Saturday, November 27, 2004

Coming Soon: Planet Hollywood, Kabul 

Here's a course Tiger has yet to tame. Picture from The Survival Guide to Kabul Posted by Hello

OK, so Kabul won't be able to compete with Vegas as a travel destination anytime soon, but I did enjoy reading about the suprising bits of normalcy returning to the capital of what was recently the most repressed country on the planet:

For the golfing aficionados out there who are looking for a unique golfing experience, the Kabul Golf Club has reopened its course.

Not Pebble Beach. Picture from The Survival Guide to Kabul Posted by Hello

Hope you don't mind "greens" that are made of oiled sand. Pretty much makes those Scottish links courses look like a lush green paradise. At least all the land mines have been cleared. Three Soviet tanks also had to be cleared off the course, because the Rules of Golf are less than clear about whether a player could take a drop shot off the tank or had to play the lie.

After a round of golf, why not head over to Kabul's Thai restaurant, run by the enterprising Lalita Thongngamkam:

Ms. Thongngamkam, a 52-year-old divorcee, first visited Kabul last fall,

traveling here from Kosovo, where she had opened a restaurant after the U.N. took charge of administration in 1999. Increasing stability in Kosovo had begun to cut into her principal competitive advantage -- the absence of competition. "Everything became fairly settled, so I started to look for a new place," she says.

Kabul "looked like a good place for me." It had a plethora of U.N. agencies, a wrecked economy, enough violence -- sporadic rocket attacks and bombings -- to keep most rivals away but just enough security to allow the lifting of an after-dark curfew. Curfews are death to the restaurant trade.

She previously set up shop in places like Somalia, East Timor, and Cambodia, where there was ample business feeding UN officials, reconstruction workers, and charitable organizations. And yes, she has been eyeing Iraq. Maybe she could set up a food cart at Detroit Pistons' games.

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