In June 2003 Bradt Travel Guides published the 40,000 words pocket Kabul – The Bradt Mini Guide, the successor to the Autumn 2002 pamphlet The Survival Guide to Kabul. 6,000 copies of the new guide were printed and 3,000 were brought into Kabul for sale.
In October 2003 a further 1,000 copies of the book were reprinted with some amendments. Several pirated copies (the height of flattery in Central Asia!) have also been printed.
"First time, solo visitors to Kabul should pick up 'Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide,' by Dominic Medley and Jude Barrand. It is packed with tips on culture, where to hire a car or a translator and suggestions of places to stay and eat."
"Bradt has set an impressive precedent. Evolved from a 16 page leaflet handed out by streetkids to aid workers and expats after the war, the comprehensive Bradt Mini Guide to Kabul is a fascinating insight into Afghanistan's capital, whether you intend to go there or not."
"The mini-guide to Kabul (£9.95) would make a good stocking-filler."
"The best and only guide for Kabul's hot spots, monuments, historical buildings and most important of all good places to eat. The guide has put Kabul on the map for the first time in 20 years."
20 July 2003
The Sunday Times
Anthony Sattin: Books of the week
This is a guidebook that puts something back into the city it describes: Kabul, ruled by the Taliban until November 2001, when it was famously “liberated” by the BBC veteran John Simpson, and which even now is on the Foreign Office’s list of places to be visited only on essential business.
Last year, the energetic Kabulis celebrated the dawn of the post-Taliban era by reopening their city, helped by thousands of foreign- aid workers. The authors were among this influx: Medley arrived to set up a journalism training project, while Barrand was press officer for Caritas Internationalis. Both were well placed to collect information on everything from security and travel to hotels and restaurants, and they collated it into a 16-page pamphlet, The Survival Guide to Kabul. Then they had the bright idea of getting the city’s street-kid newspaper vendors to sell it. The guide was popular, especially with the many new aid workers, and put much-needed cash into the pockets of impoverished children.
With the help of Bradt, the original pamphlet has now grown into a mini-book that, in its scope, shows just how far the city has come since the days of banned schools and hidden women. This, too, is being sold by children on the dusty streets of Kabul. Of course, it might be worth waiting for Afghanistan to drop off the FO’s warning list before you book the plane tickets — but at least now there’s a guide to take when it does.
BEST BUYS In the first of its new series of mini guides, Bradt has set an impressive precedent. Evolved from a 16 page leaflet handed out by streetkids to aid workers and expats after the war, the comprehensive Bradt Mini Guide to Kabul is a fascinating insight into Afghanistan’s capital, whether you intend to go there or not. Historical information on the city, its citizens and the ruthless Taliban is mixed with practical advice on safety, security and health issues for travellers, and moving personal accounts from Afghans and aid workers. Since the TV news coverage has stopped it’s hard to imagine how life in Kabul has changed, but reading snippets about the growing popularity of juice bars and the colourful stalls on Chicken Street allows you to get a glimpse of how life might have changed for the Afghan people. A must read.
22 September 2003
TRAVEL Coming To Kabul The Taliban may still be hiding out in the hills, but already the backpacking set is jetting into Afghanistan. So it’s no wonder the guidebook industry is getting in on the deal. The idea for “Kabul: The Bradt Mini Guide” was dreamed up by journalist Dominic Medley and NGO employee Jude Barrand in the hope of creating a survival handbook for new arrivals. The duo at first simply put together photocopied pamphlets of embassy contacts, U.N. office addresses and top guesthouses, distributing them free to the city’s street children, who could then sell them and make a quick buck. They sold fast, and soon Bradt Travel Guides swooped in with an offer to publish the books, providing Kabul’s kids continue to sell them to the expatriate community and new-arrival tourists. So, what are the new travel guides like? NEWSWEEK sneaked a peek and they’re not half bad. The guide gives practical tips on security (“Be extra careful walking or driving around at night”), steers readers to the hot hotels (the Mustafa and Intercontinental) and even reveals where to buy NEWSWEEK (the Habibi Book Centre “halfway down Chicken Street”). The index reveals almost everything a foreigner might want to know about Kabul and its environs. Except, of course, where Osama bin Laden is hiding out. That’d be too easy, right?
Mail on Sunday
Still haven’t decided where to go on your summer holiday? Well, I have the perfect answer for you. How about a relaxing fortnight in Kabul, the Afghan capital?
Unbelievably, Bradt publishes a mini-guide to the city – perfect for those last minute getaways. To be fair, tourists have already been spotted in the city – not by the planeload, but in small numbers from Japan, Australia and the UK.
I spent time in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2002, and I could have done with a few tips to having a good time there. Things have come a long way since then. As the new guide points out, Everest Pizza delivers – great news, because there’s a good chance you’ll be shot or kidnapped if you go to pick up an 18in extra-spicy pizza yourself.
According to the guide, which also comes in an online version (www.kabulguide.net), there are some great places to see, even if many of them are partly destroyed. It’s full of good advice for holiday-makers too – but not the usual stuff about preventing sunburn or how to spot when a taxi driver is trying to rip you off. These tips are unique to the city. ‘Kabul is one of the most mined cities in the world, so take care. Never wander off the beaten track.’
I can’t understand why easyJet hasn’t seen the gap in the market and started selling cheap flights there.