Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Forest fortuna adiuvat - Fortune favors the brave

Wednesday. December 3 2014 – Chittigong Bangladesh

Sorry no pictures today I've been on a bus for nearly eight hours which really cuts down on picture taking.

The checkout of the hotel was easy and simple, except I almost walked off with the plastic key to the room. That would have been a major faux pas. Naseef and Jeet both gave me advice on what to see where. One of the main problems with Naseef's itinerary is that it require that I change hotels and towns every night. That sounds to me to be like a tapas dinner. Lots of small things and time to enjoy a full bite of any one area. I think I am going to stay here two nights and explore the city tomorrow and then move on to a smaller town. I am tried of the noise and the pace of Dhaka and this city already. If I can't get a better feeling for Bangladesh by the weekend I am thinking of hitting a different country.

I thought Ethiopia was not ready for prime time. Ethiopia makes Bangladesh like Paris as far as things are set up for the tourist trade. I know I will change my mind after a good night's sleep. I also have the sniffles which I am sure adding to my tiredness and lack of enthusiasm.

This hotel is an odd duck. I am not sure what it was designed as, possibly as a dorm for the nearby medical school. At least medical care is just a short walk/crawl away. But for $35 a night my wallet isn't complaining. Naseef booked this hotel for me. The email confirmation said it would be $65 a night, I took a look at TripAdvisor to see what was said about the hotel. Nothing. Not a single review. What it did say was the booking.com had the same room for the thirty-five. When I mentioned it he was surprised. He said he called the hotel direct and they wanted more then the sixty-five, so he went to the Dhaka website that gives the hoteliers the best rate. So one got canceled and another got confirmed.

I was going to take the hotel car to the bus station, but Naseef pointed out that it would be much easier for a small tuk-tuk to negotiate the traffic than a full sized vehicle, not to mention that it would of course be less expensive. Someway or another I was able to cram my luggage and myself into the little jail. It was great advice, as the cars and buses were stalled in gridlock the little tuk-tuk squeezed in here and there and left them in a cloud (not) of propane.

The bus was right on time. I had purchased a business class ticket which meant that there was more leg room and reclining seats. It had the same scraped sides and broken windows, but it it was pretty comfortable. My seat was directly behind the driver so that when we had the head on collision with a huge sand truck or other bus I would be the second person to get off the bus. With just a little luck the driver would have already broken out the windshield as we flew through the air.

There were a few times that I thought we were much, much too close to hitting another vehicle head on. The tuk-tuks and the rickshaws didn't concern me as the buses closing at our same speed of 60 mph. I found myself tilting my head away from the window during the close ones. Like that would do any good.

Just like Dhaka the road was full of pedestrians, rickshaws, tuk-tuks trucks and the new addition of screaming long distance buses. Everyone had their piece of the road and held on to it like it was gold. The tuk-tuks and rickshaws were like minnows in a sea of Orca whales. It's not like the whale wants to squish the minnow, they just don't maneuver as quickly. The driver stayed on the horn nearly the whole way. Sometimes a quick tap to let them know we were coming of -passing. Sometimes laying on it in frustration at some vehicle who was taking up the middle of the road and wouldn't move to the side so we could pass.

Half way through the trip we stopped for potty and grub. I looked for a kiosk to buy a cigarette, but it turned out it was closed for lunch. So the manager gave me one of his. That was very nice of him. I ordered a Coke and it came in one of those old thick refillable bottles. The ones with the thick bottoms giving the name to thick glasses, Coke Bottle lenses.

We got into Chittigong a little later than I expected and well after dark. Of course there was the tuk-tuk driver to help me. I had planned ahead and written down the address of the hotel and phone number. He said he knew it, well he did know the general area and after a stop to ask a friendly neighbor or two we arrived at the hotel. He really overcharged me, but being over charged by a tuk-tuk driver is about the same a dropping the meter on a taxi in New York, and you hadn't gone a foot yet.

I got some food in me now and some fluids and am feeling better. Still dripping, but not feeling totally exhausted. Think I'll close this for now and go find a bed.

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