Although the term “Green Zone” is more closely associated with Baghdad, Kabul has its own Green Zone housing the diplomatic missions of various countries and the seat of the Afghan government.
The walled city within a city is accessible by car and foot but not surprisingly checkpoints at two entrances carefully screen those who come in…at least in theory. Our vehicle was stopped but when they saw me—the white guy—in the backseat they just waived us right through.
My first order of business was to try to find an ATM. My team wanted to be paid in cash and I only had a few c-notes in my wallet. Instead of going to a bank, we pulled up to a market with a heavy sliding barricade over the entrance and a guard outside. My guide directed me to go inside and there would be an ATM.
After being frisked outside, the door slid open and I found myself in a well-stocked grocery store with an extensive liquor section run by an Indian guy. Two ATMs sat near the entrance with an out of order sign on one of them. I inserted my ATM card into the machine, entered my PIN, and received an error message that the machine was out of money. Great…
Outside, my team did not bat an eye when I mentioned was unable to retrieve any money and drove me a few blocks away to a competing market that also had an ATM machine. After going through the same stop and frisk, I made my way to the back of the store where I was able to successfully draw out four crisp $100 bills—the machine did not even offer Afghan Afghanis.
Down the streets were several western embassies and it was amazing to see the army of mercenary garrisons hanging around each embassy compound. The zone seemed relatively tranquil, but it has seen its share of violence.
My little video camera captured our trek through the area and at point one outside the United States CIA compound a guard saw that I was filming and expressed a priceless look of incredulity and annoyance before furiously motioning me to stop.
Our last stop in the Kabul City tour was the British Cemetery, in a quiet back street of the Green Zone. Also known as Sherpur Cantonment, the cemetery showcases the carnage of occupation and war, with graves of fallen soldiers dating back 130 years to the present. First established during the Second Anglo-Afghan War in the 1870s (if only the Soviets knew their history!) the cemetery primarily contains the remains of Kabul’s European residents during the relatively peaceful 60s/70s/80s. But I could not help but to notice more recent graves of coalition forced, a bitter reminder that war continues in Afghanistan.
The tour of Kabul was over—it was time to depart.
Read more of my Saudi Arabia + Afghanistan Trip Report–
Introduction: A Journey to Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan
How to Obtain a Saudi Arabian Transit Visa
New York JFK to Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class
Review: Park Hyatt Jeddah
Pictures from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Jeddah to Dubai in Saudia Economy Class
Dubai to Kabul on Ariana Afghan Airlines
Arrival in Afghanistan
The Panjshir Valley of Afghanistan
My Hotel, er Compound, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Kabul – TV Tower Hill and Darul Aman Palace
Kabul – National Museum of Afghanistan
Kabul – Gardens of Babur and Kart-e Sakhi Mosque
Kabul – The Green Zone and British Cemetery
Kabul International Airport and Departing Afghanistan
The Afghanistan Dilemma
Kabul to Dubai on flydubai
Dubai to New York via Jeddah in Saudia Economy Class