Sunday November 30 2014
I am tired seven thirty and it feels like it is midnight to me.
I got my full seven last night and by the sounds of the traffic outside I doubt I'll get that much for the next night or two. The only problem was that the seven ended at four thirty am.
The morning was as mornings go. Checking email and drinking coffee. Eating breakfast and .. well you know the routine, probably the same as mornings everywhere.
I had purchased the airline ticket yesterday. I found a flight from Bangkok to Dhaka for less than half of the prices the travel agent asked. It was the price I had expected, an internet price.
When I reached the check in counter at BKK the wheels on the bus didn't fall off the bus, but they did start wobbling. The lines t0o the counters were long and choked. The signs said “Hand carry only” but no one was heading the restriction, so neither did I. It still took 20 minutes to get to the counter and there were only four -people before me in line.
I handed the woman my passport and e-Ticket. She did the computer thing while the (I assume) supervisor looked through my passport. “You don't have a visa for Bangladesh” No I'll get a VOA (Visa of arrival) there. “But you only have a one way ticket” Yes I don't know how long I will stay. “But with no return ticket they will not issue a VOA” Don't worry I have plenty of cash and nearly enough credit cards to play poker with.”Show me the credit card you paid with” To wit she wrote down the numbers on a piece of paper before handing me my boarding pass and passport back.
The e-ticket's vernacular has changed over the years. Before it was an airline ticket, it was a coupon in the booklet you got when you went to Disneyland. The E ticket got you on the absolutely best rides in the park and there were only two or three of them in the book. You always went home with a book still holding a few A's a couple B's and maybe a C, but never ever have I seen a E ticket outside of the park.
As you waited in line for the particular E ticket ride of your choice there were sign saying “You have an hour wait from this point” and the signs times decreased the closer you got to the ride. I wish they had that implements for the e-Ticket at BKK's outbound Immigration section. I think an honest hour was spent my me and my neighbors in that line today. They were so backed up that the escalators had to be stopped so they didn't end up piling like cord wood at the bottom of the stairs. THEN four Germans (they had to be Germans) jumped the line. If he could have gotten through the crowd one particular Dutchman would have pounded them into Weinerschnitzle.
I guess the bright side was that once I got to the boarding gate I didn't have to wait very long before the flight was called. The seat was a great revenue builder for the airline. Thin and very close to the seat in front. Don't even think of crossing your legs unless you want to stand up on your seat to do it, before re-seating yourself.
I knew that Bangladesh had a Muslim majority but was surprised to here the announcement “In the name of Allah the merciful we wish to welcome you to flight …..” Whoops ! Did I get on Saudi Airlines by mistake? Then came “ … Inshallah we will arrive at ...”. Inshallah used to be one of my favorite and most used Arabic words. It means “If God wills”. It was great for blowing off pushy salesmen in Morocco and Egypt. “I'll be back tomorrow, Inshallah” God very infrequently 'shallah'ed It is not what you want to hear from your flight attendant. “We will be landing in 10 minutes ----- IF God wills” now there is a sentence guaranteed to not instill confidence in your flight crew.
It seems that God did will we arrive and then the pushing and shoving began. You would have thought that there was a fire at the rear of the plane for all the climbing over of seats and shoving involved. Really if this is the way it is under normal circumstances, don't let me be on a plane under emergency situation in Bangladesh. I'll kill the first guy who did what he did to me today until I cross checked him and said “Are you in a hurry?”. He backed off. Where was he pushing to go ? A bus on the tarmac where he would have to wait for the other half of the plane to arrive ?
The VOA was a snap. The Immigration officer did some scratching in a book. Asked me how long I would be (3 weeks) and said I'll give you a month. Now go pay that guy over there. Click, crunch, thunk ! And I was now legally in the country. I really hope my credit card number back in BKK doesn’t get stolen, Inshallah.
The hotel's car picked me up and got me to the hotel rather quickly. Dhaka's traffic is supposed to be among the worst in the world but it didn't seem any worst that most other big cities where the lines on the road are just suggestions of how many vehicles can fit that same area at the same time. The hotel was in a very quiet residential area. The room was on the small side, but adequate. I had just pulled out my camera to take photos for TripAdvisor when the phone rang. “Uh, Ma'am you are at the wrong hotel. You are at the other Best Western. Our driver made a mistake” Seriously ?
That was when we experienced the real traffic in Dhaka. When it was moving it was crowded and noisy. When it wasn't moving it wasn't moving. We sat for 45 minutes and didn't move. Long enough that I got out of the car and stood on the road side as I smoked. It took from a 3 pm arrival to seven thirty to get to the right hotel., eight miles from the airport.
The hotel did a lot of ass kissing. Giving me a suite and waiving the fee from the airport. But for now, I'm tired and will forgo the description of the room. Suffice it to say it isn't Best Western standards or over a hundred a night standards.