Tonight, with an annoying sore throat, I will take the SIA 20:30 flight to Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh. (For info on Bangladesh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh). With 150 million people, Bangladesh is the 7th most populous country in the world and certainly one of the most densely populated ones. Despite the enormous potential a nation of this size would normally implies, unfortunately, to many parts of the world, Bangladesh has become a name more synonymous with natural disaster (the Bhola cyclone of 1970 killed between 300,000 and 500,000 people), political instability and poverty.
Wrecked by numerous coups in which two of its most important political leaders were assassinated, Bangladesh continues to be affected by the never-ending struggle between political movements headed by the surviving daughter and widow of these two long dead leaders. This was further complicated by the emergency rule that came into the picture in 2007. In spite of these, there are some bright spots. The award of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, which promotes microcredit as a tool of empowerment of small business and economic development among the poor, is one notable example.
According to Wikipedia, "Despite these hurdles, the country has achieved an average annual growth rate of 5% since 1990, according to the World Bank. Bangladesh has seen expansion of its middle class, and its consumer industry has also grown. In December 2005, four years after its report on the emerging "BRIC" economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Goldman Sachs named Bangladesh one of the "Next Eleven," along with Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and seven other countries. Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment."
I will be in Bangladesh for about 9 days. I begin my journey in Dhaka, the capital and also one of the world's largest cities with 11 million people. From here, I will do an overnight boat ride in the waterways of what is the world's largest and most populous river delta, that of the Ganges-Bramaputra rivers. I will also visit Chittagong, the nation's second largest city and the country's premier industrial centre and seaport. From here, I will venture into the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a hilly region to the east, on the border with India and Myanmar, largely inhabited by the Chakmas, a Buddhist tribal people in one of the populous Islamic countries in the world.
I will endeavor to document this journey, through occasional postings to the twc-nomad yahoogroup mailing list, and, for the first time, through a blog site, http://twcnomad.blogspot.com In fact, I have already been posting onto this blog in recent months, with updates of the journey preparation process. Links to some of my recent postings are listed below.
OK, that's all for now. As usual, feel free to drop me your comments and wish me luck for my coming year of adventure.
Some of my recent blog postings:
Rough itinerary in Bangladesh: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/rough-itinerary-in-bangladesh.html
Philosophy of Long Term Travel: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/philosophy-of-long-term-travel.html
Rajasthan by rented car: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/rajasthan-by-rented-car.html
TWC on the Singapore Book of Records Website: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/twc-on-singapore-book-of-records.html
Nagaland Itinerary: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/nagaland-itinerary.html
Yemen Tour Itinerary - Excited? : http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/yemen-tour-itinerary-excited.html
NextInsight on TWC's World Journey: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/nextinsight-on-twcs-world-journey.html
Caribbean Settlement: http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/caribbean-settlement.html
Latest Plan : http://twcnomad.blogspot.com/2007/10/latest-plan.html