Array ( [total] => 81 [pageSize] => 24 [page] => 0 [results] => Array ( [5526] => Array ( [iID] => 5526 [tTitle] => A taste of the Salar [tSlug] => a-taste-of-the-salar [iTime] => 1402869600 [iUpdate] => 1402869600 [tDescription] => Gorgeously surrounded by the barren Andes, temperatures during the day can reach 25 degrees, while dropping below zero, occasionally far below zero, at night. Still, San Pedro is also very much a tourist trap, the whole town's existence based on the hordes of tourists that pour in every day. Even in the off season, the town is terribly busy, with its unsealed streets lined with fancy overpriced restaurants, and boutiques selling expensive hiking gear, every second store a bike rental, cute cafe or tour agency. The sights in the area are, it has to be said, impressive. But the tours are painfully expensive. Want to see the nearby geyser field? That's fifty dollars please. Want to float in a nearby salt lake? Forty dollars please. Want to see Moon Valley? Forty dollars please. And these are all half day, if that, excursions. Then there are the extended excursions. If you want to visit the full list of sights and do all activities, you'll have to have deep pockets, the total coming to over 500 dollars. Excluding accommodation and, mostly, without food. Here, almost at the end of my Chile visit, I learned that Chile has a law that forbids restaurants to serve only alcohol to its patrons. That's the prerogative of bars (who are not allowed to serve food). On the up, my overly expensive restaurant did also serve up live local music. I contemplated taking the three day tour from San Pedro to Uyuni, in Bolivia. It takes you through what is said to be impressive scenery, several pristine lakes and a salt flat or two. At a cost of about 200 USD. True, this includes food and accommodation, though the latter comes down to sleeping under the stars. Before making the decision, I went on a morning trip to a nearby geyser field, which includes a very pleasant dip in a hot springs. Upon arrival, some 4300 meters above sea level, about an hour before sunrise, temperatures were about minus 15. With virtually no winter clothing with me, it felt my fingers and toes were slowly separating themselves from my body. The decision was made: I was not going to spend two nights out in the open in the middle of the Andes. The scenery around San Pedro is impressive. Take equal parts northern Mongolia and central Afghanistan, stir it up with a healthy dose of Oman, and you pretty much have northeastern Chile. And, though tour operators try shaking down tourists for short taxi rides around the area, on top if which you are expected to pay entry fees, several of the sights are within striking distance by rental bike, though the altitude and sometimes steep inclines can make for a few healthily tough trips. For the sites that are further away, renting a car quickly becomes cheaper compared to the shared tours on offer. I went for one shared tour and cycled the rest. After my visit to a geyser field, some 100 kilometers away from San Pedro, the tour made a stop at a small community where a clever entrepreneur sold barbecued llama. Quite delicious. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 1208 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1336 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462163186 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 13 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -22.8953 [fLongitude] => -68.2178 [tLocation] => Valle de la Muerte [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20140616 ) [5048] => Array ( [iID] => 5048 [tTitle] => Checking up on the Knights Templar [tSlug] => checking-up-on-the-knights-templar [iTime] => 1291590000 [iUpdate] => 1291590000 [tDescription] => Malta, at just over 300 square kilometers, is the smallest country in the European Union and also the source of the only semitic language which also is an official language of the EU. The language is a flavor of Arabic, which developed on the islands from some 1000 years ago, even though it was the Phoenicians, also speakers of a Semitic language, who were the first to introduce that flavor of languages to the islands that make up the archipelago that is the republic of Malta. However, the Phoenicians did leave something of a legacy. A type of traditional boat, a gondola resembling the venetian kind, are derivatives of Phoenician originals. The cross, prominently displayed on the country's flag, is in fact the St. George Cross, awarded by Great Britain for Malta's heroic resistance during the second world war. The country was a British colony until 1964 and only joined the EU in 2004, introducing the euro a mere four years later. And that is of course mightily convenient. And with my upcoming trip to morocco, it was surprising to find that it was easy to book cheaper accommodation here than pretty much anywhere in morocco.
Besides this personal link between Malta and Morocco, there's also a more geographical, or perhaps cultural, one. Well, besides the Phoenicians, ottoman, Spanish, Brits and others occupying both countries. The capital of Gozo, the smaller of the three islands which make up Malta, is called Victoria, but used to be known as Rabat, also, of course the administrative, but not de facto, capital of Morocco. Victoria is the name the British colonizers gave to the city, in celebration of their queen, but also perhaps to avoid some confusion with a town on the main island also called Rabat. Wikitravel claims that 'Rabat' means suburb, from the Arabic, but sources on Morocco claims the name derives from the Arabic for 'fortified camp'. In either case ,it's surprising that there aren't more towns called Rabat in Semitic language speaking countries, though Afghanistan seems to have three small ones. Then again, Pashtun, the second language of Afghanistan after the Farsi dialect Dari, is a Semitic language as well. Also surprising is the rather long list of Dutch synonyms which match the word Rabat. Gozo's claim to fame is being the home of the Ggantija (the first g is a soft g, like dz) complex, a megalithic structure built from some 5500 years ago, ranking it amongst the oldest still standing structures in the world. Valletta, the Maltese capital, was named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Ottoman siege of Malta in 1565. How many cities, let alone capitals can claim to be named after a foreigner?
View from the Upper Barracca gardens
And the fact that the Frenchman defended the country against invaders is also relative, as the whole population exists because of the island suffering consecutive invasions. Then again, perhaps the Turks were a bit more special, once carting off the inhabitants of Gozo as slaves. Though prices, on the whole, are comparable to other northern Mediterranean destinations, the cost of accommodation is surprisingly reasonable. My mom decided to join me on my trip to the former crusader stronghold and our twin room, though sleeping three, in the town of Sliema, only came in at some 25 euro per night. The Europa hotel offers basic but large rooms, ours even with a sea view. Though Internet isn't free, in fact quite expensive at 2.50 euro per hour, the English style pub across the road on the waterfront offers free wifi, which I can pick up, even from within the room. Malta is an interesting mix of British and Mediterranean styles, where English is the second language by design, but the cuisine is sourced from the region. A big plus, though fish and chips seems to be a staple too. Then again, it is wherever Brits go on holiday. For our first dinner, mom was adventurous and ordered pizza, but I went for one of the local specialties, rabbit stew, which was enjoyably tasty. Interesting enough, with the country's Christian foundations, many of the regular houses, most of near monumental proportions, are decked out with the typical Ottoman treat of having one central upper floor window sticking out, so that Muslim women, restricted to living in doors, still had the ability to keep track of everything happening in their own street. Valletta Valletta is a pretty little town with lots of interesting history. And the main streets and sights are completely overrun by tourists. By far the number one sight and site is the St. John Co-Cathedral (there is also a pro-cathedral, but there doesn't seem to be an actual cathedral in town). On the outside, not a very imposing church, but decked out in extensive baroque decorations on every bit of wall inside. Also, the tour's audio guide taught me that the Maltese cross has eight points because they represent the eight langues, or chapters, of knights who had set up shop on Malta after being kicked out of Jerusalem. Defending the faith required knights from similar background to flock together in their own langues, which indeed were originally, but loosely, grouped around similar languages. For example, the Dutch joined the Germans, but so did some of the Nordic knights. It's specifically in the co-cathedral, where each langue competed with the others to outdo them in creating the most elaborate chapel, where these langues, and the eight pointed maltese cross, are the most prominent.
It's surprising that even with the influx of so many Europeans and their languages, Maltese is still the primary language of the island, with english the second only because of the country being an English colony until a few decades ago. With all the knights speaking indo European languages, I can't imagine Maltese was the lingua Franca, during their prominence, so it's interesting it managed to stay put. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4884 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 1034 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462218632 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 23 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 35.9146 [fLongitude] => 14.5063 [tLocation] => Europa Hotel [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20101206 ) [4679] => Array ( [iID] => 4679 [tTitle] => Public art in Dar [tSlug] => public-art-in-dar [iTime] => 1268866800 [iUpdate] => 1268866800 [tDescription] => The wife of one of the managers at Twaweza, Arienne Mahieu, has spent a few years, on and off, on getting a public art piece installed at Coco Beach, quite close to where I live. Sponsored by, among others, the Dutch embassy, the inauguration of the piece, four concrete and tiled benches, was quite the event, with a poetry reading, live music and a series of speeches. And though the majority of the attendees were Dutch soccer moms, with the locals who accidentally were strolling or lounging in the area looked on in amazement, the whole thing wasn't an unpleasant affair. Arienne threw together a website to document the run up to the opening. Besides any reason being good enough for me to get free drinks, the event was special in that there's very little public art in Dar. At the event, I met Pernille, who's Danish. To illustrate how small a world it is, we discovered that she knows, Jesper, and Alexandra, both of whom I worked with in Afghanistan, at DACAAR, who have really ramped up their website. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3139 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 985 [iOldID] => [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462184457 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -6.76713 [fLongitude] => 39.2818 [tLocation] => Coco beach [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20100318 ) [965] => Array ( [iID] => 965 [tTitle] => Settling [tSlug] => settling [iTime] => 1264892400 [iUpdate] => 1264892400 [tDescription] => Four days after my arrival in Dar, my prominent search for a more permanent place to stay payed off: an acquaintance of a colleague of mine was moving out of her shared apartment. I moved in the next day and am now sharing a nice place with David, a Brit, Andrei, a Ukrainian/American and his wife Mattie. It's a bit out of town, but affordable, and close to quite a few restaurants as well as a some supermarkets. I liked staying in town, being able to walk to several good value restaurants and just embracing the bustle of the city, but I also value being able to sit in a normal chair at a normal desk being able to make tea, breakfast or a sandwich. For those in the know, I'm quite close to QBar. On its website, the story behind QBar is laid out: "On December 31st 1997, a teenage dream of opening a bar in Dar with a mixed crowd and a laid back atmosphere became real." In need for a burger and chips, my first since arriving in the country as the food here, Indian inspired, is awfully good and affordable, I went over to QBar for a meal. And, indeed, there was quite a mixed crowd, about half the patrons being working girls. Surprisingly, Andrei turned out to have worked in Kabul at the same time I was there. As did a friend of Mattie's, whom I met when my housemates and myself went over to South Beach for the day this weekend. What kind of odd coincidence is that? Babak On another note, I've learned that Babak used to be a municipality in what is now the Island Garden City of Samal in the Philippines. I suppose Babak needs to go to Babak. MacTilda The Dar Hash celebrates both Burns night and Australia Day by holding a special hash, the MacTilda. Off to the nearby island of Bongoyo for a day of running around the surf. Burns night celebrates a 'minor poet', considered Scotland's national poet, by the name of Robert Burns, who lived in the latter half of the 18th century. Burns night is celebrated on 25 January. Australia day, celebrated on the 26th, commemorates the arrival of the 'First Fleet' at Sydney Cove in 1788, the hoisting of the British flag there, and the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia. So, the two combined, Mac referring to the Scots, Tilda, referring to Waltzing Mathilda, Australia's unofficial anthem, result in the MacTilda run for the Dar Hash, where the run takes the pack around the island at low tide, hundreds if not thousands of crabs running away from the onslaught of runners. A good day out, though with an awfully early start, saw the sun beating down on the runners. To celebrate, a South African bagpipe player had been flown in, as were two sizable portions of haggis. Yum! After run and lunch, the circle found approval as it was set in the surf, occasional mini-tsunamis rolling over the participants. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 3467 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 983 [iOldID] => 1344 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462214362 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 9 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -6.69461 [fLongitude] => 39.258 [tLocation] => Bongoyo island [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20100131 ) [546] => Array ( [iID] => 546 [tTitle] => Crime [tSlug] => crime [iTime] => 1181426400 [iUpdate] => 1181426400 [tDescription] => Coming back from Spicey, a club in Chiang Mai where surprisingly few local chickitas were trying to sell themselves, if any, but where foreign tourists were having the upper hand, we drank booze by the bucket load, literally, meaning that after a day of hashing and drinking, I was mildly intoxicated when walking home. Okay, okay, totally wasted. Stumbling the short route back to my hotel, at the back of my head, something didn't feel right which later, I realised was the same motor driving past me several times in short succession. The last time he did, the guy on the motor grabbed my camera bag but because I had the strap over my head, he was unable to take it away. I fell on the ground and was dragged along for what felt like seconds. Immediately, I started to scream and I tried to grab the guy and drag him down from the motor. But without luck. Bruised and battered, I got up and shouted a few more insults before heading to my hotel room. Hash and tourism The morning I spent as a typical tourist, taking in some of the sites. But I also visited the Computer Plaza, where laptops are quite cheap, but memory cards are very expensive. In the afternoon, went for a run with the Chiang Mai Hash, just outside of town. In the woods, it was extremely humid. Most of this crowd consisted of older men who also had their younger (local) girls with them, on the run. You get the picture. Here, I talked a lot with a Dutchman, who had now been living in Chiang Mai for close to a year. In Holland, he ran a garden centre in the town of Veenendaal. But only after first serving in the navy, the Amsterdam police and as a bodyguard. While working for the Amsterdam police, he claimed that one of his informants was de zwarte cobra (The Black Cobra) and that he's been on TV in crime reporter Peter R. de Vries his TV show. He also claimed that, when serving in the navy, he fought the Soviets on Africa's western seaboard, in order to stop them from installing nuclear weapons there. This was to have occurred in the early 1970s. More spectacular, as late as last year, he fought in Afghanistan, as a mercenary, hired by an English 'lord', where he was commanding 20 Vietnamese. Planting intelligent bombs with cameras, only going off when the camera detects enough people in the area, half his team died on this mission but were picked up by 'cleaning crews'. Surprisingly, the man sounded truthful. The same Dutchman also told me about a few Thai concepts. The first is 'kik', or fuckbuddy. The second was 'mirnoi', or second wife. Gotta love those Thai. What's for dinner in Thailand? Part 9 There's been quite a few good meals over the last few days. On Saturday, I shared a large buffet dinner with fellow hashers from the Chiang Mai Saturday Hash House Harriers. Sunday was tough, recovering from my hangover and scratches and I only had a few small snacks from the Sunday market. Finger mouse During my last year at university, I had a mind fart on a mouse attached to your index finger with the buttons integrated, for your thumb to click on. Mind you, in my mind's eye, it was small and pretty, but someone has now created a prototype. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 6966 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 542 [iOldID] => 917 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462064614 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 32 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 18.7828 [fLongitude] => 98.9925 [tLocation] => Hash house pub [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20070610 ) [540] => Array ( [iID] => 540 [tTitle] => My Thai [tSlug] => my-thai [iTime] => 1180735200 [iUpdate] => 1180735200 [tDescription] => And once again, I'm pulling myself up from the swamps by my bootstraps. I'm off to Thailand and, true to form, it's work. I had hoped for a semi-permanent position as of October, after we expect to be done in South Africa, but no. Now, it's four weeks in northern Thailand, in the country's second hub after Bangkok, Chiang Mai. I'm supposed to do some aggregation, cultivation, sanitation and expensation (wouldn't rhyme) on the web environments HDNet operates. I expect it to be fun. And I'm told electronics are cheap. I can't wait. A romantic drive Yesterday, finally, I was able to convince Betsy to eat at Apadana, the quite good but also quite expensive Persian restaurant in Johannesburg. That is, she said "You can choose where we'll have dinner tonight, I'll pay." But it was not meant to be. The restaurant was being turned into yet another carpet seller while a bit of the venue had already been turned in to a video rental den. We contemplated the, also not too cheap, Lebanese restaurant next door, but I wanted to ask the decidedly Persian looking employees of the video store what had happened to the restaurant. "It's closed." Now that was a surprise. But it had also moved, to the Brightwater Commons, and had become a Persian/Arab restaurant. We headed out. And, really, we shouldn't have. Due to a police road block during rush hour, it took us 90 minutes to drive less than 10 kilometers. But we made it to Sahara, without even the police taking a notice of us. But, Persian/Arab my ass. All the dishes seemed Lebanese and the two male proprietors appeared Turkish. Except perhaps the lady of the house; a quite sweet looking, finely sculpted, dark haired cutie who mostly took care of the fire, to keep the place warm. When we complained about the lack of bread with our starters, the inevitable happened: "But where are you from?" The cat was out of the bag. They were indeed Iranian (but from Bandar-e-Anzali, which makes it likely that, ethnically, they're Turkish). We ended up talking to the lady of the house, who had lived in The Hague for five years and spoke reasonable Dutch. And we got free bread, after the gas supply was restored, and chips. And, next time, we would have to ask for Persian dishes and she would make them on request. On the plane The flight to Thailand is with Thai International Airways. And, it's true, it's good. All economy passengers have a personal video player with more than 30 movies and many more series and CDs to spend your time with. But, maybe not too surprisingly, most of what's on offer is utter crap. The food is quite good, with cognac to wash it down. I've increased the number of countries and places I've now seen quite a bit while on the flight. It started with what I think were the Iles Glorieuses, just off the coast of northern Madagascar. Then I saw the capital of the Seychelles, Victoria, and later, with the full moon high up in the sky, illuminating the sea, making it look like a black diamond, we flew over Male and other islands in the Maldives. But it didn't stop there. We got to see, well, if you were sitting next to a window on the right side of the plane, which was the right side, and were looking out of the window as well, which I was, you'd also have spotted Colombo, the largest city but not the capital of Sri Lanka, and some of the Andaman islands. On the Thai The Thai language is a tonal language, like Chinese. The Lonely Planet gives one great example of what this can result in: "Mai mai mai mai mai" (I'm leaving out the accents, which denote the tone), which means "new wood doesn't burn, does it?" In northern Thaiand, there's an area called 'Sukhotai', meaning rising of happiness, dating from around the 12th century, which is considered to be the birthplace of Thai culture. In central Afghanistan, there's a place called 'Surkh Kotal, some 1000 years older, but named by the Kushans, who ruled what is now Afghanistan at the time. They, as the Thai, were Buddhists. I've forgotten what Surkh Kotal means, but I think 'Surkh' is a word for 'Red'. Still, this almost is too much of a coincidence. Kanchanaburi, north west of Bangkok and not nearly close enough for me to visit, is the location of the one and only former Bridge over the river Kwai. Thailand used to be called Siam. And, indeed, that's where the original Siamese twins came from. And Bangkok is home to what might just be the most notorious prison on the planet, the Bangkok Hilton. At Bangkok's airport, i found multiple books with exactly the same subject, but written by different former expat prisoners. All were imprisoned for drug trafficking. If you're thinking of going to Thailand, read this book, or any other like it. You will stay away as far as possible from anything even only resembling drugs. Thailand has a reasonable claim to being home of the first agriculturalists as well as first metallurgists, out dating Sumeria by a few hundred years. Does that mean Thailand should be considered as the birthplace of civilization? [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 10026 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 533 [iOldID] => 910 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461933072 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -26.1469 [fLongitude] => 28.2336 [tLocation] => O.R. Tambo international airport [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20070602 ) [462] => Array ( [iID] => 462 [tTitle] => Namibian heat [tSlug] => namibian-heat [iTime] => 1158357600 [iUpdate] => 1158357600 [tDescription] => After a very busy week, where a lot of time was spent on Soweto uprisings . com, we finally head for Namibian soil. The website is still not completely finished, but that's mostly because there still is too much content missing. Most, if not all, of the functionality is there. As a result, Ismail and I did a presentation of our work on Friday, at the offices of ASM in down town Jo'burg, Ismail's employer. It must have been quite successful, as the scheduled 15 minute presentation ended up being a 90 minute discussion. Now, it's mostly up to Ismail to get all the content in, but not before he finishes his report on the project, in time for a presentation in Cape Town, somewhere in the coming week. On Wednesday, we visited the opening of an exhibition at The Bag Factory, where Ismail's girlfriend works. One of the two 'artists in residence' on display was Arash Hanaei, an Iranian on a three month visit to South Africa. On Thursday, we attended yet another function. Vlisco, a Dutch garment producer, insanely popular, mostly in western Africa, presented their designer brand collection in their tiny store in the Mall of Rosebank. Not really my cup of tea, but, hey, free food and drinks. And Friday saw us heading to Pretoria, for a dinner of Bobotie, pumpkin pancakes and mulva pudding. Bobotie, not too dissimilar to a typical American meatloaf, is very much a South African dish. In fact, it's so South African, most restaurants don't even offer it, because, hey, you can eat it at home all the time. And now we're off to Namibia; Dessert, sea and Suessichkeiten. Namibia was, until 1918, one of the few German colonies in Africa and the only one on which they left a mark with, supposedly, lots of art nouveau architecture, central European love for sweets and good German beer. Namibia is also very much known for the Skeleton Coast, where many ships, overcome by the bad weather off the coast, ended up stranded. Probably Namibia's most well known tourist attraction at the impressive red dunes. Interestingly, because Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa are part of the same customs union, you're not allowed to buy tobacco (and I'm sure alcoholic beverages too) at the tax free area of the airport in Jo'burg. The flight itself, with budget airline Kulula wasn't all that bad. Because this connection is actually services by a BA plane, and part of the BA network, you actually do get drinks and food on board. Windhoek Windhoek is one of the most mellow, if not sleepy, capitals I've ever seen. At least on a Saturday afternoon. All the shops are closed and the streets are empty of cars and people. Also, people, be it black, white or coloured, appear to be friendly, helpful and open. Something that you only experience in South Africa when indoors and, generally, stick to your own side of the racial divide. In fact, the country appears to be much more racially mixed than South Africa, although you wouldn't be able to tell this from population statistics. But, clearly, people feel much more at ease with each other, here, than they do in South Africa and this might be a result of the prominent role the Basters played, a word indeed derived from the Dutch for 'crossbreed', coloureds from the South African cape who moved up north to settle, during the German occupation of South West Africa (as Namibia was known at the time). Interestingly, while they escaped racial profiling in the South African cape, they considered themselves more Boer, voortrekkers, than black, as can be seen on the rather awkward photographs in the Alte Feste museum in Windhoek, where, all dressed in their Sunday best, they'd not be out of place, except for their darker skin, in some rural Dutch village during the 19th century. We arrived in Windhoek at the beginning of two concurrent arts festivals, The Bank Windhoek Arts Festival and the /AE//Gams Arts Festival. And no, the forward slashes are not the result of some obscure filing system on behalf of the organizer, they are actually clicks (letters). Many of the performers appear to come from South Africa, although several do seem to come from Namibia. The show we're seeing tonight is very affordable. A good thing since the price, 35 Namibian Dollars, or about 3.50 euros, is probably the maximum I would ever consider paying for a showing of The Vagina Monologues. Well, until I saw the show. It's a bore, even though the local flavour that was given to it is mildly entertaining. It's surprising that a country significantly larger than France but with less than 2 million people can actually support two concurrent arts festivals. It makes you wonder how they can get the venues filled. The Vagina Monologues Sampa Kangwa Wilkie and Frieda Karipi, who seemingly also plays a part in Survivor Africa, act reasonably well and it's nice to see the show was given a local flavour, but as a whole, it's just too much of a bore. It has to be said that the Namibian, mostly white, crowd appeared ecstatic and this 'liberation of the vagina' might work in prudish societies such as the USA and, possibly, Namibia, to me it feels like we got over this by the time the 1980s showed up. I did appreciate a recent addition to this 10(!) year old show, where the journalist (Zoe Williams) is mentioned who tries to reclaim the word 'cunt'. Then, ignorance was showing when, twice, the war in Afghanistan was compared to the wars in the DRC and Kosovo, where the rape of women was an integral part of those wars of terror. And absurdity was thrown in the mix when it was claimed that some 100 million girls have had their genitals mutilated. Although Amnesty appears to mention that it's actually 130 million girls and women. To me, this sounds absurd, as these 'operations' are practically only done in parts of Africa. With a population of some 400 million women, this means that about 1 in 3 African women had their genitals mutilated. This simply doesn't wash if you compare the spread of FGM in Africa with the list of population sizes for African countries. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 30265 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 11 [iVoters] => 3 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 455 [iOldID] => 831 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462181749 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 6 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -22.5627 [fLongitude] => 17.0756 [tLocation] => The Carboard Box Backpackers [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20060916 ) [441] => Array ( [iID] => 441 [tTitle] => Somewhat busy week [tSlug] => somewhat-busy-week [iTime] => 1151618400 [iUpdate] => 1151618400 [tDescription] => After, I've gotten the taste of using the Flickr API to make different things and created, where you have to guess English sayings where they are displayed using images pulled from Flickr. As I've been doing with most of the stuff I've created recently, I based the design on stuff I pulled from I've spent quite a bit of time on writing a proposal for a web-project in Tirana, Albania. It's with UNDP and if this works out, it could truly herald a new era. Finally, DDR ZA . com has gone into private beta. It's been a pain to get the hosting right. Readyhosting, until late last year the provider with which I hosted all my sites has quickly gone downhill once they were acquired by a third party. Although, potentially, what they offer is still good, their service is extremely friendly, but also not very knowledgeable. Then, I proposed a professionalisation of Francesco Carotta is the author of the book 'Jesus was Caesar'. Status pending. And I'm submitting some pictures to a Spanish photography competition. The pictures listed below are the ones from which I want to choose. Help me out to select the right ones by giving your opinion. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5172 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 421 [iOldID] => 809 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462158107 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 9 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -26.0287 [fLongitude] => 28.0151 [tLocation] => Shingara Sands [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20060630 ) [431] => Array ( [iID] => 431 [tTitle] => Very sad [tSlug] => very-sad [iTime] => 1146434400 [iUpdate] => 1146434400 [tDescription] => My dear friend Lev passed away last Friday. I am very, very sad. Here's the obit. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7405 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 12 [iVoters] => 3 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 421 [iOldID] => 799 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462219656 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => -26.0287 [fLongitude] => 28.0151 [tLocation] => Shingara Sands [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20060501 ) [384] => Array ( [iID] => 384 [tTitle] => An Italian wedding [tSlug] => an-italian-wedding [iTime] => 1127253600 [iUpdate] => 1127253600 [tDescription] => Back in Afghanistan, I threatened Giovanni I would visit him for his wedding if only remotely possible. Bought tickets back in July, so off Betsy and I went. Ryanair rules and although the cost of parking our car was about the same as one round-trip ticket from Eindhoven to Milano, it was also worth it. Because the battery of my phone/mp3-player/pocket-pc died halfway through the trip I lost most of my notes so I probably don't have that much to say. You'll have to survive on the pictures. Icecream sandwich Some weeks ago, after visiting a bookfair in Utrecht, I had an ice cream sandwich at Roberto Gelato, the only place in the Netherlands serving these delicacies. Of course, my friends thought I was crazy for buying something this disgusting. When we arrived at Milano central station, waiting for Giovanni and Cecilia to pick us up, I went over to a nearby snack-stand to get, well, a snack. Of course, I got an ice cream sandwich. And it was good. Oh, Eindhoven airport smells like cat pee. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 12950 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 16 [iVoters] => 5 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 377 [iOldID] => 752 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462138050 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 51.4508 [fLongitude] => 5.373 [tLocation] => Airport [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050921 ) [376] => Array ( [iID] => 376 [tTitle] => Hundreds of pictures and a new trip [tSlug] => hundreds-of-pictures-and-a-new-trip [iTime] => 1123970400 [iUpdate] => 1123970400 [tDescription] => Yeah. After 'struggling' in Afghanistan for over two months, I deserve a holiday, don't you think? So today, Betsy and I are driving to Bretagne and Normandy, in France. Just a couple of days to soak up some sunshine, get some cultures and enjoys some megalithic structures along the way. These past couple of days, I have been busy. Not so much with work, which I actually was hoping for (the work is there, but the clients aren't as, ehm, productive), but with getting the pictures from my tour in Afghanistan online. Early on, my card reader broke down (or more accurately, Lev somehow trashed it, didn't you Lev ;), so these past two months must have been very hard on my readers, all two of you. Off to Normandy We started driving late, the main reason being that I wanted to make sure I had done all the work I could, before leaving. It wouldn't reflect all that well on the clients if I, after being back in Holland for under a week, I would immediately run off again to some other country. After a quick stop, and an amazing brownie, in Brussels, we went on to France, after deciding we were going to try and make it to Caen, a village in Normandy. Years ago, I had just quit working for Procter & Gamble, but I was still living in Brussels, I had a temporary roommate, a student doing an internship at P&G, who told me I just HAD to visit Caen, on a weekend trip I did with my girlfriend to Le Mont Saint Michel. We never stopped in Caen, there are only so many days in a weekend, so I wanted to see that 'famous' city on this slightly longer trip. Traffic wasn't all that bad, also because we circumvented Paris, and we arrived in Caen at a reasonable time. Only to find all, and I mean ALL, hotels to be full. Asking one girl at a hotel reception, "Yes, all hotels along the Normany coast are booked". That didn't sound good. I called the youth hostel and they turned out to have some beds still available. If only we would show up before 9pm, less then half an hour away. After some racing, screeching to a halt in front of the gendarmerie to ask for directions, we found the place, arriving only five minutes late. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 16567 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 48 [iVoters] => 17 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 5 [iOldID] => 718 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461976302 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 52.0109 [fLongitude] => 4.33628 [tLocation] => Home [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050814 ) [375] => Array ( [iID] => 375 [tTitle] => Getting back all the way [tSlug] => getting-back-all-the-way [iTime] => 1123538400 [iUpdate] => 1123538400 [tDescription] => On the flight from Istanbul to Amsterdam, to my left, a young Turkish couple was browsing through a book with Turkish baby names. The rest of the plane seemed to be filled with screeming, annoying, irritating babies and young kids. When we finally were allowed to enter the Ariana plane in Kabul, we were already one hour late. By the time we left, an F-16 fighter having littered the runway, which needed to be cleaned up, we were over two hours late. I finally picked up my luggage at Istanbul airport, a bit after three pm. My plane had left at 1:30pm where, supposedly, I was going to have about two hours between flights. Going over to the Turkish airlines ticket offices, I asked which was the next available flight they could book me on. 23rd of August. I bought a last minute ticket, the last seat, on an Onur Air flight and left. Work I'm happy my project in Afghanistan is over. I really consider the project finished, it was time to move on, although DACAAR would now strongly benefit from a guy like me working with them one or two days per week. On the other hand, I really enjoyed myself in Kabul, the city starting to feel like home. It's a nice place, people are friendly and although the social calendar is rather short, there's always something to do. Until next time. 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[iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050809 ) [374] => Array ( [iID] => 374 [tTitle] => Trying to get back [tSlug] => trying-to-get-back [iTime] => 1123365600 [iUpdate] => 1123365600 [tDescription] => We got up at 6 for an early start. Not so. Earlier in the week, I had asked if it was possible to get breakfast as early as 6. Useful when we wanted to leave for Band-e-Amir at 6:30. It was not possible, breakfast only being available from 7 onwards. However, when we showed up in the kitchen at 6 and I simply asked for 'chai', we ended up getting breakfast, at six in the morning. Last evening, we were asked at what time we wanted breakfast. Since we wanted to leave at 6:30, we figured that having breakfast, again, at 6 would be very convenient. We were told it was not going to be a problem. Until this morning, of course, when at six no one, no one, was in or around the kitchen of the hotel. Some waiting later, I went out to investigate and found one of the cooks lounging near the gate. I told him we wanted breakfast and some 20 minutes later, we were enjoying stale bread, tea, happy cow, jam and cookies. We asked for fresh bread, but the cook said the 'boy' had gone of to the bazaar. On foot. Then came the process of paying the bill. For the first time we got to see the owner/manager. He asked how we wanted the bill and I said one bill for four people and one bill for two people (the Frenchie and his driver, having breakfast together with us). 20 minutes later, he showed up with two bills. One for six people and one for one person. It took nearly 30 minutes more to obtain a correct bill. Finally, at nine, we drove out of the valley, on our way to Kabul. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 9349 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 339 [iOldID] => 711 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462090156 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 4 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.5382 [fLongitude] => 69.1551 [tLocation] => DACAAR expat house 2 [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050807 ) [373] => Array ( [iID] => 373 [tTitle] => Trip in the area [tSlug] => trip-in-the-area [iTime] => 1123279200 [iUpdate] => 1123279200 [tDescription] => We had agreed on hiring an expensive guide/translator for the day. Too expensive, but without a guide it's nearly impossible to enter the caves around the two non-buddhas and check out where all these monks used to live. Our first visit was to the two main buddhas themselves. With the guide we were able to go inside the caves around the buddhas, including some of the hallways that go all the way up to the buddhas' heads. Some of the caves still had some paint on them, but my biggest surprise was that the caves used as shrines looked more orthodox Christian to me than buddhist. Same style as many of the Bulgarian churches I've seen. Our next stop was the city of screams, shar-e-Gholghola, completely destroyed by everyone's favourite Mongol, Chinggis Khan. Local legend has it that, after Chinggis stopped by and tried taking control of the fort, it was not after the local king's daughter, being annoyed with her father, sent Chinggis a message attached to an arrow telling him how to take the city, that he finally managed to control the fortress. The girl, thinking she would be hailed by Chinggis as a big help and the new favorite, was stoned to death. Everyone in the valley, in fact, was killed by Chinggis. Man, women, children and all animals. Now THAT guy was thorough. Third was the buddha in Kakra. The 'small buddha', at only 6.5 meters high, but in about the same state as the two large buddhas. Although here, some remains from Daoud's effort to put some work in displaying the buddha properly still remained. The whole thing showed how difficult it is to obtain some decent information on Bamyan. People told me the caves are mined. They aren't, anymore. Other people told me you needed a guide for the hill above the buddhas, because the hill is mined. It is, partially, and deminers established a signposted route long ago across the hill. People told me the small buddha is the only buddha still intact. It isn't, in about the same state as the two large buddha's. The reason for Chinggis' rather over-the-top reaction, killing everyone and everything in the valley, was because his favourite grandson was mortally wounded in the battle for Shar-e-Zohak, what then was a huge fortress at the entrance of the Bamyan valley. This city REALLY is what you have in mind when you think of mediaeval fortresses or king Arthur's favourite hideout. Truly the stuff of legends in a setting which is legendary. We were lead up the mountain by the commander of the police post, at the entrance of the valley. When he stopped us on our arrival, two days before, I was surprised by the cleanliness of his Farsi, me understanding every word of what the man said. Turns out, as we talked on our way up, and later over tea at the command post, that the man spent 25 years in Mashhad, in Iran. Later in the evening, we had dinner at the Bamyan Hotel, for the third time in a row. The food s quite good and you get loads of it. And it is affordable. Since the first night, we've been sharing our table, if you can call it that, sitting at one long table which seats 32, with a Frenchie and his driver. The French guy speaks English and French, his driver speaks Dari. Our driver speaks a bit of English. We had our guide/translator for the day, on the trip, and he spoke passable, but not great English. Already, the day had worn me out quite a bit. More then for most, as I had to take on the job of translating the translator and sometimes translating for either of the drivers. Then, during dinner, the Frenchie's driver went totally mad, constantly talking, but with no-one to understand him. So I ended up constantly translating back and forth. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 6032 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 8 [iVoters] => 2 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 361 [iOldID] => 710 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462101531 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 37 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.8293 [fLongitude] => 67.8193 [tLocation] => Large buddha [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050806 ) [372] => Array ( [iID] => 372 [tTitle] => Dams [tSlug] => dams [iTime] => 1123192800 [iUpdate] => 1123192800 [tDescription] => Ed, the guy I had spoken to on Monday, showed up at the hotel yesterday. He's working as a contractor for ADB, doing road surveys to decide where Afghanistan should start building tarred roads. He was going to show up on Saturday but was now two days early because his planned route was inaccessible due to flooding. The good news was that they now were taking the spectacular route to Band-e-Amir on Friday, today, and that we could tag along. Band-e-Amir, one of a set of 'platformed' lakes, connected through naturally created dams is quite as spectacularly situated as they come. What's more, it also attracts quite a crowd on Fridays, most people's weekend. Surprising as well, considering most visitors have to travel at least three hours, by car, to visit the place. Light blue lakes, icy cold, sparkling clean, in between towering mountains. Amazing and very similar, in parts, to Mongolia. We went into the lake for a quick swim and VERY quickly, got out again. I tried swimming underwater to impress the local population (almost all Afghans can't swim), but it was too friggin' cold. Giovanni was brave enough to do two dives, but only survived some 10 seconds longer. Driving towards Band-e-Amir, we constantly passed Kochis, nomads, walking down to the lake for the Friday pick nick. We drove for over three hours, from Bamyan to Band-e-Amir. In those three hours, we passed barren hill after barren hill, with only two tiny settlements along the way. Where did all these people come from and, what's more, at what time did they start to walk? Driving back from the lakes, the hydrogeolist (Didier) and the GIS-specialist (Giovanni) went nuts over the wells we passed en route. They got out for every one of them to take the coordinates and get a sample from the water. At one, they went off and I stayed in the car with the driver, watching some guys lounging by the side of the road. One guy came up on a motor cycle and started to chat with the people in the group. Shortly after, one of the guys quickly left to grab a young goat from a group of goats and sheep that were lounging in the area. He was holding it between his legs and almost immediately the young goat started to bleat continuously. Some haggling later, handshakes and loads of talking, a wad of money changed hands, the goat changed owners and was tied onto the back of the motor, still bleating. The guy drove off. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5942 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 5 [iVoters] => 1 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 360 [iOldID] => 709 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462231099 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 29 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.8644 [fLongitude] => 67.2344 [tLocation] => Band-e-Amir [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050805 ) [371] => Array ( [iID] => 371 [tTitle] => The road is long [tSlug] => the-road-is-long [iTime] => 1123106400 [iUpdate] => 1123106400 [tDescription] => Leaving early for Bamyan to, in case of trouble, still get in before dark, I was suffering from something of a hangover from the previous evening, high on Albert West. Sadly enough, I forgot my bottle of whisky, specially bought for the trip. What's more, as it turned out, Giovanni also forgot his wine. And his beer. It's less then 240km from Kabul to Bamyan. It took us nine hours, one of which was spent waiting to get a puncture fixed. We still had what is considered a short drive. At first, I had hoped for a flight to Bamyan. PACTEC flies for only 50 bucks one way. A very welcome alternative to a nine hour drive. However, already three weeks ago, all flights were booked until the 31st of August. The second 'airline' that flies to Bamyan, UNHAS, a UN organization, clocks in at 100 bucks per one way ticket. We decided to drive. Getting a similar sweet deal as Lev and I got for our trip to Mazar, DACAAR was so friendly as to lend us one of their very nice 4x4 Nissans. The trip was nice, but I can't really say I'm looking forward to another eight hours drive back to Kabul. A flight sounds very inviting. One major downside of flying both ways, though, is the lack of a vehicle in Bamyan. You can see the buddhas, or rather, you can't see the buddhas, on foot. The second major attraction, Band-e-Amir, the first of a couple of amazingly beautiful lakes, you have to do by car, another 3-5 hours away. So if you fly in, you have no choice but to rent a car for at least one day, probably more. And then there's the rumoured option of renting a plane for the day from Kabul, at 400 dollars per day. A very reasonable alternative, assuming 4 or more people fit in. It will allow for a visit to the buddhas and a flyover of the lakes. On Monday, I had spoken to Ed, calling from Bamyan, telling me that the only available hotel was fully booked. There are two hotels, 'Roof of Bamyan' and the 'Bamyan Hotel', but the first one isn't an option because 40 Japanese archaeologists have booked that one for the next couple of months, searching for the rumoured 300m long 'reclining buddha'. The Bamyan Hotel, also considerably cheaper, at 15$ per head, instead of 40$ seemed to be going to cause a problem, not being available. Arriving at around 4pm, we found no guests but two reclining locals in one of the 'gers' in the garden. We could hand pick the rooms we preferred. Both hotels overlook the sandstone wall from which the buddhas were cut, some 1700 years ago and the view is spectacular during the whole day. Just lounging in the garden is already a decent way to spend your time, although Bamyan, at over 2500 meters high, does get cold in the evenings, even in August. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 191098 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 14 [iVoters] => 3 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 359 [iOldID] => 708 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462043139 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 15 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.8223 [fLongitude] => 67.8256 [tLocation] => Bamyan hotel [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050804 ) [370] => Array ( [iID] => 370 [tTitle] => Albert West is in da house [tSlug] => albert-west-is-in-da-house [iTime] => 1123020000 [iUpdate] => 1123020000 [tDescription] => If you're Dutch, you might have seen the short video made by the Dutch contingent (PRT) in Pul-e-Kumri. Supposedly, it's something of a music video, using a song by the, at Dutch standards, infamous Albert West. The video clip was something of a cult hit and, as a result, this Dutch contingent was able to get that very same Albert West perform at the Dutch embassy in Kabul. What's more, he'll go on a tour of the country. SBS6, a Dutch commercial channel, is following the man like bees follow honey. You might just have caught a bit of it on TV, where you can hear me shouting in the background. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 10267 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 15 [iVoters] => 3 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 303 [iOldID] => 707 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462214634 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 2 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.5355 [fLongitude] => 69.1617 [tLocation] => Dutch embassy [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050803 ) [369] => Array ( [iID] => 369 [tTitle] => Waiting to get back [tSlug] => waiting-to-get-back [iTime] => 1122760800 [iUpdate] => 1122760800 [tDescription] => Most of my day was spent trying to get back to Kabul. I was going to get a 'regular' flight back from Herat, with Kam Air. Yes that's the airline which had a crash just days before I arrived in February. Already on Thursday was my ticket arranged for, but only this morning was it clear at what time the plane would leave: 12pm. I arrived at the airport too late, ten past 12, only to find out that I should have gotten my boarding card about a kilometer away from the airport itself. Some frustration and about one hour later, I was sharing the back row in a 737 with a French tourist. A TOURIST! On the flight we even got a snack and a soda. Surprisingly, even though the crew was from some former Soviet republic, the ladies didn't even consider getting decent. One of the girls was wearing tight blue jeans and a white, rather tight, shirt, that would show a piece of flesh when she would reach for an upper compartments. She had a piercing through her nose, one through her lip and at least 10 through her two ears. Even so, she was terribly cute. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4835 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 6 [iVoters] => 2 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 355 [iOldID] => 704 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1461978040 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.2106 [fLongitude] => 62.2283 [tLocation] => Airport [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050731 ) [368] => Array ( [iID] => 368 [tTitle] => A field visit [tSlug] => a-field-visit [iTime] => 1122674400 [iUpdate] => 1122674400 [tDescription] => Visited several field offices today. I've been working at the DACAAR main office since February and not once have I actually seen what it is that DACAAR does. Although even now, I still haven't seen much, although I've talked to the people who do the actual work. We first visited three Field Project(?) Offices, after which we went to the Field Management Office, from where the FPOs are being managed. My guide being no less then the manager of the FMO in Pashtun Zarghun South. At first I thought I was just joining in on a regular field trip, but not so. Our visits were specially arranged for me. It also meant I HAD to ask interesting questions. Struggling at first, I did learn quite a bit, although the language barrier was a bit of a challenge at times. And the end result was, indeed, that I now have a slightly less misinformed idea on what it is DACAAR actually does. Lunch was at the FMO. Interestingly, I was the only one eating with my hands, everyone else using a fork, in their left hand, to put the food on a spoon, in their right. And, of course, I tried to help out with some IT issues at the FMO. One 'new' machine was unpacked to check if it worked. It did, and it was repacked again. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 5034 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 354 [iOldID] => 703 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462165475 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 8 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.2833 [fLongitude] => 62.6167 [tLocation] => DACAAR FMO [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050730 ) [367] => Array ( [iID] => 367 [tTitle] => Sightseeing in Herat [tSlug] => sightseeing-in-herat [iTime] => 1122588000 [iUpdate] => 1122588000 [tDescription] => One guy from the DACAAR office in Herat was so kind as to show me around the nice sights in the city. Not only very nice but also very pleasant. Someone to talk to and tell you details about the town I wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and also taking away the need for long walks. Herat is quite a large city, with the DACAAR office and guest house on one end and two of the major sights on opposite ends of the city. First there was the Blue Mosque. Arriving through its garden, I wasn't all that impressed, it looking like a smaller version of the mosque in Mazar. Then I entered the thing, after noticing a crow making funny noises close to the entrance. Both his legs had a copper ring around them, with something of small bells inside which dangled when it walked. 'Amazing' doesn't come close to describing the mosque. 'Fantastic' isn't enough. Interestingly, as recent as 1930, the mosque was not very impressive, 'no colour; only whitewash, bad brick and broken bits of mosaic'. Practically all the fantastic tile work, true to the original Timurid designs were recreated since 1943. At some point, WFP (the World Food Programme) provided boys with food in return for learning how to make the tiles. After the mosque, we drove over to the Musalla complex, where five nearly falling over minarets and one mausoleum in very bad shape are all that is left of an extensive complex including a mosque and a madrassa, a religious school, where now only five of the original thirty(!) minarets remain. As late as 1885, most of them were still standing. One British invasion, two earthquakes and Soviet firepower changed most of that. Time for a short stop, we enjoyed tea and immensely strong sheesha, overlooking the town from the north, talking about history, politics and economics. Then, it was time to visit Gazargah, the shrine of a sufi poet and mystic who lived in Herat in the 11th century. In true Muslim fashion, the poet is said to have magical powers, still, and women who cannot conceive wrap a stone in a cradle of linen and hang it from a sacred ilex tree next to the grave of the poet. Don't ask me what 'ilex' is. In front of the complex, there's a penis-shaped dog looking at the entrance. When people asked the architect why he put the dog there, he said he was like a dog for the poet. After stopped by at the mausoleum of Ishmael Khan's son, but before we drove past the old fort, downtown, closed to visitors, we had very decent, sweet, handmade ice cream at a local parlor, before heading back to DACAAR. Then it was time for lunch. 'Lady fingers' (okra) mashed with tomatoes and potatoes. A bit bland, but very nice once some spices were added to the mix. Meals at the guesthouse are reasonable affordable at an average $0.50 each. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7762 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 19 [iVoters] => 7 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 352 [iOldID] => 702 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462205215 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 23 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.343 [fLongitude] => 62.1943 [tLocation] => Blue mosque [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050729 ) [366] => Array ( [iID] => 366 [tTitle] => Indy [tSlug] => indy [iTime] => 1122501600 [iUpdate] => 1122501600 [tDescription] => From the moment the engines were fired up, the Indiana Jones music started to float through my head. And it kept on playing until we arrived in Herat. My flight was on an ICRC (Red Cross) plane. 14 seats, 7 on each side, of which only 8 were occupied. Two propellers and loads of movement once in the air. The service, piloted by South Africans, who for some reason control half the trade here in Afghanistan, makes circular patterns, going from Kabul to Kabul, stopping in several places along the way. Before Herat, we stopped in Kandahar. Very dusty, very hot and not all that safe. American military was waiting for us on the tarmac and they grew nervous when I took out my camera. Earlier this week, some 50 'Taleban' were killed here in the region, a former Taleban stronghold, and one of the pilots started talking about that: "Do you see that tree line over there?" some 100 meters in the distance, of course I saw it. "Earlier this week, Taleban forces started to shell the Canadian camp from it. One Canadian lost a leg." Terrible stuff, of course, but also 50 Afghanis lost their life. And we were parked right in between the Canadians and that tree line. Herat is clean, quiet and green. The 120 days of fierce winds have started, (like an ancient curse from an ancient god over a long-ago disappeared people: "One third of the year you will have this terrible thing, one third of the year you suffer from that disaster and one third of the year you will suffer the 120-day wind!") so you don't really notice the heat when you're outside. At the same time the city is also a main thoroughfare, probably for traffic coming from Mashad in Iran and the next major city in Turkmenistan all going south. Most notably, many cars are transported and many car and car-parts stores line the main boulevard. Already, driving through town on my way to lunch at Marcopolo (yes that's how they spell it), I've seen the blue mosque in the distance. But what took my attention as well were the rikshas with, on their sides, not only the name and phone number of the driver, but also his email address. At the Herat DACAAR office, I've seen the best Afghan babe so far. And I could even understand her reasonably well, her speaking clear Farsi, articulating her words with care. And, of course, I was almost immediately asked to perform some IT helpdesk functions. Also, people here look quite different from in Kabul. Faces are rounder and less worn, skins are lighter and people appear to act less frantic as well. Also the girls, as far as you get to see them (many not wearing the burka but the Iranian chador), are truly babes. Prices are also significantly lower. And here, too, the many horse drawn carts have their horses adorned with bells and red woolen balls, something you can see in more than half of Eurasia, from Hungary to Mongolia. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 45783 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 202 [iVoters] => 63 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 357 [iOldID] => 701 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462160149 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 2 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 31.5058 [fLongitude] => 65.8478 [tLocation] => Airport [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050728 ) [365] => Array ( [iID] => 365 [tTitle] => Comparing work [tSlug] => comparing-work [iTime] => 1122069600 [iUpdate] => 1122069600 [tDescription] => Julia and Cor gave a bit of a party tonight. Julia seemingly turned 37 today and is a good looking tiny girl from Bulgaria who gives occasional yoga lessons in town. Cor is her husband, between 55 and 60 and works, through ING for the national bank of Afghanistan. At the party I spoke with a Dutch lady who will start working for the UN next month as something I remember her calling 'information analyst. She'll get paid 9000 USD per month. Unfortunately, she didn't appear all that bright, making this fact something of a bitter pill to swallow. Talking to the two girls yesterday and the girl today, it should be clear these absurdly high salaries are more the rule than the exception. What's more, none of these people were exceptionally bright, smart or intelligent, no offense. Why do I only make a fraction of these salaries? Or, more accurately, why are agencies willing to pay these absurd amounts to people who, even when they're qualified for the job, would not even get close to half what they receive here, in their home country, before it would also get taxed, leaving them with maybe a quarter, or less, of their salaries here. Now take that one step further. An Afghan policeman would have to work 20 years to earn what the JICA woman earns in one month. Fucking absurd. And anyone wonders why locals in developing countries are not always that happy with expats coming in and helping them. For every JICA program manager, 240 policemen could be put to work. Fucking preposterous. More people, even, counting the cost of security measures involved to protect the JICA woman. Protect her from what? You tell me. Locals who are frustrated by her earning so much? Probably. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4530 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 349 [iOldID] => 696 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462199097 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.5238 [fLongitude] => 69.1712 [tLocation] => The Cor and Julia residence [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050723 ) [364] => Array ( [iID] => 364 [tTitle] => Walking the wall [tSlug] => walking-the-wall [iTime] => 1121983200 [iUpdate] => 1511542913 [tDescription] => One hasher, working for the UN as a graphic designer earns 7000 USD per month. Another hasher, working for JICA as a program manager earns 12000 USD per month. I am not making this up. Today we walked the wall. Back in Buddhist times, some ruler decided Kabul needed to be surrounded by a nice big wall. A bit like the Great Wall of China, only not as wide. Currently, it is said only one stretch remains, even though I think I've seen parts of that old wall on other ridges from the one we walked today. The climb is tough, very steep at first and about two hours long, if you don't hang around too long to enjoy the spectacular scenery. And the view is fantastic. Higher than TV-hill, the views you get treated to are spectacular. And what's more, the wall really is a small version of the Great Wall, where the original builders not only built look out posts at certain intervals, they made the wall such that you could easily walk it. Not that much remains today, and some say that the rocky hill is still heavily mined, but the remains easily give you an idea of the status of this city in ancient times. In the morning, we tried our luck at chick gazing at the Intercontinental. An amazing 10 dollars to get to the pool, a fifth of the monthly salary of a traffic cop, left us nearly broke. The pool is nice though, high above the city, with cleaner and almost dust-free air. Surprisingly few chicks though, besides the one we brought ourselves. I'll have to try my luck at the UNICA again, I suppose. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 7050 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 5 [iVoters] => 1 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 348 [iOldID] => 695 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462144126 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 19 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.4642 [fLongitude] => 69.101 [tLocation] => Kabul city wall [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050722 ) [363] => Array ( [iID] => 363 [tTitle] => Moments [tSlug] => moments [iTime] => 1121810400 [iUpdate] => 1121810400 [tDescription] => One of my colleagues, his son, 3 years old, died yesterday. A scorpion bite. Yesterday evening, we had a fantastic dinner at the DDG, Danish Demining Group, house. Salads with loads of feta, stuffed peppers, grilled meats. Amazing. The house has a garden with room for a volleybal court (although I had to climb a wall to retrieve a lost ball). And it has a sauna. There were surprising many babes there. Danish and Swedish, guests. Dragging myself from one side of the pool to the other at the UN guest house in Kabul, two huge helicopters, the kind that can transport small trucks, flew low, right above the UNICA compound. I assume they were looking for babes. It was busy, I know I was. Next Thursday I'm off to Heart. I hope to spend a day 'in the field', with a DACAAR project. The weekend after I hope to spend with the not-buddhas in Bamyan. The weekend after that, I hope to be in Istanbul, possibly Delft. I've got two projects waiting for me, I need some dough. Wanna donate? The evenings are already getting fresh. When I arrived, for a couple of days, I still used a blanket. Now, I'm considering using a blanket again. What is this, a six week summer? Three weeks late, I was able to introduce a groupware environment at DACAAR. People can finally share files, calendars and notes. A major achievement. [iCategory] => 12 [tURL] => [iViews] => 4985 [iClicks] => 0 [iRating] => 0 [iVote] => 0 [iVoters] => 0 [iRedirect] => 0 [tISBN] => [iLocation] => 339 [iOldID] => 693 [tCover] => [iAccess] => 1462103170 [iHot] => 0 [tTemplateName] => default [iHideMap] => 0 [iForSale] => 0 [iImages] => 0 [iFullImage] => 0 [fLatitude] => 34.5382 [fLongitude] => 69.1551 [tLocation] => DACAAR expat house 2 [iPrimaryCategoryFeatured] => 0 [tCategory] => Blog [iCategoryFeatured] => 0 [iPrimaryCategory] => 12 [categories] => Array ( [12] => Array ( [iID] => 12 [tName] => Blog [tSlug] => blog [tDescription] => Find my upcoming travel plans over at Dopplr and a listing of major (and some minor) travelogues over on the travelogues section. [iOrder] => 1 [iActive] => 1 [tType] => article [tTemplateName] => default [iFeatured] => 0 [iPrimary] => 1 ) ) [flickrTag] => 20050720 ) ) ) Keyword: Afghanistan ::