So where is Suzanne now???? In Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh. Just arrived here yesterday.
The last 4 days have been a bit of a whirlwind. That is after getting stuck in Darjeeling for reasons I won’t get into. Darjeeling was nice, but not the best time of year to visit as the Monsoons have arrived and there was so much mist that you couldn’t see the surrounding mountains, including the highest peak in all of India. While there I did visit the zoo, which featured animals indigenous to the Himalayas. Included were; a Himalayan Black Bear, a pack of Tibetan Wolves, a (mammoth) Siberian Tiger, a clouded leopard, and the jewel of them all….a Snow Leopard, which was even more spectacular than I could imagine. Other highlights included a ride on the Toy Train, the only steam powered train in the region. The Lonely Planet describes it as “tortuously slow”…which is an understatement since I clocked it at 1km/5min. I think I can walk faster than that. STill, it was a fun experience. The other highlight was visiting a Tea Plantation. (But of course!) I now know more about the production of Tea than I ever need to know. But it was fun to watch and learn. After taking a 3 hour Jeep ride, followed by the most interesting cycle rick-shaw ride through a village that has obviously never seen white/blonde people before, to get to the train station where i saw a skeleton carrying a dead baby and hid under the awning to escape the rain with the cows, then took a 13 hour train ride to get back to Calcutta to get up at 4 am to catch the bus to get to Bangladesh where we went through the customs and the immigration guard asked WHY would someone from the US want to come to Bangladesh, to get on another bus that drove at hair splitting speeds to blindly pass slower vehicles into oncoming faster vehicles to get to a ferry crossing that took @ an hour where we were swarmed by curious locals who had never seen white people, much less a digital camera, where we got to the other side and proceeded into Dhaka which is where I am writing you from now! WHEW!!!! (did the longest runon sentence exhaust you?) Now you know how I feel and I have just one thing to say….I HAVE BEEN IN INDIA TOOOOOO LONG! (my mate says if you stay here too long you’ll go crazy…i thought he was just kidding but now i’m quite sure he is right!)
Now onto Bangladesh. I have to say that everyone in India kept going on about how dirty Bangladesh is. Well, I am here to tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth. The minute we crossed the country line I could tell a difference. True, it is a very poor country. But I have to say that that slightly works in it’s favor. There are not nearly as many cars here as in india and since it is muslim country they kill cows instead of letting them roam the streets freely. Yes, I believe in animal rights, but some of those cows would benefit from a visit to the butchers! The country is absolutely lush. Filled with water ways, fishing villages and loads of farm land. The people are SO friendly and curious. Everyone just stares at us and like to ask LOTS of questions. For those that don’t know, Bangladesh is only 1 yr. older than I am, so it is a VERY young country. hahaha. Originally part of India after 1947, it became East Pakistan, but then the Muslims decided that they wanted their own country, so in 19…Bangladesh was formed and India is a Hindu cream Oreo’d between 2 Muslim Nations Pakistan (which also used to be part of India) and EAst Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh. Which leads me to the role of women here…as in NONE. WOmen must be completley covered up. There are separate dining areas for women and even Men only Hotels. Right now is not such a problem since I am in the capitol, which in the top 15 largest cities, (it is also the cycle rick-shaw capitol of the world…+1 million) but going to the smaller villages maybe a different story. All in all, I am thrilled with what I’ve seen so far and even more thrilled to be out of India.
WEll, that’s probably enough for you now. Based on how difficult it was to find e-mail here i’m not sure when the next opportunity will arrive…