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Old 12th December 2008, 17:09   #1
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Default Bangladesh info

hi all, i am now in dhaka after more than 2 weeks here. what a great place to see and the driving is fine! the roads are in much better condition in india,,,of course there are less of them. i would say 90% of the hiways are pothole free and of that, 90% are in excellent condition. like they were paved yesterday! the few bad stretches are very bad. but they are few and far between.
i am going to copy and paste a couple of letters i have sent to friends about the trip so far.

this was the first letter for a travellers forum:

hi all. for info only this post. i just crossed into bangladesh at benapole on an enfield not in my name. but borrowed form a friend. my name is not on any paperwork except for a letter from my friend (who's bike it is...an indian citizen) allowing me to use it.
you must approach the customs personnel with a smile and being very jovial! this goes a LONG way towards the rest of your encounter. the big boss upstairs can make a decision to allow you in. its all according to his disposition. they will then find a huge folder with previous letters about similar circumstances, dictate to you to write it out in carbon triplicate, and then after much waiting and smiling and talking, stamp the document, write a paragraph in your passport stating that you will bring the bike (noting the numbers) back through the same place when your trip to bangladesh is completed.
a small amount of baksheesh is implied, and for me, IR200 did the trick.
if you do this, make sure the letter from the bike's owner states you may bring it to bangladesh or nepal or any other country along with india as this will save you a possible failure. i schmoozed my way through that one! i couldnt have come that far and failed on this oversight!!!
it took me about 3 hours to get this done, so arrive at the border in time to have plenty of daylight ahead of you.
bangladesh customs was a breeze. they asked for the carnet. i said i didnt have one, showed him the page which indian customs wrote in my passport and he let me through. 5 minutes. the customs guard asked me about my luggage all strapped on the bike. i said it was only clothes etc and he said 'OK'! bang immigration took about 5 minutes. i got my visa in kolkata. when i returned to the bike, the first 2 guys who greeted me at customs asked if i went to immigration, isaid yes and they said 'OK'!
there are money changers on the street same side of customs about 50 yards in. got T1400 for IR1000 and T1360 for us$20.
now, its pitch black and i need to get to jessore because there is no electricity at the border and no hotel looks like a nice place for the night.
the road is not as bad as the hwy#35 up from kolkata. but there are patches of rutty dirt for a mile or so and one particular patch of gravel for a mile that almost spilled me a few times. very dusty and mostly trucks and busses to follow. oncoming lights absolutely blind you! you just hope you dont run up into a pedestrian or rickshaw or a tree hanging over the road. i try to never drive at night but this was necessary. keeping calm and driving slowly around 25kph in the bad parts and up to 35 in the better parts.
got into jessore around 9pm and drove around looking and asking for mk road and the magpie hotel. recommended by mahmud (who seems to know all !!!) because it has parking facilities for motorcycles. most guidebooks overlook this feature for their places to stay. T300-T800 for some pretty nice rooms.
the weather is changing now and it is cool at night. thankfully i bought a leather jacket in kolkata and it was worth its weight in gold on the trip into jessore from the border!
jessore is nice place for a couple of days. a large town with lots of bicycle rickshaws. at night they hang a small kerosene lamp on the rear axle for lighting! watch your feet when walking as they come very close to you!
i will head for mongla next and then up to dhaka and lunch with mahmud if he is not too busy!
hope this helps anyone trying to do the same thing.
later



this is the second one:

> Well first, hello from Bangladesh! It was not on the
>> original plan of action to visit here but, to renew my visa
>> for India to make up for the time spent preparing the bike I
>> figured, why the hell not?! Perfect opportunity to see
>> another country I've never been b4.
>> > So far, its been a great decision. There is a slight
>> blending from west Bengal in India as you just get into the
>> country but then, you realize…its totally on its own! I
>> would say though that it is not as industrious as India. In
>> India, if you need something, it doesn't take too long
>> to find it. Here, good luck on some things.
>> > To me, from the scenery, the culture, food,
>> lifestyle, clothing…THIS is where Southeast Asia really
>> begins. Rice paddies, coconut and banana trees, water
>> buffalo and a slower pace of life.
>> > And, on eastern edge of the country, the hill areas,
>> the people look like those of northern Thailand, Lao, Burma
>> and SW China. A bit more Tibetan-looking. Some of them I
>> think have never seen foreigners b4…and sure, rarely on a
>> motorcycle going through their village!
>> > The people are amazingly friendly. Almost like
>> Indonesia but instead of the 'hello misters' you
>> get, 'what country?'. When I say America, they are
>> all smiles…'oh, good country', 'nice
>> country', and lately, because of our recent
>> election…'barak obama!'.
>> > You'd think obama was the president here!
>> > The country is about 80% muslim so 'obama good,
>> bush bad' is common. I think that just by electing
>> obama, we, the usa, have recaptured a LOT of lost
>> credibility and respect throughout the world which virtually
>> disappeared forever during the last 8 years. I only hope he
>> can deliver. For those who don't know, I am a republican
>> who voted for obama. Enough politics.
>> > The roads here are usually in much better condition
>> than in India. Less traffic and lots of ferries to cross
>> rivers. LOTS of rivers here. On a 5 hour ferry ride from
>> barisal to lokipur crossing the meghma river, you could
>> barely make out the other side as we entered the biggest
>> part. At 7am, as we were departing, the first mate was
>> having an argument with some of the dock workers. It got so
>> heated that the captainwent back to the dock and shoved the
>> nose of the ship into the dock. The first mate jumped off
>> and into the middle of a group of about 12 pissed-off dock
>> workers. Like conan the barbarian! There was a lot of
>> shoving and slugging and cursing and yelling and our guy
>> seemed to win the day with no loss of blood! The workers
>> never used or even threatened to use the grappling hooks
>> they all had. The first mate came back on board like a
>> champion. He looked at me and just started laughing like he
>> does it all the time! I called him 'Rocky' and he
>> > liked that!!
>> > Food includes beef, chicken, fish, vegetables, rice,
>> breads of different varieties and fruits. Usually spicy but
>> not too hot unless you order it that way. Breakfast is a
>> couple of eggs with chapattis(like tortillas), and a side of
>> vegetables (lately squash, cauliflower, beans, carrots mixed
>> together with some chillies), sometimes dal (lentil) and a
>> cup of tea. About us$1.
>> > Lunch/dinner ( I rarely get 3 meals a day since
>> I'm on the bike) can be beef, chicken or fish often
>> BBQ'd with rice or a naan bread and a side of
>> vegetables. About us$2-3.
>> > Hotels are anywhere from us$4 -$15 depending on your
>> mood and how long you've just spent in the bike seat!
>> lol
>> > I've stayed in some pretty nice places for
>> us$10-$12 even with A/C, hot water and cable TV! There is
>> not much partying going on because it is a muslim country,
>> so most people are home by 9pm. Sometimes, it is difficult
>> to find people who speak English and my bangla is coming
>> slowly!
>> > Petrol/ gasoline here is about us$1.10 per liter. So
>> , I guess about $4.50/ us gallon.
>> > The roads are full of cows lately because it is the
>> 2nd holiest holiday for muslims. Eid is the name of it.
>> Every city, town, village or road crossing it seems is lined
>> up and down with cows. You think, no problem. But try
>> getting through a roadside town whose street is crammed with
>> the usual trucks, busses, bicycle rickshaws, dogs, goats and
>> morons crossing the street while talking on cell phones and
>> add to that f*#@ing cows by the hundreds and maybe, just
>> maybe, you can get a picture!
>> > The cows are to be slaughtered and eaten for the 3-5
>> day festival. Hindus and veggies, stay away!
>> > I wish I could safely mount my camera for some video
>> of the driving here. Maybe duct tape it to my helmet??! lol
>> > yesterday while driving north of chittagong at some
>> podunk village crossing a young girl and whatever lives
>> under a black burkha were going to cross the hiway right in
>> front of me...at 60 kph. i blasted them with my new twin
>> horns and the girl stopped. but, the burkha decided to
>> scuttle faster...right into my path. only when i yelled
>> 'HEY' at the top of my lungs while braking as hard
>> as i dared did she stop her shuffling. instinct alone kept
>> the bike upright and going. i was so angry i could have
>> punched her as i went by(as if that would do any good...and
>> i'd be in prison too!). why didnt the girl stop her.
>> just tug on the burlap saack, say something, grab her
>> elbow??!! i could see with peripheral vision that the people
>> on the side of the road were like spectators waiting for the
>> collision. like a nascar race crash or so. incredible.
>> > a bit later in the same trip i saw a bus stopped
>> ahead, which had just passed me, at an odd angle in right
>> lane. a big crowd of people all around . i slowed as i got
>> closer and i looked down about 20 meters behind all the
>> crowd and vehicles. and i see a large strange shaped pool of
>> bright pink fluid and a pair of flip flops in the road. with
>> no one nearby. i quickly did the math but drove past as
>> slowly as possible. morbid curiosity: is blood really THAT
>> color? fuchsia??...i made VERY sure that i did not run over
>> ANY part of the blood. then, sirens wailing behind me.
>> 'so fast they arrived?' i wondered just how long ago
>> it had happened. the cops stopped between the bus and
>> another vehicle stopped in the left(my) lane so there was no
>> way through. i did NOT want to look back to my left. no
>> ****ing way. one big cop was now in the street and told his
>> buddies in the car to move up and then angrily waved me
>> through...no problem sir...no rubber necking from
>> > me! and then i was off. not even looking in the
>> mirrors. to my surprise, a few moments later, that big pink
>> bus was passing me again.i'd thought it had done that
>> dee, but i guess not.
>> > then i thought of the black burkha. decided to stop
>> driving for the day. sunset was just 20 minutes away anyway.
>> > The good news for me is that now that I am in the
>> very bottom of the country in a place called cox's
>> bazaar(get your maps out!), and my next ride will be a
>> loooooong one up to the north, the roads should be empty and
>> smooth sailing.
>> > I will try to get up to the northern hill area. If
>> not, then to Dhaka while it is empty. Most of the people who
>> live and work in Dhaka are from other areas in bangldesh and
>> they all go home for the holiday. Someone has to eat all
>> those damn cows!
>> > The Northeast of the country has all the tea
>> plantations and is known to be beautiful, hilly country.
>> Can't wait to get up there.
>> > I only got a one month visa so I have to keep moving.
>> Although, there is a place in bandarbon that I would like to
>> stay for a few weeks if I had the time. In case you want to
>> note it, its called milonchori hillside resort and its
>> outside of the town a few kms. Up in the hills with
>> beautiful views, nice rooms, great food and run by 3
>> brothers who care about all the little things. One of those
>> few and far between places to stay you see only rarely in
>> travel.
>> > That's enough for now. The tandoori is firing up,
>> good eats very soon and a long drive tomorrow.
>> > Hope all is well with all of you. Happy birthdays,
>> Merry Christmas, Eid Mubarak and a better new year ahead for
>> us all!!

i hope this informs/entertains everyone and when i can get to a pc i can answer any questions.
later
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Old 22nd December 2008, 12:45   #2
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Its a bit incoherent - but thanks for the effort. What struck me was the 'Roads are better over here[bg] than in India' thing.

To be honest, I concur. I've never seen such bad roads anywhere else in the world. Even our best cities have horrible, really horrible roads at times. And I hate those concrete-made roads being made of late here in Pune. But better something, than nothing.

Bangladesh is where the SE Asia begins - that's an interesting note. Never thought about it like that.
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Old 22nd December 2008, 16:56   #3
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I am beginning to get worried about Mitch. His Bangladesh visa was to end on 22nd December and his Bullet wasn't performing at the top of the form. I hope he has either crossed the border back to India or has got an extension of his visa there.
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Old 23rd December 2008, 20:14   #4
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which part is incoherent? i think my english is pretty darn good!
yes, sudipto, i am back. the bike is fine. i however...
details coming
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Old 23rd December 2008, 21:36   #5
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Hey Mitch
Great to have you back from Bangladesh in one piece - alive and kicking (quite literally) - along with your/my bike. I really feel relieved.
Sudipto
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Old 31st January 2009, 18:45   #6
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Very true...........BD is where SE Asia begins, lots of similar culture, food, attitude etc. As a fellow Bong of BD extraction, I fully concur.
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