Saturday, 30 May 2015

Clara's Travel Tales: The Bangladesh Edition (Part 1)

It's that time of the month, when I suddenly realise that time has somehow done its thing and flown again! With only a few hours left till the end of the month, I have decided to take inspiration from my last post and write about my time in Bangladesh.... I hope you enjoy reading it.

My decision to study nursing was very last minute and as I couldn't be too picky, I ended up having only 2 requirements: a London university that offered study abroad options. This is something that was and remains quite rare amongst nursing students in the UK, however as your resident OCDer, I did my research  and managed to snag a place at the highly reputable King's College. Immediately after getting my admission, I asked about going abroad and was told that the very few places available were reserved for the best students. This was enough motivation for me to work hard and get a 1st (which without further motivation, only ended up being a 2:2 by graduation), in my first year. In the end, only a handful of people wanted to go abroad and even fewer qualified for the opportunity, and almost every one of them chose "safe" places like the US, western European countries etc. Me, I just wanted to use the opportunity to have an extended visit with my best friend Jenni, in her home country of India. (Un)fortunately it was difficult for me to find a nursing school and/or organisation that was willing to take me in her area, however, just before giving up, I stumbled across the idea of going to Bangladesh. I was like why not? India's just next door, and the culture (which I know quite well thanks to Jenni), is quite similar right? Wrong! I was to discover and fall in love with a new culture, language and people.

So anyway, I went with the organisation BMS, and was told I'd be going to a place called Chandraghona, somewhere in the south-eastern corner of the country close to the border with Thailand.  Arriving in Dhaka the capital, after almost 14hours in the air, I was overwhelmed with the crowds (especially the children running after me), the heat, the noise and the smells. Luckily I had people from BMS to collect me and we made the long arduous journey to what would be my home for the next few week. As soon as I arrived, I noticed that the people looked nothing like my stereotype of Bangladeshis, with most of them looking like they could be Thai or Malay. I asked and was told that this was a group of people that was collectively known as the Jumma; the tribal people of the Chittagong hill tracts. They were apparently marginalised by the rest of Bangladesh, and had been fighting for their independence for a few years. As a matter of fact, I was there during a period of political unrest, when a lot of guerrilla tactics were being employed by both the state and the freedom fighters. In fact there had been a spate of kidnapping of foreigners just before I arrived, but apart from having to apply for special permission to go on holiday in the area, (with my own special police convoy to boot 8-/), I personally had no problems. Anyways enough of my rambling, on to some of the highlights and lowlights of my time in Chandraghona.

 My Dhaka "fans" ;)

 The hilarious notice at a Café in Dhaka
A Hindu shrine, with revered turtles. Those turtles lead a charmed, pampered life I tell you!

I have decided to break this up into a three part series because it would otherwise be a very long read, so look out for parts 2 and 3 over the next few hours.

1 comment:

  1. Lol @ cockroaches have cancer. Hilarity!

    Look what happens when you don't give up. You went to Bangladesh.


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