Wednesday 4th January 2012 – still in Dhaka!

Talking to reception last night, I was telling them where I was mainly eating and it got the normal response about not being very hygienic and all that, whatever! At breakfast this morning as I was sitting drinking my coffee, a rat run across the floor and up the back of one of the curtains, and that’s hygienic!? Went off to the Chinese embassy again this morning, all looking good this time, so hopefully pick my visa up tomorrow.

Managed to source some bubble wrap to wrap my wheels in and a bag for flying, quite a good productive day.

Saw my first rickshaw accident, which is surprising considering how many there are and the way they ride! They’ve all got these wicked bolts that stick out from the back wheels, they look a bit like queen Boudicca’s chariot! Anyway one got a bit close to another and took out the others spokes causing his back wheel to collapse, nobody was hurt, well not when I was there, but the two rickshaw drivers were having a right go at each other after.

Went in search of wifi tonight and ended up in a KFC, so wrong, but it was nice, a bit spicier than at home but the chips were lovely, first time I’ve had chips for weeks, not that I’m a big lover of them, it’s just when you can’t get them you miss them!

Tuesday 3rd January 2012 in Dhaka

Had an appointment at 10.30 in the bank with the bank manager who said he could help me. After chatting for a while and a cup of tea, which is what you get all the time, I handed over my dollars to be converted into Taka and more importantly get this blooming certificate, he said that it would take about half an hour, so I said I’ll go and do some other bits and come back in a while.

After nearly an hour I returned to pick them up, I thanked Mr. very much for all his help and he said anymore problems and I was to go back and see him.

Got to the travel agent all confident now having that certificate, only to be told it’s the wrong one, sorry I said, it’s the wrong one! Yes sir. I couldn’t believe it, not after yesterday. So back I went to the bank to see Mr. who rung them up to see what the problem was, they said the certificate has to be from a bank, apparently Mr. bank isn’t licensed to cash up money but out of the kindness of his heart he’d sent one of his employees to an agent to get it for me. The certificate was all official and ok it just wasn’t from a bank, which he didn’t quite get either. Not to worry we will sort it out. After a few phone calls I was on my way in a rickshaw with one of his employees to the agent to get my money back.

Got to the agent and went in to get my dollars back, which he did but it was $200 short, what’s this I said, tax, tax my arse, $200 I don’t think so, so I started to argue with him, eventually I was told to sit down and the bank employee with me rung Mr. who in turn spoke to the agent, after what sounded like a bit of a heated debate, but then they all do, my $200 was returned to me. We then walked down the road to another bank where we were met by another manager, who asked me what I wanted, think he might have had it before as he seemed to know exactly what I needed. After being introduced to several of his employees my money was taken and shortly after another certificate issued.

After thanking him it was back to the travel agent once more.

Sat down gave him the certificate he looked at it, it then got passed around the office with everybody looking at it and shaking their heads, things weren’t looking good, I felt like crying, another certificate and still it’s wrong! Think they sensed I was getting upset and annoyed, two certificates both wrong, what do I do. After a few phone calls they reluctantly accepted it and proceeded to book my flights, not without asking where my visa was once again. Just got to hope I get the visa now!

Monday 2nd January 2012 in Dhaka

Saw Dave and the family off first thing this morning, then shortly after left for the Chinese embassy myself.

Got to the embassy and joined the relatively small queue and was soon in the visa section of the embassy.

Got to the counter and got told that I need to have a flight booked, but if I get back before midday it will be done for tomorrow. No problem I thought, was told the airlines offices are just down the road. So off I go, eventually found them on the 7th floor of an office block. Got to the counter they didn’t take cards, cash only but you also need a receipt to say where the moneys from?! After trying several banks non of them would take any of my cards only the ATM so thought I’ll have to see if the ATM receipt is good enough or perhaps I’ll try using dollars, back I go, missed the noon deadline at the embassy by now but if I can sort this ticket no problem I’ll go tomorrow. The first available flight was Sunday, if that’s what it is, then that’s it, so ok I said. Passport please, so I handed it over, he started to thumb through it, back and forth, visa, sorry, visa, where’s your visa, can’t issue a ticket without a visa, but I can’t get a visa, without a ticket! Sorry there’s nothing I can do, try a travel agent! Not a very helpful chap at all. Found a travel agent near the hotel and spoke to them, much more helpful, but still couldn’t get a flight, I need this letter of encasement which I have to get from a bank. Got an appointment tomorrow with a bank manager. This is so much hard work, I just want to get moving again! Time for a beer!

Sunday 1st January 2012 – New Year’sDay in Dhaka

Spent the morning printing out and filling out visa forms ready for tomorrow. Went down to the port after lunch to see all the passenger ferry’s that go to all parts of Bangladesh, so many of them and so many people, mixed in with this are loads of little boats that criss cross from one side of the river to the other carrying goods and people, some of them laden so much you’d think they’d sink and all operated by one man with an oar skulling. We hired one of these little boats to go out on the water to get a different view of the port, it’s as busy on the water way as it is on the streets, hundreds of little boats going back and forth across the river and bigger boats going up and down the river, with a mixture of ferry’s coming and going. The smell wasn’t particularly good as there’s so much sewage in the water and it’s a really horrible black colour, but the atmosphere of a busy port more than made up for it. We was allowed to just walk on the ferries and have a look around without any problem at all, went on one which was an old paddle steamer, although it has a diesel engine now but it is still driven by paddles. Got shown around this one, was shown the first class cabins at the front of the boat and a big dinning area with a huge table running down the middle where people are obviously waited on hand and foot, apparently Michael Palin filmed part of his series Himalayas on here, at the back of the boat are the second class cabins, where the cabins aren’t quite so luxurious and the dining area is more basic wooden tables and down stairs is third class where people mark out there spot with a sheet on the ground.

Went back to the hotel by rickshaw, Becky and me in one and Dave, Helen and Katie in another, they did all look a bit squashed in but they said they were fine. The two rickshaw riders were having a bit of a race on the way back, with us winning but we did have a bit of an advantage of only two of us and our rider was a lot younger. A good day.