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Afghanistan

If heading to Afghanistan, you will want to stay apprised of security situations. Use your common sense and try to show respect for a conservative, old culture. For instance, don't expect to be served alcohol outside of the capital city of Kabul. Afghanistan has a fascinating mix of cultures and languages. About 85% of its people speak either Dari or Pashto, which have largely Persian origins, and there are over 30 other languages. There are Hindu and Sikh minorities as well as the nomadic Baloch tribesmen, but Afghanistan is 99% Muslim. Mazar-e Sharif and Herat have mosques and other historical sites, plus they serve as gateways to, respectively, Uzbekistan and Iran. Bamiyan housed stone carvings of the remains of the Buddhas, once an ancient wonder of the world, but only a few still exist. Afghanistan's terrain is mountainous, and you can trek in Panjshir Valley or see the remote turquoise lakes of Band-e Amir National Park. The cuisine is strongly influenced by Indian food, featuring stews called qormas and rice dishes called palaos. The three most common types of Afghan breads are naan, Uzbek-style obi non, and the very thin flatbread known as lavash. Kebabs and dumplings filled with vegetables and/or meat then topped with yogurt sauce are also common. Fruits are abundant and wonderful, including melons and pomegranates. Unfortunately, these days it would seem likelier to find organic Afghan dining experiences in California or England than in the homeland.

Kabul

Kabul