2017: Take a look, travel Bangladesh. State Foreign Minister H.E. Mohammed Shariar Alam helped out a lot, giving time to fill in the blanks. We went to film industry, but ended up in the Sundarban. It’s a long story… Watch.
Comment: ‘You went where for a holiday’? Even the immigration officers back home don’t believe you when you tell them you’ve just come back from a vacation in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is a lovely surprise in so many ways. A few years back, it would not have made much difference if you visited this heavily populated, water soaked land 30 years or so apart, you knew what to expect and you expected nothing different. You even wondered if it was safe to go there. Well it always has been. Bangladesh has an awful lot going for itself and much more to come. It is a tourist’s dream but still the hurdles are enormous but quite frankly in a nutshell, those in the know and power are fully aware, but the general interest is much like the nation’s mindset that being just slightly above passive perceptive, if there is such a phrase.
As State Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Md. Shahriar Alam states; ‘We have electricity to almost all the country now’. Well, that says a lot really, because such a statement in the West would be; ‘What the hell do you mean’? Being that power in your socket anywhere is just taken for granted. Those same developed nations don’t suffer constant devastating typhoons and massive flooding year in year out. The telephone is on everywhere, often with even better coverage than say the little Island of Bahrain. If you happen to be in the South up to your guts in mud in the deep mangrove forests of the Sunderbands and you happen to snap a tiger on your cell phone, changes are that you can Whatsapp it immediately.
Almost half a century on from a genocidal bloody upheaval for independence, which left the country with literally nothing but still a lot – a lot – a lot of people, the scars have not healed, but the economy is in remission and recovering well. Not only a lot of people, but lot going on which is not always so obvious, but the momentum is building. Still the country is steeped in its ultra proud past, which is testimony to the will of the people. Yes, ‘The People’ lots of them, or did we already mention that? Honestly, to fathom what is going on in the mass of Bangladeshi heads is a hard one for now, but someone is doing something right.
Starting in the second decade of the 21st century, Bangladesh is on the move. Those preconceived notions you’ve ever had are still very evident, but beneath the surface, Bangladesh is evolving and progress eruptions are beginning to sprout at a very rapid rate. The country is making money and paying its own way and not only with the T shirt you are wearing, but the medicine you take and so much more.
Surrounded by Bangladeshi workers in the Gulf, we can say that we have never met a bad one. A strange one yes, but a bad one no! Yet, their reputation for being feisty precedes. However, go up the scale a bit and you can engage in some fabulous friendships and a good deal of intellectual repartee without someone wanting you beheaded as an infidel if you disagree. Not for now anyway, the so-called ‘secular; Awami League still have the reigns.
With rather a lot of negative media about Bangladesh, you worry about your safety if you go there. Don’t! They are a somewhat passive lot in many ways, certainly where you are concerned as a visitor. Bangladeshi are not a very subservient bunch either, unlike the stereotypical image of their big neighbour. Sure they largely work as low salary labourers in other countries and very hard too, often treated like 3rd class citizens around the Gulf region. When all is said and done, don’t push them or your luck, for they don’t always go quietly. As for those with obvious features that don’t immediately blend in, then you will most likely be ignored. Unlike some countries where hoards of kids and beggars harass tourists with hands out stretched, you just don’t see anything like that in Bangladesh. Well we didn’t anyway, other than the proverbial disabled unfortunate, but they target everyone. The odd decent tip here and there is very welcome.
Unfairly labeled with terrorism, by and large this is not Bangladesh and far from it. They are clockwork Muslim for most and quite adherent and it can be testy where general knowledge education has failed. That is extremely common throughout the Islamic world, but Bangladeshi lean towards a more easy going bunch when all is said and done. Of the hideous acts we read about, the influence inevitably comes from outside and as we all know, it so easy to rile a bonehead with religious bile and favour and get him or her to do the unspeakable in the name of God, but that seems to be endemic everywhere nowadays. Not sure if Bangladeshi want to go out and die for such a cause, unlike the huge sacrifices so many made to bring about independence from what was a ludicrous pairing. Besides, one must ask; how many millions of Bangladeshi are working overseas in almost every country, but how many do we know of who went to fight with ISIS if any at all? Exactly! Bangladesh and Bangladeshi have too many other things to think about and concentrate on to be getting into all that. So unlike Britain and Europe, Bangladesh is not concerned, wondering what to do with a possible insignificant to zero number returning fighters – and as the Minister of Information H.E. Hansunal Haq states; ‘We have a handle on it’. That’s hardly the case in Europe where they spend billions on security snooping and in the full sickness of ego driven Politically Correct appeasement let it all happen under their noses; then make the odd arrest for show mostly. That is actually one of the huge differences between Bangladesh and other Islamic hotbeds; it is just not the same. Europe and the UK probably had thousands almost openly making their way to Syria and Iraq, now the governments don’t know how to handle returning psychopaths and still close their eyes to the reality in full denial. They wont be welcome in Bangladesh that is for sure.
So all in all, if you want to go swimming off the longest beach in the world at Cox’s Bizarre you are welcome. If you want a giant dodgem car ride through the city of Dhaka, then give yourself a week at least to get from point A to point B, then you are slightly sick, but whatever floats your boat. If you want to photograph a tiger in the Southern mangroves of the Sundarbans be prepared for a very long wait and an incredibly muddy foray. Even more adventurous, traverse the endless greenery on straight country roads and see how the Bangladeshi just get on with life, it is fascinating. Then keep on going north a couple of hundred kilometers only and pass over into Nepal across a tiny stretch of India and have tea on the side of Mount Everest (You can almost see that from North Bangladesh.. OK, poetic licence, you can’t because Bangladesh is pretty flat, but it sounds good).
In Part Two, we will travel the Sundarbans looking for that illusive tiger. We saw a lot of pigs if that’s any reward.