Guide book? Nope. Local currency? Nope. Map? Nope. Knowledge of the language? Nope. Accommodation booked? Nope. Injections? Nope. Health Insurance? Nope
This was my check list as I flew from Bangkok To Dhaka, Bangladesh’s underdeveloped capital. To say I was unprepared would be a bit of an understatement, but it all works out in the end, right? Hmmm…
After a long day trekking around Dhaka where my first memory was eating curry with my wrong hand (the left one) and getting scolded by the restaurant owner, we were handed a life-line. A Bangladeshi draped proudly in an England football shirt came bounding over to me to welcome us to his country, in pretty decent English. We chatted a little and before long we were invited to his house that evening to have dinner with his family.
After having dinner with his extended family, he insisted on walking us back to our hotel. Thanks to my serious lack of preparation for this trip, we had ended up staying in a hotel in ‘Old Dhaka’, where running water and electricity were at a real premium. Air-con had yet to be introduced to Old Dhaka and the 40 degree heat was overbearing.
The next morning, Raul (our Bangladeshi friend) called one of his friends to meet us. He took great pride in being new friends with seemingly the only white people in Dhaka (certainly in Old Dhaka). We spent the afternoon exploring together, and as the evening came we all had some tea together and then went back to the lobby of our hotel.
This is where things went wrong. As we went back to the lobby Raul’s friend called another friend to join us, all very innocent and he was keen to show people he had some foreigner friends. My 2 buddies and me, alone with Raul’s two friends, one of whom was female, all sat downstairs and chatted for an hour or so. Chatting about travels, about Bangladesh, about their families, really interesting evening. We were really tired from the heat though so we soon told him we’d meet for lunch the next day and headed up stairs to our room, dodging rats and cockroaches quite successfully on the way.
I was asleep as soon as my head the pillow around 11pm. I was in a deep slumber until I was awoken by the most aggressive pummelling of my hotel room door.
BANG BANG BANG BANG. “WTF is that, what time is it, 4am”?!!?
I jumped up, pulled some clothes on and tentatively opened the door to my room when a huge Bangladeshi guy burst through the door, before I could even open it fully, 3 of his big, burly friends soon followed, bullet-proof vests on, guns cocked and ready to go! Flash lights in our face, shouting in a language I knew nothing of. This was not good….
After a few words were exchanged, nothing was understood and I was pretty terrified. One of the guys with a Government badge left the room while the others stood watch over me and my 2 friends. The guy who left went to wake up the hotel manager and dragged him in to translate.
“You are with a brown girl, tonight, with a brown, Bangladeshi girl – where is she!?” The police man is translated as saying
“Huh?! It’s our mate’s mate, what’s going on” I respond
“You’re having sex with a prostitute, it’s illegal. Why you do this in my hotel?!”
“What are you talking about? We shared a coffee left”
“You lie, you lie, this is big problem in Bangladesh, big money”
They proceeded to search our room again – cartoon style. Looking under the bed, then in the cupboards, then under the sheet on the bed (I think you would have noticed the her under that mate – genius). They then informed us that if they find her we will go to prison and have to pay a fine. “How much?” I asked. “If she’s beautiful, very much. If she’s not so beautiful and fat, not so much”. Ok, good to see the justice system is working nice and fairly then.
After another couple of minutes they realized she wasn’t in our room (good work Sherlock), they apologized and left within 20 seconds, leaving me and my mates to go back to bed very thankful she wasn’t there, and wondering about what the rest of our time in Bangladesh will entail! Quite the start to my travels.