All posts by bloggervb

five things about being an expat in Bangladesh

By – Casey Yu

I’m temporarily blogging here, as I am in the midst of a revamp of my own domain. So hello, medium. Thanks for letting me camp out in the living room.

I know all I write about lately is what it’s like being an expat, but I hope you’ll forgive me, as it’s really the hugest thing in my brain-meats going on. Living here is a constant juggle in my head of the cultures I grew up in and the culture I’m living in. The older kids are asking really great questions lately, and I find that only part of the time do I ever really have an answer that I feel 100% about. So it goes — you live and learn.

So here are ten things about living in Bangladesh — obviously, Dhaka is my frame of reference.

  1. White people are a novelty. Suddenly, I get in part why as foreigners we are stared at so much — we are really foreign. We stand out. Over 98% of the population is Bengali, so yes, the tall white guy with the shorter Asian woman, traipsing around Dhaka with their three kids definitely stand out. But now, when I see another foreign space, I feel a sense of kinship with that person, the “hey, we’re both not from around here. I get it. I really do.” It’s sort of imbued in every nod or smile hello.
  2. Social status is no joke. When we go out to eat or pop into a store to buy something, it is not uncommon for the wait staff or the store employee to turn on the air conditioner or fan to blow directly in our direction. I joked to Josh that as long as we live here he may never have to open a door or push an elevator button — at his school, faculty members are revered in ways not seen in American schools. We are treated well, and many times uncomfortably well. I want to shout that I am able to and happy to carry my own groceries and change my own light bulbs. We hired a nanny to help us with the kids and some household chores, so that I may devote more time to my own work as a doctoral student, and she calls me “Madame,” even though I have asked her to call me Casey. No go. She calls Josh and refers to him as “Boss,” which is more amusing to me, because really people — I am the boss of this household! But this is further indicative of the social strata we’ve stepped into. (I have another blog post brewing on our experiences thus far with having in-home help and how we have approached this — hint, it’s not easy for the soul, that’s for sure!) Me, I am having a hard time reconciling the fact that we are living comfortably in a huge city with amenities galore. I was just a poor grad student this past summer! Now, our nanny calls me madame. And we have a nanny?! What is this.
  3. The voices inside your head are relentless, but they do simmer down. When we first moved here, and definitely to an extent now, I found myself constantly translating — not just language-wise, but everything. I learned what the going rate for rickshaw rides were and what foreigners were charged. I learned how to pay for rickshaw rides with confidence. I learned how to figure out what something was worth, and whether or not it was worth buying. I learned about the different neighborhoods in town and how sometimes in order to go right, you have to go left for awhile and make an illegal u-turn, in front of a cop. What’s a tiffin? It’s something like a snack, or a lunch packed for a kid, in a cool container. Constantly translating and figuring out where to go. This got exponentially easier when I learned three really important words — left, right, and straight. This, combined with Google Maps, has helped me navigate everything easier.
  4. Everyone wants to touch your kids. This is the biggest cultural shift I have had to manage, and I’m still struggling — we all are. Matthew lately has been more significantly uncomfortable with all of the staring, and Lindsey too has grown more cognizant of her personal space. People are fascinated with our kids, because of their genetic mashup as well as just that they’re kids. Kids can be fun and it’s fun to coo at a baby or chat and play with a kid. Lindsey and I have had discussions about the differences in how people treat each other here versus in the United States. I’ve told her that if she doesn’t like someone’s friendly head-pat, she can say nicely, “Please don’t touch me.” The thing I struggle with is the concept of personal space here is not what I am accustomed to, nor are the kids accustomed to. There’s a balance between being assertive with respecting one’s body and being openly dismissive of a common cultural norm (of how adults and children interact). It’s an ongoing struggle.
  5. Good lord, the food. THE FOOD. And the tea. How on earth did I eat before coming to Bangladesh? I don’t think we have had a bad meal since moving here. Everything tastes so wonderfully vibrant and delectable. I am loving how spicy the food is (the kids are slowly adjusting), and tea! I’ve always liked tea, but I absolutely love the tea we got in Srimangal before we left. I haven’t missed coffee much at all, because… tea!

    So tell me — what do you want me to write about? What haven’t I talked about since moving here that you’re dying to know? I could write a whole post about the power outlets and our nightly blackouts, but that’s kind of boring. Hit me up. ☺

    NB.: This is a blog post created by Ms. Casey Yu at Medium <http://bit.ly/1xgWleJ>. As the theme matches with our criteria so sharing with our readers.

Honeymoon Planning: A Major Issue Avoided by Most Couples

Today I want bring a controversial issue to front of all our readers. A frontier contains with lots of debates. The debate is on how to plan your Honeymoon Getaway. Before we go into deeper discussion let’s find the brief explanation of “What is Honeymoon”. According to Wikipedia:

“A honeymoon is the traditional holiday taken by newlyweds to celebrate their marriage in intimacy and seclusion. Today, honeymoons by Westerners are often celebrated in destinations considered exotic and/or romantic”.

So, mostly the term honeymoon is appropriate for newly wedded couple to have some romantic intimacy for a period of time. A honeymoon episode is also a great aspect of knowing each other of the newlyweds. In such an event most people want to get more privacy and more leisure options. But as of our national tradition, most honeymoon planning are done so scattered and lack of harmonious organization effort that may bring a honeymoon gateway to an irritating experience rather than luscious.

Now the question mark can be putted, what are the problems behind?

We can summarize the issues, as:

  1. The planning is not done with proper research and very less time is provided to arrange for such a big event
  2. In the planning stage opinion from both of the couple is not been considered
  3. For very silly reasons the couples are choosing relatively crowdy places
  4. Honeymoon is considered as the last event on a wedding program, so the budget is not given a major consideration
  5. Occassionally the event is arrange on a pick seasons that ruin the principal purpose behind
  6. Bring the in-laws and siblings on honeymoon as if it a family gateway
  7. Copycat other’s honeymoon experiences

Theses seven planning level faults can cause to ruin your honeymoon. It is your most desirous event of your life; just for some simple causes should you like to ruin it?

Now the points to ponder what are the hidden strategies to arrange an intimating and romantic gateway for a great honeymoon.

Plan, Review & Share: For any successful event there is no better strategy then to have it planned appropriately. You should share your future (newlywed) spouse about your honeymoon destination and other attributes. Please do not put your extra determination to stick on your selected place. Finalize the destination by discussing with your companion. It is important to compromise from both ends to select a best destination, not by sacrificing one’s interest and winning other’s.

Make the Appropriate Budget: Budgeting is the major issue for arranging a great event. Before finalize the budget please review all available options, like you can select a budget airline, book a hotel/all inclusive resort on their off-peak season and ask for their best price deals. Do consider that for the wedding budget, you must not compromise with the honeymoon budget.

Try to get into less crowd places: Before selecting a honeymoon destination consider for your utmost privacy. For security reason couples are choosing destinations those are popular among general travelers. Keep in mind that security should be the utmost consideration but you cannot tradeoff it with the privacy breaches. For more security consideration you can select among the luxurious all inclusive resorts on home or abroad.

You are on honeymoon not a shopping tour: You will get lots of opportunities on your next years for shopping. So try to spend less time on shopping get more time together, it will help you to strengthen the bondage between you.

Prove you have a dignified personality: Keep in mind; it is your right time to prove your personality in front of your new life companion. Try to prove, you are reliable, compassionate and humorist person. Never attempt to force him/her for anything that s/he is not prepared or not willing to do so. When you are on the public place, you should obey the local customs and behave appropriately.

 Schedule some surprises: You can arrange some surprising moment for your spouse during your honeymoon. Now the appropriate question is how you can surprise your companion? It is a million dollar question, but the answer is very simple. You can purchase a special gift, book a special spa or secretly wardrobe most arousing lingerie you have purchased recently.

Create some great memories: At the end of the day your honeymoon is an experience that you kept on your memory for long, even on your 50th Anniversary you can be nostalgic to remember all those happenings. So try something new, something unusual but not something absurd and incautious.

I can write more pages about planning and organizing of your honeymoon. You can also consult with relevant experts, your travel agent or your relatives and friends. But at the end, you are the master to make the event memorable and enjoyable. We do expect with your intelligence with proper research and planning, you can create a great event that is privileged and privately arranged only for two and for no one else. It’s the secret of a great honeymoon getaway.

Bangladesh: An accidental tourist in Dhaka

By J.J. Somerset

So few tourists go to colourful Bangladesh that you’ll be spoiled, says J.J. Somerset – but you’ll also be amazed and enchanted.

Dhaka is home to some 600,000 rickshaws. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Nasir Khan

Dhaka is one of the poorest, dirtiest, ugliest cities on the planet. You must go there at once. Tourists in Dhaka are so scarce they are treated like royalty. Bangla people swarm helpfully around tourists.

Many are curious, but mostly they come to translate, to give information and to ensure tourists are suitably attended.

Traffic police step into teeming traffic to help foreigners navigate busy thoroughfares. Bicycle rickshaw-wallahs take illegal shortcuts and are waved on when traffic wardens see they bear foreign passengers. When a tourist is thirsty, cha-wallahs emerge from the bustle of street merchants to supply tea.

Even though there are very few tourists, Dhaka’s infrastructure is much better than most LDCs (Least Developed Countries) thanks to a population of 14 million, a vibrant middle class and lucrative business opportunities for foreigners.

Travelling businesspeople are not good ambassadors for their countries.

They have heard that visiting Dhaka is a hardship and come prepared to find it. They are rude to waiters, complain loudly if their car is late and are terse with staff in the business centre.

In the elevators they speak of nothing but the appalling traffic and make it clear they do not want to eat ABC (Another Bloody Curry).

Meanwhile, the occasional tourists win the spoils. They have the city to themselves – tourist-wise – and can explore bazaars, museums, river life, mansions and forts unimpeded by the foreign hoi-polloi.

I was free to drift about the Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace), imagining the lavish lifestyles of the Nawabs and Zamindars before they lost sovereignty to the British.

Sonargoan and Panam City, once flourishing trade links on the southwest Silk Road, were equally unimpeded, except for the clutch of middle-class Bangladeshis who surreptitiously clicked my photo, then scattered whenever I drew near.

There is wonder and discovery when you travel a city as a rare foreigner. At first you can hardly believe your luck and then you get addicted to being special. Everywhere you go, people treat you like a distinguished guest.

They gather around and want to talk. They offer to take you places, share stories and, like paparazzi, they can’t stop snapping your photo on their cellphones.

At one stage, as I beckoned a bicycle rickshaw-wallah, I counted 15 or so people around me.

There was the helpful man who had shown me the way to the Lalberg Fort, the man I had bought a drink from and his subordinate, the cricket man who was a fan of Dan Vettori, the ticket seller and his subordinate, the ticket collector and his subordinate, the historian who volunteered to guide me around the Fort, the uniformed guards; the rickshaw wallahs, an obliging translator and a considerate middle-aged man who stopped to cast a paternal eye over proceedings.

Travelling as a woman on your own in many Muslim countries can be uncomfortable – the men can be lascivious – but not in Dhaka.

The men (and women) are certainly watchful, but their interest is simply respectful curiosity. The only time I experienced any doubt about someone’s intentions was when a man inspected me a little more keenly than most. After walking past, he turned and came up quite close to me.

I was unsure what he was about but, because he caught me off guard, I meekly watched as he gently freed my orna (long scarf) from where it had become snared on a bamboo strut at the back of my rickshaw. He then smiled, a little too broadly perhaps, and continued on his way.

At times in Dhaka, particularly in the old city, in poorer parts of town and at construction sites, you feel as if you have gone back in time.

Equipment is manual, ropes and pulleys are common and produce is weighed on large iron scales. Instead of machines and computers, people do the work so everything takes longer, a feature which adds quality to daily life.

When you want braid or ribbon sewn on to newly purchased textiles, men will sew it on trestle sewing machines that line the alleyways of bazaars.

Fairground attractions such as carousels and miniature Ferris wheels are also manually operated. Men climb the struts and use weight and momentum to turn the Ferris wheels. The rides are painstakingly hand-painted.

Everything is colourful. Bangladesh’s legendary textiles festoon the city.

The array of colours and designs is so overwhelming it is difficult to choose. Stalls in markets – where things are so inexpensive it is unnecessary to consult your wallet before you purchase – are decorated and painted with seeming frivolity. Women are dressed in beautiful salwar kameezes and saris of every colour except black.

Dhaka bicycle rickshaws are famous for their delightfully gaudy art. To be caught in a bicycle-rickshaw traffic jam is reason enough to visit Dhaka.

With 600,000 rickshaws competing for space in narrow lanes and alleyways, it is not hard to get into a snarl-up.

It is fascinating to sit back and observe the intricate, often idiosyncratic, rules of the road. For instance, if you motion with your hand that you are absolutely coming through, there will be deference … except when there isn’t.

Luckily, the collision is only minor as speeds are low and drivers do not fret over small clashes.

There is no such thing as road rage in Dhaka and there is always food to help salve stressful situations.

Bangla food is rich with spices that have long been celebrated overseas. Apparently, 90 per cent of London’s Indian restaurants are Bangladeshi.

Starting the day with melt-in-your-mouth masala dosa and then moving on to mutton bhuna, green Bengal chicken, paneer jhalfrazie and fish in mustard sauce is one hell of a way to dine.

The only drawback to this fairy tale is poverty. The IMF ranks Bangladesh as the 155th poorest country out of 183 but you don’t need IMF figures to tell you that.

It’s clear that this country is poor. It is also dirty. When the rains come, the dirt paths and roads turn to mud and then to floods.

Hard-to-find guidebooks to Bangladesh tell you not to go to Dhaka during the monsoon.

But go there. Soon.

CHECKLIST

Getting there: Singapore Airlines flies from Auckland to Dhaka via Singapore every day. The Singapore to Dhaka leg is about a four-hour flight.

Where to stay: The Westin Dhaka (a five- star hotel).

What to do: Visit Ahsan Manzil (Pink Palace); New Market; Hindu Street; DCC Antiques Market and Gulshan 2.

Top tip: Take traveller’s cheques – getting cash at ATMs and banks is not easy.

NB.: The News has been shared as it is from the New Zealand Herald

Manik Mia Avenue with Its Boisakhi ‘Alpona’

These are the latest photographs of historical Manik Mia Avenue, Dhaka (Besides the National Parliament of Bangladesh), a large ‘Alpona’ have created by thousands of volunteers on the occasion of the Bengali New Year – 2014. So if you not have seen it, you can do so up to next several days, until all the colors disappears over its huge traffic as it is one of the most busy traffic zone in Dhaka

Happy Bengali New Year – 1421

New Year Greetings for All the Readers
New Year Greetings for All the Readers

Dear All, this is our first ever blog post on Vacation Bangladesh Services. From now on you will get many internal updates and funny & informational notes from us in the form of Blog.

We are also inviting you to help us build our site more interestingly and expect that you will use and enjoy using this site more often you plan to have a tour or vacation or a family day out.

To get in touch with us, you are welcome to email us: <vacationbd@gmail.com> or you can call us at +880-1817568727