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  #1  
Old April 4, 2009, 09:50 PM
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Electrequiem Electrequiem is offline
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Default Traveling to Bangladesh after many years: Words of Advice?

So, our family is planning to visit Bangladesh this summer ... the first time since our emigration to the US in 2000. I am excited beyond words, and also a tad bit nervous.

Obviously, Bangladesh is a different place than when we left it. From what I've heard/seen/inferred, the culture seems to have changed a lot.

Since many of us are expatriates here, any words of advice with how to deal with the new Bangladesh? How things have changed? What I should/should not do? Or ANYTHING at all.

Sorry if this seems a bit silly. I am just a bit apprehensive as it has been such a long time.
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  #2  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:00 PM
billah billah is offline
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In the past 9 years, the biggest positive change in Dhaka has to be the air quality. It has improved quite a bit since 2000. Lots of electric, natural gas vehicles. As for public transportation - You can purchase a ticket at a bus stop in advance, get a seating travel arrangement in the city for close to nothing. Cell phone service covers every inch of the country, so does mobile based browsing.

Some of the bad remain the same:

Don't drink the water
Load shading
Traffic jam - much much worse now

Best of luck. It's your home. Enjoy.
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  #3  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:02 PM
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Beware of the hot girls!!
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  #4  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:06 PM
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oh try these out:

Nando's
Bamboo Shoot
KFC
Pizza Hut
Casablanca
Captain's World
California Fried Chicken
BFC
Xindian
Xinxian
Xian
Xenial
Xinxira
Dhoni
Kosturi
Shaad
Mooven-Pick
Baskin-Robbins
Coffee World
tell me when to stop....
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  #5  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:11 PM
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Electrequiem Electrequiem is offline
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Gopal,

No ... Hot girls should be aware of me.

And names duly noted. Food is a big part of this trip lol.

Billah bhai,

Thanks for the advice. How is the quality of public transport? Can I use public buses? How's the service/security?

Traffic/Load-shedding is what I am DEFINITELY not looking forward to. It's going to be scorching in Dhaka!
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Old April 4, 2009, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrequiem
Gopal,

No ... Hot girls should be aware of me.

And names duly noted. Food is a big part of this trip lol.

Billah bhai,

Thanks for the advice. How is the quality of public transport? Can I use public buses? How's the service/security?

Traffic/Load-shedding is what I am DEFINITELY not looking forward to. It's going to be scorching in Dhaka!
nah bruh....i meant BEWARE not AWARE...the will tear and eat our head alive like praing mantis

DO NOT use public transportation/bus...if need be use rent-a-car or cabex. cuz if they figure out you are ABCD or UVWX....they will jipp your head out like ladybugs

Also, it will load shed like hell giving you headaches like cicadas...no matter where you live.

p.s. beware of traffic when crossing streets
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  #7  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:30 PM
Icysteel Icysteel is offline
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Beware to get out of the Zia airport(worst place in Dhaka) as soon as you land foot.
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  #8  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:31 PM
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I just came to BD for the first time since 1999.

Be prepared for:
- 10x the number of people that existed back then
- crazy traffic-laws-whatever driving (at first I was continuously tense while in a car, but now gotten used to it)
- traffic jams at any time of a week day on any road (I'd say on a week day you don't want to travel any time between 7am-3pm and 4pm-11pm)
- shopping malls all over the place (especially in Dhanmondi)
- high prices for almost everything (in general, most things cost less than in the US, but not as much a gap as before... a $25 shirt in the US would cost $15-20 here now)
- the first few days, I kept complaining about "smoke" in the air... there's no smoke obviously... it's just that it takes time to get accustomed to the polluted air
- the heat... you may be used to the heat in Miami, but the heat here is a different beast... always carry some mineral water with you (the popular brand is "Mum")
- most cars and public transport in Dhaka appear to be using natural gas (CNG system)... and since they haven't yet built enough filling stations, there are usually long long lines outside the ones that are there... we usually just send the driver of our car to fill up on his own... he comes back after 2 hours or so
- the Internet services here SUCK. At home in Dhanmondi, we have shared lines for BDT 1000. I get about 18kB/s down speed on average (about 1/50th of what you can get on average in US)... the up speed, however, is pretty high... 67kB/s... more than the average US cable up speed... it makes sense because most people on this shared line aren't uploading... so at least you won't have trouble uploading your photos/videos to facebook...
- the load-shedding is crazy... even as I'm typing, the power is out (using Zoom wireless Internet from CityCell... cause my "cable" line goes out with the power) and it's just 9am... I don't remember it being this bad in March-April 10 years ago... I can't imagine how bad it's gonna get in a couple of months when summer is really on
- the BD railway services have massively improved... I travelled in a/c sleeper class to CTG and back in a/c chair class... can't complain... even better than some amtrak lines I've been on in the US
- i haven't been on public transport in the city yet (other than rickshaw... which, BTW, cost about 3-4x as much as 10 years ago), but I'm told the yellow taxis are safe whereas the small black non-a/c ones are extremely dangerous... if you took a look at them you'd probably agree
- there are lots of decent restaurants around gulshan/banani area where you can find pretty much any cuisine... but be warned... thai/chinese food here will be EXTREMELY hot compared to the US... I went to "Thai House" for lunch yesterday and just after taking one bite I thought "hmm, this would kill Americans"

Can't think of much else right now... BTW, don't forget to bring power adapters from the US (see other thread on that topic)... you don't want to buy the s*** they have here...
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Last edited by goru; April 4, 2009 at 10:39 PM..
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  #9  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billah
Cell phone service covers every inch of the country, so does mobile based browsing.
I can confirm that GrameenPhone works even on the remote "uninhabited" parts of St Martin's Island ("Chera Deep")... and Banglalink doesn't (dunno about others).
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  #10  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:41 PM
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Get something to entertain you during the power outages.

Prep for the heat (especially now).

The car taxis are scary.... I was afraid it would fall apart. Rickshaws look safer...
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  #11  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:42 PM
Icysteel Icysteel is offline
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Sorry to hear about the load shedding during summer. 2 years back when i was there during CTG rule there was no load shedding. I think the good time has passed us
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  #12  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:43 PM
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I visited after 8+ years last august and again this February. Everybody is right. You may want to get an IPS or if you are going to live in an apartment building it might already be equipped with generators. This time visitng Cox's Bazar was the real fun - all my old school memories were shear down into pieces with heavy construction works going on everywhere. I spent the night in one of my uncle's newly bought apartment which cost from 4000 sq ft upto 8000+, depending on how close it is to the beach!

The internet will be pleasantly slow and the joy of browsing may find a new counterpart thread after your experience .

I bought some shirts which only because I was in my country but know what, the prices if you compare you get the better quality here. Find someone from top to bottom level anyone related or close for ZIA. Otherwise you are already warned.

Happy trip and be safe.
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  #13  
Old April 4, 2009, 10:56 PM
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Oh yes, I forgot to mention IPS... I think it's basically a car battery (I may be wrong on this) powering your lights, fans, and possibly everything else in the house. Our apt has an old model... 600VA... powers some lights and fans for about 3 hours... but our neighbor has one that powers the entire apt for 6 hours or something.

From what I gather, while IPS makes load-shedding more tolerable, it's actually not a good thing for BD that all these people are getting IPS-es. Charging them is an extra drain on the power supply.
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Old April 4, 2009, 11:00 PM
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As you are going for summer combine with getting IPS, a portable Air Cooler which might become very handy. Also check all your electrical equipment for global voltage tolerance. My dell laptop although having a proper power charger, lost its battery less than a year.
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  #15  
Old April 4, 2009, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goru
Oh yes, I forgot to mention IPS... I think it's basically a car battery (I may be wrong on this) powering your lights, fans, and possibly everything else in the house. Our apt has an old model... 600VA... powers some lights and fans for about 3 hours... but our neighbor has one that powers the entire apt for 6 hours or something.

From what I gather, while IPS makes load-shedding more tolerable, it's actually not a good thing for BD that all these people are getting IPS-es. Charging them is an extra drain on the power supply.
ITs pretty much a large rechargable battery.

Yea, more IPS's probably makes the problem worse, but removing them won't really make much of a difference. We need more power regardless.
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  #16  
Old April 4, 2009, 11:03 PM
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*hovers finger over alert button as this thread is slowly going off topic towards IPS/rechargeable battery by techno-geeks*
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Old April 4, 2009, 11:18 PM
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Speaking of the small black non-a/c taxis... my mom, sis, and aunt got in one a few months ago (because there was nothing else available to go from Uttara to Dhanmondi), despite my mom's protests (she's quite scared of them)... and on the very first turn it made, one of the wheels of the car went rolling off in another direction... :X
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  #18  
Old April 4, 2009, 11:23 PM
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You. Guys. Are. Awesome.

Thanks a lot, folks.
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  #19  
Old April 4, 2009, 11:26 PM
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Keep these suggestions coming. I'm visiting Bangladesh in two weeks Inshallah...after 6 long years. With me will be my wife...who hasn't seen Bangladesh yet.

I see a lot of challenges coming ahead. But I can't just tell you how excited both me and my wife are.
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Old April 4, 2009, 11:48 PM
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I actually spent less than 10 minutes from getting off the plane to getting into our car outside ZIA. One of the customs officers happens to be my mom's friend... he had this "handler" assigned to me who just grabbed me as I got off the plane and took me straight to an open immigration booth and then to baggage claim (good thing our's was the only plane to arrive at the time... I got my luggage almost immediately) and straight out through the green channel (where the customs guy was just chatting with my mom and aunts).

BTW, I came on Emirates and they forgot to give us the "disembarkation card" (or is it a BD immigration card?)... they only gave us the customs declaration one (which I didn't have to use anyway). So I saw a bunch of people rushing to get in line to get one of those cards while my "handler" just gave me one to fill out.

Also, I am told that if you are travelling from the US or Canada (and pretty much any place other than the middle-east), they don't really bother you much at ZIA. Plus, it really helps if there are no other planes arriving at the same time as your's.

But, I must say... ZIA is so totally different from what it was like back in '99 when I last came. Nothing seemed familiar. If I didn't have a "handler" I'd have probably have had to rely on the signs (and there seemed to be plenty)... but I don't think it would have been too much of an ordeal. *shrug*
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Old April 4, 2009, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goru
I actually spent less than 10 minutes from getting off the plane to getting into our car outside ZIA. One of the customs officers happens to be my mom's friend... he had this "handler" assigned to me who just grabbed me as I got off the plane and took me straight to an open immigration booth and then to baggage claim (good thing our's was the only plane to arrive at the time... I got my luggage almost immediately) and straight out through the green channel (where the customs guy was just chatting with my mom and aunts).

BTW, I came on Emirates and they forgot to give us the "disembarkation card" ... they only gave us the customs declaration one (which I didn't have to use anyway). So I saw a bunch of people rushing to get in line to get one of those cards while my "handler" just gave me one to fill out.

Also, I am told that if you are travelling from the US or Canada (and pretty much any place other than the middle-east), they don't really bother you much at ZIA. Plus, it really helps if there are no other planes arriving at the same time as your's.

But, I must say... ZIA is so totally different from what it was like back in '99 when I last came. Nothing seemed familiar. If I didn't have a "handler" I'd have probably have had to rely on the signs (and there seemed to be plenty)... but I don't think it would have been too much of an ordeal. *shrug*
Zia is a bit different I must admit. Also in customs for some reason half the ppl in the foreign passport line is bangladeshi passport, so sometimes the airport officials will move you to front of line if u have foreign passport (happened to me before).
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  #22  
Old April 5, 2009, 12:09 AM
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thank you for starting this thread..i've got alot to catch up to as well..its been 7 long years inshallah sometime soon i'll be going as well..
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Old April 5, 2009, 12:12 AM
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Electrequiem, i would recommend planning a trip outside Dhaka with your close relatives. You could try to visit:
1. St Matrin island (the weather might not be favorable in April-May)
2. Sylhelt
3. Sundarban (or take the rocket steamer) - i have not done this yet, but heard lots of good stuff.
4. Cox's bazaar

If you cannot make it to these exotic places, then at least try to visit some rural area and get a glimpse of village life in Bangladesh.
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  #24  
Old April 5, 2009, 12:29 AM
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dearest electricity bhai, kabir bhai and bangladesh_sy bhai,
if you get a chance to go to the 'Highcourt Mazaar' please feed the nude/naked/langta fakirs babas - according to the ministery of cultural and social affairs the number of langta pagla babas has gone quadruple double in the last dacade! if you can't feed them, please give them some dollars, loose u.s. change! half of them are my relatives! and please give them my salaam and regards!

p.s. and also please take pictures in and around the city of dhaka.....specially if you see hand written signs on the wall "ekhane mootiben naa, ekhana prosraab korile jorimana" etc. please bring me a photo!

p.s. and also eat a lot biriyani while there! oh also jolkhabar's dohi
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Last edited by bujhee kom; April 5, 2009 at 12:35 AM..
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  #25  
Old April 5, 2009, 12:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cricket_pagol
Electrequiem, i would recommend planning a trip outside Dhaka with your close relatives. You could try to visit:
1. St Matrin island (the weather might not be favorable in April-May)
2. Sylhelt
3. Sundarban (or take the rocket steamer) - i have not done this yet, but heard lots of good stuff.
4. Cox's bazaar

If you cannot make it to these exotic places, then at least try to visit some rural area and get a glimpse of village life in Bangladesh.
Doubt you'll get to St. Martin. I went in May last year, and I was told flat out no. Seas are too dangerous.

Check out Sylhets tea gardens or Cox Bazar. However, if u go to Cox's Bazar, I highly suggest do not go to main beach. Instead go farther away to the smaller beachers. I went to Himchuri (or something similar) and Enani Beach, and I must say, the hour I spent at Enani beach was probably the best I spent during my trip to Bangladesh. It was SO beautiful (sand was shining).

Heres a pic of enani i took.


Last edited by Akib; April 5, 2009 at 12:46 AM..
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