Bangladesh - A Country like a Circus Show

The flight time from Bhutan to Bangladesh was only an hour. To sum it up, Bangladesh is something else. Chaos all around, but surprisingly, people are pretty chill. Not much aggression either it seems, quite the surprise. 

People in Dhaka know there's not much space for each and one of them, but they still manage to get along. It's the top densely populated city in the world with almost 24 million (24'000'000!) people. 

That's about 50'000 people per square kilometer! Crazy!

Comparison between Chaos in Bangladesh and Africa

Chaos usually happens when too many people come together in a limited space. After visiting a couple of African countries and witnessing the chaos there, I was surprised at how chaos can differ in other continents and that chaos is not the same chaos everywhere.

The chaos in Bangladesh is distinct from that of many African countries, or let's say big African cities. In Africa, there's a pervasive sense of impulsivity, with a hectic and noisy atmosphere. People quickly resort to shouting when things don't go their way. Bangladesh is highly and way more polluted due to traffic. But Africa feels way more dusty, and there's a sense of resignation, knowing that the circumstances can't be changed significantly.

On the other hand, the chaos in Bangladesh seems relatively calmer. Despite the overcrowding and limited space, people are peaceful, understanding the need to coexist harmoniously. There's less visible aggression in the form of shouting, and the locals seem more motivated to improve their lives and work hard to achieve their goals.

Arriving in cheap Bangladesh. But expensive Visa!

The flight from Bhutan arrived on time, and upon landing at the huge Dhaka Airport, I proceeded to obtain the Visa on Arrival, which cost 51 dollars. Those border guard folks though, they were putting on quite a show with all their complications, like a pseudo-drama. They requested every little detail, from hotel reservations to flight confirmations, the whole program. Luckily there were only about 6 people arriving from Bhutan who went off in Bangladesh, so immigration lasted not too long.

I got a 45-minute Uber for 430 Taka (4 USD) and drove to the area called Banani, a good location in Dhaka, with lots of shops and restaurants around, and decent quality. Not as "run down" as the rest of Dhaka.

Day 2 - A 130km Roadtrip outside of Dhaka

One of the good things in Bangladesh is the option to rent an Uber with a driver for up to 10 hours and 100 kilometers, destinations and stops can be added and changed as often as wished.

Uber is a big plus for tourists in this country, as the language barrier and the chaos on the road with all the non-human readable street signs. 

So, I had to try this long-distance Uber service. It cost about 45 bucks, for 10 hours and about 130 km. Uber provided a comfortable experience with air-conditioning and comfortable clean leather seats.

300 USD salary with 70 hours of work per week

The driver was like a robot, just following whatever destination I put into that app.

It's remarkable to see how people work for meager salaries. For example, an Uber driver gets about 300 USD per month while putting in 70-hour weeks. They don't have vacations or weekends.

Dhaka is highly polluted. There is a constant haze caused by pollution.

Visiting Panam City & Sonorgan

First stop, Panam City, approximately 1.5 hours away from Dhaka. 

They call it an old British city, a business street or something where they used to do their trading thing. 

Panam is not far from the river huge Meghna River, which is 13km wide. Looks like the ocean.

So, there I checked out some boats by the river – yeah, real exciting stuff!

Sonargaon Museum has lots of Bangladesh items

Back to Sonargaon, 10 minutes from the mighty river, checked out two museums, and guess what, that cost me a grand total of only 3 dollars. The real name of this thing is Bangladesh Folk Art & Crafts Foundation. 

The two museums hold a unique collection of stuff that cannot be found somewhere else. Many remains are lost from the country, and only those are remaining.

Back to Dhaka Old Town area - where things get interesting!

I returned all the way to downtown Dhaka to explore the action at the riverfront area, there was this Buriganga Riverview Restaurant with a good view on the Dhaka River. The Uber driver was always waiting in the car and surprisingly it was easy to find it again, even though it was in the middle of Dhaka's chaos center.

At some point in Dhaka the streets get even more crowded than it already was.

It was the area of Old Dhaka where the huge masses of people streamed through the streets, carrying all kind of goods for trading. Never observed such chaos.

I ventured further through Old Dhaka, which proved to be chaotic. Complete chaos! It's like a rabbit hole, the further down the road the darker it gets.

It was the afternoon before the weekend, and chaos reigned supreme.

Spending two hours in an Uber navigating through Old Dhaka was a nightmare, even for my Uber driver. You couldn't move an inch without bumping into some rickshaw or tuk-tuk stuck in a jam. 

People constantly stare at me

People in Bangladesh, they're so curious. I stopped for a second, and a bunch of folks gathered around, staring at me. It was like I was some kind of monkey. But hey, they're curious folks, always staring at you, even if you're doing nothing and just looking around.

It was like a circus, but not a fun one. Well, yes somehow, to be honest, it was fun as I had the joy of sitting in a Uber with noise-canceling windows, A/C and comfortable leather seats. Outside the full-scale show happened.

Although my driver was a bit concerned about his car, but in total an impressive performance how he drove through those streets without hitting someone or something.

When putting down the window, the 360-degree chaos surrounding the car, along with the heat, noise, and odors, made it quite an experience.

The streets were filled with curious characters at every corner. Frequently, the traffic was almost constantly at a complete halt for several minutes due to someone recklessly parking their truck, preventing tuk-tuks and rickshaws from moving even an inch forward.

It's like a comedy show on wheels, just hilarious!

If I stopped, a crowd of people would gather around me, staring at my every move. Even if I did nothing but look around, they would watch. Sometimes, someone would approach and ask where I was from, They would respond with enthusiasm, attempting to speak in English.

Frequently, people, including police officers and security personnel, would ask if they could take a video or at least a photo of me to share on some Indian social media platform, well, I guess that's what they do there.

After spending another hour in the chaotic streets, I finally reached my hotel, relieved to be done with the adventurous Uber ride.

Day 3 - A day in downtown Dhaka Chaos

Visited Fort Lalbagh, a 30-minute Uber ride away. The area housed three temples on a large square in the heart of Dhaka. However, the place lacked shade and was extremely hot. No shade, nothing, just scorching heat. 

Though there was nothing particularly special about it, the entrance fee for foreigners was ten times higher than for locals. The ticket counter person is relying on looks (outfits) alone, which isn't very reliable. 

Fort Lalbagh stands in the middle of Dhaka. It is a traditional structure built during the Mughal period. A place that has been preserved well by the government. 

Crazyness again!

Spent some time walking around Old Dhaka and enjoyed the taxi rides once again. Taking a taxi allowed me to see most of Dhaka. That's the best way to see Dhaka. I experienced many "what the hell" moments, seemingly one after the other.

An afternoon, trying relaxing on the balcony was a good idea, but gets interrupted by a loud announcement from the 100-meter nearby mosque by the Imam. It seems like it's impossible to have a proper break in Dhaka?

With the rickshaw through Dhaka in the evening

In the evening, with a rickshaw ride through the peninsula in Dhaka, for sightseeing Dhaka at night.

Now, here's something interesting. It was striking to witness the stark contrast between the affluent and the impoverished areas. On one side of the river were the wealthy with offices, beautiful cafes, and commercial buildings, while on the other side lay the largest slum in Dhaka. Crazy.

Day 4 - Moving on to India

Time to head to India.

The drive to the airport only took 20 minutes, which is rare in Dhaka, but it was the weekend, and the streets were relatively empty compared to weekdays. However, the airport itself was crowded, with long queues to enter the airport, stretching up to 300 meters. Chaos again everywhere.

Once inside, things went relatively smoothly, except for the fact that none of the ten currency exchange counters offered to convert Taka to USD. Not a single currency exchange would convert Taka to USD. Come on, what kind of airport is that? 

Anyway, that was my journey in Bangladesh. A lot of chaos, a lot of curious people, gawking people, and some crazy sights to see. Would I go back? Well, it was an experience, quite an experience. I'll keep it like that. Nothing to add I'd say.

Now, the flight to New Delhi will be 3 hours. I'm wondering what India has to offer and if the chaos is the same as here. 

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