Consider Bangladesh

Hello folks! Hope you’ve all been well. Today I want to talk to you about a little country called ‘Bangladesh’. Of the countries of the sub-continent, this may be the least considered when travelling of all. India speaks for itself, the Maldives are beautiful, Sri Lanka gets its share, Pakistan less so for security reasons more than anything these days, Nepal and Bhutan are stunning, but Bangladesh?

Dhaka street.

Dhaka street.

What about Bangladesh? There aren’t a lot of things to see and do there. But it doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile country to visit. I’ve been twice. Once was on a university trip in 2002, the second was the return in 2004 where I began my overland journey from Dhaka to Europe.

The amazing fields at the border

The amazing fields at the border with India.

Indian cities such as Delhi have a reputation for being mad, but honestly Dhaka takes the cake. It’s huge, the traffic doesn’t move and there are so many people it’s unbelievable. Did I mention – Bangladesh is the world’s most densely populated country that isn’t a city state?

Ashan Manzil

Ashan Manzil

But right now you are thinking ‘woah! These are NOT reasons to go to Bangladesh. In fact you are actually making it seem very unattractive!’ My fault completely, I got carried away.

I stayed in the Kushiara Guest House, which was an extremely welcoming and friendly place to stay. I chatted with the owner a number of times and he considered that Bangladesh could have a future for tourism in the realms of ‘reality tourism’. This, so I gathered, was tourism where people would see how people really live. I’m not too sure.

Ferries on the Buriganga River, Dhaka.

Ferries on the Buriganga River, Dhaka.

So why consider Bangladesh, as my title suggests? Well, for one it’s a gateway to the sub-continent. Why not take a look at Dhaka before crossing over to Eastern India? In fact, I took a bus northwards to the Indian border in 2004 and in a night and a bit more than half a day made my way from Dhaka to Darjeeling in the Himalayas. It was an amazing trip, the border was stunning.

Houses of Parliament in Dhaka.

Houses of Parliament in Dhaka.

Dhaka itself is interesting. Beautiful, ok no, but interesting yes. There’s a beautiful old (warning though, extremely dusty) mansion by the banks of the Buriganga River called Ashan Manzil. The first building in Bangladesh to have electricity. There’s a moving museum to the fight for independence from Pakistan (yes, Bangladesh used to be completely controlled as part of Pakistan from Islamabad), and moving monuments in the memory of the fight for liberation. Catching a game of cricket in the capital is also very worthwhile and will give you a chance to meet local Bangladeshis too, who are extremely friendly.

Puthia temples.

Puthia temples.

The city of Puthia holds ancient ruins which are great. I never made it to Chittagong but I believe the journey (maybe possible by slow train) from Dhaka is amazing and it’s supposed to be a beautiful town.

Ride a rickshaw in Dhaka!

Ride a rickshaw in Dhaka!

Consider these facts on Bangladesh too. From 2002 to 2004 I noticed a huge change in the atmosphere – they had banned two stroke auto rickshaws which pollute far more than three strokes. And also in that time they completely banned plastic bags! So, throw off any thoughts you had that Bangladesh isn’t progressive!

There’s much more to Bangladesh than I have seen. But the tourist revolution some were hoping for a decade ago doesn’t look like arriving any time soon. So why not start it yourself? Although it lacks the tourist infrastructure of its big neighbour India, Bangladesh is logically far less affected by tourism. That in itself is a reason to go.

Cricket match in Dhaka, versus West Indies.

Cricket match in Dhaka, versus West Indies.

What do you think? Would YOU consider Bangladesh next time you travel?

May the Journey Never End!

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