Published: May 26th 2008May 24th 2008
Egmore Train Station
Egmore is the main train station in Chennai, India
My trip to Bangladesh last December 2007. I landed in Chennai, India first, coming from my country and from there i went to Kolkata. Stayed only a day in each city then i flew to Dhaka on the mythical Biman ! First i had to spend nearly 10 hours in Kolkata airport as the (in)famous Biman announced some hours delay. A second announcement was made and while all passengers was about to say "ouf !", a sweet voice announced once more that we will have a small delay again ! WTF !!! We finally took-off at around 22:30 while the initial departure was scheduled at around 12:30.
So i reached Dhaka a bit after midnight and went through immi and customs procedures. Backpack loaded on my shoulders, i made my way out to look for a taxi ! What a change ! It was like, it was so easy ! After having been in India with touts and taxi-wallahs, Bangladesh seemed, like, too easy ! Taxied my way to the Farmgate Hotel where my booking was made and checked in there. Room was @ 600TK but very clean and nice. The next day I met the famous Mahmud, who i
Pumping water in Kolkata, India
think TT'ers might know whom i am talking about ! We had breakfast together but he ordered mutton liver curry !!! How can i eat that ! We ordered eggs for me then and he enjoyed the liver ! I also enjoyed the tsa (tea) everyday and everywhere !
Stayed in Dhaka 3 days, walking, touring and boating around. I mostly liked the tours on the BuriGanga river. I did it twice, the first day only a 30 minutes tour along the wharfs and the second day a longer tour. Hired a taxi boat @ 70 TK / hour but it was very rewarding. I visited the ship-building yards and even walked into the being built launches. A launch is a big river boat, those cruising the rivers of Bangladesh. Spent two hours going up and down the river and getting down some places for photos.
Next, I went to Srimangal, in the north and stayed 2 days. I went with Mahfuz, Mahmud's brother, and we stayed in the Tea Town Hotel @ TK 350. I had time to visit the tribal villages and also taste the famous 5 colored tea. I also enjoyed the cattle market, because
The Rocket is a boat that roam the rivers of Bangladesh, known as launches also.
i was there during the Muslim Eid-Ul-Adha festival, when Muslims sacrifice cattle. We also went to the Lawachara National Park but did not have enough time for the elephant tour !
Back to Dhaka, instead of a 4 hour bus trip, we spent 7 hours because of heavy traffic jam due to many smaller cattle markets on the roads of Dhaka. But it was well worth the time. This time i checked in the Ramna Hotel, cheaper that the Farmgate Hotel @ 350 TK night, but i prefer by far the Farmgate. Ramna was not so clean as Farmgate and Ramna is older and rooms darker and smaller with olding furniture. Anyway i stayed there without problem and the manager is a very friendly guy. The very next day, we, Mahmud and his family, took the launch to go to Barisal, south. I never saw so many people on a boat ! People sleeping on the deck, in the alleys, in the cargo area, on the roof and even in the captain's cabin ! It was also a very entertaining trip and we reached Barisal late night.
Stayed 3 days there, in which i had enough time to
Need a haircut ? Near the Sadarghat, Dhaka
visit some muslim architectures (Bangladesh is a Muslim country after all !!!) and also went to a remote village : Kalihata found in Bamrail. We had to walk through the paddy fields and bare land to arrive there. That was the best part as i was very well treated by the local people there and enjoyed that day very much. Back to Dhaka by launch again but this time we made a night trip and reached Dhaka early morning. This time Dhaka was quieter than when i first reached there. People was still celebrating Eid and many of them were still in their villages. I then spent another 3 days there, time for trying to buy an air ticket for New Delhi, India.
Now buying an air ticket out of Bangladesh is quite a hassle for a foreigner ! First you have to change money from a bank, not any one because i checked out around 4 or 5 different banks and they refused to change money ! I finally changed in Standard-Chartered (HSBC) and when you change money you should tell them that you are changing this money to buy an air-tix. You should then apply for an
A gentle, patient guy who can help you out in Bangladesh.
encashment certificate. You will need it to buy your air ticket from any travel agent, they will ask for the certificate and, without it, will not issue any ticket. The encashment certificate cost around TK 600 (december 2007). I finally bought a Jet Airways ticket to Delhi. The remaining time i spent doing some shopping. Mainly for clothing because prices are very good and also clothing is of very good quality. The Banga Bazaar is good for cheap clothing it's walking distance from the Ramna Hotel and there is also the posh Bashundara Shopping Mall.
Flew to Delhi and what a change ! Delhi stinks ! Delhi was dirty ! Delhi was dusty ! Delhi was mad !!! But that's India. And best of all upon arrival i found before me a queue of nearly 500 passengers waiting to go through immigration. Delhi airport was under renovation and there was only 3 immigration officers working in that terminal! I managed to make my way to a newly arrived officer, everyone was trying to make his way so why not me ? Finally passed through immi and customs and out ! Taxi to CarolBagh where i stayed in Le Sancy
On the BuriGanga river, Sadarghat.
Hotel. A french name hotel ! Why ? I asked but they did not know !!! Stayed there for 3 days and flew back home !
So i'd recommend anyone going to Bangladesh to be informed before going. Inform about the weather, inform if there will be any public holidays or festivals and if possible get someone there who can advise and maybe help you out if need be. As for me i met Mahmud, a very patient and very, very helpful guy. His brother Mahfuz also is very helpful. They both speak english. In Bangladesh very few people speak english, so they're handy. If anyone needs their contact, just email me. I also published some photos but i have hundreds more in stock.
There are more photos below