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Favorite thing: Hi,
Spend a day touring Dhaka, 'guide tours' is a renowned travel agent and they have package tours.
Take a flight to Cox's Bazar. There are several hotels of different rates. October is peak season and good hotels are booked well in advance. 'Long beach Hotel' is a good one, proposed 5 star and it is new. Better book rooms through their web site or take help from someone living in Dhaka to book rooms and plane tickets. From Cox's Bazar take a trip to Saint martin Island, you'll love it. Book ship tickets to/from Saint MArtin island in advance too.
Please feel free to let me know if you need more information.
Written Jul 5, 2011
Favorite thing: I have been to BD 4 times. The first three times I took my visa from Mauritius and the fourth time i wanted to have the VOA stamp on my passport ! No hassle ! You pay 51 USD at the Sonali Bank just after the far left immigration counter, come back to the immi counter with the receipt and get the visa !
Written Apr 20, 2011
Favorite thing: Bangladesh has such an interesting history; and religious history not to forget. You can trace this in its archaeology, arts, literature and written history. Today it is seen mostly as the relatively uniform muslim half of Bengal (West bengal in India being the Hindu half).
Religious backgrounds and political history are so intertwined and multifaceted in Bangladesh that it is difficult to understand what the motives of actions, opinions and discrimination are. And discriminated the Hindus are, definitely, despite this being a country that used to affiliate itself with Gandhian philosophy and the Noakhali salt demonstrations and his peace walks.
Fondest memory: Not really fondest memory, but it's interesting history....
The Hindus of Bangladesh are in decline from constituting a third of the country during the British era to less than 10% now. The colonial organisations utilized Hindu labour as they were generally better educated and with less taboos on women's work (tea plantations etc.) than the Muslims. Thus the Hindus were somewhat associated with the rulers in the eyes of Muslims. During the Pakistani era and religious purification of East Bengal many Hindus were forced to flee to India for their beliefs and connections to the past colonial powers. The Hindus generally suffered enormously during the liberation war. The remaining Hindus are still discriminated in the job market and otherwise, and generally - with some exceptions - live in poverty. Hindu orphanages, boarding schools and temples are found here and there around Bangladesh, and in some ghetto-like communities in Dhaka, but there is little evidence in terms of a Hindu revival as seen recently in India. It must be stressed that there are Hindu associations and business societies that stand out and contribute enormously to the Hindus and Bangladeshi nation building.
Hindus of Bangladesh appear very laidback and tolerant in their beliefs and acceptance of other people (including visitors) living other types of lives and with other gods, and do not associate with the fierce nationalism that is sometimes rearing its head in Bangladesh. In fact, when there is a percieved threat to nationalism, the Hindus are sometimes victims of nationalist riots such as after the publishing of the book "Shame" - by a muslim author.
Many Bengali Hindus have settled across the borders to the north and east of Bangladesh, in Assam, Tripura and elsewhere in recent times.
Updated Jan 29, 2010
Fondest memory: In the culturally nearly all-pervasive islamic Bangladesh, there is a Buddhist minority that really stick out and retain their pride. Both slightly academically devout Bengalis and the minority peoples from the Sylhet Division border lands with India and Chittagong Hill tracts are to be found among the Buddhist minorities. Their focal points are the Dhammarajika Buddhist Monastry in Dhaka, near Kamalapur Railway Station, and in various monasteries and sites near Chittagong and further south in the Hill tracts. They are conncected to the Sri Lankan - Burmese - Thai strains of Buddhism, and get some economic help from Thailand, Korea and Japan.
In the Chittagong Hill Tracts war period when the Bangladesh state settled the Hill Tracts in Israeli west bank style until early/mid 90'es they had a very difficult time, with lots of refugees and orphans streaming out of the Hill Tracts and to the cities. I witnessed this myself.
There is still discrimination and anti-non-Bengali violence in the Hill Tracts, but significantly less than there used to be. Much tribal land, however, has been settled by this officieal encroachment policy of the bangladeshi state.
If you knock on the gate at Dhammarajika and ask to look around you will meet many orphans of the various Hill peoples, now pupils, students, novices or monks. You will also meet and be noted by the secret police hanging about outside the gate.
For info on the armistice in Chittagong Hill Tracts, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chittagong_Hill_Tracts_Peace_Accord
There are also books and web information out on the plight of the Chittagong Hill Tract peoples, just search the internet.
Updated Jan 29, 2010
Favorite thing: Google Earth is actually a good tool for travel planning to Bangladesh. The sat photo coverage is of good detail and only the Chittagong Hill tracts seem to be more diffuse. You can locate even streets, hotels, houses and what not. For an example, check out Maheskhali Island or St. Martin's Island for a view. My life took a new turn by first discovering google Earth and since then by every fine update of places I'd love to travel in!
Written Jan 29, 2010
Fondest memory: The main religion of Bangladesh is Islam, and it used to be in an eastern fairly moderate Sub-Continental fashion. However, as labour migration and exposure has brought exposure to people, and Saudi financial and cultural influence has brought a degree of entrenchment and Wahabist-like views. Radical Islam is expanding and is evident as communal violence and coordinated violent actions. However, the state apparatus with somewhat different interest base has been clamping down on extremism.
Updated Mar 23, 2007
Favorite thing: While the cities of Bangladesh can be extremely tiring on a traveller's soul and body, the countryside may just as easily have a soothing effect.
The shades and hues of green penetrate every view, and the colorful people and tranquil village scenery is something not to be missed. While there is a desperate side to the Bangladeshi countryside (see the book "A Quiet Violence", Hartmann & Boyce, Zed Books, Avon 1988), life here nevertheless comes across to the casual observer as much better than in the cities and the smiles are never far away.
It takes a bit of an effort to get into the countryside - there may be a linguistic as well as a transport and accommodation challenge - but if dressing and behaving appropriately, the chances are that you will gain good access to whichever stopping place you choose.
Fondest memory: The morning and evening devotional songs and recitals of 400 orphan school children in unison that I heard in the Chittagong Hill tracts during the time of the main insurgency there.
Another thing: dances performed by Hindu school children in Chittagong. Extremely professional and talented, and very, very beautiful.
Updated Jun 12, 2004
Favorite thing: The happy moments I have watching signage and advertisment posters, placards and boards in Bangladesh cannot be paid for by money.
Sometimes the contrasts and negating is just too much.
Would you fix your electric system at home by the services of this shop (photo)?
Updated Jun 8, 2004
Fondest memory: I have been lucky to see many performances by professional and amateur artists. The songs and dancing of Bangladesh is beautiful and diverse, and surviving side-by-side with the Bombayization of arts through the film and music industry. There is a significant Bengali strain or artistic nationalism - some sort of search for a boundary to big brother India. Yet the Bangladeshis also share the cultural roots with India, and ethnicity with West Bangal and Bihar. The Islamic tones are definitiely down, and performing arts contain many sensual elements that you wouldn't think were possible in a stereotype Islamic country. So Bangladesh isn't such a place, either, ther is artistic room. Increasingly the performance arts of the Hill Tracts are being appreciated, too. Some of the wildest, most beautifully choreographed and performed dances I have seen on stage in my life were from here.
Ask for info in the big hotels and enquire with artists you meet at galleries etc. - the network is widbut small, and you'll soon find yourself mesmerized.
Written Jun 7, 2004
Favorite thing: When I went through the immigration, the official worker asked me to give more info about the hotel I would stay at. I actually knew just the name which was Rose Wood Residence but I remember reading somewhere about Gulshan St. before so I just told him it's on Gulshan St. and he let me in. Fortunately that hotel happens to be on Gulshan St. indeed!
Just a little tip to let you know that you should fill in the form with the full details. If you fly with Biman Air, you can just find a few addresses on its inflight magazine but if you fly with other airlines, it might be useful to do your homework before you leave your departure city and write down any hotel at all on a piece of paper and just use it when filling out the form.
But then again it also depends on which official worker you will get. Some may not ask at all.
Written Jan 3, 2004
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