Dhaka, Bangladesh
ঢাকা বাংলাদেশ

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600,000 rickshaws ply the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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The boat wallah on the Buriganga River, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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Dried fish, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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Happily arriving to Dhaka via Biman, Bangladesh — June 23, 2004

বিমান বাংলাদেশ এযা়রলাইনস

I wish you could see the plane I flew on to get to Dhaka ঢাকা. It was a 1970s Fokker 28 — a plane from a company that no longer exists. The seats would fall back, the overhead compartment wouldn’t shut, the food trays would fall open, the thing was louder than 3rd row at a U2 concert, but the plane took off like a rocket ship from Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, and landed in Dhaka with no problem at all. Unbelievable experience, and to top it off, the cabin crew was ultra-friendly.


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Jackfruit, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Rush hour, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Bangladeshi pride, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26 ,2004


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In my hotel, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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The rickshaw wallah, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Rowing across the Buriganga River, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Rickshaw art, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Historic mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Advert, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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One of the few females I encountered, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Street scene, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Religious student, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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The lamb butcher, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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National Museum ticket, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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Baitul Mukarram, the national mosque of Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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Shezan soda, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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View over Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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The walking pile of hay, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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Squatters for sale, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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Checking email, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004

Even the mere act of checking email commands an audience of at least ten people. One of the great features of a trip to Bangladesh is the opportunity to see exactly how Bono or Brad Pitt feels everyday. Every word I typed was greeted with applause, laughter and curiosity. As a result, it’s not easy being productive here, but the warm hearts and smiles of these people will be a memory that will last a lifetime. (And how can one complain about the 45¢ per hour computer usage rate?)


Street scene in front of my hotel


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Old Dhaka street scene, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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Rickshaw wallah, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Night market, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 26, 2004


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Labels, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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View from my hotel window, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 24, 2004


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Rickshaw art, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Old Dhaka alley, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Shoe vendor, Dhaka, Bangladesh — June 2004


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Biman Bangladesh Airlines S2-ADK Airbus A310-324, Bangkok, Thailand — May 30, 2004


Bangladesh Journal Entries

guidebooks/lp_bangladesh_4th

23 - 29 June, 2004

Bangladesh was surprisingly outstanding; and Dhaka (the capital) now holds the world record for the “all-time most fantastically insane place I have ever been.” Even Brian, the tainted traveler that he is after 7 months and 9 countries in Asia, could not anticipate the hair-raising CHAOS that ‘Old Dirty’ Dhaka could dish out. Talk about 600,000 rickshaws (bicycle drawn carriages for those in the 21st-century) and buses that looked like they just re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere along with 14,000,000 people in an area about the size of San Francisco. My favorite time was evening rush hour(s) when I sat in my hotel and looked upon the street scene below. In disbelief I would watch as tens of thousands of brave souls crisscrossed a major signal-less intersection without anything more than minor collisions. It was literally bumper to bumper rickshaw traffic as far as my third floor view could afford. The participants were mostly men, but there was the occasional concealed women braving the action as well. And just when I thought it could get no more extreme, just when the horns, yelling, cries of animals and archaic noise could get no louder, the call to faithful would blurt from loudspeakers above all else “Allah akbar… Allah akbar… ” and then when that was going on for a bit, a torrential monsoon rainstorm would let loose and cover the city with muddy floods. I loved Dhaka in that weird way I love all developing capital cities.

I can’t stop talking about it — interestingly, the head of state of Bangladesh (in 2004) is a woman named Khaleda Zia — she is the widow of the Bangladesh National Party founder, President Ziaur Rahman. The opposition leader, Sheikh Hasina, is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the nationalist leader and first president of Bangladesh. Can you imagine: two women running a country of 130,000,000 religious Moslems? Personally, I think it is great because the country sure needs a lot more feminine energy.

And check this out— I wish you could see the plane I flew on to get to Dhaka. It was a 1970s Fokker 28— a plane from a company that no longer exists. The seats would fall back, the overhead compartment wouldn’t shut, the food trays would fall open, the thing was louder than 3rd row at a U2 concert, but the plane took off like a rocket ship from Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, and landed in Dhaka with no problem at all. Unbelievable. And other than two Portuguese people and one US marine I met on the flight, I didn’t see ONE foreigner the entire time I was in Old Dhaka, NOT ONE. I did meet some expats in New Dhaka, the good part of town, and they couldn’t believe I was a tourist. They took me to a special club to get me a beer (they don’t server beer anywhere else in the dry country) and all the expats began calling me “the Tourist.” No one believed I was in Dhaka “touring around.” Well, the question I have is: “Why aren’t people going to this final bastion of true urban wildness, a place that even Hollywood could never recreate? Why aren’t people coming to fantastic Dhaka?” I simply don’t know. Kashio, the Japanese girl that so gratefully opened her home to me in Tokyo was the one responsible for me going to Bangladesh, and apparently the Japanese are the only tourists that go to the country en mass because all the Bangladeshi locals asked if I was Japanese. “No, no, I am Canadian.” (Didn’t want to reveal the US passport.) But finally, I succumbed. I guess I am now (partly) Japanese. “Yes, from Japan.” :).

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Bangladesh Itinerary

23 - 29 June, 2004

  1. Arrive PM; go to Marine’s House
  2. Old Dhaka; ex-pat club night (Thursday)
  3. Wake late; National Museum
  4. Parliament with Portuguese architects; dinner and cool walk down night market alley
  5. Fort day and arches; Hindu Street; Get gassed
  6. Last day; find bus ticket; Hindu Street; Banga Bazaar
  7. Bus leaves at 8:00A to India; ferry ride on the lower Ganges; border crossing; bribe Indian customs official with 100Rs; arrive Kolkata in the PM
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