Spending A Few Days In Old Dhaka And Around Sadarghat Port.
Since it was our first trip to Bangladesh this summer, we were very curious about visiting its capital city, and the fact that we had no travel guidebook at hand made things even more exciting. What we did have was a map of Bangladesh with a small one of Dhaka, as well as an iPhone photo of Google Earth that turned out to be really helpful in the beginning.
Arriving “In Style”.
We arrived in Sadarghat Port “in style”: first class travel on the Rocket Steamer “Ostrich”, which is the flagship of the Bangladesh inland water transport authority. If you intend to travel by ferry in Bangladesh, this is a good and reliable source, though there are other companies as well.
Anyway, after leaving the ship, our “first class” travel was over for now. Rain had turned the road into a pool of mud and we were dirty faster than we could walk. An avid Rickshaw driver immediately tried to seduce us into his vehicle, even though he had no idea where we wanted to go and didn’t speak a single word of English – as all the others around him did. Still, thanks to the genius idea of the taking a photo of Dhaka with our iPhone, we were able to specify the direction of our hotel. With some stops and crowd gatherings, the poor Rickshaw puller finally knew our destination: “Hotel Pacific” in Mothijel, a suburb not too far from the harbour.
Hotel & Train Tickets.
The hotel was not an eye catcher at all. It was somehow in a renovating process, but good enough for the time being, with working A/C and running water in the bathroom. Our first night in Dhaka was secured. Phweew. Immediately after checking in, we started to roam the city. Our first destination was to the train station to get our tickets to Chittagong, because we were eager to see the Ship Breaking Yard. As it turned out, this was not an easy task, because upcoming Eid brought many people into the travelling mood to visit their loved ones at home.
But, that didn’t keep us from getting our tickets … plus, the train station was an interesting place to visit anyway. We always like these hubs, where people come and go, because, there’s action happening. And we even had a surreal encounter… While standing in line for the tickets, a local Bangladeshi all over sudden shouted to us “Hello, where you come from?” … We told him that we were from Austria and then he enthusiastic answered: “Ahhh, ich bin auch aus Österreich!” (which means “I’m also from Austria” in German) … We’re fellow countrymen! Where are you from in Austria?” … The conversation went on for about 10 minutes and it turned out, that he worked just around the corner from my office in Vienna. The world can truly be a tiny place! It was sort of funny, because this man was the only “foreigner” we saw during our 4 week journey through Bangladesh.
Exploring the Area & Sadarghat Port.
After we got our train tickets, we looked out for a Rickshaw driver to drive us around a little bit. All of them wanted us as customers but nobody got where we wanted to go … finally one was smart enough to realize that we just wanted to cycle around to explore the area and that we’d give him directions as we go. We spent the entire afternoon with him. We bought him lunch & tea and he was obviously very happy to cycle us around. In Sadarghat we got out for a tour of the harbour with one of the many rowing boats. Luckily we found an English speaking porter who managed to explain to the boatman that we just wanted row up and down the river for an hour or so. This porter hopped on our sightseeing trip as well, as did two other people … We didn’t mind, since the boat was large enough to hold us all. This was definitely a highlight during our entire Bangladesh trip!
Back on land, our Rickshaw driver waited and brought us back to our hotel, from where we continued to find a restaurant. During Ramadan, this can definitely keep you busy for a while because people only start eating after dark. We found some nice looking food stalls near the big mosque covered with curtains so that nobody could see inside. We bought some great food we’ve never eaten before: A grapefruit salad mixed with onions, cumin powder and coriander – one of the most refreshing salads for such a hot climate. It was sooo delicious and we returned there every evening while our stay in Dhaka.
On our stroll back to our hotel we passed Hotel Purbani, which looked a lot better than ours. We had a look at the rooms and immediately made a reservation for the next day. 33 US $ per room with working Wi-Fi convinced us to change places.
With this new hotel, we spend another couple of days in Dhaka…after all, there was much more to be explored!