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.