Back in February I made a long, economy class journey around the world over five days in order to be on the final commercial flight of the DC-10. As part of that adventure I had two nights in Dhaka, Bangladesh on my schedule. It was not at all my ideal version of a tourist visit to the city or the country; I was in meetings all day for the most part, not out being a tourist. But for a couple hours one night and for a few fleeting moments early one morning I was able to immerse myself a tiny bit in the culture. At least as much as they let the obvious foreigner in.
My first night started a bit later than expected, following meetings all afternoon and more time than I really wanted to spend in traffic (and definitely more time than my host wanted, I’m sure). My room at the Dhaka Regency Hotel was mediocre and probably overpriced for what it was but the location was very convenient to the airport and that had some value. It is also where many of the other passengers on the flight were staying which helped me make some friends. And it also was located adjacent to an overpass which let me cross from the sterility of the hotel to the other side of the tracks (literally) and explore a local market. It was spectacular.
I was, at least from what I saw, the only tourist in the market. It was truly a local affair, with meats, vegetables, produce and other goods on display. Oh, live chickens, too.
I walked the main road a couple times and ducked down the side roads a bit, too, hoping to find options for dinner. Eventually I settled in at one of the shops along the main drag.
I have no idea what I ate (lamb, perhaps) but it was delicious. The guy out front spoke enough English to entice me in, plus there weren’t all that many prepared food shops; the market was was more about the raw goods. The vendor showed off a giant bucket of meat + rice and I managed to order one plus a soda. I ate with my hands, just like the locals, in large part because I wasn’t sure I trusted that the flatware was cleaned all that well. It was a tasty meal and I managed to not get sick so I’m calling that a great success.
The following day was again spent mostly in meetings with various executives from the airline but I still managed to catch a bit of “me time” that evening, watching the sun set and generally observing the local life in the area, albeit from the roof-top pool/deck of the hotel.
And then, all too soon, it was time to leave. We were up early that morning in advance of the DC-10 flight and caught some great scenes of the morning commute associated with the neighborhood and the bus station near the overpass. Lots of cycle rickshaws in the area to carry locals the last little bit of the way to their destination.
The photos don’t do it justice and I’m pretty sure my writing doesn’t either. I truly loved the brief stay I had in Dhaka. Everyone I interacted with was incredibly warm and friendly. They all truly love their country and wanted to show off the best face of it to me and other visitors. I’m genuinely looking forward to getting back over there and exploring more. It seems to me there is so much variety to see and places which deserve a proper wandering.
More photos online on Facebook and Google+.
- Booking the final DC-10 flight with Biman Bangladesh Airlines
- Photos, video and more from the final commercial DC-10 flight
- Around the world in 5 days. In Coach.
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went to Bang 30 years ago for first time and made many more trips after that , not a place for 99% of the tourist — had to stay in the city and when u left the airport u were surrounded by a crowd of locals who were without arms or feet etc –I as an American gave to them a few a few dollars– YOU CAN BELIEVE THE HUNDREDS THAT ALMOST ATTACKED ME
YOU DID THE RIGHT THING TO EAT WITH UR HANDS- EVEN IF THEY WERE NOT SO CLEAN , THE COUNTRY BACK THEN WAS FILTHY
THIS WAS A LONG TIME AGO , HOPEFULLY IT HAS IMPROVED A LITTLE – IF U DO NOT LIKE SOMEONE — SEND THEM TO BANG FOR A WEEK
Seth, I read your blog regularly and am from Dhaka, although now call DC my home. Thank you for this post and for highlighting the life, color, and vibrancy of my city. Unfortunately Bangladesh still faces many challenges as a developing country and I wish there were more tourists / bloggers visiting and writing about Bangladesh. Next time you go, I hope you get to visit outside Dhaka among the lush villages, beaches, tea estates, and jungles. Dhaka can be an overwhelming place, but glad you enjoyed yourself.
I am from bangladesh as well, nice to see you visiting and having such a positive experience
That meal you eat looks like a biryani – esp. if it was already ready in a big bucket and served with some crunchy salad. One of my favorite meals is a nice spicy biryani – there are almost 40-50 variations that I know of (and they taste massively different)!
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