After a quick interview and filming one of the doctors singing about and to the river, we headed by boat back to the town of Gaibandha for our return trip to Dhaka. It’s a fascinating place with a few food stalls spaced out where the boats — with their loudly sputtering, engines — drop off and pick up travelers.
What most people don’t realize about Bangladesh — myself included before I went — is how prolific the history of sailing is here. It’s not surprising because of the number of waterways, but that changed drastically I was told when locals began putting Chinese engines on the boats. Now sailing has all but disappeared.
The death-defying drive back to Dhaka was harrowing (This sentence make sense? It was f-ing scary is what I am implying). And Dhaka itself is harrowing. As we reached the city we came upon a traffic jam. Pedestrians walked and bicyclists rode in and along the open drainage pits. Buses lined up as far as the smog would let me see — but I’m sure it was much further than that. Police held wooden sticks and waved them around like magic wands as they (mis)directed traffic. They weren’t alone, I saw one guy who didn’t have a baton nor a uniform helping to (mis)direct traffic, see here:
We checked back into the same hotel we stayed in a few days before. The next day we filmed along the riverfront. The water is black as you can see in this clip. It’s like oil but without the colorful spectrum you sometimes see in it — just a dead, cold black. Regardless, this is life here and everyone does what they need to survive.
That night we’re told there would be a transport strike the next day from 6a-6p, we were booked on a flight to Chittagong departing at 8a. One of the political parties had called for the strike and anyone found violating it would be pulled out of whatever vehicle you were in and destroyed possibly along with you in it. And, who knows what would happen to you if you were a Westerner. Our driver told us it would be OK but we had to get there early with enough time to allow him to get home to safety.
The next day was an early 5a departure from the hotel. The densest fog I have ever seen covered the city. Very slowly, we made our way to the airport. When we finally got there, it was closed. Turns out it opens at 6a. But, that did us little good, since the airplane couldn’t take off due to the fog. At least we didn’t get caught in the strike.
Next: A few treasures left behind on the Rainbow Warrior II.