Location: Kolkata, India
On the next day after the temple we thougth we would make things a little more light - hearted and visit the zoo. Well bad mistake.
Firstly; anyone we walked past would stop staring at the animals and stare at us (you did warn us Tina and Levi...). And it wasn't the friendly stare that we had become accustomed too it was sort of a scornful look us up and down kind of look. I (bec) did not like it at all and got into the habit of the 'death stare' which is a really BAD idea as I just don't think people realise that it is rude (it probably isn't in their culture!!!) and they would stare back even more intensively. Women over there usually keep their eyes down so when a man is looked at by another woman and for a long period of time I don't think they take to it very nicely. The other thing about their stares is that they don't stop when you walk past - as I would sometimes sneak a glance back and see a group of people just following you with their eyes - YUCK. I even tried smiling at a few of them and that did not work either...
Secondly, the zoo was in such a bad state of repair (perhaps I thought it would be a little better maintained than some of the rest of Kolkata where some places are very dirty with a number of human wastes and rubbish wastes).
The animals looked a little worse for wear and the big lions and tigers were kept in the tiniest little concrete 'compartments' about the size of our lounge room. Scary. Basically they just laid there bored out of their brains (yes I spoke to them) not doing anything as people were hissing at them and making noises to try and get them to move or do something. The best thing however (to add a positive) was the rhino. he was charging back and forth puttting on a great display. Good stuff and he had a bigger area to run around in. The hippo wasn't so lucky. He spent most of his time under this murky green thick kind of liquid. I wonder what the mortality rate is here...
Thats all for us for probably the end! We are both jet lagged as we have been awake for 24 hours now! (we may not be much company Andromeda and Kel...!)
bec and tim.
P.S Fixed up some of the photos if anyone is interested.
Location: Kolkata, India
on thursday we visited the Kali Temple. It is apparently the hindu temple that Kolkata was named after. We did not have any problem finding it. As their were many guides waiting for us. The tour happened in a rush and we shuffled though the place like sheep being herded though gates. We were given flowers dots on our foreheads and lots of prayers. At the beginning of the tour we were assured that the priest Guide (Brahmin) was doing his work voluntarily, and did not want us to feel obliged to give any money.
At the end of the tour, he showed us a book and asked us to write our names and our country and 2100 rupees next to it. Bec asked why should we write such a large number. He told us that it was the cost of a bag of rice and it would be used to feed the poor. Fortunately we had read about such tricks in the lonely planet guide, (thanks jo and joram). So we said we will give you 100. He got really mad and told us we were stingey and that everyone else had given 2100 (AUD 63). Bec was getting fired up by this stage so they split us up and tried to work on me only. They got bec to start chanting some strange verse, which she resisted. Fortunately I did not give in to their forceful demand.
Catch the plane tonight then spend 2 nights in Melbourne. Then home to see you all
Sad story of the ZOO later
Love heaps tim and bec
Location: Kolkata, India
Happy Australia Day,
hope you all had a good one.
Yesterday we went and saw the grave of Mother Teresa. There was an amazing sense of awe and respect in the room. In the after noon we were taken around the orphanage run by the sisters of charity by one of the nuns. The nun was a fully trained phamacist who worked in the dispensary in one of their other projects. In one of the rooms there was 350 babies under 6mths with no parents. We were also able to see rooms of older children. In each room there was about 10 - 20 children to 1 or 2 carers. The children we craving attention. We also saw a centre which looked after handicapped children. The ministries were very moving. We were humbled by the service of the volunteers and then sisters.
Today we changed our hotel. We were finding the amount of insect spray being used hard to tolerate. After we moved, we headed for the book fare. While we were walking there we came to be behind some other white skinned people. The side walk was very busy and the man infront of us was literally hip and shouldering people out of his way and the way of his partner. Bec and I were disgusted. He almost started a fight with the crowd. We quickly stopped following these people.
The book fair was quite amazing. Apparently it is the biggest in Asia. But there is only so many books that can be looked at. Although Bec thinks there is never enough.
At the moment, Bec is taking the money at the internet cafe. Apparently she is doing a good job.
Cant wait to see you all.
Love Tim and Bec
Location: Kolkata, India
yesterday we went for a long walk and someone offered to help us and he took us for a very long walk to his 'families' hotel and told us the only room available was the most expensive one. So we thanked him lots and caught the subway home.
We only had about 8 seconds to get off at the right station. This almost caused a problem as we were facing the wrong way. Fortunately we both got off at the right place.
Hope to see the sisters of charity today.
Love you all Tim and Bec
Photo page been added! - FINALLY... On the right hand side...
Location: Sudder st, Kolkata, India
The bus ride:
The bus was actually quite comfy with air conditioning that we couldn't turn off which meant we were really cold with just thermals and blankets we had bought with us! So we got comfortable and tried to sleep.
At about 2.30 in the morning, we came across a big tree that had been cut down so the bus could not get through. Basically to cut a long story short; a large group of robbers had cut down the tree with the intention of coming onto the bus to take everything. They had guns but luckily our bus driver saved us by driving quickly to the side of the road and going over the log with a big bump. When we finally did cross the border some Bangladeshis told us that we had been very lucky (blessed - we'd like to put it) that they did not get ONTO the bus as they leave nothing. Apparently the bus after us was not so blessed, as the bus was fired at and from what we were told the men actually got onto the bus - we are not sure how bad it was.
What an adventure! However please keep praying for us (nervous laugh!!). WE did not realise but at the time we were travelling (on the day of EID) people have a bit more money and travel to Kolkata to get treatment (for what we don't know!) which is why the robbers choose that day to do their robbing! After having such a safe time in Bangladesh it has jaded our experince some what.
After crossing a very confusing border (where some men would push us all the way to the front only for men with guns to tell us (in our australian translation) to stop pushing in and go back to the start of the line) we were told that the bus was late and to get onto the jeep - I (Bec) was very skeptical about this arrangement as I could see a bus that was going to Kolkata! Tim just went with the flow and after we got on the jeep we saw some other people from our bus (previously) and they spoke English and said that is was OK - it was going to Kolkata. AND we are safely here now. It is 9.30am and we are trying to find some where to eat.
Love Bec and Tim.
Location: Back in Dacca, Bangladesh
WELL now that we have experienced EID, I (Bec) am not sure that I want to experience it again. Basically, read on only if you are not pregnant, weak in the stomach or don't like blood...
On the sides of the road (whereever we would go) there were cows and goats being led to the slaughter. They pulled them out and held them down on the ground while one man basically (not cut) but 'sawed' threw the main artery in their neck. The cows were shaking and it took them a few minitues before they stopped moving. Then there was the skinning; all happening on the concret in front of the buildings. Apparently during EID there is an increase of 'professional butchers'. We went inside after this but there was still the noise of hacking of bones and meat (and the like!). Just when we thought it might be over, there was blood pouring down the streets in every direction and people (esp. the poor) coming to collect meat in bags. After that almost every rickshaw we saw go past had the skins of cows, plus heads and guts and stuff. The smell was pretty gross. Some of the drivers (sitting on the skins) were making jokes about us making clothes out of the skins.
Anyway, we are leaving Bangladesh tonight at 10.15pm for our long trip; we just bought some 'snacks' and we are both feeling really tired. It has been a really intense two weeks. We have seen so much of Bangladesh in such a short time that it feels like we have been here for ages. If we were travelling on our own we never would have seen or stayed in some of the most amazing places. The group have been fantastic and we have made some good friends.
We hope everyone is really well and look forward to seeing you all soon!! Keep us updated...
Bec and Tim.
Location: dhaka, Bangladesh
tonight is the night before eid. Eid is a muslim festival which celebrates the time when god provided abraham with a substitute lamb so he would not have to sacrifice his own son. It a public holiday. Apparently 5 million cows will be sacrificed tommorrow. And everyone including the poor will have meet to eat for the next three days. On our way driving through the streets of dhaka we saw many cows being walked through the street and being tied up at the front gates of buildings.
The last few days we have been north of dhaka. We look at a project by symbosis on the jamina river. This project was working with about 20 thousand people who were living on a sandbar in the middle of the river. When it floods each year they often have to stay on the roofs of their houses for more than a week. The project was mainly education, income generation, and micro credit.
On wednesday night some of bangladeshes river gypsies played us some tunes and sung for us. One of their young girls danced for us and moved in amazingly beautiful dance. They also woke some cobras up for us so that we could see them dance as well.
Menus here are really funny;
Anyone for some beef stake? Or some roast leg of lamp? And often sighns will say the accomodation or food is of 'international standard' - we still haven't worked out what that means...
From hear we head for calcutta a 17hr bus trip. Not sure exactly which date we leave. Find that out tommorrow
Location: Banani, Bangladesh
Well we have just arrived back from a place called Khulna which is South of here (7 hours by BUMPY bus ride!) and haven't been able to access this page so sorry about that!!
We spent some time in a rural villiage which was a real blessing because we could take a deep breath of air and not be coughing and spluttering. So far the only ailment Tim and I have had is a cold (others have been sick with diarrohoea/vomiting). Suprisingly I (Bec) have had trouble with the Bangladesi rich and spicy food - it was one thing I was really looking forward too - perhaps it is also the HUGE amounts of it that we kept getting served! Even the smell can be nauseating! There is not a lot of Western food here (which is not suprising, considering the amount of tourists that come here!).
Anyway the rural villiage; because Bangladesh is so flat and most of it is below sea level there is so much water so they raise up small paths and cover small villiage roads with bricks. We travelled approx 40km on the back of a 'cart' rickshaw to see 4 projects. One was a school for women to learn about the law (effecting divorce - from the male and female perspective and dowry). This school had about 15-20 women (also perfect attendence).
The next project was another school informing villiagers about HIV aids, arcenic in water and ways of being able to drink the water safely. Both schools were held outside on the dirt.
Another project was a commitee based of 15 women and one man that discussed any issues the villiage people were facing, discussing and implementing initiatives. If I had to live in Bangladesh I would choose to live in this villiage!
That is all for now - time for dinner!
Love you all and miss chocolate pudding.
Location: dhaka, Bangladesh
today we visited on of HEEDs projects in the old Dhaka area. HEED is the one of the NGOs doing lots of projects in bangladesh. Today we visited a project where adolescent girls are teaching preschool children in the slums. They do this four hours a day and in return heed pays for them to be able to finish off high school. which is also four hours a day. The girl teachers are selected because they have been forced to drop out of school because of their parents work situation. The children are amazingly beuatiful and some of the teachers are 13 years old and they are so mature. It was inspiring to see, it also inpired bec in teaching.
After this the president of HEED Bangladesh invited all twenty of us in to his home for dinner. And again we were treated with so much generousity and hospitality.
Going to the sunderbauns tomorrow, 7hrs on a bus. Trying to get the MP3 player together. Thank you joram i am sure we will both appreciate it.
bye for now
love you all
Location: Banani, Bangladesh
We got off the plane with no hassels except the guy at customs kept asking me (Bec) if everything I had said was 'true'! Well of course it was true - but maybe I just don't seem like a believable character...Tim seemed to get on fine.
Well after an hour we had our bags and headed outside (there was this haze of smog and polution that you could see and smell straight away). The other thing was the NOISE! I think each car was just taking it in turn to honk (for no real reason or every reason availabe - such as they wanted them people in front to move or they wanted people to get out of the way).
Well anyway - then we got into the car and every car was distinguished by dents, scrapes, scratches you name it! Well althought there are line markings to mark the lanes, no - one seems to take any notice and then there are the bicyle rickshaws, electronic rickshaws and people everywhere! I asked our driver if it these people ever went to bed!! There seemed to be this controlled chaos everywhere we went. No traffic lights, no hesitation, no waiting, stopping for anyone.
So...that was our first impressions of Dhaka (Dhaka).
The room we are staying in is much nicer than we expected! With a shower and two bigger than single beds, bottled water etc. The people we are dealing with here are really friendly however the people in the streets are stare a lot (nothing a pair of sunnies won't fix for me!)
I guess the depressing part is the beggars and the way they beg. There will be people in the middle of the roads that come out when you get stuck in traffic. Men will hold out tiny babies that have scabies, men with no 'arm bone' and will do a brief demonstration of how they can twist their arm right around so you will give them some money, more babies that are too hungry and undernourished to even cry, and blind men. There was even a man with no legs that was pushing himself along with a little trolley! I am surprised they didn't get ran over they were right in the middle of fast moving cars that seemed.
Other than that, like I said the group we are staying with are really nice especially the Bangladeshi men! There are no women shop keepers, hotel staff, market keepers!
Anway - that is all for now. The manager from the hotel has noticed me trying to get rid of a mosquito and has been trying to help by suffocating both the mosquito and I with insect repellent (I hope that is all it is!)
Talk again soon,
Bec and tim.
We have made it safely to Singapore and met some people we know which has been nice. It was a weird being able to choose from about 600 movies/CDs/games/etc. I (Bec) watched 'A shark tale' which was funny and then a 'Friends episode'. Although it made the 7 hours go a little quicker, I frequently had the urge to get up and move around!!!
Tim - I had some fried rice, even though there was only a small amount of chillie on them, they were so hot i found it hard to eat the rest of the rice.
But still yum
Hi again, this is our address in Bangladesh if you need to contact us...!!! Otherwise the email will still be fine as well as this travel page!
Salon Guest House
House 85, Road 13/C, Block E
Banani, Dhaka 1213, Bangladesh
Tel: (88 02) 88 12 314, 98 81 097
Fax: (88 02) 88 26 665
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
We will not be there all the time obviously. See you soon.
Yesterday was Tim's birthday which means today we have exactly one week to go...
As soon as we can work out how to use the digital camera (present for TIm's birthday) we can practice putting a few photos up of kangeroos and the like...something new.
Grant and Anthea, Abby and Claire (for those of you that know them) leave today: 'See you next year in Bangladesh!'