Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Dhaka (ঢাকা) Part I of II

some info:
Dhaka (ঢাকা) is known as the "city of mosques"
is located on the banks of the Buriganga river and has a population of 15 million. the official language spoken is Bengali (বাংলা)
Dhaka has one of the highest rates of death from infectious disease of any city in Asia...

my flight to Dhaka was fine. seeing only 2 other westerners on the plane gave me the sense that I was heading for an adventure, and I was right!

interesting to see #3 on the disembarkation form... just goes to show the status between males and females here.
and who names their "fists"? lol

arriving at Dhaka's Zia International Airport I was firstly greeted with the very slow immigration staff. being in the "foreigners" lane there were not many of us, but it sure took a while to get through.

I was then whisked away by 3 guys to a mini-van that was to pick me up. little did I know that 2 of them were not with our group and then began to ask for a tip for helping me get to the mini-van. luckily the driver gave them a tip to let them go and find their next target.
the first thing that struck me was the amount of traffic on the road (I arrived at 11:30pm). there were all sorts of vehicles some going in the right direction, some going in the opposite flow to the traffic. in between this were people dodging the traffic crossing the roads. this was all happening on a pitch black road. lights were there... they just weren't switched on.

the second thing that caught my eye was how ornate the cars and trucks were decorated; painted in bright colors. at a closer look I could see this art work was hiding a lot of dents. panel-beaters paradise.

view of my accomodation (building on the left)
the streets were so alive with people and noise so I was a bit disappointed when we turned off into a guarded street in the Baridhara district (বারিধারা); home to the diplomats and foreign embassies; the Hollywood of Dhaka! the Hollywood feel didn't last too long... our accommodation was super-simple. a bed, an air con (that was luxury when we had power) and a shower with no hot water. I was told amenities would be supplied, but I only found a bar of used soap on the shower floor. thank god I bought my own stuff.
my guest house was in front of what was a river but now a stagnant lake after the flow was blocked off for development. apparently this is happening all over the city and causing a huge amount of environmental damage. only now are there some groups voicing their concerns about such problems.

after a glass of red wine (bought in Hong Kong) and an amazingly sweet Bangladesh dessert called Roshogolla (রসগোল্লা) which is a syrupy dessert made from cheese from cow or water buffalo milk, wheat, and then boiled in a sugar syrup, it was then off to bed.

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