (care-             at Teppe Maranjan. It has suffered consider-                                                                                                                                               National Gallery.....................10 A2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Shah-e Doh Shamshira
        taker) goes through the laborious process            ably in war.

                                                                                                                                                                                    r                 9

                                                                                                                                                                                 ve                                                                       Mosque.............................11 A2
                                                                                                                                      A                                        Ri
        of disabling the security alarms. The first             The mausoleum is of imposing black                                                                       bul                                                    Pul-e
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sultani Museum...................(see 10)
                                                                                                                                                                      Ka                                                       Khishti
        room is full of Islamic-era manuscripts and          marble, with monumental columns topped                                              11                                       Asheqan wa
                                                                                                                                                                                            Arefan                                                      SLEEPING
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jamil Hotel.............................12 B2
        some beautiful Qurans in just about every            by a huge metal dome. Even if the facings                                                                                                                    Pul-e Khishti
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Mosque                   Kabul Serena Hotel................. B1  13
        conceivable calligraphic script.                     weren’t cracked and the dome punctured,                                                                                                                                         5                                                  14
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Park Hotel.............................. B1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pashtoonistan Hotel...............15 B2
           The following rooms are a treasure-trove          the building gives the distinct impression                       Pul-e Shah-
                                                                                                                           Doh-Shamshira                                                                                       7
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Spinzar Hotel..........................16 B2
        of Afghan history, with artefacts from all           that this was a man who’d rather have been                                                                                                                                                 Zarnigar Hotel.....................(see 12)
        periods jostling for space on the crowded            feared than loved. The plinth in the centre of                                                                                                                                             EATING
        shelves. Wooden stamps for stuccowork in             the mausoleum is symbolic; the royal graves                                                                                      Jad-e Maiw
                                                                                                                                                                                                        and                        Charahi Sari         Café Zarnegar......................(see 13)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Chawk              Serena Pastry Shop..............(see 13)
        mosques sit next to a delicate and stunning          are in a locked chamber beneath the build-                                                                                                                                                 Silk Route............................(see 13)
        gold coronet, possibly of Kushan origin.             ing (look through the gate). The most recent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ENTERTAINMENT Shor
        There’s a large display of coins – Graeco-           addition is that of the wife of Zahir Shah,                                                                                                                                                                       Bazaar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Foundation for Culture &
        Bactrian, Kushan, Sodgian and even Roman.            who died shortly before she could return                                                                                                                                                                                         17
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Civil Society........................ A1

        Opposite are rare examples of Ghaznavid              from exile after the Taliban’s fall.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Kabul River & Zarnegar Park
        94 K A B U L • • S i g h t s                                                     Bookeaccommodation online at
                                                                                                                   lon                                               K A B U L • • Fe s t i v a l s & E v e n t s 95

                                                                                                                   River must be one of the most unusual in          Nauroz

           RESTORING OLD KABUL                                                                                     Islam. Built in the 1920s during Amanul-          The Afghan new year, Nauroz (above) is
           Precious little remains of old Kabul. Even before the war, ill-conceived Soviet town planners had       lah’s drive for modernisation, it looks like it   celebrated across Kabul. Festivities are con-
           started to tear down whole areas in favour of shabby concrete developments. Following the bombs         would be more at home in Versailles or Vi-        centrated in two main areas. The shrine of
           and rockets, demolition has continued as the value of land has soared, and new buildings (concrete      enna. The facades are all Italianate baroque      Karata-e Sakhi at the base of Koh-e Asmai
           with lots of glass and fake pillars this time) are thrown up on a daily basis. Two organisations        with stucco detailing, picked out in white        is a traditional point of celebration, where
           have been working with local communities to try to preserve as much of the traditional fabric of        against a lurid lemon yellow paint-job. That      flags are raised to mark the new year. There’s
           Kabul as possible.                                                                                      it has two storeys is even more peculiar, and     more of a spectacle around the Mausoleum
              The Turquoise Mountain Foundation ( is working in the Murad                only the tiny minarets disclose the build-        of Nadir Shah at Teppe Maranjan, which
           Khane district, the oldest settlement on the north bank of the Kabul river, and just a stone’s          ing’s true purpose.                               hosts a Fighting Kite Festival on the day.
           throw from the Serena Hotel. An oasis of traditional architecture, it also highlights some of the          The mosque’s name is derived from a far        When this was held in 2005 for the first time
           key challenges in saving old Kabul. The oldest areas are often poorest, with houses lacking basic       older story than Amanullah’s strange archi-       in 30 years it attracted over 150,000 attend-
           services and streets clogged with detritus. At the same time, the riverside has some of the highest     tectural tastes. In the 7th century Kabul was     ees, Kabul’s most festive day out in years.
           commercial value areas in Kabul, with a huge attendant pressure from developers. The Murad              a Hindu city, besieged by an Arab army.              Concerts are held across the city – check
           Khane project works closely with the local community, who lobbied the government in support             The Arab king was beheaded, but was so            with the FCCS (p84). Ghazi Stadium is
           of it. One of the first tasks was simply the removal of rubbish – in some places just doing this        inspired by Allah that he continued fight-        also used to host special events, including
           lowered the street level by over 2m. Next, the Foundation has started working with landlords            ing, leading his men to victory at the point      a farmer’s parade of livestock, and the last
           to adopt valued buildings to restore them, co-funding the venture. Turquoise Mountain has set           of his two scimitars.                             buzkashi of the season.
           up a school in the Karte Parwan district, with Afghan masters teaching traditional woodwork,               The mosque underwent large-scale res-
           plaster, tiling and masonry techniques.                                                                 toration in 2002, and is a major focus for        Barf-e Awal
              South of the river, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture ( has been          Kabul’s Ashura commemorations. The attrac-        The first snowfall of winter is called Barf-e
           working in the Asheqan wa Arefan district around the Mausoleum of Timur Shah. By creating local         tive two-storey riverfront buildings stretch-     Awal. Many Kabulis play surprise games
           employment, improving local water supplies and removing waste, the Trust has built a strong             ing away from the mosque are unique in            (barfi) on their friends at this time, sending
           foundation for restoring the physical structure of the neighbourhood – from the delicate wooden         Kabul, and in urgent need of restoration.         them riddles in an Afghan variant of trick-
           latticework windows to rebuilding in mud-brick and plaster. Importantly, both projects demonstrate                                                        or-treat. Whoever receives their riddle first,
           that restoration of old buildings can bring significant improvements to the quality of life of their    Bibi Mahru Hill                                   must treat the sender to a meal. The riddles
           residents, as well as raise awareness within the communities of the value of their heritage.            Also called Teppe Bemaru, this low hill (Map      are traditionally sent to the home (so many
                                                                                                                   p85) overlooks Wazir Akbar Khan. It’s pop-        people won’t answer their door on this day),
                                                                                                                   ular with some expats living in the district      but in modern Afghanistan look for people
        The most sobering by far are the Russian               ern Afghan version of the Pinocchio story,          for walking, and has reasonable views. At         sending joke text messages to their friends
        ‘butterfly’ mines often picked up by chil-             where a grandmother who has lost her fam-           the top there’s an Olympic-size swimming          with the first flurry of snow.
        dren mistaking them for plastic toys. Where            ily to land mines makes herself a new child         pool built by the Russians that’s barely been
        most mines are deliberately camouflaged,               out of carpet rags.                                 full since it was built due to the difficul-      SLEEPING
        these come in a range of bright, kid-friendly                                                              ties of pumping water uphill. During the          Most accommodation in Kabul is based in
        colours.                                               Mausoleum of Timur Shah                             war the diving board was notorious as an          Shahr-e Nau, close to Chicken St or Shahr-e
            OMAR is the country’s leading demin-               Timur Shah was the first to make Kabul the          execution spot.                                   Nau Park. Guesthouses extend into Wazir
        ing organisation, with over 500 Afghans                capital of a unified kingdom. He died in                The pool sits on the spot where Babur got     Akbar Khan, jostling for space alongside
        working in mine-clearance. Education is                1793, but it was another 23 years before his        his first views of Kabul. Nearly 350 years        the embassies. For those staying in Kabul
        an important second facet to their work.               mausoleum (Map p93; Mandayi market) was built,      later, it was the site of an important turning    long-term, room rates are usually negoti-
        Murals and posters depicting types of mine             possibly due to the chaos after his death,          point in the First Anglo-Afghan War. An           able. Unless noted, all guesthouses have se-
        and UXO can be found everywhere in Af-                 caused by his leaving over 20 sons and no           ill-led British force was soundly defeated        cure parking. Prices exclude 10% tax.
        ghanistan – visual education aids being par-           nominated successor. The building is a copy         in battle here, a rout that paved the way for
        ticularly important in a country with low              of the Indian Mughal style, an octagonal            the disastrous retreat from Kabul.                Budget
        literacy levels.                                       brick structure surmounted by a plain brick                                                           Park Hotel (Map p93; x020 2103 355; Mohammad Jan
            OMAR is also working in partnership                drum and shallow dome.                              FESTIVALS & EVENTS                                Khan Wat; r US$6) This hotel sits above an arcade
        with the UK charity No Strings (www.nostrings             The mausoleum stands in one of the oldest        Security can be very tight in Kabul on pub-       of electronics shops. One step up from a, which uses puppet theatre to teach           surviving parts of Kabul, with its traditional      lic holidays and anniversaries such as Mas-       chaikhana, it has simple cell-like rooms with
        land mine safety information to children.              street plan, houses and winding lanes. This         soud Day (9 September). Despite official          grubby walls, and a large communal area
        Mines kill and injure more children than               area has been at the centre of a restoration        exhortations, Victory Day (28 April) is a         full of local men lounging over endless pots
        adults, and the use of story to illustrate what        project by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture           low-key affair, as it celebrates the mujahed-     of tea. Don’t expect too much of the shared
        happens when a mine is picked up or dis-               (see boxed text, above).                            din capture of Kabul in 1992. Many Kabulis        bathrooms.
        turbed is a highly effective educational tool.                                                             prefer to mark this as the start of the slide        Salsal Guest House (Map p85; x079 9734 202; Jad-
        In addition to the theatre, a mobile cinema            Shah-e Doh Shamshira Mosque                         into the anarchy and chaos that destroyed         e Torabaz Khan; s/d US$10/20) This is a great new
        has been set up showing a No Strings film              Called the ‘Mosque of the King of Two               their city – a day of tragedy rather than         addition to the budget hotel scene, and the
        called Chuche the Little Carpet Boy, a mod-            Swords’, this mosque (Map p93) on Kabul             celebration.                                      pick of the ultra-cheapies. Carpeted rooms
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        are small but on the cosy side, with a fan                       Midrange                                                              breakfast US$55; ai) A deservedly popu-

        and decent bedding. Shared bathrooms are                         Euro Guest House (Map p85; x070 197220/079 9342                       lar hotel with consultants and long-term                       MOSS
        pretty clean with hot water, and the man-                        705;; Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan;               stays, the Park Palace has good quality en                     The UN maintains a list of the most secure
        agement is helpful.                                              r incl breakfast from US$40; ai) Tangerine walls                      suite rooms with service to match. The                         guesthouses and hotels in Kabul that fit
           Spinzar Hotel (Map p93; x020 22891; Pul-e Bagh-e              on the main street through Wazir Akbar                                buffet breakfast is something of a treat –                     within its strict Minimal Operation Security
        Omomi; s/d $20/40, s/d with shower US$40/50) Popular             Khan make the Euro hard to miss. There                                look for people rushing it down while their                    Standards (MOSS). At the time of going to
        with Afghan businessmen, this tall greenish                      are a selection of different rooms (up to                             Landcruisers queue outside the gate to                         press, MOSS-compliant accommodation in
        building has commanding views over the                           US$100), but the cheaper end are the best                             whisk them off to the office.                                  Kabul included Assa 2 and Assa 3 Guest-
        river. Rooms and shared bathrooms alike                          value. Service is good, and as with most                                 Le Monde Guest House (Map p85; x079 9614 872;               houses, Naween Guesthouse, Park Palace,
        are drab but clean. The 4th-floor restaurant                     guesthouses, the Euro can arrange drivers                   ; Herati Mosque St, Shahr-e Nau; r        Maple Leaf Inn, Safi Landmark Hotel, Kabul
        is worth visiting for non-guests, for both                       and the like.                                                         US$60; i) This is a traditional Kabul home                     Serena Hotel and Heetal Heritage Hotel.
        the views and decent Afghan food.                                   Insaf Hotel (Map p85; x070 286384; Charahi Ansari;                 turned into a cosy, well-run guesthouse.
           Mustafa Hotel (Map p85; x070 276021; www                      r US$50) Close to the action around Shahr-e                           Generous rooms are well set up, and there’s; Charahi Sadarat; s/d from US$35/50, half-     Nau Park, this modern hotel has en suite                              a lovely garden. Given that the manager is a                suite) and there’s a great restaurant, open
        board supplement US$10; i) Truly a Kabul institu-                rooms that are simply but decently deco-                              chef, the food is excellent.                                to non-guests from 6pm.
        tion, the Mustafa was the main post-Taliban                      rated. There’s one price for one or two beds.                            Naween Guesthouse (Map p85; x079 9016 644;
        hang-out for journos, ‘security consultants’                     Next to Popolano restaurant, part of the                    ; Ghiyassudin Wat, Kolola         Top End
        and other would-be adventurers. If the high-                     hotel also acts as a wedding hall, so week-                           Pushta; r incl breakfast US$60; i) Another well-run         Heetal Heritage Hotel (Map p85; x079 9159 697;
        rolling days have passed slightly with the                       ends are potentially noisy affairs.                                   guesthouse popular with contractors and           ; Street 14, Wazir Akbar Khan; s/d
        death of its irrepressible manager, Wais Faizi,                     Park Residence (Map p85; x070 225038; park                         UN workers, the Naween offers a high level                  from US$85/89; ia) At the edge of Wazir
        it’s still a good place to stay, with small comfy      ; Charahi Ansari; r incl breakfast              of comfort and security. All rooms are en                   Akbar Khan, and in the lee of Bibi Mahru
        rooms, hot water and satellite TV in the                         US$50; ai) Look twice for the entrance to                             suite.                                                      Hill, the Heetal gets cleaner air than many
        lounge. There’s a special ‘backpacker’ rate of                   this place facing the park – security is tight                            B’s Place (Map p85; x 070 283968; bs_place              places in the city. Perhaps that’s why it flags
        US$20 per day including internet for those                       but unobtrusive. Modern rooms have en                       ; Street 2, Qali-e Fatullah; r US$60) One      itself as Kabul’s first eco-friendly boutique
        booking in advance online.                                       suites and are positively cosy, with a fridge                         of the first of the post-Taliban guesthouses,               hotel. No one could venture another reason
            Star Inn (Map p85; x079 9143 252; Flower St; s/d incl        and satellite TV; there’s also a small book-                          B’s Place has six rooms with shared bath-                   when we asked. It’s nicely laid out though,
        breakfast US$35/45) This tidy little hotel has a good            shop and a pleasant garden.                                           rooms, decorated in traditional Afghan                      in a decent approximation of a caravan-
        central location. Rooms have attached bath-                          Marco Polo Inn (Map p85; x070 274542; Street 3,                   style. There’s a pleasant garden, and an                    serai. Rooms could be bigger, but there’s
        rooms and TV, although some are a bit on the                     Qala-e Fatullah; r US$50; ia) This new guest-                         Italian restaurant, but the place feels a little            a good restaurant serving everything from
        poky side. Communal areas are nicely deco-                       house run by an Afghan-German is a great                              worn out by the competition from all the                    Tex-Mex to Indian and a weekly film night
        rated with Afghan textiles giving a friendly                     deal. Rooms, with attached bathroom, are                              new hotels. A bit of a mixed bag.                           to keep you entertained. Discounts are fre-
        air, and the place is scrubbed spotless.                         very nicely furnished with lots of dark wood                              Shahr-e Nau Guesthouse (Map p85; x070 267814;           quently available.
            The hotels listed below were popular                         giving the place an almost Bavarian feel.                             off Flower St; r incl breakfast US$60-80) Easily spotted       Maple Leaf Inn (Map p85; x079 9321 401/070
        with backpackers until recently, when the                        There’s a restaurant too, and a neat garden                           by its pink external walls, the Shahr-e Nau                 203412;; Street 3, left off
        police banned them from accepting foreign                        to relax in.                                                          Guesthouse is a decent place. Rooms come                    Charahi Haji Yaqub; r US$80; ais) Formerly
        guests. We’ve listed them in the hope that                           Assa 1 (Map p85; x079 9555 666;;                 in a variety of shapes and sizes, with up to                called Ottawa Resorts, the motto here is
        improved security will allow travellers to                       off Flower St; r US$50; i) Another long-standing                      three beds, making this a good deal if there’s              ‘blending serenity and efficiency’. Manage-
        return in the future.                                            favourite, this medium-sized guesthouse                               a few of you, but less so for solo travellers.              ment is certainly efficient, while rooms
        Pashtoonistan Hotel (Map p93; Pul-e Bagh-e Omomi;                has a selection of well-turned out rooms,                             All are en suite.                                           match the standard of a business-class hotel
        US$10) Signed only in Dari, this place has a flat rate for its   favoured by long-term guests. Worth a look,                               Kabul Inn (Map p85; x 079 9359 355; kabul               anywhere you might think of. A popular
        rooms, each containing between three and five beds. The          there is also Assa 2 and Assa 3 just around                 ; near Zargona High School, Qala-e Fat-     venue for business breakfasts and lunches,
        communal bathroom is pretty basic, but par for the course        the corner, offering more of the same for                             ullah; r incl breakfast US$64; ai) Behind high              people-spot for the movers and shakers
        for this rock-bottom choice.                                     the same price.                                                       walls on the main road, this Tajik-run place                here. Stays over a month bring the price
        Zarnigar Hotel (Map p93; x020 2100 980; zarnigar                     Rose Garden & Carwan Sarai Hotel (Map p85;                        is bright, modern and clean. Rooms have                     down to US$70 a day.; Mohammad Jan Khan Wat;                 x 079 9013 055;; Interior                      satellite TV and bathrooms, all kept spot-                     Gandamack Lodge (Map p85; x070 276937/079
        s/d US$10/15) A few doors down from the Jamil, this can          Ministry Rd; s/d US$50/60, r with bathroom US$66; i)                  less. Even the grass on the lawn is clipped                 9569 904;; next to UNHCR,
        be a good choice. The rooms are simple but clean, with           Formerly named the Karwansara Guest-                                  to within an inch of its life. Very good                    Charahi Sherpur; US$90-$160; ai) A perenni-
        shared bathrooms. The hotel also has a decent restaurant         house, this place is a lovely old merchant’s                          value, although the restaurant food is a                    ally popular option with visiting media, the
        overlooking the street, a good place to watch the world go       house set in a large and leafy garden. Some                           little dull.                                                Gandamack Lodge is run by Peter Jouvenal,
        past over a plate of pulao (rice dish).                          of the rooms are a little small, but they’re                              Kabul Lodge (Map p85; x 079 9423 562/070                the acclaimed cameraman and Afghan ex-
        Jamil Hotel (Map p93; x079 3212 128; Mohammad Jan                all turned out well enough for comfort.                               282643;; Passport Lane, off Interior   pert. Now in larger premises with a nice
        Khan Wat; s/d US$10/20) Rooms have en suite, and although        The restaurant has good Afghan and inter-                             Ministry Rd; r incl breakfast US$75; ai) A well-            garden, rooms are comfy and tastefully
        there is sometimes a problem with the water, the manage-         national dishes.                                                      established guesthouse, the Kabul Lodge is                  decorated in colonial fashion. The restau-
        ment should keep you supplied with buckets. The hotel isn’t         Park Palace (Map p85; x070 656561; parkpalace                      impeccably run with helpful and efficient                   rant is excellent, and worth visiting for
        brilliantly signed – it’s next to Al-Miraj Electronics.; Ghiyassudin Wat, Kolola Pushta; r incl             management. Rooms are large (with en                        the full English cooked breakfast (US$12)
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        alone, plus there’s the Hare & Hounds pub                  cramped. A 50% winter discount makes                                 worth the trip. Beautifully decorated with               habit of opening in war-torn areas – there

        in the cellar. At the entrance there’s a sim-              things better value, although at that time                           prints and fabrics, guests eat Afghan style,             are sister outfits in Kosovo and East Timor.
        ple memorial to peace activist–aid worker                  you’ll miss out on the rooftop coffee shop.                          seated on cushions and carpets around low                Tasty spring rolls and satay are US$4 each.
        Marla Ruzicka.                                                                                                                  tables (though there are some tables and                    Baku (Map p85; x079 9083 918; Lane 5, Street 15,
           Intercontinental Hotel (Map p80; x020 2201 320;         EATING                                                               chairs too). There’s a wide variety of Af-               Wazir Akbar Khan; meals from US$7; h 11am-10pm); Bagh-e Bala,       Kabul has the best range of restaurants                              ghan dishes, nicely served up – we par-                  What do you eat in an Azeri restaurant? It
        Karte Parwan; s/d from US$90/100; is) This ven-            in the country by some degree, with eve-                             ticularly enjoyed the kofte chalau (minced               turns out to be a mix of Afghan and Turk-
        erable institution was Afghanistan’s first                 rything on offer from traditional Afghan                             kebabs with dried fruit and saffron).                    ish food, with hearty shashlik (kebabs) and
        international luxury hotel. It’s a 20-minute               meals to Thai and Croatian food. Many                                   Khosha (Map p85; x079 9888 999; in Golden Star        plov (pulao) balanced out by dolma (stuffed
        drive from the centre of town if the traffic               restaurants aimed primarily at the expat                             Hotel, Charahi Haji Yaqub; dishes from US$6; h11am-      leaves) and other treats. With regular flights
        allows, but the hilltop location gives great               community open and close on a regular                                2.30pm, 6-11pm) This place was freshly minted            from Baku to Kabul, it makes sense to give
        views of Kabul. The recent refit has lifted                basis so we can’t hope to be comprehen-                              when we visited and looked a treat. The                  this place a try.
        the rooms considerably. ATO and Ariana                     sive – check Afghan Scene magazine or the                            rooftop setting gives great views over Kabul,               Silk Route (Map p93; x079 9654 000, ext 4554;
        have offices here. There’s also a gym, much                What’s On in Kabul newsletter for the lat-                           while the interior is decorated with Kuchi               Kabul Serena Hotel, Jad-e Froshgah; meals from US$8;
        needed after sampling the fare of the three                est developments. In addition, many of the                           textiles. As well as Afghan favourites, there            h6-10pm) Southeast Asian food mightn’t be
        restaurants. The pool sometimes has water,                 guesthouses and hotels listed above have                             are some good vegetable dishes normally                  quite what you were expecting at the Serena
        but don’t bother looking for the bikini-clad               attached restaurants worth checking out.                             found only in the home, like banjan borani               Hotel’s flagship restaurant, but it delivers
        swimmers still sunning themselves in the                      Restaurants serving alcohol are noted in                          (aubergine with tomatoes and yogurt), plus               with some aplomb, with a variety of tasty
        old 1970s adverts.                                         text, but see the Drinking section on p101                           a great lamb qorma with chickpeas.                       Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian dishes –
           Kabul Serena Hotel (Map p93; x079 9654 000;             for possible legal complications.                                                                                             however incongruous. The setting is immacu-; Jad-e Froshgah; s/d US$120/140;                                                                           ASIAN                                                    late, so dressing smartly is a good idea.
        ai) Formerly the Kabul Hotel, the Ser-                     Restaurants                                                          Alcohol is served at all the restaurants                     Shamiana (Map p85; x020 220 3131; Kabul City Cen-
        ena is now owned by the Aga Khan and                       AFGHAN                                                               following.                                               tre; meals from US$8; h7am-11pm) The Safi Land-
        has undergone a massive renovation to                      Herat (Map p85; Cinema Zainab Rd, Shahr-e Nau; meals                    Delhi Darbar (Map p85; x079 9324 899; Cinema          mark’s rooftop restaurant tries its hand at a
        transform it into Kabul’s swankiest hotel                  60-150Afg; h10am-10pm) A really great Afghan                         Zainab Rd; mains from US$5; h10am-10pm) A popu-          bit of everything Indian, Chinese and Af-
        by some stretch. The public areas are all                  place which positively bursts at lunchtimes,                         lar choice for Indian food, and successful               ghan, plus a dash of Italian and anything
        light and space, while rooms have all mod-                 as half of Kabul appears to eat here. The                            enough to create a mini-franchise, with                  else they can think of. It mostly works, and
        cons and a sprinkling of traditional Afghan                mantu (steamed meat dumplings) will set                              branches in Mazar-e Sharif (p153) and even               its plush surroundings means that you’ll be
        decor. Security on the door is unsurprisingly              you back 80Afg, but save some room for the                           Tajikistan. The focus is on north Indian cui-            dining next to some extremely rich Afghans
        strict, while the pastry shop’s brunch (p101)              sticky sweets at the end with your tea.                              sine, plus some fiery curries and lots of vege-          at the next table.
        was the place to be when we dropped in. As                    Kulba Afghan (Map p85; x079 9210 143; Muslim St,                  tarian options. The one-dish-fits-all thalis                 Anaar (Map p85; x079 9567 291; Lane 3, Street 14,
        we went to press, they’d just cut the ribbon               Shahr-e Nau; mains from 200Afg; h10am-10pm) This                     remain a prize attraction, washed down with              Wazir Akbar Khan; mains from US$8; h 11am-10pm)
        on the hotel spa.                                          restaurant is almost two in one, as it sits                          a cold lager.                                            Recently relocated to new premises, Anaar
           Golden Star Hotel (Map p85; x075 2004 787;              on the third floor above the also popular                               Samarqand (Map p85; x079 9234 646; near Pan-          remains one of Kabul’s lovelier restaurants.; Charahi Haji Yaqub; s/d        Rose Restaurant. What makes this more of                             alpina, Qala-e Musa; dishes from US$6; h10am-10pm)       There’s a wide selection of Thai, Indian and
        US$100/140, ste US$200; a) One of Kabul’s new-             a draw is the live Afghan music from 6pm                             This relaxed restaurant was one of the most              Chinese dishes with vegetarians particu-
        est hotels, this literally towers above all oth-           to 10pm, and booths with cushions to tuck                            popular in town when we dropped in, serv-                larly well-catered for. Thankfully, the new
        ers from its vantage point attached to the                 yourself into. Stuff yourself with the huge                          ing a mix of Central Asian food – beautifully            premises still feature a lantern-hung garden
        Kabul Business Centre. Rooms are exceed-                   Kulba special (300Afg) which has a bit of                            flavoured rice and meat options – and in-                for al fresco dining, otherwise withdraw to
        ingly comfortable and well-appointed with                  everything – pulao, kebabs, mantu, chips,                            ternational dishes. The regular theme nights             the cosy interior, decorated with traditional
        all facilities. The deluxe suites even come                qorma (stewed vegetables), plus salad, yo-                           liven things up, with Chinese food on Fri-               Afghan crafts.
        with their own sauna, surely a first for Af-               gurt and a soft drink.                                               day, and salsa dancing on Wednesday and                     Golden Key Seafood (Map p80; x079 9002 800;
        ghanistan. The Khosha restaurant and bar                      Sufi 2 (Map p85; x070 210651; Muslim St, Shahr-e                  Saturday.                                                Street 10, Wazir Akbar Khan; meals from US$8;h10am-
        (opposite) sits on the top floor, overlooking              Nau; dishes from US$4; h10am-10pm) A sister branch                      Jaisalmer (Map p85; x079 9200 570; Street 1, Qala-e   9pm) Of the Chinese restaurants, this is our
        Shahr-e Nau. Generous discounts can bring                  to the original Sufi, this was just opening                          Fatullah; mains from US$7; h11am-10pm) Another           favourite, despite the old adage of never
        this easily into the midrange bracket.                     during research. With the decor and serv-                            good Indian restaurant, with great and                   eating seafood in a land-locked country.
           Safi Landmark Hotel (Map p85; x020 2203 131;            ice borrowed from its sibling, lunch is a                            highly spiced tandoori dishes. It’s slightly             Flown in from Dubai, the fish and shellfish; Charahi Ansari; s/d US$200/   big thing here, with lots of delicious dishes                        hidden away and not brilliantly signed, but              (and meat dishes) are actually excellent,
        250; i) You can’t miss the Safi, part of the               like pumpkin boloni (stuffed pancakes), sa-                          don’t despair: they offer a home delivery                and come with as many noodle and rice
        Kabul City Centre tower block in bright                    mosas and some great sweets like gosh-e fil                          service.                                                 options as you could wish for.
        green glass. The lobby speaks of understated               (elephant’s ear) pastries.                                              Lai Thai (Map p85; x070 297557; Street 15, Wazir
        service and a glass elevator whisks you to                    Sufi (Map p80; x070 210651; near Aryub Cinema,                    Akbar Khan; mains from US$7; h11am-11pm) Is there        MIDDLE EASTERN
        your room, many of which overlook the                      Bagh-e Bala, Karte Parwan; meals US$5-11; h11am-                     an expat left in Kabul who hasn’t eaten here?            Taverna du Liban (Map p85; x070 210651; Lane 3, Street
        shopping mall. Everything is laid on, but for              10pm) Sufi is a little way out of town, nestled                      We doubt it. With wonderful food in a tra-               14, Wazir Akbar Khan; mezze from US$3, mains from US$8;
        the money the rooms are a bit small and                    beneath the Intercontinental Hotel, but it’s                         ditional Thai setting, the owner has made a              h11am-10pm) Several Lebanese restaurants
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        have come and gone in Kabul; this one has                the walls, and there are regular art shows                  Serena Pastry Shop (Map p93; x079 9654 000, ext     maple syrup. Interspersed with these there

        stayed the course. Tables are easily laden with          and sales on site.                                       4560; Kabul Serena Hotel, Jad-e Froshgah; h7am-10pm)   are some lovely bakeries, places selling
        mezze like houmous, tabouleh and Lebanese                  Vila Velebita (Map p85; x079 9160 368; Street 10,      All the delicious pastries you could ever              pirated DVDs, and the flower shops that
        salad, making it easy to fill up before hitting          Wazir Akbar Khan; pizzas from US$8, mains from US$12;    want are here, in plush and polished sur-              give the street its name – most likely piling
        the grill for your main. At the end of your              h10am-10pm) The name of this restaurant                  roundings. If your great aunt ever comes               the petals on to highly-decorated wedding
        meal, you can relax by smoking a shisha, per-            seems to confound many Afghans, but it’s                 to Kabul, bring her here.                              cars.
        fect in the garden in the warmer months.                 actually named for a famous Croatian na-                    French Bakery (Map p85; Jad-e Torabaz Khan; cakes      Chelsea Supermarket (Map p85; Jad-e Torabaz Khan)
           Shandiz (Map p80; x07079 9342 928; Street 10, Wazir   tionalist song. The quality of the food is high,         from 25Afg) A tiny shop opposite the Kabul             The biggest (and dare we say most expen-
        Akbar Khan; meals from US$4; h10am-9pm) Opposite         with wood-oven pizzas, and a mix of pasta,               Bank, this is a great place for a mid-morning          sive?) supermarket selling imported food
        the domestic Ariana office, Shandiz serves               steak and seafood, but the price tag is equally          bite, with some heavenly banana cakes and              and toiletries in Kabul. It’s handy though,
        Iranian food in pleasant surrounds. The                  steep, especially if you throw in a bottle of            brownies. They’re a little dry by the end of           and has just installed an ATM. Who can
        chelo morgh (chicken and rice with berries)              Croatian wine.                                           the day; we’re not sure if this is a product           argue with its proud motto over the door:
        is as good as in any Persian restaurant.                    Red Hot Sizzlin’ (Map p80; x079 9838 646; ARC         of the genuine ‘Frenchised’ baking process             ‘Be happy all the time’?
           Haji Baba (Map p85; Charahi Torabaz Khan, Shahr-e     Yuksel Camp, Old Microrayon; meals from US$9; h11am-     advertised.                                               Supreme PX (Jalalabad Rd, h8.30am-5pm) The
        Nau; meals from US$7; h11am-9pm) Run by a gen-           9pm) Slightly out of the way, this restaurant               Chief Burger (Map p85; Cinema Zainab Rd, oppo-      best established of the military PX stores,
        ial Afghan, the food here bridges the gap                is the place to go if you are after a steak,             site Shahr-e Nau Park; meals from 80Afg; h9am-9pm)     every expat winds up here from time to
        between Persian and Herati food. The sur-                American-style. It’s all Tex-Mex here, with              Western fast food, Afghan-style. This place            time. There is a huge range of imported
        roundings are brisk and simple, not that the             juicy T-bones, piles of fries and a cold one             is heaving at lunchtime, with local workers            goods and food, hidden behind the most
        many locals passing through seem to mind.                to wash it all down.                                     and students (there’s a ‘family lounge’ for            extreme security you have ever seen at a
        They’re here for bowls of thick chicken                     Carlitos (Map p85; x079 9159 697; Heetal Hotel,       women). There are burgers, pizzas and a                supermarket.
        shorwa (soup) and plates of moist kebabs,                Street 15, Wazir Akbar Khan; buffet US$12; h10am-10pm)   great tandoori chicken, served on nan with
        king of which is maheecha, a sublime oven-               Carlitos touts itself as Kabul’s best Mexican            fries. Quick, tasty and filling.                       DRINKING
        baked leg of lamb. Be sure to leave room                 restaurant, and not happy with that crown,                  Flower Street Café (Map p80; x 070 293124;          Bars
        for dessert.                                             it then goes on to attempt Lebanese, Indian              Street 7, Qala-e Fatullah; snacks from US$4; h 8am-    The availability of alcohol is a perennial
                                                                 and anything else it can think of. It’s at its           5pm) The name is momentarily confusing,                topic of discussion in Kabul. During re-
        WESTERN                                                  best in the summer, when the Thursday                    as this café is nowhere near Flower St. It’s           search it was officially ‘banned’, leading to
        Popolano (Map p85; x070 288116; Charahi Ansari;          and Friday buffet and barbeque comes into                worth finding though, as it does some great            its disappearance from the PX stores, and a
        meals from US$5; h9am-10pm) Popolano offered             play. With a bar attached, it’s deservedly               sandwiches and burgers served in a flowery             price hike for all the places serving it. The
        Kabul’s first post-Taliban pizza, and is still           popular.                                                 garden, with cake for afters. Alternatively            authorities seemed happy enough with this
        going strong. The fickle expat dining scene                  Café Zarnegar (Map p93; x079 9654 000, ext           they’ll deliver your lunch to your door, but           clampdown, but be aware that changing do-
        means it hasn’t been trendy for several years            4553; Kabul Serena Hotel, Jad-e Froshgah; brunch         that means you’ll miss out on the great                mestic politics could quickly lead to the bars
        and it gets a correspondingly decent Afghan              US$31; h6.30am-10pm) If you’re in need of a              smoothies and cappuccinos.                             and restaurants we’ve listed here running
        crowd, but we still like its strong blend of             splurge, come here from 11am for Friday                     Everest Pizza (Map p80; x079 9317 979; Street 13    very dry.
        pizza and pasta, served in something ap-                 brunch. There’s a huge buffet with every-                Wazir Akbar Khan; pizzas from US$5; h 9am-9pm)             L’Atmosphere (Map p85; x079 9300 264; Street 4,
        proaching a bistro.                                      thing from tremendous salads and burgers                 There’s some argument about the best pizza             Qala-e Fatullah; h10am-late; s) It’s a restaurant,
          La Cantina (Map p85; x079 8271 915; off Butcher        through to sushi (yes, sushi), plus some                 in Kabul, but this place consistently turns            but not so many people come to ‘Latmo’ for
        St, Shahr-e Nau; dishes from 330Afg; h11.30am-3pm,       Afghan dishes to remind you what country                 out the goods. Tasty sauce, a good variety             the food. Especially in the summer when
        6pm-late Tue-Sun, closed winter) There’s a full range    you’re in if the surrounding glitz makes                 of toppings and the all important takeaway/            the pool is full, this is a bar pure and sim-
        of Tex-Mex food on offer here, with great                you forget.                                              home delivery option.                                  ple, and the most popular expat joint in
        plates of nachos, burritos and bowls of chilli –                                                                                                                         town. On Thursday nights you could be
        tick off your choices on the menu sheet and              Quick Eats                                               Markets & Self-Catering                                forgiven for thinking you’re back at the
        present it to the waiter to order. Dining is             Any chaikhana you visit will be able to serve            For fresh produce, the best place to go is             university bar, as the place fills up with the
        al fresco, with the traditional Afghan court-            you up pulao or a plate of kebabs for less               the Mandayi Market around Pul-e Khishti                young and beautiful (and single) side of
        yard garden pressed into service as a half-              than 80Afg. There are plenty of good meat                mosque (Map p93) – either side of the                  the aid worker scene. It’s certainly fun, but
        decent pueblo substitute (hence the dining               and chicken kebab-style places between                   river you’ll find endless stalls selling fruit,        we’re not sure if it’s Afghanistan at all, and
        season is restricted to the warmer months).              Shahr-e Nau Park and Charahi Haji Yaqub,                 vegetables, bread and even wheelbarrows                it’ll leave your head spinning in more ways
        Alcohol is served.                                       interspersed with ice cream and juice bars.              full of cows’ hooves. Around Shahr-e Nau,              than one.
            Le Bistro (Map p85; x079 9598 852; off Chicken       More fun still is to explore the mobile street           you’re more restricted to the always-mov-                  Hare & Hounds (Map p85; in the Gandamack Lodge,
        St; mains US$5-12; h8am-10pm) In a pleasant              food stalls that spring up on busy market                ing handcarts, piled high with fruit and               Charahi Sherpur; h6pm-late) This bar gives you
        Kabuli house, this French restaurant has                 streets – there are good clusters on the west-           veg, but there are plenty of corner shops              a geographic jolt in a completely different
        its own bakery attached, making the con-                 ern edge of Shahr-e Nau Park, and in the                 for dried goods.                                       way: an English pub shipped lock, stock and
        tinental breakfast (US$10) a treat of bread,             markets around Pul-e Khishti bridge. For                    Flower Street (Map p85) Where the souvenir          barrel to Kabul, all the way down to the beer
        pastry and croissants. Evening meals are                 less than 50Afg you can fill up on a pile of             shops of Chicken St end, the grocery stores            mats and dart board. It’s as cosy as you’d
        good, even if the servings are a little on the           bolani, samosas and bowls of shor nakhod                 of Flower St begin, piled high with every-             hope; if it had real ale on tap, we’d be in
        small side. Carpets and paintings festoon                (chickpeas with mint).                                   thing you might need from cornflakes to                heaven.
        102 K A B U L • • E n t e r t a i n m e n t                                                                                                       K A B U L • • G e t t i n g T h e re & A w a y 103

           Deutscher Hof (Map p85; x079 9322 582; Street 3,           centres (see p84) host concerts. The most                   street, begging to open their shops for us),                   GETTING THERE & AWAY

        Qala-e Fatullah; h11am-11pm) Doubling up as                   notable one is the Foundation for Culture & Civil           but starting prices are always high, so don’t                  Kabul is the main gateway to Afghanistan,
        a German restaurant and catering college,                     Society (FCCS; Map p93; x070 292322; www.afghanfccs         be afraid to haggle.                                           and has the country’s only international
        the high walls here hide steins of Bavar-                     .org; opposite National Archive, Salang Wat), which holds      Afghan Gallery (Map p80; x079 9712 442; afghan              airport (Map p80; x020 2300 016; Great Massoud
        ian lager, and regular events like Kabul’s                    regular open-air concerts of traditional Af-      ; Sarakh-e Kolola Pushta)         Rd). For more information on international
        Oktoberfest.                                                  ghan music during the warmer months, and                    This gallery sells well-made handicrafts,                      flight connections, see p212. For details of
            Mustafa Hotel (Map p85; Charahi Sadarat; h6pm-            exhibitions by local artists.                               including embroidery, pottery and jewel-                       connections served by humanitarian flight
        late) Made notorious by the company it’s                                                                                  lery. There is also a wide selection of carpets                services, see p212.
        kept in the past, you can almost count the                    Sport                                                       woven to traditional designs, knotted by a                        Ariana has daily connections to Herat
        journalists who haven’t written a piece on                    Kabul’s sporting options tend to be ad hoc,                 local women’s carpet cooperative.                              (3200Afg, one hour), as well as three times
        the Mustafa bar on one hand. At it’s best,                    with the most popular pursuits being kite-                     Zardozi (Map p80; x070 287963; opposite Moulavi             a week to Mazar-e Sharif (2500Afg, 30 min-
        it’s a funky mix of Rick’s Bar in Casablanca                  fighting (p58) and pigeon-flying (p90). On                  Abdul Mateen Mosque, near old British Embassy, Karte Par-      utes), Faizabad (2500Afg, one hour) and
        with the alien cantina in Star Wars, popu-                    early Friday mornings impromptu gather-                     wan) Formerly the DACAAR Sewing Centre,                        Kandahar (2200Afg, 30 minutes). In theory
        lated by security contractors, backpackers                    ings of men appear to gamble on partridge                   Zardozi is an income-generating project                        there are also flights on at least a weekly
        and other unusual types.                                      and dog fights.                                             working with female refugees and traditional                   basis to Shiberghan, Kunduz and Maimana,
                                                                          Afghan Scene and What’s On in Kabul reg-                artisans. The showroom has some lovely em-                     but Ariana couldn’t vouch for these when
        Cafés                                                         ularly contain adverts for gyms and expat                   broidery including clothes, and some mini-                     asked.
        There’s a chaikhana on just about every cor-                  sporting get-togethers. A slightly out-of-                  burqas just the right size to slip over a bottle                  Kam Air flies daily to Herat (3250Afg,
        ner in Kabul if all you’re after is a pot of tea –            town alternative is a round at Kabul Golf                   of booze.                                                      one hour), and Mazar-e Sharif (2500Afg, 30
        yours for 20Afg with a blaring Bollywood                      Course (p109).                                                  Tarsian & Blinkley (Map p85; x070 223286; www              minutes). Services to Kandahar and Faiza-
        video thrown in for free. Our favourites are                      Ghazi Stadium (Map p80; Mohammed Jan Khan Wat;; Muslim St; hby appointment) Afghan               bad were being mooted as we went to press.
        those along Jad-e Maiwand and Moham-                          foreigner 250Afg) Kabul’s main stadium hosts                women’s fashion doesn’t begin and end                          As with all domestic flights in Afghanistan,
        med Jan Khan Wat, where you can grab a                        football matches most Friday afternoons.                    with the burqa. Tarsian & Blinkley has chic                    schedules can be extremely flexible.
        first-floor window seat and watch the world                   In the winter months and at Nauroz there                    women’s clothes immaculately cut and sewn
        go by. Alternatively, the juice bars around                   are occasional buzkashi matches.                            by a team of over 50 Afghan women and run                      Air
        Shahr-e Nau Park are great places to refuel                                                                               by an Afghan-American designer – a busi-                       AIRLINE OFFICES
        with banana, carrot and mango juices and                      Cinema                                                      ness venture that scooped it a Global Social                   Air Arabia (Map p85; x079 9700 095; www.airarabia
        more, for less than 50Afg.                                    The Goethe-Institute (p84) has regular film                 Venture prize to boot.                                         .com; Charahi Ansari)
           Chaila (Map p80; Karte Se; coffee from 50Afg, milkshakes   showings, and the Maple Leaf Inn (p97)                          PARSA (x070 288233;;             Ariana Afghan Airlines (Map p85; x020 2100 271,
        from 100Afg; h8:30am-6pm Sat-Tue, 8:30am-8pm Wed-             shows movies in its private theatre on Fri-                 Paiko-e Naswar, Kart-e Ariana) A shop run by the NGO           domestic flights 020 2301 339;; Street
        Thu, noon-6pm Fri) Ever popular with the large                days.                                                       PARSA as an income-generating project for                      10, Wazir Akbar Khan)
        number of expats who live in west Kabul,                      Aina Media Centre (Map p85; x070 224983; Shah               Afghan women, with plenty of tempting                          Azerbaijan Airlines (Map p85; x070 296914; Charahi
        Chaila is a joint Afghan-American enterprise.                 Mahmud Wat) Weekly outdoor films showing during the         goodies, like scarves, purses covered with                     Ansari)
        They serve brick-oven pizzas and quiche,                      summer months.                                              delicate needlework and other pocket-sized                     ICRC Air Operations (International Committee of the
        as well as sandwiches and home-made ice                       Shahr-e Nau Cinema (Map p85; Shahr-e Nau Park)              trinkets.                                                      Red Cross; x070 285948;; Charahi
        cream, but they’re best known for their milk-                 Afghanistan’s first cinema, almost exclusively Bollywood        Nomad Carpet Gallery (Map p85; x079 9328                   Haji Yaqub)
        shakes and superb coffee – the cappuccinos                    (and male audience).                                        632; near Unica, Charahi Ansari) Chicken St doesn’t            Indian Airlines (Map p85; x079 9308 303; www
        and espressos are simply fantastic. It’s all                                                                              have a monopoly on Kabul’s carpet market.            ; Interior Ministry Rd) Inside Anaar
        tastefully decorated, and they have wi-fi and                 SHOPPING                                                    Nomad has a wide selection of rugs, and has                    travel agent.
        cable TV to boot.                                             Kabul’s shopping scene has seen some ups                    taken the innovative step of commissioning                     Iran Asseman Airlines (Map p85; x079 9324 006;
           Cabul Coffee House (Map p85; x070 293124; Street           and downs, from the destruction of its cov-                 modern designs along with the traditional,           ; Street 10, Wazir Akbar Khan)
        7, Qala-e Fatullah; juices/coffee from 100Afg; h8am-5pm)      ered bazaar in 1842 and Jad-e Maiwand in                    to great effect.                                               Kam Air (Map p85; x020 2301 753; www.flykamair
        With funky paintings on the wall and some                     the 1990s, to the glitzy glass mall of the new                  Zarif & Royah (Map p85; x070 195677; www.zarif             .com, Kabul Business Centre, Shahr-e Nau)
        mellow jazz on the stereo, this is a great ad-                Kabul City Centre. In the 1960s there was         ; Lane 3 off Butcher St, Shahr-e Nau; hcall ahead)   Pactec (x070 282679/079 9300 837;
        dition to the Kabul scene. As befits its name,                even a branch of the British high street icon               Kabul’s other fashion house (along with              ; Street 15, Right Lane 1, House 12,
        the coffee is great, as are the juices. Grab a                Marks & Spencer.                                            Tarsian & Blinkley), Zarif & Royah recently                    Wazir Akbar Khan)
        paper or something from the bookswap and                         Chicken Street (Map p85; Shahr-e Nau) This               hosted Kabul’s first fashion show. Elegantly cut               PIA (Map p85; x020 2203500;; btwn
        chill out in the garden. The menu has sand-                   famed street has been a focus for Afghani-                  women’s clothes in traditional Afghan fabrics                  Streets 10 & 15, Wazir Akbar Khan)
        wiches (from 300Afg), burgers and the like.                   stan’s tourists since the days of the Hippy                 wouldn’t look out of place in Milan or Paris.                  UNHAS (United Nations Humanitarian Air Service;
                                                                      Trail. All kinds of handicrafts are available                   Afghan Handicrafts Centre (Map p85; Interior Min-          x070 284070/282559;; WFP
        ENTERTAINMENT                                                 here, from jewellery to carpets, ‘antique’                  istry Rd) A government-run set of units and                    Compound, btwn Charahi Zambak & Charahi Ariana,
        Music                                                         muskets to lapis lazuli. Good times ebb                     shops, selling everything from carpets to                      Shahr-e Nau) UNHAS uses the UNAMA terminal at Kabul
        Most live music in Kabul is played at wed-                    and flow with the number of international                   woodwork and jewellery. There’s less scope                     airport for all its domestic flights plus the Islamabad and
        dings. Should you get an invitation, they can                 workers in the city (in Taliban-era Kabul,                  to haggle, but you can sometimes get to see                    Dushanbe flights. Kabul-Dubai flights depart from the
        be brilliant affairs. Several of the cultural                 shop owners once chased us down the                         craftsmen at their trade.                                      main international terminal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          © Lonely Planet Publications
        104 K A B U L • • G e t t i n g A r o u n d                                                                                        K A B U L • • G e t t i n g A r o u n d 105

        Bus & Minibus                                      part from the same terminals, and cost up                  in a rush, fares cost around 3Afg. A similar          or major junction to your destination.

        Several terminals serve Kabul, in reality lit-     to a third more. It’s not possible to arrange              network of minibuses also criss-cross the             Most taxi drivers assume that a foreigner
        tle more than massed ranks of vehicles with        seats in advance. Long distance transport                  city, usually stopping to pick up passen-             will want to hire the whole vehicle, so make
        drivers shouting out the destinations. There       can start leaving from 5am or before, so                   gers at roundabouts and major junctions.              this clear when you get in. Shared taxis have
        are no timetables – vehicles depart as soon        arrive early.                                              Look for the vehicles with a young lad                a minimum fare of 20Afg.
        as they’re full. If you do have to wait, there’s                                                              hanging out of the door barking out the                  Finding an empty taxi to hire can some-
        always somewhere to get tea or juice and a         GETTING AROUND                                             destination.                                          times be a challenge, though they’ll often
        plate of kebabs.                                   While Taliban-era Kabul was largely a city                    There are over 40,000 registered yellow            veer towards a walking foreigner. Drivers
            Minibuses to Jalalabad (200Afg, three          of bicycles, traffic jams are an unwelcome                 taxis in Kabul, forming the bulk of the city’s        almost always ask for 100Afg for a fare,
        hours) and the Pakistan border at Torkham          side effect of progress. Getting around can                traffic. Shared taxis run the main roads,             although short hops should give you change
        (300Afg, 4½ hours) leave Begrami Motor             be a nightmare at any time of day, with                    linking the districts. If you flag one down           from 70Afg. Women should be wary of
        Park on the outskirts of Kabul on the Jalala-      frequent road closures for unexpected se-                  you’ll need to know the nearest landmark              taking taxis alone.
        bad Rd (150Afg by taxi from Shahr-e Nau).          curity measures. Travel between Shahr-e
        A few vehicles also leave early just after dawn    Nau, Wazir Akbar Khan and the airport
        from Pul-e Mahmoud Khan, close to the Id           can be notably tiresome due to the large
        Gah Mosque, but note that all transport            numbers of concrete roadblocks outside
        coming to Kabul from the east terminates           embassies that turn the roads into obstacle
        at Begrami, and isn’t allowed into central         courses.
        Kabul for security reasons. The fastest way
        to get to the border is to hire a taxi outright    To/From the Airport
        for 2500Afg.                                       A taxi between the airport and the centre
            Transport heading north through the            of Kabul should cost 200Afg, a 20-minute
        Salang Tunnel departs from Serai Shomali           trip in good traffic (but allow for longer).
        Transport Depot (Map p80), a 20-minute             Security at the airport is extremely tight.
        taxi ride to the Khair Khana district on the       Access is divided into three zones. Zone
        edge of Kabul. Minibuses from here travel          A, immediately outside the airport doors,
        to Mazar-e Sharif (500Afg, eight hours),           is reserved for VIPs and anyone lingering
        Pul-e Khumri (200Afg, four hours), Saman-          here will be swiftly moved on. Zone B, 50m
        gan (300Afg, five hours), Kunduz (400Afg,          to the right when facing the airport en-
        10 hours), and Faizabad (800Afg, 1½ days).         trance, is for accredited cars, while Zone 3
        Serai Shomali is also the place for more           just beyond this is for taxis and everyone
        local transport to Istalif (30Afg, 1½ hours),      else. All vehicles are subject to a security
        Paghman (30Afg, 30 minutes) and Charikar           check on arrival and all luggage is searched,
        (40Afg, 30 minutes).                               so factor in time for this.
            To travel to Bamiyan, catch a minibus
        from Kote Sangi (sometimes called Pul-e            Car
        Socta) in west Kabul (400Afg, nine to 11           A couple of companies offer secure radio-
        hours). Transport from here usually takes          controlled taxi services in Kabul, aimed at
        the southern route through the Hajigak and         the expat community. Both operate 24-hour
        Unai Passes – see p114 for security infor-         services, and also rent cars and 4WDs with
        mation before considering this route. At           drivers for short and long-term hire.
        the time of writing the northern route via         Afghan Logistics & Tours (x079 9391 462/070
        Shibar was preferred for security reasons.         479435;; midnight-6pm
        This may mean hiring a vehicle outright,           US$7, 6pm-midnight US$5, full-day within/outside Kabul
        or paying a supplement to the driver to use        US$40/80, airport transfer US$20)
        the alternate route.                               Safe Trip Kabul (x079 9041 130; www.safetripkabul
            Kote Sangi is also the terminal for mini-      .com; according to time of day US$6-13, full-day within/
        buses south to Ghazni, Kandahar and on             outside Kabul US$80/90, airport transfer US$25)
        to Herat, but this road is extremely danger-
        ous for foreigners and we strongly advise          Local Transport                                            © Lonely Planet Publications. To make it easier for you to use, access to this chapter is not digitally
        against it.                                        Old buses operated by Afghan Millie Bus                    restricted. In return, we think it’s fair to ask you to use it for personal, non-commercial purposes
            Prices and times given here are for 16-        trundle the routes across Kabul, but they                  only. In other words, please don’t upload this chapter to a peer-to-peer site, mass email it to
        seater HiAce minibuses. Smaller TownAces           are slow with standing room only. Destina-
        fill up (and leave) quicker, and are slightly      tions aren’t marked, so shout out where you                everyone you know, or resell it. See the terms and conditions on our site for a longer way of saying
        more expensive. Faster shared taxis also de-       want to go when the bus stops. If you’re not               the above - ‘Do the right thing with our content.’

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