Counting Down to Dhaka

I am counting down to my departure for Bangladesh. I leave Saturday afternoon from Ottawa, and later that night from Toronto. It's going to be a long journey - 20 hours on 2 flights with a stopover at Heathrow (please cross your fingers that the luggage system will be working!). I will arrive in Dhaka at 6am on Monday morning, Dhaka Time. Dhaka is about 11 hours ahead of us, so I am on two overnight flights to get there, in the space of one day. It's kind of crazy. To get back, I will travel for 20 hours, but get back to Ottawa 12 hours or so later. I'm sure anyone who has ever travelled so far East/West thinks I'm a bit nuts, but this is my first time travelling so far! Although the flights are long to S.America and Africa, Dhaka is approximately at the other side of the world from Ottawa!

I am really looking forward to the trip. As I have mentioned, I have never been to Asia before, and I am looking forward to spending a bit of time there. I expect to be very busy with work, as I have a long list of things to do and people to meet while I am there. But I'm really looking forward to seeing how one of our projects functions on the ground. I've been involved from afar in a few projects already - one in Mozambique, one in Malawi, but I haven't had any first hand experience in the field with this job yet. I hope I get a lot more!

I also hope that I will have a bit of free time to see some of Dhaka, and not spend two weeks seeing only the hotel and the office. It looks like my stay may be extended by a few days, giving me another weekend in the country. Dhaka is not a major tourist destination, but like any city, there are always things to see and do.

I have done a bit of research on the customs, so that I don't make a major fool of myself! Here are some of the things I learned:
- Bangladesh is about 90% muslim, and 10% hindu
- People often eat with their hands. The left hand is considered dirty, so food must be eaten with the right.
- The most common form of greeting is to shake hands, but only between the same sex. A woman should wait to see if a man extends his hand before extending hers.
- Women (foreigners at least) do not need to cover their heads, however it is typical for women to wear a scarf around their neck and hanging down their front.
- It is impolite to say no to an invitation, even if you actually can't go. Bangladeshis will decline by saying something like "It may be difficult".

It's all very interesting! Especially coming from a place like S.America, where kissing on the cheek is the normal greeting, between anyone and everyone, and women wear whatever they want, and it's not often very conservative!

Dhaka is getting hot right now, which means highs between 30C and 35C. I'm hoping that by the time I get back the snow will be gone and I can get out and enjoy Ottawa! See you all in a few weeks, and keep reading for updates from Dhaka!

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Posted in Bangladesh | travel | work Submitted by Meg on Wed, 2008-04-02 21:36

Have fun!

Submitted by kevin@haggaret.com on Wed, 2008-04-02 22:19.

Very cool Meg! I'm sure you'll enjoy every minute of it. I'll be checking the blog for updates for sure!

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