Tibet Border Opens, but Special Permits Needed

Habegger and O'Reilly are free-lance writers living in Northern California .

World Travel Watch is a monthly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel throughout the world. Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home. In the United States contact the nearest passport agency office; abroad, check in with the nearest American embassy .


--Tibet: Tibet has reopened to foreign travelers, but only to groups of 10 or more. Special permits are required and must be obtained a month in advance.

--China: In view of the recent military crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and continuing unsettled conditions, travel here is not recommended at this time.


--Mauritania: A 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew remains in effect in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou and Rosso as a result of street violence and looting in May. Air traffic in and out of Nouakchott has been curtailed. Avoid unnecessary travel here.

--Senegal: Avoid travel in the northern region, between the cities of St. Louis and Bakel due to unsettled conditions along the Mauritania border.

Middle East

--Iraq: All foreigners staying more than five days must prove they are free of the AIDS virus, either by submitting to a test at Iraq's National Laboratory in Baghdad or by having a test completed, notarized and then certified by state and federal authorities in the United States before departure. For more information, contact the U.S. Department of State Authentications Office at (202) 647-7734.


--East Germany: When driving West German rental cars in East Germany, be sure to keep in your possession the car's certificate of ownership and international insurance card. They will be required on entry and in the event of an accident. Don't leave them in an unattended vehicle. Driving laws are strictly enforced. Don't drink at all when driving, and don't speed. Fines are collected immediately at the rate of about $5 per kilometer over the speed limit. The hard currency of choice in East Germany is the deutsche mark.

--West Germany: Authorities recently announced tightened security at Frankfurt Airport due to a continuing investigation of a terrorist group active in the area.

--Soviet Union: Aeroflot, the world's largest airline, recently recognized the need to implement Western-style marketing to offset its reputation for bad service. Plans are being made for an advertising campaign in U.S. media.

Unrest continues in several parts of Soviet Asia, most recently in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Such unrest stems from a combination of ethnic tension, rising population, pollution, lack of consumer goods and job shortages.

Because of the vast stretch of Soviet territory encompassing 148 nationalities and underdevelopment throughout much of the country, such unrest is likely to continue sporadically and may also erupt in other regions that have been peaceful.

South America

--Paraguay: A cultural explosion has followed on the heels of political reform with the removal from power of dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Comics are lampooning politicians and art galleries are displaying long-hidden paintings depicting torture and oppression. Free expression, suppressed for 35 years, is booming.

--Venezuela: The main runway at Maracaibo's La Chinita International Airport is closed for repairs through September and possibly through November. Flights are being rerouted to an alternate runway, but flights may be suspended as the work progresses. Check to see if your flight has been rerouted or canceled.

Central America

--Nicaragua: A visa is required of all U.S. citizens and must be obtained at a Nicaraguan consulate before arrival.

Southeast Asia

--Burma: A recent demonstration in Rangoon in which troops fired on and killed one protester confirms that authorities are maintaining a hard line against the pro-democracy opposition, which was violently suppressed last September. Future unrest appears likely. Exercise caution.

Authorities have changed the country's name to the Union of Myanmar, and Rangoon's name to Yangon. The changes were implemented to better reflect the country's ethnic diversity by encompassing all minority groups, but critics say the term Myanmar has long referred only to the ethnic Burmans of the plains, so the change is no change at all.

--Singapore: A new law taking effect this month imposes fines as high as $500 for failing to flush public toilets after use. The law applies to all public facilities, including those in hotels, stores and restaurants. Given Singapore's obsession with cleanliness, it's likely that the law will be enforced.

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