I never imagine in my life that I would travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh. But I did travel there, December 2015. I was part of the training team given the responsibility to build my organization’s partner capacity. When I was assigned for this task, I had a mixed feeling. I did not really have a clear idea of what Bangladesh looks like at that time and I convinced myself that it’s not part of top destinations for taking some leisure either (need to remind myself that the work should be the top priority, but I couldn’t help myself thinking about the destination). However, I was excited anyway because I never visited the country before. First experience will always be something to anticipate!
So, skip to the travel day. My first impression when I set my foot in Dhaka was this feeling of traveling back to the past. I don’t know whether this is valid or not, but there’s this nuance of Indonesia back in 90s for me. I’m aware that Bangladesh is part of LDCs (Least Developed Countries), but I’ve read some article that they’re working hard to crossing over from that category to be eligible with the criteria of developing country.
I had around four days during my work trip in Dhaka. Most of the time, we stayed in the office building for workshop activities from morning to evening. To be honest, I didn’t prepare myself to explore the city since the beginning. I knew the schedule would be quite packed and it’s not a solo traveling kind of thing so I did not want to mess my team’s schedule.
Surprisingly, our host-country organization actually told us when we arrived there that December 16 is a national holiday in Bangladesh. It’s celebration of Bijoy Dibosh, Victory Day of Bangladesh. Hence, our host offered us whether or not we want to visit the downtown for sightseeing. OF COURSE, LET’S GO!
I wasn’t so sure about the area, but my remaining memory told me that we visited this public space nearby the Bangladesh National Parliament House (locally known as Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban). A lot of people were hanging around in this area, wearing clothes in red and green that represents Bangladesh national flag. Not spending so much time there, we continued visiting Aarong to buy some local souvenirs (just like normal tourist). Aarong itself is a social enterprise from BRAC, a well-known NGO based in Dhaka that empower local people in the country. Kudos for BRAC!
So, where are the street scenes?
Well. During our way to the downtown, the traffic was really bad. My colleagues and I assumed it was because of the holiday, but the driver said it’s just like everyday. It’s “normal” traffic. Oh well. Coming from Jakarta, I shouldn’t complain regarding the situation.
Traffic jam is not a good news, but on the other side of coin, I could use the extra time to take some pictures from the car!
One of the most eye-catching scene is the three-wheeled rickshaws. It’s very popular in Dhaka and became the country’s trademark. Millions of people use these rickshaws to commute. Even Dhaka has a nickname as the rickshaw capital of the world. So, taking a picture of rickshaw in Dhaka is a must!
Other than that, taking random snapshots of Dhaka from a (slowly) moving car is very fun. The street scenes are unique, colorful, sometimes chaotic, but it just gives beautiful dynamics. Again, the look of the environment, especially the buildings, will give you this vintage and old-fashioned atmosphere which can take you travel back the time. At least that was what Dhaka did to me.
Looking at the pictures that I took with all the limitations, I wish I had more time to explore the streets of Dhaka in a more proper way at that time (not sure about the safety level though). Nevertheless, it was still fun and became a memorable experience for me!