hey palm, congrats on being so brave as to venture out into the "guts of the world". if i could only offer some advice, it would be this: under normal circumstances, i would suggest you throw caution to the wind and go by yourself, however....(and this is a huge however...) these are not normal circumstances. should (for whatever reason) you not be able to find someone to go to this countries with you, i would definitely advise that you either hold off venturing alone into these countries, or if the travel bug is really biting, choose a different one. whether or not you are a first time traveller, visiting one of these countries could be really really dangerous, and more so if a ) you are a woman and b ) a woman travelling solo.
just lookin' out for a fellow chika,