Day 35: Rajshahi to Dhaka

Despite the rather ‘business’ type hotel and room, I sleep fairly well and am up nice and early. I have never been one to lie in bed until midday, and I really don’t understand people who go to new countries and sleep through it. I know that most people are going abroad for a holiday, but surely they are also there to get involved in the culture and history. Or is that just me!

About five years ago my family headed to Majorca for a week’s holiday. It was just the need to get away, and I don’t think we picked the destination other than it was cheap and sunny. We were staying in a non-descript, modern hotel, but the coast was great and there was a pool for the children, but we found ourselves constantly on the lookout for a good Spanish restaurant. We didn’t find one, as the whole island seemed to cater for people who just wanted a sunny, warm version of home. I have no idea why someone would like to do that.

Bangladesh was previously known as East Pakistan. [And West Bengal, previously to that.] I found this little snippet of history a little hard to understand, given that there is a large country in between here and Pakistan. This came about during the demise of the British Empire, and the nation was established with the partition of Bengal in 1947. Due to political exclusion and economic exploitation by the politically-dominant West Pakistan, popular agitation grew against West Pakistan and led to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, after the declaration of Independence on March 26, 1971. Despite a troubled past, recent changes in its economy and management, it is seen by some high-level investors as one country to watch out for in the future.

I take Highway N6 towards Natore and the Brahmaputra river directly east. The terrain is mostly flat, but very fertile and it is no wonder that two-thirds of the Bangladeshi people are farmers.

Half way there and I get to the Jumana Bridge over the river Brahmaputra. It’s a toll bridge. [The toll for a large vehicle is Tk 1,400, a medium truck Tk 1,100, a small truck Tk 850, a large bus Tk 900, a small bus Tk 650, a car or jeep Tk 500 and a motorbike Tk 40.]. At this time of year, with a lot less rain to cause trouble, the river looks wide, but calm. The bridge was opened in June 1998 and is a multi-use design that includes both motor traffic and rail. The bridge also carries electricity and a gas pipeline. Talking about getting your monies worth. It has been designed to be Earthquake-proof, but some structural damage has been found in recent years that has meant a regulation for the number of vehicles crossing at the same time.

It’s a reasonably short distance to Dhaka and by the time I reach the outskirts I am still fresh and it is only 14:30. As I drive in, things get a little industrial, with large factories and pipes. I make my way to the Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, which is a bit expensive and costs the most so far, but is well placed and has space for the camper. The ‘booking’ is in USD, as are most hotels I have looked into. I think I might get a shower and see what the city is like.

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