Edits

Travel

50 things to improve your life— Global

Preface

Our 2009 global round-up of the people, pursuits, places and pets to improve the way you live, work, rest, commute and communicate.

Architecture, Culture, Fashion, Food & drink, Retail

25

July/August 2009

Issue 25, volume 3
p.159-197

Writers
Sarah Balmond
Tyler Brûlé
Ivan Carvalho
Lucien Etori
Alicia Kirby
Tom Morris
Elna Nykänen Andersson
Saul Taylor
Andrew Tuck
Fiona Wilson
Photographers
Kyung Ahn
Guido Castagnoli
Francois Cavelier
Jean Chung
Matthew Clark
Max Creasy
Andres Gonzalez
Anders Gramer
Tetsuya Hamano
Mariano Herrera
Thomas Ibsen
Tetsuya Ito
Hiroshi Kai
Dalia Khamissy
Katja Kulenkampff
Juho Kuva
Silvia Morara
Elisabeth Real
Mark Sanders
Lukas Schaller
Seishi Shirakawa
Juliana Sohn
Yoann Stoekel
Noah Webb

01: HEST Training

Ben Soames is Monocle’s security consultant and is also in demand at leading global firms and governmental institutions concerned about the welfare of their staff when in the less friendly parts of the globe (he’s also a man who, as listeners of The Monocle Weekly will know, has seen off the odd pirate in his time). Soames conducts HEST (Hostile Environment Safety Training) so that the Monocle editor or entrepreneur can be prepared for all sorts of scrapes. Here he guides us through a tricky trip – because one of the 50 Best Things To Improve Your Life has to be avoiding hold-ups, corruption and kidnap.

1: Be met
You have arrived at your destination and are approached by a customs official. He asks for your passport and starts querying the validity of your visa. It’s clear he is looking for a bribe. You speed dial your local driver who is waiting to pick you up and politely hand your (old) phone to the official who is instructed by your well-connected driver to leave you alone. He apologises and returns your passport. You are escorted to your waiting car.

  1. Choose the right room
    You’re dropped off at your hotel that has been recommended by your local contacts. You check in and are given a room on the ground floor facing the street. You ask to be moved to a rear-facing room, ideally on a floor between three and five, as there is a threat of rocket-propelled grenade attacks from the street. You drop off your bags and orientate yourself, checking out the emergency exits.

  2. React rapidly
    Just before dawn you hear the crack of automatic gunfire. The hotel is being attacked and gunmen have entered the lobby. The electricity has been cut and you are in darkness. You throw some clothes on and grab your bag containing critical documents, laptop, head torch, water and food. You carefully open the door and head down the emergency stairs. At the first floor you find a rear balcony and jump in to the garden. You are out within two minutes. You make your way to your embassy.

  3. Don’t fight
    Hailing a taxi you ask to be taken to a hotel in a different part of town. En route you are stopped at an illegal checkpoint and are told at gunpoint to get out of the taxi. Your pockets are emptied and you realise you are being robbed. Resistance is dangerous, so you comply. Luckily, you stored your bag at your hotel for safe keeping and only had some water and a small amount of money on you. You give them what you have and proceed on your way.

  4. Avoid routine
    Wanting to avoid routines, you dine in a different restaurant each night. Tonight you are sitting at a table with your back against a wall and with a clear view of the entrance. You had a feeling you were followed to the restaurant and, trusting your intuition, decide to dine quickly. You call your contact and he agrees to come and collect you. As he draws up outside you place enough cash to pay for your meal on the table and walk out.

  5. Be surveillance aware
    You are now certain you are being followed and suspect it’s the local security services. You start memorising faces and vehicles that stick out. You feel things are heating up as the surveillance team are taking less care to remain unnoticed. You call your embassy on a local-purchase pay-as-you-go phone.

  6. Survive the abduction
    The embassy is only a few blocks away and as there is good street lighting in this area you decide to walk the short distance. Almost immediately you are grabbed by two men. You want to struggle but you know this could get you shot. A car draws up and you are thrown into the back. A hood is placed over your head and your wrists are bound with electrical ties. You sit very still and remain quiet.

  7. Control your mind
    You are held in a small windowless cellar. You are offered food and water that you accept. When interrogated, you answer all the questions truthfully. It is clear this is a case of mistaken identity. Back in your cell you start an exercise routine to keep your body active and play mental agility exercises – trying to remember old song lyrics. After what seems like a week you are blindfolded and set free. As your eyes adjust to the light you see your embassy contact who has negotiated your release.

9. Keep driving
You decide to bring your return flight forward. However, you want to visit one last site of cultural interest before you leave. Driving your hire car along a meticulously planned route, there is a blinding flash in front of you followed by a massive bang. You have been hit by a roadside bomb. It seems to have been detonated too soon and your vehicle can still be driven. You hit the accelerator and drive through the ambush. By the time you are engaged by their small arms fire you’re out of range.

  1. Return safely
    Your driver picks you up from your hotel and drops you at the airport. Your club class ticket ensures a swift move through security. Pleasingly, the new issue of Monocle is in the lounge. Relaxing into your seat you sip a chilled beer and crack open the cover.

We’ve shown you some fantasy scenarios, but if you are a diplomat or a concerned CEO we recommend you contact your local HEST agents.

Monocle 24

× Headlines

Loading

0:00:00 0:01:00

Drag me