With North Korea acting evil again, here's another look inside Pyongyang from Sophie Schimdt, daughter of Google's Eric Schmidt, who was recently in the DPRK on another one of those Bill Richardson trips. She shares her photos of a government guest house, which is, as she puts it, "a bizarre mix of marble grandeur and what passed for chic in North Korea in the 1970s."
Meanwhile, this guy is into watching North Korea from above.
"If something happens to them, I'm very sorry—I do my best to make sure it doesn't. But if it does, then that's what happened. Anyone who says they didn't know is an idiot. It's on television every day." – Geoff Hann
Hinterland Travel organizes trips to the places on its web site masthead, above, and some more. Sample prices: Afghanistan, 24 days from £2560, Iraq, nine day tour £1780. There's a long article here in Outside Magazine about a Hinterland trip through Afghanistan.
It's not everyday you see an ad for armouring cars … in an in-flight magazine. But then, this one comes from the Safi Airways in-flight magazine, and Safi Airways flies out of Afghanistan. The magazine features breezy articles about Herat ("People Smile") and Kabul, and lists eleven Kabul hotels from which to choose. It's interesting reading. Check it out. The whole thing is online here.
– Here’s the Survival Guide to Kabul
– Nicholas Kristof offers “advice on how to work in insecure or Taliban areas.”
And to set the stage, read Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, about his crazy walk across Afghanistan back in 2002, just after the Taliban was deposed. It’s a quick, two day read that leaves impressions you can sum up in three words: Mud, snow and fear.
Okay, maybe a few more: bluster, brinksmanship, bluntness, dirty, machismo, austerity, and ignorance come to mind.
"News" is packaged for the audience that receives it. Lightstalkers, a bulletin board for "unconventional travelers," meaning photographers, journalists, aid workers and security professionals among others, offers a fascinating way around the packaging (read their "manifesto").
Want to know what's really happening in the war in Afghanistan? Read Advice for first-time embeds to Afghanistan, which suggests that
"Basically the situation is that the Americans and NATO have reached a military stalemate. NATO are so thinly spread they can only hold the ares they have now and are not push into any of the Taliban safe havens."
"Kandahar is much worse then in 2007. There are no foreigners outside of the military bases and you ARE a target. I did spend a day out of the KAF, it was fun, but I looked a lot like a Pashtu. If you are a women, not using a burka on the streets should call a lot of attentions there, but saying that I know women who did it last year."
(Typos are on the bulletin board. Hey, they're writing from the field.)
Some advice for visitors to Afghanistan, among many, many other things,
"Don’t wear anything synthetic, as in a blast it will melt into skin and make burns much worse."
"Have insurance that covers medical evacuation from afghanistan. The military will stabilize you if you are wounded, (but) after that you are on your own."
Elsewhere on Lightstalkers you'll find suggestions for travel gear, including the Black Animus Waterproof Backpack, Petzl Headlamp with Red Filter and, for uploading those war photos by satellite, the Hughes 9201 Bgan Satellite Modem for around $2500.
Check it out. It's fascinating. The news, unpackaged.