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Sunday 2 Jan 2011
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Writings from the train

I know that I never finsihed this blog. I thought, at a minimum, I would add what I wrote in my notepad while waiting for my train across the country and while on the train. I have not changed a word:


6:15 am

Up be 5:25. Sarah got up to say goodbye. Truly very kind of her given the early hour. Strapped on my money belt, containing passport and $60 USD, around my waist. Realised that I should have included more - a bank card, Visa, anything.

Met my driver at the front door - a friendly man who wanted to talk. Great. Given the insanely early hour, got to the train station quickly. My driver was kind enough to ask where I could sit and be left alone - at least somewhat.

While he was asking, I pulled out a Fiber One granola bar - breakfast. When he sat me in a room full of about 30 people (far less than the hundreds next to the track), children follows me in, begging for my last bite. I gave it to them, surprised that they wanted it, although I shouldn't have been ...

So far, a man who originally offered me a seat because there were no others is helping me when trains go by. Incidentally, while I took his seat at first, I quickly decided that my pack is large enough and solid enough to sit on. Hopefully nothing is spilling [note from later - my shampoo did spill all over my other liquids]. I am wearing traditional clothing for the ride, albeit far more ornate than anything anyone else is wearing. I am also attempting to be as uninteresting as possible. People are still staring. Oh well.

On a couch next to me, there is a small lump of material. It is only from the snoring that I am sure that it is a person.

The sun is rising as I write.


7:15 am

First impression on the train - I am glad that I am traveling 1st class. It is grimey - you cannot even see out the windoe but at least it is 7/8 empty. I'm also grateful that it is dark - at least there is less staring. The train itself looks like it originates from when the British ruled - and even then it is an artifact.


8:00 am

I have settled in. I have my book and I just finished cha - black tea with condensed milk and sugar. Very sweet drink. The tea was served in porcelain cups and was just what I needed to settle me. I have yet to be asked to pay for it. I am now relaxed and content. Outside, the sun is almost up although it retains a bright orange hue that reflects in the waters of the rice fields below.

At the moment, I feel proud, brave and accomplished for doing this alone. In China, despite the fact that I was willing to travel alone, I never really did. I had a day when I was traveling without Andy - after I flew back to Beijing to Kunming - but being alone, I tried to convince myself that it was too smoggy and I needed some quiet relaxation so I barely left the hotel room. I knew that I really was staying in the room because I was afaid to be alone. An hour into my train ride and I am convinced that I can do this.

I am happy.


9:11 am

The car is beginning to fill. Outside, from what I can make out through the grime, is flat, lush, and there is water everywhere. Given that this is dry season, I wonder what this looks like in rainy season. How high can the water go?


11:18 am

So I thought that my stop was about 3 stops ago. Apparently I was wrong. Helpful co-passangers tell me that it is the next stop. I'm getting antsy ...

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Alison in Bangladesh

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In what would be the worst 'Where's Waldo' equivalent ever, Alison's going to Bangladesh. Seriously, given a picture containing 200 Bangladeshis and Alison, you would be able to find Alison in less than 1 second. Read on for adventures in conspicuousness.

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