Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

This is Bangladesh?! (Sunday June 15, 2008)

Flew from Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar – while riding in the cockpit! When we boarded  the plane, the pilot recognized Mikey from a party, so he was able to ride in the cockpit for takeoff (and landing). I got to sit up there awhile as well, just before landing, and the view coming in Cox’s Bazar is absolutely breathtaking – THE best view I’ve ever seen from a plane. Broad horizon of green, water filled farmland interspersed with waterways, and hugged by the ocean.

Walked along the beach. Pleasant enough, but I wouldn’t exactly hop on a plane abroad for it. But for Bangladeshis, it is THE place to go for a vacation.

Had dinner at a superb place, called the Mermaid Café, serving fusion Bengali cuisine made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Seriously five star quality! Juicy chicken with a side of creamy fettucine alfredo… Tender beef slices wrapped around roasted red peppers… Apparently the owners hired a consultant, an international sous-chef from overseas, and for less than $10 Cdn, you can have better food than we had at our five star resort in Mexico! Better than most meals I have in any Edmonton restaurant! Best of all, the meal was complimentary, due to Mikey’s guidebook author status. Here I was, bracing myself for stomach troubles, repetitive curry dishes, and generally keeping my expectations low, where now, I’ve just been blown away. Mikey did say this day (and place) was a more of an anomaly than commonplace. And I was thinking, this is all in a day’s work for a starving guidebook writer?

***

This is Bangladesh… (Monday June 16, 2008)

Rained all night and for most of the day so far. Mikey was working today, so I just went exploring – with plans to visit the Buddhist temple in town, as well as pick up some groceries. Now I don’t mind the rain, generally, but for the most part, I was pretty miserable today. When you’re “forced” to wear long pants, and a long shawl draped over your upper half – that for me, keeps falling off – trying to keep all that fabric clean is a constant, tiring battle! The city centre, which I had to walk by, is pretty filthy, with sewage canals running on the sides of each road, and half the time there aren’t any sidewalks. Sometimes I’d walk on the road, but when traffic honked from behind I was forced into walking on sandy, muddy areas, getting sand into my sandals. I just prayed that every time I walked on squishy, grey ground, that it didn’t contain any sewage.

I think if I were free to wear what I wanted and didn’t have to constantly worry about keeping my clothes dry and clean, I wouldn’t have been in such a bad mood today. Well, I mean, I’m always free to wear what I want, but I prefer to err on the side of conservatism so as not to offend anyone. So far I feel that I’m being treated with respect, despite lots of curious attention, and I believe it is because I’m dressing conservatively.  There are a few “look on the bright side” things to make of the day so far. I didn’t see a single foreigner the whole day I was out today – that’s kind of cool? I had a little boy about 10 years old, walk along side me for a few blocks, occasionally yelling out, “hello!” and seeming pleased whenever I’d return the greeting.

The power’s been out for awhile now, so it’s getting a tad warm in here…

I’ve been pondering a question recently: what do I get out of travel? I’ve been asked it once, and I don’t have a good explanation ready for people who don’t have the travel bug. One thing I will say about travelling, is you get much more appreciation for the little things you take for granted in Canada. A constant supply of electricity. Clean water. Having many clean clothes to choose from in your closet. Not worrying about whether what you eat next will make you sick. Appreciation for all the choices and opportunities I have available to me, that in most cases, the local people will never have – like the choice to travel, to read and learn about anything you wish, how to make a living, what to do with time (or just having time period).

I really admire all the people I meet abroad. They seem so passionate about their jobs, and 100% of them really enjoy what they’re doing (obviously, or they would have left already). Compared to… I don’t know, 10% of people I know back home who enjoy their jobs? Nolan’s mom said that Wuhan, China is like a second home to her, and that the life there really suits her. As in, having a simple life; she said her house in Edmonton just seems too big now. It really bothers that we’re so wasteful in Canada – not only wasting water and electricity freely, but living in huge houses, on huge plots of land, driving huge vehicles… The idea of living abroad in Asia after Australia is appealing to me, though right now it’s just an idea rattling around in my brain.

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