Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, has 10 million people; thousands of busses of all shapes, sizes, and ages; tens of thousands of green three wheeled vehicles known as baby taxis; six hundred thousand rickshaws; and, a few cows.
The road from the airport is zoned for only automobiles and busses. Other places, such as old town Dhaka, allow only rickshaws but, many times, it is faster by foot. Air pollution is a continuing problem despite the requirement to use natural gas powered four-stroke engines in the baby taxis.
In Dhaka, as well as in other cities of Bangladesh, a driver drives a horn. Yes, ones vehicle lights and/or brakes can go out and the journey can continue BUT, when the horn goes out, he really is considered dangerous.
The Buri Ganga River runs through the middle of town and it, like the rest of the city, is congested with boat taxis, ferryboats, cargo boats and people bathing and doing their laundry. Most of the smaller boats are hand powered. Trash accumulates all year along the banks waiting for the annual summer monsoons to wash it down the river.
Shopping in Dhaka is easy. The vendors have their wares all around. For the tourist, there are souvenirs; for the home, there are fruits and vegetables; and, for the serious Muslim, there are toothbrushes from Pakistan. These special wooden sticks are mentioned in their holy book, the Quran. A spiritually minded Muslim can often be seen in the middle of the street brushing his teeth. The Hindus, on the other hand, can use any old stick to clean their teeth.
Homeopathic doctors have their shops set up along the streets and one can buy just about any kind of medicine --- no doctors prescription is required.
Bangladesh is known throughout the world for its garment industry. The wages are low but the one million workers are glad to have a job.
Electrical and phone utilities provide interesting diversion for one who wonders about strict electrical codes.
Dhaka, like the rest of Bangladesh, is very religious with over 85% of the people claiming the Muslim faith with mosques in prominent locations throughout the city. About 14% are Hindus and they are an oppressed minority. Less than one third of one percent is Christian. The oldest Christian church in the city, the Anglican Church, is located in old town Dhaka. British missionaries established this church.
The Ahsan Manzil, located near the river, provides a glimpse of the past glory of the city. A member of the Bengal elite built it during the time of the British Raj. Unfortunately, cameras are not permitted in the excellent museum.
A few five-star hotels are available for rich Americans and European tourists but you wont see Dhaka by staying in this hotel. To see the city, one must venture out on a rickshaw or visit one of the many markets such as the central market located near the river.
When you come to visit us, enjoy your time, but realize that 8 ½ million of the people are Muslim. Women, whether Muslim, Hindu or Christian, must dress very conservatively here. Most wear a loose fitting pants-like garment called the shaliwa khameese. You may want to purchase one in Dhaka so that you will feel more comfortable among our 10 million people.
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