One Night in Dhaka


This blog entry about the events of Friday, October 08, 2004 was originally posted on October 14, 2004.

DAY 356:  “I need to get to Kathmandu as soon as possible,” I asked at multiple travel agencies in Bangkok.  The answer I got:  “Not ‘til Monday.”  (It was Saturday.)

“Is there anyway you get me there sooner?” I pleaded.  I sounded like a desperate contestant on The Amazing Race who was in last place — but one travel agent, Ms. Kook at Nancy Travel, had an option for me.  “There is a flight.  Bangkok, Dhaka, Kathmandu,” she told me.  “But it’s stand-by.” 

“Let’s go.”  I even paid the extra twenty bucks to get me off the waiting list and guarantee me a seat in a higher class.  Ms. Kook simultaneously worked multiple telephones and a fax machine like an overworked secretary, but made it happen.  By three in the afternoon, I had tickets for a flight that evening at eight for Dhaka, Bangladesh, where the airline would put me up in a hotel for the night (included in the price of the ticket), before taking me to Kathmandu the next day.  I’d get to Kathmandu a whole day earlier than if I waited for the Monday flight.

THE REASON FOR MY HASTE was not because I was afraid of being the last one to reach the pit stop with the yellow and red marker, it was because I knew that with all of Bangkok’s lures, if I stayed another day I wouldn’t want to leave.  Thailand was on my planned itinerary, but not yet; I was to get to Nepal as soon as possible.  Besides, I figured if I was just going to sit around on my laptop and catch up on Blog entries, I might as well be acclimatizing at a higher altitude in preparation for a trek through the Himalayas.

BEING AT THE CHECK-IN LINES for Biman/Bangladeshi Airlines (picture above) was a preview for the madness that I’d see later on at 35,000 feet.  The crowd was restless, many passengers Indian businessmen who had just finished a conference in Bangkok.  Traveling with them was like traveling with a bunch of hyper high school students, all of them restless and snap happy like it was their first big trip away from home (which might have been the case).  Biman/Bangladeshi Airlines was the perfect airline for them, with their yummy curry dishes and lax flight attendants; no one seemed to care about guys not wearing seat belts — or even standing to take a photo — during take off or landing.  Before take off, everyone talked through the pre-flight prayer to Allah, and after landing in Dhaka, everyone got up and retrieved their bags from the overhead compartments, even before the plane slowed down to taxiing speed.

The airline’s handling of the transit passengers was just as crazy, but bearable with the help of a Bangladeshi immigration officer.  I was led through immigration and customs and a bag search and eventually to the nighttime Bangladeshi cityscape.  I didn’t have any opportunity to explore because I was at the whim of the airline and immigration officials because being a transit passenger with no real official entry stamp into Bangladesh, they had to hold my passport overnight.

The hotel room they put me in was nice with A/C and TV where I saw commercials for the upcoming Indian Idol (from the makers of American Idol).  Mr. Deeds was on HBO and it kept me company while I continued to write on my laptop to catch up on entries.  Jet lagged, I came to a stopping point and went to bed around eleven, but was awoken passed midnight on the telephone.

“Please come down for the dinner.”

Dinner?  We ate on the plane.  But I went down and had dinner with the Thai businessman who was in transit to Calcutta.

THE NEXT MORNING, the questionable behavior of the staff continued.  When I tried to figure out my transport to the airport around 11 a.m. for a 1 p.m. flight, they were really adamant at keeping me on lock down.  “Kathmandu?” asked the Bangladeshi man.

“Yes, Kathmandu,” I answered.

“It is delayed.” 

Delayed?  It’s totally clear outside.  “How long?”

“I have to call the airline.” 

How do you know if it’s delayed if you haven’t been in contact with the airline yet?  “The flight is supposed to be at one, shouldn’t I be leaving soon?” I asked.

“Please, just go back to you room.”

“I just want to know how long, because it’s getting close, and I don’t want to miss the flight.”

“No problem, no problem,” the Bangladeshi man said.  “Just go to your room.  We will call you.  You go to sleep.”

Sleep?  Is the flight canceled?  Or will I be stuck in Dhaka another day?  Man, I should have just saved the twenty bucks and taken the Monday flight straight to Kathmandu from Bangkok. 

“The flight is delayed.  Please go to your room.  I will call you when it is time.”

In the end, everything worked out; they called me about half an hour later and got me to the airport in time.  I picked up my passport from an immigration officer who shook his head as he spoke to me and then boarded the plane.  There was in fact a delay, but only by half an hour and soon I was up in the air, bound for my final destination after two layovers, Kathmandu.

Next entry: The Writer Card

Previous entry: One Writes in Bangkok

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Comments for “One Night in Dhaka”

  • on the way to Kathmandu you will stop in Dhaka…Dhaka airport…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  04:57 PM

  • Why would you go to work for half an hour?  Weird.  Love the midnight meal thing though - and the hotel room for a layover!  Sweet.  So much better than the floor hunh?

    Posted by Liz  on  10/13  at  06:39 PM

  • Ok my brain is fried - I meant “go to sleep for half an hour”.  This is probably because I am at home working right now ... it’s well after midnight grrrr

    Posted by Liz  on  10/13  at  07:45 PM

  • dood..was it a thai ‘businessman’ or ‘businesswoman’?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/13  at  09:05 PM

  • I was expecting Ms. Kook to be an older woman…

    Yes, I’m behind - sue me.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  10/25  at  06:36 AM

  • noelle: not more behind than me!  i’m fighting really hard to catch up.

    and liz: i once spent my one night layover in bangkok on a floor (or chair) with occasional kfc trips. ha.

    Posted by Alyson  on  10/28  at  08:10 AM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

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