Return to Dhaka

Trip Start Jan 08, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Back in Dhaka - Day 1

Back in Dhaka we slid down the budget scale of accommodation and found a different place to sleep than before. Still not far from the National Stadium and a whole new world for us.

Back in Dhaka - Day 2

We needed to plan our escape from Dhaka. It seemed relatively expensive to fly out of Bangers so we'd thought that if we could get back to Kolkata we could get a cheap flight over to Bangkok. That was the plan anyway. So up early and over to the Indian Embassy we went. On arrival we discovered that foreigners could only lodge forms between 11 and 12 o'clock. It was 9am. Off we went in search of a breakfast hole. Returning a little early to see if we could squeeze in and get it over and done with, we were denied entry because David had a bag. The guard said we should put it in our car. Mmmm, yeah. Because we're foreigners, we have a car. He seemed surprised that we didn't have a car and then suggested we leave it outside. Yeah, right. Outside. Lets just take a little time to think about this. Someone must have pointed the stupid stick at him today. Just like India, this was a little frustrating. Well, we were at the Indian Embassy! Then we noticed a lady with a handbag which David promptly pointed out. 'She is lady. Can have bag.' With that David handed me the bag right in front of the security guard and we were shown in immediately. Amazing!

We filled out our forms and were told to wait. So we sat and waited. Then we were told to move to some other chairs. So we waited. Then we were told to move just outside the office to another lot of chairs. So we waited. Then finally we were granted an interview with some guy. There was no way he was going to grant us a transit visa without a valid exit ticket from India. We even promised we'd leave but he wasn't budging. BUGGER!!!! We pleaded and said we were supposed to meet friends and fly out with them, but that didn't work. Neither did anything else we tried short of tying him up and holding him ransom, we gave up and walked out. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd have to pay big bucks to fly out. What a waste of a morning!

We grabbed a cab to get back to get over to the Biman Air office over our side of town. I noticed the cabby wasn't watching where he was going, then my mind registered that there was stationary traffic ahead and that this guy wasn't using his brakes. Then slow motion set in. Our car moved forward, the cabby continued to look out the side window, oblivious to the stationary cars ahead. We moved closer and closer.....................and closer............and SMACK!! Right up the ass of the car in front, which then jumped forward into the car in front of him! Fantastic! Three car pile up in the middle of Dhaka! No one was hurt but the cabby just sat there and didn't get out or say anything. The guys in the other car got out and started yelling at him but he just sat there and stared straight ahead as if waiting for the onslaught he knew would be coming his way. Then they laid into him!!! They were punching him in the face and he just sat there taking it! Not defending himself at all!! David and I decided to get out quick-smart!! We handed the guy some money and scarpered while the others kept at him! What an idiot!

We got over to the Biman Airlines office and forked out loads for the tickets that would be taking us to Bangkok in a few days then went to find food. We actually ran into a real, live tourist that wasn't an NGO, volunteer worker, or cricket supporter! He was a Swiss guy who'd come over to experience some Bangers culture!

A little later we ran into two poms that we'd met in Chitters, Wigan Rob and Enfield Chris. They were here for the cricket too and said they'd got a sure-fire way of scoring some freebies to the one dayers. We decided to tag along and see them in action. I negotiated an unbelievable quote for the taxi over and in natural taxi style, he upped the price as we rolled into the driveway of the poshest hotel in Dhaka. We handed him the original agreed bargain price and walked off. He was f-ing and blinding and trying to catch us but the security at the hotel kept us safe and told him to bugger off!

Dressed to kill in t-shirts, shorts (for the boys) and thongs, we sauntered in and were eyed suspiciously by the desk staff (can't think why). Although we were welcomed by the guys standing around outside the 1st floor bar. They even asked us which rooms we were staying in!!

We sent in our finest - Wigan Rob - to hit up Steve Bernard (Aussie team manager) for the comps tickets and sure as ladyboys have dicks he scored for all of us for both ODI's!!! Marvellous!!! Brilliant for budget travellers! If we'd have bought them they're much more expensive than the test game tickets - 800 taka instead of just 300. To celebrate we went to the Australian Club at the Aussie High Commission for a few coldies.

Back in Dhaka - Day 3

The tour group had shrunk somewhat, so our Aussie contingent was quite a lot smaller than during the test but the all guards remembered us and my little friend, Tajul, said he'd told his mother about me!

Rather than me butcher the game with a terrible attempt at cricket language, here is David's commentary of the day's play.

"Gilchrist and Katich took off well, before Gilchrist went. Ponting came and went pretty fast, and Katich followed soon after. Clarke and Symonds came into consolidate, on a low slow pitch. They both reached 50, before Clarke was caught. Hussey came in with 5 overs to go, and during the last over, Symonds reached his 100. Hussey was out last ball, and we had made 250. 251 would be a hard target on this pitch.

Nafees went second ball, Salah went first. Then another wicket fell, and Bangers were 3-8. Basher and his partner, stayed together and brought up a 100 partnership. Basher went for 70. The crowd went crazy as Raffique walked in as he can hit sixes, but he only lasted one ball, the crowd started to leave, and Bangers were all out for 183 in the 47th over. Australia won by 67 runs with Andrew Symonds being named Man of the Match."

I did get bored though and had a snooze whilst Symonds was slugging it out scoring his ton.

Enfield Chris had won the sweep to guess what the Bangers total would be, much to the Aussie's disgust, so we decided it was his shout at the Aussie Club that night. It's only fair!!

Back in Dhaka - Day 4

We had one day to fit in some sightseeing. Something we hadn't really had time for up till now so we grabbed a rickshaw and headed over to Old Dhaka. I hadn't read the guidebook properly though and on arrival at the Pink (questionable) Palace, we discovered it closed for the day. I tried my sad face on and the guard let us in to take a couple of photos of the front. Would have been lovely if it wasn't for the rotting stench wafting from the riverfront markets! It sounds like a great place though. Dating back to about 1872 it was built by the city's wealthiest landowner but it was damaged by a tornado in 1888. It was repaired though and the story is that Lord Curzon used to stay here when he visited. After the death of the nawab (wealthy landowner) it fell into disrepair but restoration has been going on since the 1980's to bring it back to it's former glory. The interior is supposed to be very grand but we'll never know!

We followed our noses towards to stench of the Buriganga River. There was a lot happening down there. Little ferries, boats transporting fruit and other goods, markets selling watermelon, beggars, street barbers, food stalls, people everywhere. A filthy, dirty, fat, sweaty old guy stopped all of a sudden in front of me and tried to grab a handful but I saw it coming so I shouldered him big-time!! We stopped to take photos of the river and had two young boys ask for baksheesh. I don't know what it is with David and little boys, but once again he had them dancing and singing following him down the road!! We turned off and lost them and headed towards Lalbagh Fort, left over from the Mughal era. It was started by the third son of Aurangzeb (whom we all remember from Aurangabad in India) in the 1670's. It was taken over by Shaista Khan but when his daughter died it was considered a bad omen so the place was never finished. Inside there isn't too much left. Quilla mosque that you can't get into, the mausoleum of Pari Bibi (the daughter) and the Diwan (Hall of Audience) which is now the museum. It was more like being in lovers lane though as dozens and dozens of couples were dotted around sitting under trees and in the niches of the mosque holding hands and whispering intimately. Amazing to see for not only a Muslim country but also sub-continent. This was the first time we'd experienced public shows of affection for a very, very long time, but also another example of the laid back attitude of the Bangladeshis. It was quite a nice quiet place to wander round with simple, clean gardens and an air of serenity. We were shown through the museum which had a collection of old coins, armour, a few weapons and maps and some old Muslim writings. There was also a class of art students practising drawing and water colours. Back outside the walls the streets outside were crowded with people doing their thing, moving stuff around on carts or their backs or on bikes. There are so many people in this city!!

We made our way over to the Liberation War Museum which was supposed to interesting. It was but they had some horrific pictures and accounts of the devastation caused during the various clashes they've had in the last century. Another country that has seen some terrible atrocities. There were pictures of dead women that had been tied up, raped and left to rot with their blouses ripped open. Just horrible. What was even more disturbing though was the comments book near the exit. Some sick wanker had written that this exhibition made him want to rape Pakistani women. I was disgusted and appalled. I'm assuming it was a local because the Bangladeshis hate the Pakistanis with a passion. They're brought up to hate them. There are some real sicko's out there.

Back in Dhaka - Day 5

Friday is a day off in the Muslim world so I thought it would be a little more crowded than the other ODI's - and I was right! The line for the bus was huge and consequently we had to wait ages for another one and missed the toss. The crowd was fantastic. It was packed solid! Even our little caged area had loads of people in it. Our white people count was quite high too as the NGO's and other volunteer workers had managed to score themselves freebies as well. They ran out of chairs for the local supporters and started to empty out any spare ones from our area! The Bangers team collapsed. We had them all out pretty quickly for 124 and brought the game home by using some of the youngies they'd brought over. It was good to see some fresh blood in the team.

That night we'd heard there was a free bar and bbq at the Aussie Club for the players and the end of the series. We're not members and it was supposed to be a member's only do, but David had been sucking up the Australian High Commissioner the last few nights and we thought we'd be pretty right to squeeze in if we did a bit of a name drop at the gate. Damn fine thing - name dropping. It worked a treat. Douggie came to the door himself and signed us in saying he couldn't have four Aussies out on the street!!! We decided not to mention that three of us were actually poms and all four of us were travelling on British passports!! Waayyyyy Heeeyyyyy!!!!

To be fair, we did try to pay for our drinks but they said everything was 'on-the-house'! What a way to spend our last night in Bangers!

Some of the players turned up, not all as some had flights home that night. But we met the two young Adelaide boys, Dan Cullen and Mark Cosgrove (the keg). Dan was really sweet and chatted to us for ages about our travelling. Mark Cosgrove wasn't too interested and became even less so when he found out I was from Hallet Cove and he was from Elizabeth!! When I was growing up Elizabeth was not the place to be seen. Obviously things have changed since I've been there! Late into the evening Brett Lee and someone else from the crowd got out the guitars and started to sing. I've since learnt that Brett is in a band. It was much better than the crap music they were playing over the speakers! We left them all still hitting it hard and made our way home. David and I had a very early start in the morning! Rickshaw wallahs surrounded us as we exited the Club so David and Enfield Chris decided to have a race to the main road. I was shouting 'Speed bump, speed bump!' but of course they weren't listening and David nearly went flying as he hit it at full speed, then as he was trying to overtake Chris he nearly ran into a tree and then very nearly took Chris out trying to straighten up from the tree scrape, but he did win!!

Bangladesh was over. We were off at a ridiculous hour tomorrow morning over to easy-to-travel Bangkok.

Bangladesh has been an interesting place to see. I'm disappointed that we didn't see much of the country but it was great fun seeing cricket in a sub-continent country. The people are disparately poor but intrigued and friendly, if not a bit gob smacked that there are white people (especially those with freckles). It was a surprise to see such a laid back Muslim culture and that so many people spoke English. It's a mad place. So many people, sometimes it was too much for me and I was glad to be able to retreat to the emptiness of my hotel room. The food wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, in fact we had some great beef kebabs and naan.

It will all be behind us so quickly but it will be another country I can say I have truly enjoyed.


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