Michael P

Look who i found at the airport
December 28, 2008, 10:22 pm
Filed under: shopping

img_2866My brother, uncle, and dad arrived last night.  I’m pretty excited to be with them.  We ran around the city today and they got a feel for what the last 3 and a 1/2 months of my life have been like.

Bangladesh is known for having lots of clothing.  Today we went to a tailor to get fitted for suits.   They’re really cheap.

img_2874Lots and lots of decisions to make.

img_2878We were served coffee while we figure out what we wanted.

img_2876Tomorrow is the election and we’re not quite sure how much we’ll be able to move around or how much stuff will be open.  But it’s going to be interesting however you look at it.


Christmas and Stuff
December 27, 2008, 10:00 am
Filed under: culture

I really didn’t know what to expect for Christmas.  I’m not a huge fan of all the Western Christmas tradition of gift giving and Santa and stuff like that.  So i was looking forward to a Christmas that didn’t involved cheesy Holiday music and endless ads for sales at local malls.  On Christmas Eve the Pastor Ayub came by with a cake for everyone at the center to eat.  I was given the honor of cutting the cake and i asked for plates and forks for everyone.  I was kind of confused why I was the only one that got a plate and fork but the Bangladeshi way of eating cake is just to plop it in your right hand and eat it right there.

img_2823The next morning i got up early to go to the PCB land.  It was a white christmas of sorts.  Not snowy, but it was really cold by Bangladeshi standards.  We piled into a Toyota HiAce and made the 1/2 hour trip.  After waiting around for a while we had a Christmas service that was pretty much like what i would expect in America, except for the fact that i was in Bangla.  I stood up and talked about what Christmas is like in America (with the aid of Pastor Ayub translating).  People looked pretty confused.

A while after the service ended we had one of the best meals i’ve had in Bangladesh thus far.  Amazing fish, dal, mutton, misty (sweets), curried vegetables, and of course, rice.

img_2859I’m always amazed that people can make such good food with a couple larges fires and some big aluminum pot things.


Instead of taking the HiAce back, i decided to take the bus back with the students.  We had a nice walk through the rural countryside, then took a loud, two stroke baby taxi, then a super crowded bus.


I moved out of the center on Christmas and into the a hotel that i’ll be staying at with my dad, uncle, and brother.  They’re arriving tonight at 9 pm.  I guess for Christmas i got a hot shower and consistent fast(er) internet.

Also, the election here is heating up.  I went for a walk yesterday and happened on a huge (2-3000 people) rally for the Bangladeshi National Party.  I’m almost as excited for the election here as i was for the election in America.  Bangladeshi has much more at stake than the US did.  Everything goes down on the 29th  and i’ll be explaining more about the election tomorrow.

Chittagong Division Recap
December 22, 2008, 12:11 pm
Filed under: travel | Tags: , , , ,

So i got back to Dhaka this morning at about 5:30 am.  I figured out in Bandarban that i was running low on taka and couldn’t get to an atm unless i went to Cox’s Bazaar or Chittagong City, so i decided to leave.  Then i found a free ride to the main road south to cox’s bazaar then caught two different buses and went all the way south to Teknak, the town where you catch a ferry to go to St. Marin’s Island.  I’ve always wanted to go St. Martin’s Island since i came to Bangladesh.  Now i can say i’ve been there… but i feel no need to go back.  There wasn’t much to do.  But now that i have fast(er) internet i can upload some pictures and explain more stuff.

I had to get a permit to got Bandarban because historically it’s been a more violent part of bangladesh.  Most of the people that live in the hills are part of tribes that also go into india and Myanmar.  Back during the independence war (1970’s)  all the indigenous people sided with Pakistan, so the Bangladeshi govt. still doesn’t like them.  It’s really complicated.  The bottom line was that i had to get permit, but the district commissioners office was closed for the national victory day.  So i spent two days wondering around chittagong.  I ended up walking up a hill and hanging out with some kids for a little while.  This girl had a really cute baby goat.  It’s 2 months old


I finally got to bandarban and hiked around for two days.  I went walking for like 2 hours, got a blister, then took a really weird 4×4 van this back to the resort.


My plan when leaving the resort in Bandarban was the just take another weird 4×4 van back the main town then catch a local bus the main road to cox’s bazaar, but some police helped me find a guy from dhaka that goes to university in London.  He gave me a ride to the main road.  Then took two really uncomfortable buses until 8:30 pm to Teknaf.  Teknaf is a border town that’s like 10 km from Myanmar.  The next morning i got on the boat to St. Martin’s Island.

On the boat to st. martin’s i met a bangladeshi that was born in London.  I was surprised to find anyone that spoke english in this part of the country.  He was going to the island with his older brother and his cousin.  They booked a private tour operator for the trip and i tagged along for the next two days.  There really isn’t much to do on the island itself.  After eating and drinking lots of coconut, trying various types of fish, and taking a couple boat tours around the island we headed back to the mainland.


this was our unofficial guide for the island.  A 10 year old named tarik aziz.  He took us around the maze like paths on the island and we bought him coconuts and all sorts of other treats. I woke up at 6 am from all the chickens and decided to walk on the beach.  I ran into tarik and his friend narikel and watched the guys take in the mornings catch.  Later on, they were selling it off for the day and butchering the fish right on the beach


After 1 day on the island i decided to try to get back to Dhaka.  I got pretty lonely and homesick while traveling alone.  I caught the Baghdad Express (that was seriously the name) in Cox’s Bazaar last night at about 8:30 and got back to dhaka this morning at 5:30 am.

There’s a gallery below with lots more pictures that i’m too lazy to explain.  i need a nap.

December 18, 2008, 4:28 pm
Filed under: travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

So my big plan on this little trip is to get to Bandarban. Its one of the three hill districts on the southeastern border of Bangladesh. I had to stop it chittagong for a day to get some paperwork done before i was allowed to go to bandarban. The problem was that 12/16 was the national victory day (over Pakistan) so all the government offices were closed. At 9 am on 12/17 i got up and made my way to the district commissioner’s office to get my paperwork done so i could catch a bus in the morning to Bandarban. After spending about a half hour getting the paperwork done i went back to my hotel, packed up and made my way to the bus station. 5 minutes after arriving there i found a bus to bandbarban and got off the bus two hours later.
The scenery on the bus ride was really nice. One minute we were down in the rice paddies, then the next moment we were climbing up into the hills.
when i was searching on the internet for things about bandarban i came across this hill resort run by a local guide company. I’m the only foreigner here and the only person staying in a 10 person dorm. So i have an entire huge room to myself for 200 taka a night. The resort is on the side of this big hill the looks over the main river in the area and the valley below. The day i arrived i tried walking down the hill to the river and i was reminded of how little exercise i’ve done over the last 4 months. After getting lost a couple of times i decided to head back up before finding the river. The walk back up was really really difficult. With one leg that is weaker than the other and barely any cardiovascular fitness, it took me a while to get back up.
Today i decided to do some more walking. There’s a bunch of tribal villages on the road that the resort is on, so i decided to walk along the road until i got tired. I walked for about two hours and awkwardly said hi to people as they made baskets and did random work around the villages. I can speak some bangla, but absolutely none of the many tribal languages in the area. So there wasn’t much of a way to communicate with any of the locals. Eventually i started to get a blister on my foot so i caught a local 4×4/bus/jeep thing back to the resort.
Tomorrow i’m planning on actually finding the river and taking a boat into the main Bandarban town. I’m only allowed to stay until 12/20, then its off to Cox’s Bazaar. My internet is super slow, so i’ll probably just upload a bunch more pictures when i get a chance to go to coffee world when i get back to Dhaka.


December 15, 2008, 8:24 pm
Filed under: travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I took a train the the south eastern division of Bangladesh, chittagong. my train was called the mahanagar provati. I was hoping that it would have some sort of colorful history and great story to tell you about, but it just means morning intercity. like most transportation outings, someone decided to practice their english with me and make most of the 7 hour journey pretty awkward. Rafi is a journalist in chittagong and decided to tell me all the stuff i didn’t know about america. Like how after cyclone sidr (a terrible cyclone that killed like 40k people in southern bangladesh) the americans were trying to help the bangladeshis only so they could survey the area so they could take over bangladesha and a make it into it’s own seaport. According to Rafi, having bangladesh as the seaport would be very important for carrying out other military operations in south asia. Then he was criticizing the american democratic system saying that its not fair at all since i don’t get to directly vote for the president’s cabinet.  He wasn’t very keen on admitting that bangladeshi has a messed up government, which is does.   Needless to say, i was kind of frustrated with having to explain that there was no reason for america to invade any country in south asia. After this he proceeded to ask for my email, phone number, and address (like everyone else that talks to me on trains or buses) and insisted that i come see him when i come back to chittagong on my way back to dhaka. I think i’ll pass.
Besides the 7 hours of awkwardness during my train ride, i’m happy to have arrived in chittagong. Dhaka is as flat as a pancake, but chittagong has a few hills. I really like hills. I went walking in some hills for like an hour and a half today, it was really nice.
Tomorrow i have to work out some logistical things before i can make it to my next destination, Bandarban.
Here’s a picture of a hill.

Very last class
December 13, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

So i taught my very last class today. Unfortunately only about half the class was there because some people were away working at a seminar (i think). The class got some money together and bought me a handmade khata from a handicraft store here. It’s like a big piece of black fabric that has hand embroidery all over it. It’s pretty nice.
It’s really weird to think that my time in Bangladesh is coming to a close. There were a lot of times where i thought there was no way i’d ever be sad or miss things about Bangladesh, but i’m definitely going to miss the people that i’ve been living with here at the CRS and my other students. tonight is my second to last night at the CRS (i think) and i’m gathering my things together so that i can move into a guesthouse for a couple of days between when i get back to Dhaka and when the more adventurous members of my family arrive.

train ticket purchasing
December 11, 2008, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I went to buy my train ticket to Chittagong today. I’m going to the eastern part of Bangladesh for 10 days on Monday and i heard that you should get your ticket ahead of time. Now i guess that’s not really true because there were lots of people buying their tickets for today.
When i first got to the train station i thought this whole experience was going to be a disaster. Everything was in Bangla and there were tons of people waiting in like 6 different lines. I decided to get in one a got some help from a guy my age who was leaving tonight for Chittagong. Luckily i knew the name of the train i wanted to take (mahanagar provati) and the ticket guy could understand dates in English, so it was a pretty easy experience. I was amazed that they had computers running all the ticket purchasing. I figured buying a ticket would be like going to the post office, which use scales that look like they are from well into the British colonial era.