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Like many other capitals in the world, Dhaka is a very busy city. You can tell that by its traffic. There’s traffic jam all the time on the main road and there seems to be just one main road there. So, no matter where you’re heading to, you’re heading into a traffic jam in the beginning/end.

The main means of public transportation there are: rishaw, baby taxi, taxi, local bus and formal bus. Rishaw is a tricycle with passenger seats. If the passengers are skilful, it may take 3 passengers at a time – depends on whether the passengers know how to arrange their seats. I tried to drive a rishaw and my Bangladeshi friends said that I have a great future as a rishaw driver. You must believe him coz he’s my passenger and I got paid for driving him – got 12 taka altogether, which is a lot for a rishaw ride. Another unforgettable experience on the rishaw was that I fell from the rishaw when the driver took a hard break. Luckily, my legs are long enough to enable me to stand on one leg while the other leg was still on the footstep. My friend’s host sister was not as lucky. She fell from a rishaw on her knees and the rishaw from behind rolled on the back of her knees. Her knees were swollen for days.

Baby taxi is something like a tuk-tuk in Thailand – a motor-tricycle with a compartment. I myself tried it with my host father and my friend so it can take at least 3. I’ve also seen it taking no passenger but a full car of vegetable – the back seat is stuffed with vegetable.

Taxi…As far as I understand, there’re two kinds of taxi – one that goes with the meter and the other that goes with bargain. I’ve tried both and from my experience, the kind that goes with the meter is more comfortable but I’m not sure if that’s how they’re distinguished.

Local bus is something I didn’t try. I’ve seen many of them on the road. They’re usually single deckers but occasionally you may find a red double-decker among the cramped cars. There are two adjectives that I find best describe this kind of bus: crumpled and cracked. Obviously, there’s no a/c  in these bus and they have no stop. People just hop on and hop off. The formal bus are much more decent with a/c and from the prints on the bus and the stickers inside the bus compartment, it’s easy to tell that they’re imported from Japan. So, Bangladesh is the where these bus live their retired life.

But most of the time I take my host family’s private car. It’s an old Toyota but perfect for Dhaka’s traffic. The main roads there are so busy and crowded. I thought there’s no lane on the road but later found out that there actually are. I remember once we got caught in a jam and I saw the lane line. There should be 4 lanes in that section but I saw rishaws, baby taxis, bus, cars…altogether 7 vehicles jammed together across the 4 lanes. The vehicles are so close that my friend took a picture of a rishaw’s front wheel being underneath the back of the car right in front of it. Who dares to drive a  nice car? And there’s obviously no rule for load. As long as you can get into a car, it’s fine. People on bus are packed like sardines and not just inside the bus but also on the top of the bus and on the ladder at the back outside the bus. As for our car, we’ve tried stuffing seven people in – four in the back seats and three in the front seats. But still, it’s better than taking the rishaw all the time. Taking a ride on the rishaw is, in fact, quite tiring, as you have to keep a good balance on that narrow seat and to do that, lower back muscles are strained all the time. In a private car, though it’s very crowded and sometimes I could feel that my leg went numb but at least it’s a bit safer.

One last thing about the different vehicles there is: when two vehicles meet head to head, rishaw always back off when ‘challenged’ by a baby taxi, and baby taxi always back off when ‘challenged’ by a car. They wouldn’t even argue. Everyone knows the rule.

Dhaka – transport
一月 2021