World Travel Watch: Chaos in Kyrgyzstan, Protests in Thailand and More

World Travel Watch: Larry Habegger rounds up global travel news

04.14.10 | 12:14 PM ET

World Travel Watch is a weekly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Conditions can change overnight, so always make your own inquiries before you leave home. The U.S. State Department and embassies or consulates are good places to start.

Honduras: Army to Patrol Streets, Clamp Down on Drug Violence

The army will begin patrolling streets in Tegucigalpa and other areas to clamp down on drug cartel violence. The country of fewer than 8 million people has had an average of more than 4,000 homicides the past five years, with more than 5,300 in 2009. Soldiers have been told to search vehicles and pedestrians and pursue crime suspects. Some 2,000 officers will also be sent to the Atlantic coast region where drug cartels have been active, to seize drugs and illegal weapons.

Iceland: Volcano Blows Again

Officials thought the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption, which began March 20 after the mountain lay dormant for almost 200 years, had come to an end, but it roared back to life April 14. Hundreds of people fled their homes as floodwaters from melting ice rose. The volcano brought a tourist windfall in March, a record 26,000 foreign visitors, but winter cold still remains despite the longer days and travel can be difficult and hazardous, especially if touring without local guides who know the territory. Before this most recent eruption, two volcano tourists died from exposure when they got lost and their car ran out of gas, and rescue teams had to assist as many as 50 people a day down from the mountain in near-zero temperatures. Scientists say the nearby and much larger Katla volcano is overdue for an eruption. Historically it has followed Eyjafjallajokull eruptions within days or months.

India: 100 High-Altitude Peaks in Ladakh, Kashmir Now Open to Foreign Climbers

India will open nearly 100 peaks in Kashmir to foreign climbers for the first time, following a significant drop in violence in the region since India and Pakistan began peace talks in 2004. The high altitude peaks in the remote region of Ladakh range in height from 3,000 meters to almost 8,000 meters (9,840-26,246 feet) and have been open to Indian climbers for decades. The move is part of an effort to rejuvenate tourism in Kashmir, a place that was a major tourist draw before the insurgency that killed some 68,000 people began in 1989. The state government has declared 2010 “Visit Kashmir Year.”

Kyrgyzstan: Chaos Follows Toppling of President

Protesters in this central Asian former Soviet republic drove the president from office and brought his opponents to power April 7 after clashes with troops that killed 83 people. The situation in Bishkek and elsewhere descended into chaos when criminal gangs began looting shops and seizing property. The interim government vowed to protect private property, but whether it has the ability to do so remains to be seen. A popular place for climbers, Kyrgyzstan is one of central Asia’s poorest countries.

Thailand: Songkran Cools Off Protests, but Red Shirts Vow to Press On

The Thai New Year’s festival Songkran cooled off tensions in Bangkok at least temporarily, but the Red Shirt protesters vowed to continue their efforts to force the government to resign and call new elections. The break followed the imposition of a state of emergency that banned public gatherings of more than five people, and the worst violence in Bangkok since 1992 that occurred on the edge of Khao San Road, a prime tourist district. More unrest is likely because the Red Shirt leader said they were no longer interested in negotiating with the government.

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