08.12.2006 -17 °C
Dhaka is one of the world's fastest growing urban centers with more than 10 million people. Crowded into 360 square kilometers it also has one of the highest urban densities in the world. Cycle rickshaws are the main form of vehicular transport, and with more than 500,000 in town, a taxi ride is never far away. A 45 minute ride by Rickshaw costs about US$1
An amazing city indeed! I'd bet it holds several world records: Probably the world's most polluted city - air, noise, water, garbage - all pollution here is at the extreme!
Poverty. Words can't express the poverty I have seen so far. It is truly very disturbing.
Today rented a boat and traveled up and down the Buriganga river which flows through Dhaka, just south of the old part of the city. Amazing sights along the river banks as people are dong their daily chores, washing, swimming - in the most dirty river water I have ever seen! A flotilla of small boats carry passengers across the 500m wide river while huge boats work up and down the slow flowing river. My boatman insisted we visit the area on the other side of the river so with my guide, the boatman escorted us into the maze of this old area. What an amazing experience! We visited several homes where I had to take family pictures. I tell you, people here beg to get their pictures taken. An entourage of kids followed us as we walked around the area. An experience I probably never will forget!
People in Bangladesh, including Dhaka, are truly friendly and warm hearted and even in the poorest slums, people show very happy faces. Amazing....and you have to see this to believe it.
Tomorrow evening at 6pm, guide by my side, we will depart on a 24 hour river journey aboard the Rocket - an ancient looking paddle-steamer boat - to the town of Mongla, gateway to the Sunderbans. The Sundarbans is a Natural World Heritage site and also the world’s largest mangrove forest. By boat, and potentially by foot, we will spend two days looking for the fearless Royal Bengal Tiger along the mangrove waterways. Don't worry (too much) about my safety as again we will have the compulsory armed guards by my side. Wish me luck. I'll report back in Dhaka in seven days!