Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – II)

Dec 12th, 2013: Dhaka

Leaving UK via Dubai arriving Dec 12th – 6.5 hours to Dubai, 04 hours stop over is OK, and onward 4.5 hours to Dhaka. Nothing can prepare you for this city, though we have a nice roomy apartment in a nice area. There are a few political problems and the government have hanged a war criminal today! To bed – after ordering breakfast of course.

Dec 13th, 2013: Dhaka

Breakfast – well its local parathas and vegetable curry which is quite hot so mind the green chilies. It comes in a plastic bag, and omelets which is wrapped in newspaper. Its OK. There are no trains today as main signal box was set on fire – so things are looking up for this trip. Warm and overcast. Noisy dusty traffic fumes, awful traffic jams – rickshaws, some electrified drive so fast, but its quick at times to walk all the same.

Star Masque in Old Dhaka

Richard head off with his new rail friend, we do city tour. Earthquakes and cyclones have destroyed over the years a lot of the important places which are in old Dhaka. You really need to experience this place, especially the smells. The drains are awful and at the end of our sightseeing we take an hour trip on the river. It is amazing and interesting, but OMG the smell – its foul-black inky and just awful.

We head back to Apartment – meet with Richard and walk to a local recommended eatery. Its OK with a Chinese influenced and its good food which we enjoy. Mock-tails are a 03 layers – Fanta orange – Coke and Sprite – how do they do this?

A narrow street in Old Dhaka

Dec 14th, 2013: Sonargaon

Richard goes off. We have trip to Sonargaron the old capital – a really delightful day out. Guide is great and very helpful. We also visit a gorgeous 15th century old brick mosque, Goaldi Mosque. Then an abandoned Hindu city – Panam Nagar. It has a romantic air about it. We are popular with the local school children practicing on the main playing field. Try some lovely round samosas like pastries.

A building on abandoned merchant city Panam Nagar

We take a break at the apartment – meeting up with Richard. He seems to have had quite a way with the local rails fans in town, and are apparently a nightmare and next to useless – get in the way and have been duly reprimanded and sent home!

If you’ve missed the first part of my diary, you can read it here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Also can read the next part here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – III). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Breath-taking Bangladesh: Our unforgettable experience

I had never imagined that I would find myself in Bangladesh, but you never know where life will lead you: the man I fell in love with grew up in Bangladesh. He had survived his visit to my native Essex, so it was only fair I visited his country! My husband is from Dhaka but it had been a while since he had visited, and he wanted to use a tour company to take the stress out of organizing outings and negotiating the formidable traffic.

Our research led us to Nijhoom Tours and we decided they were what we were looking for. We booked two day trips: the Sonargaon Old Capital Tour and the Old Dhaka Tour.

Day-01: Old Capital Sonargaon

Sonargaon was once the capital of Eastern Bengal, centuries before British rule, and is the site of reminders of a bygone age. Mushfiq our guide for the day arrived on time to pick us up from our hotel – no mean feat in Dhaka’s traffic. He introduced himself and our driver for the day and outlined what sights we were going to see. We were joined by just one other tourist – a nice small group.

He apologized about the traffic but pointed out that we would see many interesting scenes from our car windows on route. He was not wrong – at one point we were joined by an elephant at some traffic lights! The traffic was bad but Mushfiq kept us entertained by talking about Dhaka’s history and people. Eventually we left the traffic and hustle and bustle of Dhaka behind, and were cruising through lush green countryside.

Our first stop was an enchanting 500 years old red brick mosque, not used anymore but preserved as an example of the architecture of the time.  While in the area, we dropped in on a school made out of bamboo where we were invited in to see the end of an English lesson. The children seemed delighted to have visitors and were very keen to practice their English and have a go on Mushfiq’s iPad!

Children being taught English on a school at Sonargaon in Bangladesh.

Waving goodbye to the children we continued through Sonargaon’s sleepy back roads to a beautiful pink and white palace. Now a museum, it was once a Hindu merchant’s home that has been beautifully preserved.

Taking a respite from the history tour, Mushfiq wanted to show us something of life on the banks of Bengal’s mighty rivers.  Being close to the confluence of 03 rivers (the Meghna, Brahmaputra, and Buriganga), he led us through a street market to the shore, where we cast off in a motor boat for a small village on an island in the middle of the water. The river is so wide you can’t see one bank from the other. Through the haze we saw many brightly painted dredgers in action in their daily battle to clear the silt clogged river, boats laden with red bricks and small fishing boats- their occupants waving enthusiastically as we passed.

The boat push off on the way to a remote village in a river island at Sonargaon in Bangladesh.

The villagers gave us a very warm reception and were keen to show us the new houses they were building and the new village toilet. Mushfiq acted as translator so we could answer the villager’s questions and them ours. We found out that they grow several types of rice and also catch fish to earn income. We wandered through the village with a growing number of excited children behind us and ended up on a bridge with a breath-taking view of the various islands spanning the river.

I was reflecting on what it must be like to live in such a remote place as we made our way back to our boat, when one of the children requested that we ‘like’ the village Facebook page!

Once back on the boat, Mushfiq made a phone call to place our lunch order at a local restaurant so that it would be ready just as we arrived at the restaurant on the other side of the river. He informed us that before adding a restaurant to their list, Nijhoom tests out and makes sure that their kitchens have good hygiene standards before taking any guests there.

Our delicious lunch consumed, it was time to head off for what was the highlight of the day for me – the abandoned merchant city Panam Nagar.

Decoration on a building at the abandoned city Panam Nagar at Sonargaon in Bangladesh.

The city grew up in the late 19th century as a trade center for cotton fabrics during British rule. The grand colonial European inspired houses were built by Hindu cloth merchants. Falling into disrepair at the end of British rule and the area being abandoned after the Second Kashmir War in 1965, these beautiful buildings are now gently decaying and being reclaimed by the jungle.

Fortunately the area is now protected under the Department of Archaeology of Bangladesh. Many intricate details have survived however and we spent a long time marveling at the houses and imagining the lives of the former residents. There are people living nearby, so despite the houses being empty, the street was quite busy and we were also much in demand for selfies with the locals!

The last stop of the day was the remains of a very grand Indo-European house. Many locals refuse to go near it as it is said to be haunted. The encroaching jungle has shut out most of the daylight and with it’s overgrown courtyard and damp crumbling passage ways, it was indeed a little spooky.

A haunted house at abandoned city Panam Nagar in Sonargaon.

Leaving the countryside behind we soon found ourselves back in Dhaka traffic but spent the time laughing and joking with our fellow traveler, Mushfiq, and the driver, and before we knew it we had arrived back at our hotel.

Day-02: Old Dhaka

Mushfiq and the driver arrived on time and we set off by car but quickly swapped to rickshaws, as these are far better at navigating the narrow streets of old Dhaka. Again, Mushfiq explained the sights we would see on the tour.

Our first stop was the brightly colored Dhakeshwari Temple, where we saw Hindu worshipers making offerings and dancing, followed by another adrenaline fueled rickshaw ride that took us to the Star Mosque with its beautiful mosaic interior. We were also able to admire the Armenian Church, set up by the community that migrated to Dhaka in colonial times, but have now moved on.

Family on a rickshaw at Old Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The next sight – Lalbagh Fort, was a haven of tranquility away from Dhaka’s crowded streets. Inside the pale pink walls are green lawns, water features, and well-tended rose patches, which make a perfect backdrop for Dhaka’s young love-struck couples to stroll through. Work on the fort was started in 1678 by the Mughal price Muhammad Azam. He was called away by his father and work on the fort stalled. Shaista Khan, the new subahdar of Dhaka, felt unable to complete the fort when his daughter Pari Bibi died there. His daughter’s tomb is one of the main features of the fort.

The highlight of the Dhaka tour for me was a short boat trip on the Ganges with commuter boats, steamers and ferries negotiating their way along the almost jet black river.

Commuting Ganges style on the river Buriganga at Old Dhaka in Bangladesh.

Throughout the day, Mushfiq informed us about the history of each site in a very engaging and articulate way. He is clearly passionate about his city, and his enthusiasm for it definitely rubs off on you.

Why I will be back!

Bangladesh is a breath of fresh air compared to many well-worn tourist routes where you are constantly hassled by touts or traders and subjected to phony ‘local’ experiences, dressed up for the masses with a gift shop at the end. It is a country where tourism is in it’s infancy and people will be delighted that you have made the effort to visit their homeland. You will become a tourist attraction for the locals, so expect to appear on many Bangladeshi Facebook pages!

Dhaka is one of the most populous cities in the world, and those not used to such cities could feel overwhelmed or get hopelessly lost! Using Nijhoom Tours meant that we could focus solely on safely enjoying the many attractions whilst our capable guides dealt with the logistics.

I can’t wait to go back!

If you’ve enjoyed the story, consider sharing it in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I)

On a long haul flight to Asia seated at a window seat, I saw a strange odd area of land. The on-board map showed it as was on the India-Bangladesh border. When I got home I had to learn more. An area called the Sunderbans with tigers unknown to me. The following year in India I read a book I picked up in a hotel called “The Hungry Tide”. Coincidence? I was hooked!

Research showed it easy to visit from the Indian side. But the more I read the more there was to do in this flat low lying country of Bangladesh next door. I knew it as a place of flood disaster, but it has so much to offer. And a trip was born.

When you travel a little off the beaten track, you need a knowledgeable enthusiastic agent, and Nijhoom gave me confidence to visit. Tons of information and hundreds of ideas. It was hard to try and fit them all in but with Hasan’s help we did. He quickly and constantly answered a million questions and queries immediately. I do ask too many! He has amazing patience.

Trip one: 21 days – simply amazing!

A daily discovery of friendly people.

Great food.

The longest beach in the world.

Tea regions.

So much more!

Helen trying to drive a rickshaw while brother Richard giving instructions

This trip came at a time of Hartals – basically transport strikes, and he worked around them and it wasn’t always easy. There were cancellations. All the locals were sorry for inconvenience and quick to help out and most accommodating. We loved the trip but missed a few things along the way and well some things were so good we had to do them again.

The rocket steamer oh………how I love that boat!

Which is how we got to Trip 2 – another three weeks just 2 years later!

If you’ve enjoyed my diary, you can read the next part of it here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – II). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – IV)

Thu, Dec 19, 2013: Srimangal

06.40 Parabat Express – but there is a delay and about 1,000 folk waiting for train. We are exhibit a here, so we make use of a waiting room. A few street kinds, amputees, and beggars – we are sitting ducks for them. Getting on is well a really bun fight, especially with our luggage and the need to haul yourself up 3 large steps to get on board. Its every woman for herself, and we didn’t get 1st class seats. Poor Julie lags behind and is dragged onto train by Richard like she is a puppy pulled from her neck – bless her!

Once we find seats and put luggage up and once all the pushing and shoving is done, it’s not too bad and an interesting albeit slow journey – a new speed restriction is in place, given the derailments recently. So we arrive late into Srimongal, heart of the tea region. Verdant green small hills 100 meter high maximum. Its run down one horse kind of town. We are staying outside in an Eco-lodge. Hmm more like garden sheds on legs. A lot of mossies too. We are close to the Indian border here.

We visit late afternoon a tribal village and head of to try a famous 7 layer tea. It does have 7 layers and 7 flavors. The secret to its making is a secret needless to say. The layering is in the sugar I feel sure. Dinner average chicken curry, nice aubergine fritters, rice, daal, usual fayer.

Inside a Bangladeshi train

Fri, Dec 20, Srimangal – Dhaka

Breakfast is good. Richard goes to station while we head to national park. Really nice place and we have it all to ourselves with a good local guide. We are also very lucky to find Hoolock Gibbons quite quickly – only 200 left in the world. We also see golden cap languor’s and leaf monkey. Some nice birds. We enjoy this. We visit other tribal villages too. They are well laid out, bordering on smart, and have a really good agriculture infrastructure, and are quite well-off. Betel leaf and nut production earn them a lot.

Tea plantations of Srimangal

We visit a tea plantation, collect Richard at Station, visit pineapple farm, take more 7 layer tea as the boys likes it so much. I love the ginger myself. Itinerary seem to change over the next few hours as train is cancelled. There are different ideas on getting us back to Dhaka. We need to connect for a steamer tomorrow evening, so it’s a quick pack and hasty check out. 26 hours here only – not enough, but we have to work around blockades. We take supper at the soon to be opened “Grande Sultan Resort”, meeting GM Toni Khan, a world famous chef in his day. It’s a lovely place and meal is OK. A real treat! Such a luxury place they have. Some way to go with service and open Xmas day.

Everyone else is heading back under cover of darkness. Its slow going, and bad driving – we dodge or seem to dodge anything from huge Lorries to pedestrians in the darkness. Arrive at apartment after midnight – Made it!

The creator of 7 layer tea at Srimangal

Sat, Dec 21, 2013: Rocket Steamer

A lay in. It rained heavily last night, so there is a lot of fog about. A day to crash really. So catch up on paperwork, luggage, laundry etc. Shop for picnic stuff etc. Head to famous Sadarghat for our boat at 4pm – takes almost an hour in traffic to get there.

It’s hard to describe the chaos. I feel Like Michael Palin. Lots of boats moored up and YES, the rusty one at the end is ours! It’s a bun fight to get on. Folks are getting off as well up to flights of stairs to 1st class! 08 cabins, a 1st class deck crew including toilet attendant. All on the smelly Buringanga river. Food is amazing – soup-fish and chips for dinner, roast chicken, and creme caramel – all agree best fish and chips ever! Cabins are basic and small to say the least. Ian and I do go to bed and wake into the night to the fog horn blowing and find us tied for safety alongside another boat. The fog lifts and we head on our way again.

Toilets well………any port in a storm!

Century old paddle steamer still on service in Bangladesh

If you’ve missed the previous parts of my diary, you can start reading it from here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

My 11 days vacation in Bangladesh during security alert from the west

A couple of weeks ago I returned from Bangladesh. I spent there 11 days.

It was a long-awaited trip for me. At first several years ago I chanced to read a book written by Dr. Muhammad Yunus which had been just translated into Russian. Then I bought a book in English about Bangladesh history. I hadn’t found a contemporary edition of history book in Russian and ordered this one in some USA online shop. Generally speaking, 30-40 years ago we had a lot of books published in Russian about Bangladesh, including Bengali language textbooks and other numerous works. And I hope the number of books translated into Russian will increase.

Books in Russian that inspired me to travel Bangladesh.

Besides reading, I love traveling. And to that time I had already been at least twice in every country bordering Bangladesh: India, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. And every time traveling to South Asia, I was planning to visit Bangladesh “next time”. I imagined how nice it would be to find a way to visit Bangladesh sooner or later.

This year I’ve decided that neither the absence of direct flights from Moscow to Dhaka, nor the small number of reviews from travelers would be a significant obstacle for me. Also it was great that I found a good travel company from Dhaka – Nijhoom Tours, who had an excellent website and were attentive to my numerous questions and replied very quickly and professionally.

It was a well-organized and informative trip. Bangladesh is not an easy country for traveling independently but with the help of the local travel agency, it becomes a really attractive and easy trip.

Waiting for train in a train station in Bangladesh.

Capital City Dhaka

In Dhaka, you find yourself in the heart of one of the most densely populated countries. There are too many people everywhere. It’s a very lively and active city. And as we were in the country with a very rich heritage, we chanced to see many interesting places, including National Assembly Building, Lalbagh Fort, Dhakeshwari Temple, Khan Mohammad Mridha Mosque, Armenian Church, Star Mosque, and Ahsan Manzil.

In Ahsan Manzil, a beautiful palace from colonial period in Bangladesh.

Most of all I liked the National Parliament House (one of the largest legislative complexes in the world, 200 acres) and Ahsan Manzil. Ahsan Manzil is a national museum nowadays and it was built as a palace (its construction was started in 1859 and was completed in 1872). After sight-seeing, we had a boat ride at river Buriganga and enjoyed sunset on a wooden row-boat.

Sunset at river Buriganga on a wooden row-boat.

As for accommodation, most hotels here are rather simple. But people are very hospitable and friendly everywhere and we felt like very dear guests in every hotel on the route. Anyway, in Dhaka I stayed for a night in a very nice place.

Sundarbans Mangrove Forest and Srimangal

Then we had a night on Paddle Steamer called Rocket and arrived Hularhat station in the morning. Our goal was visiting Bagerhat. There are many magnificent and ancient Mosques here. This is a very unique and beautiful place.

We stayed for a night in a hotel in Mongla.

And then we went to the boat which forwarded us to Sundarbans forest. Sundarbans is one of the most beautiful place in the world if not the most beautiful! It is the world’s largest mangrove forest and covers a territory of 6,000 sq km. Rivers in the Sundarbans are meeting places of salt water and freshwater. It is a mix of the freshwater of the rivers originating from the Ganges and the salt water of the Bay of Bengal.

Sunset in Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest on earth.

We spent 3 days on the boat. It was a very relaxing time. We explored creeks and canals on a wooden boat in the forest. We visited Jamtola beach on the edge of Bay of Bengal. We saw many colorful birds, many deers and other wildlife. And there were nearly no other people at all. I’m not a good photographer (and my smartphone is not a good tool for this) but I guess my companion made a thousand photos. It’s a heaven for those who love photography. And there were fantastic sunsets too! And dolphins…we saw many dolphins.

Deers in Sundarbans, the most beautiful place on earth.

After Sundarbans, we had a long way to Srimangol where we visited tea plantations and tribal villages. We tasted its famous 7 layers tea. We also did a trekking in the Lawachhara National Park and spent here several hours watching giant spiders and listening to gibbon cries. It was a nice experience.

Tea workers going to deposit the tea leaves after full day's peaking.

I wish to come back!

So our program was interesting, intense, but not exhausting or tiring. All the hotels during the trip were comfortable: Wi-Fi (in one hotel it was available at the lobby only and in the others – in the rooms too), hot water, good food and drinking water…everything was OK.

In conclusion I must say that I have never met so many sincere, smiling, and helpful people as in Bangladesh. They are glad to meet you, do selfie with you on the streets, help you with your luggage in the train; they invite you to join their family events!

Photo shooting with the locals in Bangladesh.

We’ve heard from the news that Bangladesh (as many other Asian countries) was continuing to face numerous economic, social, and environmental challenges, including poverty, over-population, and global warming. And recenty there have been added alarming reports concerning possible terrorist activities in the region. The issue of security is very important and I was in doubts whether it’s a safe place for coming or not. But while being in Bangladesh, it became clear to me that my anxiety and doubts had been groundless, and a hype in the Western press was too exaggerated. The security situation here is like in any other tourist destination around.

So I have many precious memories from my journey. This is a very friendly country, it was a fantastic time and I wish to come back!

If you’ve enjoyed the story, consider sharing it in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone buried in some popular myths. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

What travelers say about the safety situation after visiting Bangladesh

Bangladesh is often negatively represented in the intentional media, which provide a wrong message to the travelers. Sitting thousands of miles apart, they become panicked to visit Bangladesh. Moreover some western country’s foreign department website always flag the country in a negative way and issue travel alert in visiting Bangladesh, which increase the panic even more.

Tourism being under-developed in the country, tourism department of Bangladesh never taken any initiative to clear the negative image of the country built in year after year. Here you can read the experience of some brave western travelers who visited Bangladesh during these security alerts, most of whom are solo female travelers, and discovering a complete opposite situation in the country which media never tell you.

Svetlana Suslova from Russia visiting Bangladesh solo during security alert from the west

Experience of Svetlana Suslova

Svetlana Suslova from Russia visited Bangladesh for 11 days in November 2015. Here is what she says about her exsperience in Bangladesh during the security alert:

We’ve heard from the news that Bangladesh (as many other Asian countries) was continuing to face numerous economic, social, and environmental challenges, including poverty, over-population, and global warming. And recenty there have been added alarming reports concerning possible terrorist activities in the region. The issue of security is very important and I was in doubts whether it’s a safe place for coming or not. But while being in Bangladesh, it became clear to me that my anxiety and doubts had been groundless, and a hype in the Western press was too exaggerated. The security situation here is like in any other tourist destination around.

So I have many precious memories from my journey. This is a very friendly country, it was a fantastic time and I wish to come back!

Alice Nettleingham from UK traveling Bangladesh solo

Experience of Alice Nettleingham

Alice Nettleingham from UK visited Bangladesh in early 2016 for 03 weeks as a solo female traveler. And here is what she writes in her blog Teacake Travels about her experience there:

I was scared to enter Bangladesh. Why? Due to a lack of knowledge and the fear of the unknown. Was I going to get groped? Would men disrespect me? Would I get shot (more on that in a minute)?! Needless to say, these horrendous visions were flashing through my over-active mind and creating a curious yet secretly worried explorer.

Having made it out the other end, I will now never let a judgement snake through my mind and slide out of my mouth unless I’ve been to the place in question. The love and care I received in Bangladesh blew me away and after a week of looking like a rabbit in headlights, I felt a deep love and respect for the people of Bangladesh, just like they had been feeling for me all along.

Bangladesh is politically in a very interesting and unfortunate situation right now. The parties there certainly don’t get on and last year between September to November 2015, one Japanese and two Italian men were shot dead. Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks but the government and locals assert that the motive was to put the current government under pressure to make Bangladesh look unsafe for foreigners. But I decided this wasn’t going to stop me going. I refuse to give into fear. Sounds crazy? Not really. People get shot in London everyday.

Experience of Mvbergen

Mvbergen (nick name) from Belgium writes about his recent visit in Bangladesh on a travel forum:

I was there last November for a full month as tourist, independent and moving around on my own.
Travel around Bangladesh is not unsafe if you use your common sense.
I’m from Belgium and it’s not “less dangerous” than Bangladesh.
Bradt guidebook can be helpful. No need to cancel your trip at all.

Experience of Gypsygirl2

Another solo female traveler gypsygirl2 (nick name) reports in the forum about her Bangladesh travel experience as follows:

I travelled to Bangladesh as a solo female in September. I felt completely safe even though 2 foreigners were shot while I was there. The traffic is a far bigger danger. It all depends on how you perceive risk.

Bangladesh is a beautiful country and the people are wonderful.

Experience of Hilary Heath-Caldwell

Hilary Heath-Caldwell from New Zealand visited Bangladesh in October, 2015 for two weeks. Here is how she found the security situation in Bangladesh during her visit:

We were in a country with 160 million Muslims. That’s quite a few and I have to say I felt safe the entire time.

Based on these experience from the western travelers, some one can easily imagine how groundless and exaggerated the hype in the Western media about Bangladesh is. There was never any blast like Paris in Bangladesh, there is no war, no proof of any terrorist attack despite the continuous claim by some western countries which is their strategy to put pressure on the current govt. On a country of 160 million people, one or two getting killed is not even anything countable, which always happen in any country any where in the world, but always get big exposures in the western media when it is in Bangladesh. It is you to judge as a traveler, to travel Bangladesh or not based on those hypes.

To wrap this up, I want to quote traveler Onrrbike (nick name) in the travel forum who said it all:

It’s extremely ironic to have a travel warning, because 2 foreigners were murdered. Thats terrible, but there are 40 people murdered at gunpoint every day in the states, and its business as usual.. That’s a whopping 12-14000 (depending which reports you read) per year and nobody thinks twice about travelling there. Its certainly more than 2.

Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How have you found the security situation in the country? Share your experience in comments. Consider sharing it in social media so that more travelers can know about the real security situation in this beautiful country and understand the hype in the western media.

Any question about visiting Bangladesh? Ask us here! Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Bangladesh: Off the Tourist Trails, and Off the Beaten Track

Our two week holiday in Bangladesh began with a flight from Guangzhou, China to Dhaka. I was pretty excited about returning to Bangladesh, after 46 years and had organized a tour guide through a company called Nijhoom Tours, which I found on TripAdvisor. I asked them what they could provide and together we made a two week package.

You see I’ve already lived in Dhaka; in the 70’s. I was a volunteer smallpox vaccinator for WHO, and lived with my family who were working on a New Zealand aid program teaching pilots how to fly. I am one of the last people to see smallpox on the planet.

Boat ride on green-water canal Lalakhal in Sylhet, the north-eastern part of Bangladesh.

I already knew that Dhaka was a chaotic place and to buy tickets for transport would be hours – valuable time, that I did not want to waste on my holiday. So all of the purchasing was done ahead of time by Hassan at Nijhoom Tours.

We traveled at the end of the monsoon. I like this time because the air is really clean, and the rivers are full and the paddy fields still hold lots of water. It is very picturesque. Actually Bangladesh is photo heaven.

Our lodging at Srimangal, the tea capital of Bangladesh.

On arrival we went and had lunch in Old Dhaka and then went on the little wooden boats on the river for a small paddle before boarding our 1929 paddle steamer to go on an overnight journey to Bagerhat.

We traveled First Class, Bangladesh style. We are both physically fit and used to camping. Bangladesh is a developing nation so nothing is what you expect, the beds are hard, things can look grubby and run down, and people stare at you. If you are a 5 Star tourist, this is not the place for you.

On the other hand if you love color, other cultures, and have some travel endurance, then this might be your next destination.

Bangladeshi ladies in colorful saries.

We traveled on little boats, big boats, trains, tri–shaws, hiking, cycling, and a jeep from one side of the country to the other. We ate everything, and everywhere and never got sick. We used signs and laughs and smiles to communicate with the local people, and we got plenty back. Bangladeshis made us feel like we were visiting royalty. They were so pleased that we had come to their country to visit them. And of course by being there we were helping the local little communities by spreading our dollars.

We were in a country with 160 million Muslims. That’s quite a few and I have to say I felt safe the entire time. Bangladeshis are people going about their lives eking out a living, and feeling very optimistic about their future.

Trekking inside Rajkandi Reserve Forest at Srimangal in Bangladesh.

Now remember I’d lived there in the 1970’s and things had changed. This is a quick-list of the changes..

Women are loving wearing brightly colored saris.
There is not a strong prevalence of skin disease among the children.
There were few beggars.
The pie dogs look healthy.
People are optimistic.
People work hard.
There is plenty of healthy food and everyone appeared well fed.
Our tour leader Arafat was conscious of litter in the National Parks and collected it up.
It was OK for cross dressers to collect funds on one section of the train route.

The traffic in Dhaka is worse, so get out into the country.
Book a tour leader AND GO EXPLORE.

If you’ve enjoyed the story, consider sharing it in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

Editorial Note: Have you ever visited Bangladesh? How amazing have you found it? Share your thoughts and experience with us in comments. Contact us to publish your Bangladesh travel story here. Check out our Bangladesh tour packages and holiday packages in Bangladesh to visit Bangladesh with comfort.

Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – III)

Sun, Dec 15, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Richard heads for Chittagong. Its officially off limits, so he is sorting himself out and he arrives on time – lucky him! We are off the Cox’s Bazar and our flight is delayed. So we arrive late in the dark and a tuk-tuk takes us down the coast about 25 mins. Well for Julie and I – ours is electric. Ian is latter 45 mins as his is diesel. Getting sorted late, hot water etc. is a bit of a nightmare, and we end up change rooms – a roomier shared bungalow. Dinner under the trees is OK though. They try and screen a movie on a table cloth looking out to sea!

Mon, Dec 16, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Better in the light. Ian thinks a rat was looking at him from the roof – no Ian it’s a mongoose! Dual rooms work well for the 3 of us. We get a western style breakfast with cornflakes all rather nice. Take the hotel boat across river to beach. 125 km long, the world longest natural beach, is lovely and there are no tourists just a few local fishermen with very small insignificant catches. So we take a nice walk out and back to the small boat.

Cottages we stayed at the Eco lodge in Cox's Bazar

OMG the tide is out to reach the boat its sandals off and a walk in slimy clay like sand which I hate. It’s my worst nightmare – one because I could well slip over, and 2 because well I just don’t like it! In the mud are mud skimmers, so then I worry I am treading on them! Not nice but I manage to get back to the boat – trousers a bit wet at the bottom and I was in my new shamwaar kameez! We do meet an English guy walking the length of Bangladesh for an NGO! We get a very expensive beer back at the lodge and its 12%. Take a rest and read some. Do a spot of bird watching, then dinner under the magic tree. It is really nice, a bit chilly, so they light us a brazier. This place is really delightful!

Tue, Dec 17, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

Breakfast in the sun cooked to order is superb. Walk to beach over bridge, some new kingfishers spotted en route. Small catches of fish again today. Few folk bother you. No small birds? Lodge is lovely we are only guests today. Boys with catapults – that answer’s the bird question then. It is a lovely place. Dinner under stars, in fact showers under stars!

Not too many creepy crawlies – Oh and the mongoose is in fact a squirrel. Oh and one smuggled whiskey miniature between 3.

Small catches of the fishermen in Cox's Bazar

Wed, Dec 18, 2013: Cox’s Bazar

God the beds are hard. Breakfast in the sun again. It’s a shame we have to leave today. Cox’s Bazar was an unexpected additional due to the last minute change in itinerary, and it’s really worked well. Would have been ideal at the end of this trip. I would love to return.

Pleasant ride along coast to airport. Himchari looks a nice place to stay. Small airport has huge military presence due to ongoing political problems. Things seem to be hotting up. Richard is due back into Dhaka also tonight. Quite late. Eco lodge is perhaps the best accommodation we will get on this trip – downhill to 2014 then!

Our flight is delayed again. The 3 of us eat out as same place as before, and we wait up for Richard who get in after 11pm. Seems to have done OK, though his hotel was not very good – mice in the dining room. If he says it’s not good, well goodness it must be awful.

The reception of the Eco lodge at Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh

If you’ve missed the previous parts of my diary, you can start reading it from here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – I). Also can read the next part here: Diary of my first 03 weeks trip to Bangladesh (Part – IV). Consider sharing the story in social media so that more travelers can know about this amazing country which is little known to everyone. Enjoy!

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