A short on my long layover in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to my final destination of Kathmandu..
05.01.2011 12 °C
With nothing but love in my heart and an open mind I was ready to leave Thailand and South East Asia, my home of 3 years.
I left to continue the endless journey of finding a higher mind and learning more of what this world has to offer in a spiritual sense. I’ve met energy healers, psychics, astrologists, tarot card readers, people who can speak to plants and dance with elephants and horses.
These people inspire me to find out what my own special gift may be.
So several hours after leaving Bangkok I walked down a broken escalator and underneath a sign that said, “ Welcome to Bangladesh”.
I had an 11 hour layover here. It was dark and dingy. They had fake free wifi zones.. The Duty Free shop had knockoffs from the 80’s. I walked around for a bit and right through immigration. I just told them I needed to check up on my bag to make sure it got to Kathmandu all right. They couldn’t care less as they were busy playing solitaire behind the counter, and they thought I was a journalist. Something about my military look these days and a camera hanging around my neck. I could have walked right into the country unstamped and unnoticed..
I saw ole’blue being tossed onto the conveyer belt and then quickly confiscated as she was a ‘transfer’ item.
I headed back upstairs to the strange smells and blaring drama shows on the t.v.
Finally I saw a relatively quiet and deserted set of plastic chairs that I decided was going to be my bed for the next few hours. I lie down and read a few paragraphs from my book before knocking out. I woke to a woman sitting on my hair. My eyes opened and there were about 20 people sitting around me. I must have been in a real deep sleep. I got up and moved. I fell asleep again and then someone sat on my feet. Now there’s just no reason to sit on me. There’s were a lot of empty chairs. I like to think that they just wanted to keep me warm because I don’t have any other ideas.
Now I was just awake. I walked over to the transit counter and checked myself back in, and then walked over to a stall with a guy making something with a green leaf. I saw many men que’d up to eat this. I walked up and asked what it was and they just said, “Like a beetle nut’ I know generally beetle nut turns your teeth red but I saw that this was only a leaf so I didn’t see the harm. I asked him to make me one that he’d think I’d like. He took the leaf and stuffed it with spices and what looked like candy. Then he wrapped it up quickly in a triangle and stabbed a piece of clove through the top to ‘lock’ it and handed it over.
There were several people around me watching to see what I’d do. So I just took the whole thing and shoved it in my mouth as instructed.. Without facial expression I chewed.
It was sweet, spicy, bitter, and it got me a bit high. I think this is what the ‘beetle nut’ reference was about..
I took some photos and walked to my next culinary adventure in my slightly high and tired daze.
I’d spend the next half an hour with two women about my age behind a café bar. I chatted them up about the different types of Punjabi mixes and which was best. They gave me samples of the mixes and some sweet milky, cheesy thing, and some chai tea…We talked about food, nose piercings and weather or not I was from Nepal or not. Sidenote: Thanks mom and dad for giving me such a diverse look.
Soon it was back to finding more plastic chairs and falling asleep. It had been a pretty sleepless night. Finally Biman Airlines flight from Dhaka to Kathmandu was called..
About 100 people that looked like they’d never seen an airplane before bum rushed towards the ticketing counter.
As I approached the ticketeer he triple checked my passport and quizzed me on my passport facts. I really do look like a different person then I do in that photo taken back in 2005.. He asked if I was Nepali. I thanked him and told him ‘no’.
Then we had to get scanned. Normally in any other developed country everyone knows the drill. You take off everything that would make you beep and get through as soon as possible.
Well this group of folks were a different breed. They all tried to rush through. Every single one of them beeped as they were still fitted with watches, belts, sunglasses, spoons, lighters..
So everyone was frisked by security who could care less had a glowing cow pranced through… Two second frisks for show and then to the gate you go!
I had to be frisked in a closet by a woman who actually didn’t touch me. She just asked if I was Nepali. I thanked her and said “no”.
Sitting at the gate was nice. Those chairs were right in the sun. I couldn’t see that far because there was a lot of haze.
Like cattle we walked down to the beat up bus that looked like it’s heyday was in 1974. It looked like it’d slammed into a couple of planes and was making lots of angry noises as it carted us across the tarmac and to the plane. I was just crossing my fingers that the plane didn’t have the same technicians working on it as the bus did..
Fortunately the plane was huge and cozy and I got a window seat with no one else sitting next to me.
Thoughts went through my head of how excited I’d be to fly over Bangladesh and see it from an ariel point of view. I must say however that I wasn’t disappointed when there was nothing but smog and clouds because I quickly fell asleep.
By the time I opened my eyes we were flying over Nepal. I opened my eyes to the arid Himalayan Valley dressed by what looked like dried rice terraces. Beyond that the sky was a brilliant blue that only Crayola could describe..
Poking into the blue were majestic, snowy white mountain peaks of the out Himalayan Mountain Range. Mt. Everest was hiding in there somewhere… With the sun beaming upon the mountains and valley through a nearly cloudless sky at 34,000ft, all I can say is that the view was epic, and all I could think was that this was it. I was at the top of the world and I created this reality for myself. I smiled. I also liked the fact that people thought I was Nepali.. =)
As we descended it just got better and better like I was in an Indiana Jones movies twisting down through the valley trying not to hit a mountain.
Then we landed. Roughly. The sun was shining as we walked off the tarmac and into the airport. I was thinking to myself “why did I just spend all that money on that NorthFace jacket?” Well as if my silly question was speaking out loud, the Universe promptly answered it with a stern chill breeze and threw a few clouds to cover up those rays of sun..
I walked down to baggage claim where I saw ole’ blue. I grabbed her off the conveyer belt and hugged her. We’d been through so much and for so many years and for some reason at that very moment lonliness hit me like dump truck. I stood there thinking how far away I was from everything I knew and everyone I loved, and that ole’ blue was the only thing that comforted me. This inanimate object that I had connected so many human emotions to, was the only piece of familiarity in my life right now.
We then hid behind a pillar and I pulled out my jacket, shoes, and few more cozy warm things. I received my visa hopped into a car from the 60’s looking like it was about to fall apart and made myself cozy in the knockoff Daffy Duck blankets in the back.
There were two guys in the front seat but this time I didn’t feel the fear I did when the two guys were in the front seat in 4am cab ride in Hanoi.
No, the driver spoke no English and the passenger was trying to get me to sign up with him for all the trekking tours. Annoying but understandable. This is a nation of extreme poverty and people will do anything out of desperation for money. At least he was doing it in an honest way. I was firm and told him that I had no sleep and that if he were to take me to his office I’d not pay any attention to anything he was saying.. He was surprisingly understanding… Although he tried to carry my bags in to my hostel. He was going to say something to the guys at the front desk. I stopped him at the front stairs grabbed his hand and shook it firmly, thanked him, and he left me alone..
I walked up to the counter. The guys were really nice and showed me a room. They couldn’t really show it to me as, there’s only 9 hours of electricity a day and there was no power at this hour. This room had no windows and they could only guide me by candle light.. I took it because it didn’t matter. I was tired and it didn’t smell.
After I unloaded myself I hung out with the guys at reception. They asked if I was Nepali. I thanked them and said no. =)
Then we talked about food! Turns out this guy is a chef and told me the best place to go. I finished my steaming cuppa chai and took off to the Yak Restaurant..
I ordered soup and the first thing to enter my mouth in Nepal was yak! Of course! Also known as "buff meat" it pretty much just tastes like chewy beef. I also had chicken 'momos' which are like pot stickers.
It was getting dark and the electricity was still out so I ate my meal in near darkness and silence. I talked here and there with a man from a neighboring village called Pokhara. Google it, it’s gorgeous!!
After my meal I wandered back down the exciting street, filled with hawkers, food vendors, tricycle transport, dingy and colorful buildings and wool clothing hanging out of almost every shopfront. On the way back to my guest house I was offered hash, ganja, opium, and heroin.. I bought it all and now I'm broke and living in a tin shed with no shoes, but I'm high so I'm happy... Joke
I made it to my room to change into something even warmer to explore the rest of the town but I just ended up writing in my journal next to the candle light and then falling asleep. Which I’m about to do again. Fully clothed under four blankets.
I must say however, that I am very cozy! And....happy.