My first memory of learning about Bangladesh had to do with one of its devastating natural disasters. According to the news reporter there were so many waterways in Bangladesh that putting dikes around them all would take one hundred years of continuous labor. This statistic boggled my mind.
The second story followed years later, from an expat. Her memories were about Bangladesh’s never-abating heat and humidity; the frequent power failures (she would drive around in her car for hours just to be in a space cooled by aircon); the cockroaches and the rats; the dirt and the noise; and the Bengalis chewing paan, incessantly spitting red globs all around them, or emptying their nose on the pavement.
With these images and stories I stood on the border of Bangladesh, which we crossed for practical reasons: to get our Land Cruiser shipped to Singapore during our 3,5-year overland journey from Europe to Asia. I had no expectations about encountering an interesting culture or enjoying this particular part of the journey. The images I carried in my head were too discouraging.
We stayed for seven weeks. The above-mentioned issues certainly are part of life in Bangladesh and we saw and experienced them all. But, as traveling has shown us so often, there is always a side to a country’s image different from the one presented to the outside world.
In Bangladesh this was no different.
Bangladesh – A Surprisingly Beautiful Country
We discovered a country with incredibly hospitable people and were invited to stay in various homes. Dhaka, the capital, is thronged with traffic, among which some two million rickshaws and their pleasantly jingling bells dominated all other noise and sounds inherent in a major city.
We learned about the country’s rich history, visiting numerous ruins and restored buildings, palaces, rajbaris (mansions of the British era) and places of worship, among which Buddhist monasteries, Hindu temples, and mosques. Bangladesh turned out to be a fantastic country, in particular for culture and history buffs like we are.
Traveling to Bangladesh
We feel that Bangladesh ranks undeservedly low on the average traveler’s itinerary. Why? Because people don’t know about it? Because of its general image, like I mentioned above, is too discouraging? Who knows.
It’s a cheap country to travel in but those who seek comfort and have the means to pay for it, they can find that too. Quite a few people speak English and it’s easy to travel with public transport because that’s what the average Bengali uses as well.
Creating Following Roads & Rivers in Bangladesh
I’ve always enjoyed putting together scrapbooks and photo albums but when we started our journey in 2003, and starting taking photos digitally, those hobbies disappeared into the background.
After having written so many articles and stories about our journey I was ready for a new challenge. I love Coen’s photos and I know many followers of our journey do to. So I figured, why not do something with that? Here is the result.
I thoroughly enjoyed creating a photo book about Bangladesh. Selecting some 175 photos of the more than 1300 that we took and writing the descriptions brought back many good memories: places, landscapes, people, encounters. Coen’s trained eye not only as a photographer but also as a graphic designer gave the professional touch to the layout of the book.
Part of our travel is about sharing lesser-known places in the world with anybody who is interested in learning about them. We talk about places that we feel are worth getting to know, and often show the flip side of the average media coverage of countries outside our comfort zone. Hopefully this photo book will shed a positive light on Bangladesh, encouraging you to go check out the country for yourself.
To the people we met, the friends we made in Bangladesh: thank you our friends, for opening your homes for us, feeding us, showing us where you live and how you live. The memories are profound and beautiful. We hope one day our roads will cross once more.
Following Rivers & Roads in Bangladesh – find it here.
For books we read and contributed to, check out our Bookshop.
12 thoughts on “Following Roads & Rivers in Bangladesh – a Photo Book”
a very warm greeting from – BANGLADESH! We are a German family living and working and travelling now 18 years in Asia. We moved last August to Dhaka and slowly get settled – all the Hartals and political unrest, the unefficiency and the bureaucracy are taking its toll….
I follow your website for quite some time and enjoy the photos and uplifting stories. We have a Unimog campervan and plan to travel the world as well on a slow pace – but first the kids need to finish school.
Keep up your writing style and photos – love it!
Best regards from Bangladesh
Good to hear from such a remote corner of the world. Hartals still going on huh? We had our share of those. Living or traveling in Bangladesh… big difference. We loved traveling there but living there must be tough if for nothing but the climate. We hope you’ll enjoy your time there, eating lots of that splendid Bengali fish we remember so well. Don’t forget to roam the countryside, lots of beautiful historical culture to visit there.
Living or traveling in Bangladesh… big difference.
Right! We do it for our living – and to have our two kids in one of the best international schools of the world. Most people don’t know: the American International School in Dhaka seems to be the most international of all international schools – currently 72 nationalities are educated here. Both our kids are coping pretty well with the circumstances. My wife is running an office for a German company which we have started from scratch last August. Lot’s of opportunities – and challenges of course – over here. Nothing for the faint hearted 😉
Enjoy your travels and stay healthy!
Very beautiful photos of my country but some information seems little incorrect. For example, the caption for a buffalo pulling cart shows that it is a common transportation means in the country. Its not correct at all. This cart is used mainly in northern part of the country. However, I am feeling good seeing a foreigner’s statements on my country :). I think you missed the longest sea beach in Cox’s Bazar, beautiful scenario of Hilly districts Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagracchari. Next time try to roam in this areas.
Hi, thanks for your comment. I looked it up: the image was taken near Rajshahi, northwest of Dhaka. I’ll change the caption into “some parts of the country”, no problem. If you see more inadequacies, please point them out to me. I’ll be happy to correct them. Your comment makes me aware once more how easy we tend to generalize what we see…
And I totally agree, we missed so much in Bangladesh. There is definitely more than enough reason to return one day.
Late but worth reading..:) hello from a corner of beautiful Bangladesh. you said right that, living there must be tough. but, we living here with happiness among loving people. you are always welcome to our motherland. hope will meet 🙂 Thanks
Nirob from Bangladesh
Hi Nirob, good to hear from you. Bangladesh is definitely on our list for a return visit – one day.
Very interesting blog.You have exactly showed the culture of bangladesh.Its similar to Indian culture..thanks for sharing your experience with us
This really looks like such a lovely place. I can only imagine how busy it must be with so many rickshaws alone zipping all over the place. But your photos show quiet areas full of serenity as well.
The rickshaw craze is intense, as is the number of people… But you’re right, once in the countryside you’ll find enough places that are quiet and peaceful. Lots of water and agriculture, particularly rice and jute, to void of (intense) habitation.
I have never been to Bangladesh but your photos make me want to plan a trip there soon. I know I am a little late to the party but hopefully, the good thing you have mentioned are still in place. I will return to share my experiences afterwards.