"Dhaka - City of the People" Dhaka by longsanborn
Dhaka Travel Guide: 166 reviews and 460 photos
When I first went to Dhaka for a business trip, I was not expecting much from this capital city of Bangladesh. My colleagues who had been to Dhaka gave me some tips about the city.
When I first arrived at the Dhaka airport, I was surprised to see how bare and shabby-looking the inside of the airport was. There were not many people in the arrival hall area, and I didn't have much trouble with the immigration and the customs officials. After I collected my luggage, I stepped out of the arrival hall/building and I was shocked to see so many people pressing against the wire fences that surrounded the airport building. I felt weird being stared at, like I was an animal in the zoo, and I wondered what all these people were doing. I was greeted/welcomed by the driver of the guesthouse where I was staying. As my transport drove away from the airport, I was further surprised to see how crowded the city was.
There were so many people everywhere - on the streets, lanes and alleys, walkways and pavements; these spaces were filled with goods and stalls, and adults with children - either walking, standing, sitting, squatting, and even lying down or sleeping. Buildings and stores were pasted with huge colorful billboards of all kinds. Then there were the huge roads - they were cramped with all kinds of transport vehicles from bicycles, cycle rickshaws (trishaws) and auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks.
I was quite fascinated and tried to absorb as much as I can, the new vibrant colorful scenes around me. I saw many foreign-import air-conditioned luxury and saloon cars, driven by personal drivers, with the better-dressed occupants in the back. I saw the poorer locals sitting and crowding in colorful trishaws and fast-driving auto rickshaws-cum-little taxis.
Whenever my transport car slowed down due to traffic jams or red lights, beggars would surround the car and knock on the car windows. I was told to ignored the beggars; not to wind down the windows and give out alms to them. Whenever I couldn't bear the poor sight of some beggars, I tried to give some money. But as soon as I did that, more beggars moved quickly towards my car. I remembered feeling overwhelmed.
What bothered me the most was the stark contrast between the rich and the poor. The poor were staying in shoddy houses/shacks made of dry reeds, canvas and pieces of wood/timber. Many of these shacks either stood next to highly fenced-up concrete houses built by the middle-class and the rich, or built along the river banks.
Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the Dhaka District. Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka and its metropolitan area have a population of 11 million, making it the largest city in Bangladesh and one of the most populous cities in the world.
While the urban infrastructure is the most developed in the country, Dhaka suffers from severe challenges such as pollution, congestion, supply shortages, poverty and crime.
I have been to Dhaka 3 - 4 times, mostly for work purposes. I managed to see the city in the afternoons or evenings whenever I finished with my work. At all times, I was accompanied by my local counterpart and were usually driven around in a private car.
I find Dhaka as a city to be modern, rich in culture and vibrant with life, but it is a very crowded and polluted city. The traffic was a nightmare. The local markets are not really impressive. The shopping malls for better-quality goods were too expensive and mainly for foreign tourists. Visiting any public or tourist areas was not a pleasant experience for me because people would openly stare at me or I'd get swamped by child beggars and pestered by older beggars.
However, I find the locals (called Banglas) to be very friendly and helpful. Also the local food was really good - I had eaten some really good meat and vegetable curry and grilled tandoori chickens in Dhaka.
If you plan to visit Dhaka as a tourist, I would advise to get a local guide or arrange a tour. I don't recommend travel around on your own, unless you're brave and adventureous.
- Pros:Vibrant City and Rich in Culture
- Cons:Very Crowded and Polluted
- In a nutshell:For me, 3 times to Dhaka is enough
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