Welcome to Bangladesh

It’s been a long weekend. I travelled from São Paulo to London on Friday, landing on Saturday. Then I went straight up to Leicester, spending a day in the Midlands before heading back to London on Sunday. Instead of staying in central London I headed off to the wilds of Hendon and Harrow to see mates like Ronan and Enda… worth it, but tiring as I was on a plane to Dhaka in Bangladesh the next morning, via a really rushed connection in Dubai.

I haven’t had jetlag for a long time, perhaps because I am doing a lot of north-south flying these days, but it’s hitting me quite hard today – I’m writing this wide awake at 4am and paying the price for flying East.

Arriving in Dhaka was certainly an experience. Passport control takes ages. Each passport is subject to checks that drag on for several minutes. Now add an entire plane-load of hundreds of passengers and even the locals were complaining about how long it was taking.

I needed to get a visa on arrival, so I joined the visa queue – even slower than a regular passport check. Once I got to the front of the queue they told me that I should have gone to the bank to pay first… no sign or official had told me.

I went to an ATM, withdrew cash, went to the bank, deposited the money – for some reason the bank would not just take the debit card, I had to get cash.

Then, I returned with my receipt and they stamped my passport. The visa official said that I needed to come into his office to check on something in my passport. I went to the office, he asked me for 100 Taka for his help in giving me a visa. That’s only something like $1.30 – he was not asking for a big reward and it’s hard to even call it a bribe as he asked for the money after stamping my passport.

But it’s not the best welcome, having airport officials asking for tips because they did their job. I’d better tip the captain the next time my plane lands safely if this is the precedent being established.

Then the journey into town started. The traffic was horrendous. It took around 2 hours to get from the airport to my hotel. Not because it is a long distance – like in Tokyo – it would have been faster to just walk.

In the end, from landing to getting a glass of water at my hotel took over 4 hours – not much fun. But complaints aside, the hotel is nice, the food has been good, and I’ve met some really interesting people on my first day in town.

World Class Traffic Jam

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37 responses to “Welcome to Bangladesh

  1. and not only that, but you have to contend with the crowds and traffic depicted in your image. Wow!

  2. I am SORRY…….on behalf of General people of Bangladesh.

  3. Welcome to Bangladesh

  4. Welcome to the Capital of HELL 🙂

  5. Hello Mark, welcome to our land of green.We are truly honored at your visit,(though it has been tight for ya, but hey, thanks for making it out finally). Hope to meet you soon.

  6. Because you were a foreigner, the visa office guy was being polite with you. Ask a local, it’s not a bribe or a reward, it’s rather mandatory.

    Everywhere you go it’s all corrupted. Sorry for the bad experiences you have to face here in Bangladesh. 😦

  7. It will be a memorable tour for you that cant never forget. if u like one thing, plz write here……thanks to visit bangladesh .

  8. What happened with you might be sad, but listen to this – I had to wait in the US customs at Orlando International Airport for 5 straight hours. They just wouldn’t let us go while EVERYTHING was alright. Their computer stopped working or something. They had a lot of people in the queue and what not. So yeah. But oops, I should’ve written a blog right? =]

    Maybe you’re someone big, but sorry, I won’t like a word against the country I live in. You’re here for a short time, so, enjoy your trip.
    Take care. 🙂

    • All I did was write some thoughts. If you don’t like it, that’s your issue. I never disparaged anyone or any country so take it easy – customs and immigration can be slow anywhere, but bribes for officials is not acceptable, but hey, this is not the only place I have been asked for money by officials so maybe I need to make that point too?

      • isn’t that supposed to be a point? :/ anyways, you should’ve written that official’s name or something. It’s not the whole country’s fault that he did this, so yeah. Bribes aren’t definitely acceptable. If you hate it so bad, then just go file a case against that official. He does suck, but the country is still good enough 🙂
        Please don’t blame the country for this.
        No hard feelings for anything. Enjoy your trip.
        Thank you.

      • You sound like a big headed, arrogant, twat to me! Sorry.

      • my earlier comment was directed towards Mark Hillary.

      • Fuck you very much Shina.

  9. We are poor. Its all right. But, not full country is corrupted. But, when I read your blog, as a Bangladeshi I am really feel so …………
    Well, listen What I know, already that people (Who take so called $1.30 bribe!!) suspended.
    Well,you face traffic Jam? You know the population of Bangladesh? Before visit this country, I think, you need to know some information about this country. Its a over populated country. If whole world all people enter in USA, that will be less populated than Bangladesh.
    Whatever, some Bangladeshi people earn from odesk. So, you are so important person for this country. But, I think, like your position, you may ignore some points. You may complain about your hassle direct high officials.
    Anyway, I hope, you will visit some village area. At list Cox’s Bazar & Sundorbon. I hope, you may like this country.
    Because,all of the BD people waiting to welcome you. But, you may not like these people heartiest love & honor.

  10. Is Brazil have no corruption? What I know, they are more corrupted! Only for this small $1.30 no any Brazilian Govt. officer will be suspended. But, here we do it. What I know, you comes from there…
    I hope, you need not to attend any drama..
    Whatever, I am extremely sorry, if you heart for my comments. Because, you are our guest & we always respect our guest. Its our culture & always we are polite. Never rude like South Americans.

  11. Ahmed, I made a couple of initial observations. I never wrote that I dislike Bangladesh… in fact I mentioned that all the people I had been meeting were nice.

    It’s a shame you feel that anyone who suggests the slightest negative thing is some kind of hater, but it certainly shows your own insecurity about engaging with others and talking about what’s right and wrong and what needs to change.

    I know things are wrong in the UK and things are wrong in Brazil and when I see those things I talk about them, so why would I not mention something in another country? To me it’s not about the nation, it’s how we all should live in any place, and how officials should respect all of us in all locations.

    if you think that a comment about a Bangladeshi official should be responded to by saying that all South Americans are rude then I don’t think it is me, or the people of South America who are rude. Take a look in mirror.

  12. mark, please do not ignore our love, our warmness to you.
    Yeah traffic jam and bribe may be problem. But consider other issue also.
    And this guy was suspended( i am not sure). Traffic Jam is not a problem of everywhere in Bangladesh. personally i like traveling , i traveled many corner in bd. So i know it. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

    • Thanks Razu and I would like to return so I can get out of Dhaka to see more of the country… I would hate any visitor to think that London is the only place in the UK!

    • yap Mr. MARK..i also agree with Mr. Razu….Sundarban-Mangrove forest is a lovely site to visit…I would like to invite you in Bangladesh to visit Niligiri,St.Martin Island,Coxs Bazar….

  13. feeling shame to see the worst pic of Dhaka city…I am very sorry Mr. Mark

  14. super like these lines of WELCOME to BANGLADESH: “the hotel is nice, the food has been good, and I’ve met some really interesting people on my first day in town.” 🙂
    We the general people of Bangladesh try our best to welcome the honorable guests,though it’s not enough….
    Thanks

  15. @ Mr. Mark Hillary: it is the pic of Gawsia Market area.traffic jam is common in that place.because it is the most busy market place of Bangladesh.it is crowded over 7/365..i guess you took the pic from the over-bridge

  16. Ok Sir.I am so sorry…
    The caption of the pic “World class traffic jam” is very funny 🙂

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