By Lim Wei Chean
Staff Reporter The Straits Times (Singapore) Thu, Apr 09, 2009
The truck coming from the opposite direction was turning left just as our rickshaw wallah swung right. Both were headed for the same one-lane street and neither was prepared to stop.
I thought we were going to die. There was no way our flimsy rickshaw could survive a head-on collision with the big vehicle.
Screeeeech! The rickshaw wallah braked. The lorry trundled on. And we all survived.
Such heart-stopping moments took place daily in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Eventually, we got used to it……….
For the intrepid traveller, the destination has so much to offer for very little moolah. For $2,500, inclusive of flights, my fiance and I had an 18-day trip last December. …
No visit to Bangladesh is complete without experiencing Dhaka. To describe the traffic there, resulting from a population of more than 12 million, as hectic is to put it mildly.
…..As tourists, we stuck out like sore thumbs and were stopped every few steps by curious and friendly locals itching to ask: “What country you from?”
They found us such an interesting display that we were surrounded wherever we went, be it walking in the streets or visiting the attractions.
Most of the main sights in the capital are loosely clustered in Old Dhaka. …..
Another attraction is the Ahsan Manzil Museum, formerly a palace of the Nawab (ruler) of Dhaka. It is painted a delightful shade of pink and has gargoyles hanging off its roof.
It was at these places that we caught a glimpse of how the locals led their lives. The attractions that we visited were mainly filled with local families there for a picnic or young couples tucked in nooks and crannies holding hands and whispering sweet nothings to each other. It was eye-opening to see the young lovers acting this way in a conservative society where arranged marriages were still the norm.
Tourists were rare creatures. We encountered no more than 10 during our entire trip. As foreigners, we paid 100 taka for entry into museums and historical sites while locals pay only 20 taka……..
To do and not to do…..
Do use ear plugs to shut out the cacophony of traffic noises, especially in Old Dhaka.
Don’t get offended if locals stare at you as if you were an alien from Mars. Foreigners or tourists are not often seen here.
With a big d’oh-noh-baad (thank you in Bangladeshi), we bade adieu to this lovely country with chaotic traffic but wonderfully hospitable people.