I’d traveled down rivers in strange boats, explored a city island, visited churches and mosques, rode in rickshaws and taxis, and almost saw a guy get killed. Above all, I’d been just completely showered with smiles and hospitality from the moment I arrived in Dhaka.
Insane in the Brain
Absolute bananas. Those are the best and most fitting words I could come up with to describe Bangladesh. I wracked my brain for hours for a more eloquent description of Dhaka, but there is nothing eloquent about this place. Bangladesh was my 123rd country, and I’m absolutely certain that in all my travels, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Chaotic, loud, packed, fast, and all in all, just plain psychotic; Bangladesh may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it…to death!
And I learned such a valuable lesson on this stop: and that is, that even when the most seasoned traveler gives you his opinion on a country, do not take it as the gospel, because someone’s least favorite place may be the one you fall in love with. Such was the case with Bangladesh.
Haters Gon’ Hate
I remember when I was brand new to this travel game—not too long ago, before I’d even dare go places like Iraq, Libya and Somalia…I’d asked a seasoned pro and someone who’d traveled much more extensively than me, what his least favorite place was. He told me he hated Bangladesh. I filed this little note away in my head and recalled it years later, when it was time to start chipping away at this region of the world. I dreaded booking this stop.
This trip would include the outrageously luxurious and opulent Maldives—arguably one of the fanciest destinations on the planet, where the rich and elite travel for holiday—the beautiful and exotic Sri Lanka, and the clean and slick Middle Eastern nations of Kuwait and Bahrain. And then there was Bangladesh, whom I considered the dirty stepchild of this 10-day Asian jaunt. I was not looking forward to this.
Perhaps I didn’t talk to enough people; only enough to hear about the overcrowding, the filth and grime, overwhelming traffic and even one story from another good friend who swore she almost died in a near-miss bus crash there. Bangladesh did not sound fun.
But the truth is, Bangladesh started to become one of my favorite countries in the world, before I even arrived. My trip to their consulate in Los Angeles seemed more like hanging out with a friend than applying for a visa. The nice man behind the desk spent more time getting to know me and asking me why I’d only be visiting his country for just one night, than discussing the official stuff (purpose for travel, document verification, etc.). It was different than any other stiff embassy visit I’d ever made and I left slightly puzzled as to why the stop was so laid back and why Moshi was so friendly. Was this a sign of what was to come in Bangladesh? It certainly was.
Officer Kimbria, the agent verifying my passport entry stamp, not only smiled and welcomed me to Bangladesh, but he actually shook my hand and wished me a great stay. Wow, when does that ever happen from the usual grumps at customs and immigration??? I really felt welcome!
Grabbing a car was surprisingly simple: I expected a mob of cabbies to rush me; instead I was greeted by a man near a taxi counter and set up with a thirteen dollar ride to my hotel. I was glad I passed on the Sheraton’s $29 pickup option.
Banged Up Buses
The first thing I noticed once we left the airport was the buses of Bangladesh. 122 countries and I’d seen nothing like this: giant, rectangular tin boxes that looked liked they’d been beat to death with a hammer: every inch on every side of the bus had divots and dents, with so much Bondo applied to every part of the bus that it looked like its body was made of adobe. What kind of crazy buses are these, and why I haven’t I seen them anywhere? Not in Mexico, Brasil, Thailand or even anywhere throughout my Africa travels. They intrigued me and I wondered what the insides—especially the engine compartment—must look like. Yikes!
My driver was very pleasant and welcomed me to Bangladesh while offering some info on the city. He told me it was my lucky day—a holiday—and that meant light traffic and a quick drive to my hotel, which was usually not the case here. I thought I heard him say that the country of 165 million does not have traffic lights and figured that I must have heard him wrong. The capital alone was home to ten million. How could there be no traffic lights here?
You Can Check In Anytime You Like
I was surprised at how nice the hotel was. In fact, this was the nicest Four Points by Sheraton (their most basic/economic brand) I’d ever seen in my life, with grand marble floors, ambient music and fancy lighting. Even my welcome drink was over the top: a tall, sexy looking glass of apple juice, with foam at the top and a delicate slice of fruit on the brim. And once again, I received a very warm welcome by the staff at check-in.
The room was quite impressive as well; a 23rd floor unit with big glass windows overlooking the hazy city, with lots of marble and chrome. I wasn’t sure what I’d find out on the street to eat, so I broke down and raided the minibar. By the time I snarfed down a Snickers, Kit-Kat and a can of Pringles, I was out the door, and one step closer to the diabeetus. Fueled up and ready to go, it was nearly 1PM and I only had one afternoon to see Dhaka, so I darted right out.
My maps.me (app) Dhaka map wouldn’t download, so I had to rely on loading my iPhone’s Apple map. I’d done little research before hand, so I quickly jumped online to note a few landmarks. “Old Dhaka” seemed the place to be, and soon I was in a tuk-tuk, racing towards the Chawk Bazaar.
Like the buses, the tuk-tuks in Dhaka were different than the ones I’ve seen everywhere else too. Instead of being open on the sides, these little scooters enclosed their passengers with caging all around, making you feel like you were on a carnival ride: that one ride that resembles a Ferris wheel, with the cages that rotate completely upside down and around. (I hate those!) My driver sped through the city like Mario Kart. If I thought the tuk-tuk driving in my last stop was wild, this drive made Sri Lanka look like Driving Miss Daisy. I quickly understood why the cages were built into the vehicle: I’m sure with this wild traffic, there were many a tumbles with bodies flying everywhere. While the bars obstructed my views and opportunities to record a good Instastory, I soon learned to appreciate the cage.
And what my taxi driver had told me about the traffic lights, or lack thereof, seemed to be a true. Not a stop light to be found, just these chaotic roundabouts and intersections with absolutely no order, rules or courtesy at all—no four-way stops—just four different directions of travel all meeting up into one tangled mess. It was absolute madness and I couldn’t figure out how it was all working out; how were we even getting through these intersections unscathed? It was during this drive when I understood why all the buses were so badly beat up; all of sudden it clicked. I tried to imagine driving in Dhaka myself and I just couldn’t. No amount of money in the world could convince me to get behind the wheel of a car here. Maybe if I was driving the Mad Max car.
Oh, and horns. Horns, horns and more horns. A constant barrage of horns, from the moment we left the hotel until we arrived. Old horns, new horns, loud horns, big horns, little horns. I guess when there are no traffic signals, you have to make it up with beeps. My driver was a chief offender, consistently laying on that button at every turn and even on the straightaways. I didn’t mind it too much, except for the big bus and truck horns, which seemed obnoxiously and painfully loud. The sounds of the streets of Dhaka made New York City seem like a library.
Thirty minutes later we were pulling into Old Dhaka’s ground zero: Chawk Bazaar. Arriving into the market was the deal sealer of my newfound love for Dhaka. This confirmed it. It was at this instant when Bangladesh became one of my favorite countries, and definitely the most memorable. I have been to some crazy markets around the world: Bamako, Mali; Cotonou, Benin; Al Najaf, Iraq; Marrakesh, Morocco, etc; but nothing—and I mean nothing—would ever come close to comparing to the streets of Old Dhaka. It’s not easy to be shocked once you’ve been to over 100 countries, but nothing could’ve prepared me for this.
Once I descended from the confines of my caged tuk-tuk, I was bobbing around like a cork in a sea of thousands of people, jam packed from wall to wall, all flowing up and down the corridors and alleyways of the bazaar. I had to quickly step into a shop to catch my bearings. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I needed to just stop and take a breath. The man next to me selling fruit looked up at me with confusion, like I was an alien who’d landed here from outer space. And I was. There wasn’t another tourist in sight. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Keep Your Hands and Feet Inside the Car at All Times
I just had to take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. But this place was so packed, and I would be in such tight spaces if I’d decided to jump back into the crowd to explore. So I looked up. I’d see if my old trick of getting up high would work here: I’d look for a building that was open; one whose stairs I could climb to the second or third floor, where I could film everything from above with complete freedom from an open window or balcony. But I didn’t see any obvious, friendly entrances. Then I figured it out! I’d jump in a bicycle rickshaw for a ride around the market!
These rickshaws were everywhere, and the closer we got to Old Dhaka, the more of them there were. I exchanged verbal signs from one of the tricycle operators and hopped on, asking him for a tour of the bizarre. I figured he understood me when he asked no questions and started peddling. We were off!
Magic Carpet Ride
Higher than the crowds, and sailing past everyone on foot, I was free to record away. My position up on the rickshaw gave me a great vantage point and we were moving fast enough to be long gone before anyone could be upset about being filmed. You never know the reception your camera will get in crowded markets. Many times people aren’t too keen about being filmed, and even just catching someone in the background of your selfies can get you yelled at and even chased out of a market; I know from experience. But with this rickshaw technique I was capturing it all, including the traffic flowing the opposite way, coming directly at us. I was able to record the faces of everyone, including females, which can be pretty taboo in Muslim societies. But folks seemed to be okay with me filming. And when we slowed down or came to stops, curious shopkeepers and vendors even posed for the camera, while some even asked for selfies with me. Holy crap, this place is awesome!
My rickshaw driver drove and drove and drove, winding around corners, onto bigger streets, then back through narrow alleys. The bike was electric, so we cruised from corner to corner with zero resistance. Our bike had a little battery-powered siren—it sounded like a toy siren—while other bikes that passed us had bells. The constant noise from the little siren, all the different bells, the horns, the music and the people shouting, all came together like one giant orchestra. There were men on tinny-sounding microphones calling out their specials and others preaching the gospel of Islam. One man was projecting his voice through an old school non-powered bullhorn. It was at this moment that I realized I hadn’t just traveled far away from home, but I had actually gone back in time. We passed a man skinning an animal hanging from a hook, metal smiths making sparks with hammers and flywheels and fabric makers cutting large sheets of cotton. Every kind of industry you could imagine, I saw that afternoon. And things all being made the same way that they would have been manufactured back in the 1800s; with rudimentary tools and old fashioned elbow grease. Men carried giant loads on little carts and bicycles and many times, their own backs. These were indeed tough people, and I found it amazing how friendly they were at the very same time they were in the middle of backbreaking labor.
First they would stare, then I would smile, then they would smile back. This formula repeated itself throughout the entire day, without fail. Once I was down from the rickshaw and on the ground, smiles turned into handshakes, as people were so curious to know where I was from. I’ve been warned never to tell people you’re American when you’re in dodgy places, but my ego got in the way. The coolness of telling people in a town like Dhaka that you’re from California never gets old. That’s where all the movies and TV shows they watch come from, and it’s a lot cooler than saying New Hampshire! (I really am from California). “Cal-ee-forrrnia? Wow!!!,” they would reply.
RAMBLIN’ TIP: If you ever feel threatened, scared, intimidated, etc…try smiling! You’ll be surprised at how many smiles you’ll get back!
Rollin’ on the River
After about an hour of cruising around, I had my driver—whose name I forgot to get—let me off at the banks of the Buriganga River. I was feeling especially Anthony Bourdainish today, due to the über-welcoming and hospitable treatment I’d been receiving since I’d arrived, as I headed down to a row of a couple dozen boats all lined up and getting ready for departure. All I knew was I wanted a boat ride, but had no clue which one to get in and where we’d be going. That was all part of the fun.
10,000 Ways to Die…Choose One.
In my short time so far in Dhaka, I’d made note of about two-dozen interesting ways one could easily get injured, or even die from. I added another to my list as I watched a big, wooden boat come careening towards the concrete banks of the river, heading straight for the backs of two other boats filled with passengers. The sharp bow of the oncoming craft came banging into the two boats, separating them as it continued towards the shoreline. Had someone been sitting on the back of either of those boats, they could have been impaled, knocked unconscious, or even killed by the pointy wooden bow of the arriving boat, which didn’t seem to slow down even a little bit. But no one seemed to care except me, who let out an involuntary “Oh sh*t,” as the boat slammed into the others with no apologies. But this was everyday life in Dhaka: rough, tough, fast and unapologetic. I was just surprised that I didn’t see more amputees roaming the streets; there sure was enough cause for frequent injuries and impalements.
Soon the loud engine in the middle of the boat started up, as a small boy collected the fares. The fee to ride was a whopping ten cents (8 Bangladeshi Taka) and I still didn’t know where we were going. Understandingly, everyone on the boat stared at me, with accompanying smiles and chatter among each other, presumably about me. I still hadn’t seen one gringo in town so far, and I’m sure I was probably the first American these folks have seen on their boat.
The views on the river were awesome, as the kids posed and I took photos and video of other boats, both big and small, passing by. A giant ship went right by us, as did tiny engineless rowboats. The water was as black as asphalt and I shuddered to think how filthy it was.
I’d asked a few passengers on the boat where we were headed but none had enough proficiency in English to even understand what I was asking. One boy sat next to me and asked me to play “American videos” from my phone. I wasn’t online, so he had to settle of photos of me with celebrities like Bruno Mars and J-Lo. From him excitement, I’m pretty sure he recognized both of them.
Minutes later, my fear of ending up in India dissipated, as we pulled up on another concrete shore. Everyone got out of the boat, so I knew this was the end of the line. Where were we? We weren’t far from where we departed—maybe a mile away—but we were now on an island in the middle of the river. Now this was cool! I’d disembarked on a little community/village, in the middle of the water. It was time to explore. (After returning home to the USA and looking at a map of Dhaka, I realized this wasn’t an island, but a peninsula. You can see the map here.)
There were tuk-tuks and rickshaws on-hand for arriving passengers, but I wanted to walk the island. I grew more curious stares from locals (along with smiles), who I knew were probably thinking who the hell am I and why am I here. Like my local boat ride, I doubted many people from the “outside world” had ever made their way onto this little island. How would they even know it’s here?
Who Got Game
I came upon my first really cool surprise when I noticed a group of guys playing caroms on a giant table. Different from the version of caroms I played as a kid, this table was a lot bigger and featured a big disk that acted like a pool table’s cue ball, and small black and white disks. The men took turns flicking the big piece into the smaller pieces, knocking them into the pockets of the table. As I slowly approached to take a look, they all smiled and even invited me to get in on the game a couple times. I politely declined, as I’m sure I would’ve failed miserably. I asked for permission to take pictures, and they were very accommodating. I spent at least ten minutes watching the guys play caroms on the banks of the river. It was a few moments that most wouldn’t think much of, but was very special to me.
Dhaka Ad Council
Next, I passed the craziest looking bicycle, with two old-fashioned loud speakers; it was something straight out of the 1920s. Three boys occupied the bike. I approached and asked if I could take a picture. They didn’t know a lick of English, so I motioned what I wanted to do and they seemed fine with it. By the time I was done taking pictures of this cool contraption, a dozen other curious young boys wearing skullcaps had appeared from out of the adjacent courtyard to see what was happening. The property was a boys’ school of Islam. I asked what the bicycle was used for but couldn’t quite breach the language barrier to get an answer. I came to the conclusion it was used to recite prayers and/or make public announcements. Either way, it was cool as hell and part of me wanted to rock the mic just a little; maybe rap “Big Poppa” or something, but I wasn’t that daring. Maybe next time.
Though I would’ve liked to explore the inside of this neat little village, I didn’t want to press my luck, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. As I reached the other end of island, I crossed its bridge back over to the mainland and headed back into the thick of things. The late afternoon in Old Dhaka was as busy as when I’d left it.
No Orange Juice for You!
I needed a little fuel and I wasn’t daring enough to experiment with any street food. I did want some pineapple badly—I drooled at the sight of big pineapples being cut up on little wooden carts—but I’d shook so many strangers’ hands today, and with nowhere to wash my hands in sight, I wasn’t about to eat any finger foods. Why, yes, I’m a germophobe. Luckily I came upon a Popeye’s Chicken and Coffee House. I wondered if this was the real deal, or a knockoff; I’d never heard of a Popeye’s “coffee house.” Nonetheless, it seemed kosher, so I ducked in for a fresh juice. I learned a new fruit today: malta. They looked like oranges, so when I asked for orange juice and the cashier told me they were out I was confused at first. I pointed to the orange fruits and the man said, “malta!” I googled it later and sure enough, “malta” is a kind of orange.
I made my way through the afternoon madness on foot, and over to Lalbagh Fort. Located in the center of Old Dhaka, Lalbagh Fort is an incomplete 17th century Mughal fort complex. The fort was never completed, and unoccupied for a long period of time. Much of the complex was built over and now sits across from modern buildings.
I stood in line behind a dozen others and paid the man at the ticket window the foreigner admission price of 200 Taka, or about USD $2.38 before making my way inside.
The grounds were beautiful and spacious, with three main buildings surrounded by huge gardens. The water fountains were empty: I’m sure they had been broken for some time just like the traffic lights. The space was very clean and I enjoyed seeing all the families, couples and groups of friends milling about, taking pictures and relaxing. It only took a minute before I was approached to be included in some selfies too, for which I happily obliged. I wandered for about 45 minutes, checking out the different monuments and people watching. The call to prayer began and echoed throughout the fort. What a pleasant afternoon.
But First, Let Me Take a Selfie
I always feel a little warm inside when perfect strangers approach me asking to take a picture with them…as if I’m some sort of celebrity or something. It’s super flattering and just plain fun and only happens in a handful of places. For me, it’s occurred in the Philippines, Indonesia and now, Bangladesh. As I walked around the fort, I noticed a lot of people taking special photos; not just informal phone pics, but many were using professional DSLR cameras, and posing as if these were official school or family photos. So when a couple groups of picture takers asked me to be in their photos…well I was just super flattered and jumped at the opportunity. What an honor! Taking photos of locals up close can sometimes be a challenge, but when they ask you first…well that just opens up the door for you!
After such a nice stroll and many selfies inside Fort Lalbagh, it was time to move on. There was another rickshaw driver that had offered me his services before entering the fort. I had declined, but he was still outside waiting for me when I exited. As I walked on, repeating “no thank you,” he continued to follow close behind me, finally convincing me to hire him. It turned out to be a great decision, as I’d spend the rest of the afternoon–and even early evening–exploring the rest of Dhaka and getting to places I probably wouldn’t have reached on foot. We cruised around for hours!
First up, the university area, which was a tad less congested than Old Dhaka. The streets were wide and the views were nice; lots of trees and big class buildings on each side of us. We passed a tall monument before arriving at another park which was home to the famous Shaheed Minar: a national monument commemorating those killed during the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations of 1952 in then East Pakistan.
Losing my Religion
On with the tour, we stopped next at Star Mosque back in Old Dhaka. Until I googled this place later on, for weeks I thought the name of it was “Eastern” Mosque…it was my guide’s accent. I think he was saying “eh-Star Mosque,” but the “eh-star” was coming out like “Eastern,” as he rolled the “r” at the end of “star.” “Eh-Starrr Mosque.” Sounded like “eastern” to me. Oh well. The big star outside the building was unique and children played on the grass and marble while elders inside prayed.
On the other side of the religion spectrum, next we visited an old Armenian church. The officer inside gave me an in-depth tour and explained the Armenians role in the country’s history. They’d arrived as traders back in the 17th century and have all but disappeared since.
Though I was told today was a holiday, the early evening traffic seemed to really pick up and now the streets were more crowded than ever and downright gridlocked in most places. When we finally made it to our last stop–Ahsan Manzil palace–the sun had nearly disappeared.
Stairway to Heaven
The gates to Ahsan Manzil were closed and it was tough to even get a good look at that gorgeous old pink building. So I did what I always do when I want a better view: look for stairs in a neighboring building. I am confident this will get me in trouble one day, but I’ve deemed it worth the risk. Sure enough, the tall mall building next door included a set of inviting albeit dark stairs, just teasing me to climb them. So I did.
Friends in Low Places
Before I could even make my way to the stairwell, a smiling boy approached me on the first floor. He had a younger kid in tow. I assumed it was his little brother, but who knows? It was obvious the little boy had special needs and the older kid was asking for money. I rarely ever give money to people on the street–I prefer to to donate directly to charitable organizations–but I really wanted to slip this kid a few bucks. I felt bad that I was completely tapped. I literally only had enough cash to pay my rickshaw driver, who’d been touring me around for hours. Nonetheless, these two sweet kids followed me up almost all eleven flights of stairs, stopping for selfies with me and smiling the whole way. I hope to meet them both again one day.
RAMBLIN’ TIP: Want a better view of things…go UP! Look for buildings with access to stairs and windows. If they are private buildings, make to sure ask permission. Don’t trespass! You’ll be surprised at how often storekeepers or hotel personnel will say yes when you ask nicely.
Back to the Hotel
Getting back to my hotel took hours. Hours! I tried to ditch my rickshaw driver to find a cab, but he insisted that no taxis were in the area and that he’d have to take me to a place where there were taxis. He wasn’t lying. No cars were anywhere near us.
The ride to the taxi alone took over an hour. But I wasn’t in a rush; I was enjoying every minute of the gridlocked madness. The weather was perfect and I was loving this nighttime cruise to the fullest. I was just a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay my rickshaw driver for this super long tour and then pay for the cab I’d grab. I didn’t see a bank or ATM anywhere.
The Name’s Shaw. Rick, Shaw.
After an hour I started to wonder if my rickshaw driver was actually taking me all the way back to my hotel; maybe there was no cab. But when I checked the GPS on my phone, we were still miles away from The Sheraton. Traffic was just that bad. We actually sat still in a line of dozens of other rickshaws, bumper to bumper, lined up just like cars on the 405 freeway at rush hour. We finally broke through before dashing through the Hindi section of Old Dhaka which was just awesome and something I would’ve totally missed had I found a cab earlier. These were places I could wander on foot for hours…for days! But time was running out.
Soon we merged onto one of the main city streets: now our little rickshaw was among the river of cars, giant trucks and big buses, packed to the gills with commuters. We were in the middle of four lanes of rush hour traffic, as my driver peddled and peddled (this rickshaw didn’t have an electric motor like the one in the morning), sometimes weaving in and out of the lanes of giant dirty vehicles, barely sneaking through the small spaces between giant diesel trucks and big buses blaring their horns. I took notice of a group of mischievous boys who managed to run after a truck, jump on and hitch a ride on its back bumper. Everything here was just insane and I was loving every second. We finally reached a roundabout where my driver pulled over and introduced me to my waiting cabbie. The hotel was still far away and I wondered if I’d ever make it back.
I settled up with awesome my rickshaw driver as he handed me off to my cabbie for the remaining segment back to the hotel. My driver was an old man, complete with glasses, skull cap and a wiry white beard. He was really nice and seemed super excited to be driving an American. Maybe a little too excited…
You know how in movies and TV shows, when they often show the driver of a car chit-chatting with his passenger while looking at him (and not the road) for an unrealistically long period time? Like, you’re thinking that there’s no way in real life that the driver could safely have his eyes off the road for that long? Well this was happening in real life, as my cabbie conversed with me while keeping his eyes on me; head turned completely in my direction. Meanwhile it was me that was looking straight ahead at the road, when all of a sudden I noticed we were barreling directly towards the side of a passing rickshaw. Before I could say a word, BAM!!! Our car careened right into the little cart; a full on T-bone, unapologetically flipping the rickshaw onto its side while spilling its elderly passenger out onto the asphalt. I heard a giant crash, saw wheels in the air, and arms and legs flying. It was horrific! I think my driver panicked, as he hit the gas, but then soon after slammed on the breaks, as he was quickly surrounded by angry men on the street. One had a giant stick/pole and held it threateningly at us, as he stood right in front of the hood, non-verbally warning us that we better not move another inch. Soon we were surrounded by an angry looking mob and this is the part where I thought I was going to die. I imagined being dragged through the streets and beaten. Who did we hit? Did we kill them? And what was going to happen to us? My amazing day had just turned into a nightmare. Is this how it all ends???
I should’ve recorded the scene on my phone, but I didn’t want any of these furious bystanders to think I was anything less than serious about what had just happened. Someone got hurt, maybe killed, and I didn’t want to be the jackass filming with my iPhone (even though I kinda wanted to be that jackass). So I just sat there; my face must have been white as a ghost. That’s when one of the men looked closely at me. He realized I was a foreigner. Suddenly his expression changed from mad to concerned, as he gave me a thumbs up and an expression, that without one word, said, “You’re cool man, don’t worry…we’re good.” I let out a huge sigh of relief, as my driver exited the car to attend to the situation at hand. Minutes later he was back in the car and we were rolling. He’d paid the people he hit. I guess that’s how it works here.
We finally made it back to my hotel and I was just thankful I’d survived the day. Hey, it could’ve been me in that rickshaw! After all, I’d spent hours in those deathtraps all day and it could’ve easily been me who got rammed by a vehicle. I thanked God it wasn’t, as I enjoyed the lavish dinner buffet that awaited me on the 24th floor. I did my best to process everything that had happened my first and only day in Dhaka: all I’d seen and done, the people I’d met, the sounds, the sights and the smells. I’d traveled down rivers in strange boats, explored a city island, visited churches and mosques, rode in rickshaws and taxis, and almost saw a guy get killed. Above all, I’d been just completely showered with smiles and hospitality from the moment I arrived in Dhaka. I thought back on what people had told me about Bangladesh, and that it was their least favorite place. But how could that be? How could a place with such intense energy combined with overflowing and endless love be a bad place? In less than one day, Bangladesh had become one of my top ten–maybe even top five-countries in the entire world! I almost felt devastated that I was already leaving tomorrow morning. There was so much more to see, to do, and people to meet. It’s amazing that a place I was dreading to come to turned out to be one of the best visits to date. On my road to see all 193 countries on earth, there are definitely a handful of places I’ve seen that I plan on coming back to, to stay longer. Bangladesh is one of them. Bangladesh was calling me back before I even left. I shall return.
And Now…the REST of the InstaStory:
This entry was posted in Asia
25 thoughts on “Bangin’ Around Bangladesh”
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Moving Bangladesh up the list
Went through the whole write up and I have to say, I found some of the anecdotes amusing. If you ever decide to come back to Bangladesh, do drop me a note. I’ll be more than happy to show you around. Believe me, Dhaka is a much more fun place than you experienced.
More fun than I experienced–wow, that’s a pretty tall order…I had such a blast that day, I can’t imagine I’d have more fun next time, but I am for the challenge! Thanks so much!
Love how you depicted the hustle and bustle of Dhaka – that too in one day! However, there’s so much more to Dhaka than just that! You should definitely visit Bangladesh again and go to the other parts of the country. Each part of the country has different history and different landscapes and you’ll be amazed by the simplicity and friendliness of the people! Also, food is an immense part of the culture and you should definitely try the local cuisine when you visit next!
Love from Bangladesh!
Thanks so much for reading my report on my quick stop there! Which other parts do you recommend I see? I definitely want to visit the ship-breaking yards and try some local food–I missed out this last time, such a quick stop!
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Hi Randy! I absolutely loved reading your write-up. It was fun to know how the mundane simple things we see everyday can be fascinating to someone else!
Thank you so much for the detailed and well informed writing. I would specially thank you for correctly labelling the pictures. Just show how much care you took in finding out the little details.
Please do visit us again! And move out of Dhaka to see different ways of life. While Dhaka being the heartbeat of the country, other areas will not fail to amaze you. We have the longest beach in the world in South -Cox’s bazar. We have the land of tea in East-Sylhet. In the North, vast lands of green fields and there are different old archaeologically significant establishment, like Mahastangarh, Sompur Bihar, Natore Rajbari.
And don’t forget to get a taste of our sweets, and the spicy foods. When you come back, do give a holler, and you’ll see hundreds of people willing to help your tour becoming into a memorable one.
Hi Jannat! What love and kindness, thank you! I am a fairly new writer and wonder if anyone actually reads my long and detailed ramblings. You made my day with your kind words–so thank you so much. I loved Dhaka and look forward to seeing the rest of the country on another visit soon!
Oh, Man, you simply missed the green Bangladesh, (what else you could get in such a short trip).
Spent less than 5-hrs, you put BD already in top-five of your list.
I like the way you visited, sudden, not planned; It’s very much okay to get the true picture of people. You now know better about us than your PRO seniors, aren’t you?
Find a way to visit rural Bangladesh alone someday (of course after 196) and surely you will find how simple a human life can be, at least.
100% plan on coming back for at least a week. I want to see the ship-breaking yards…and where else should I go? Really looking forward to coming back!
Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sajek Valley, st martin island and so on. I don’t think a week will be enough. Haha.
Thanks a lot for visiting Bangladesh!
Hopefully you’ll come again and explore some of our tourist attractions. And don’t forget to taste the traditional food items.
Have a great day!
Count on it! Thank you friend!
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